Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Buyers Beware---E Shopping Tips

I know that blog posts should have lots of pretty pictures to go along with good information but sometimes there are no photos that are fitting to essential info. Such is the case today. The purpose of this blog is to inform and inspire and I need to share my recent experience in hopes that others may be spared some trouble.

     Upon returning from our trip to China this summer, we were unable to find the charger for our camera. So, after several weeks, I decided that I would have to purchase a new one. I promptly went to the Canon website to look for a replacement. Much to my dismay, I found that the needed item was out of stock!

              camera battery charger

I then did a quick search for the charger and was delighted to find it at MelloDigital  .com. The price for the charger at Canon was $60 and at Mello it was $26.99 with shipping of $3.99, listed as brand new and in stock! How lucky for me to find it for almost half price! I quickly entered my credit card info and completed my purchase. I was willing to take a chance for a mere $30. This should have been red flag #1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! In just a few short minutes, my phone rang. This should have been red flag #2. I was told that said item was on national backorder but that a better item could be sent out immediately, but it was $10 more. I told the person on the phone that I did not want the substitute because I was not willing to spend $39. He then told me that it included an additional battery but if I didn’t need another battery he could send the charger for $29. I told him that I would just look for my lost charger again. But, he insisted so I gave him the go ahead to send the $29 model. Fast forward 24 hours. My daughter was going through her things to pack for another trip and pulled out her camera and what should appear but the camera charger! It had gotten put away with her camera and charger. Knowing that my new charger was en route, I decided to wait for its arrival and return it. Fast forward 24 more hours. Said charger arrives as expected. I quickly emailed Mello Digital to ask how to return the item.  I received an immediate reply to call customer service at the given number. I called the number and was immediately put on hold. Red flag #3. I waited until someone finally answered. I explained my dilemma and was told that they did not accept returns!!! She told me to check the policy on the website. I was furious. Seeing that I was getting no where, I told the lady that I was not going to argue with her but that I would take up the matter with my credit card company and I promptly, firmly, and politely ended the call. I went to back the website to “check the policy.” The website says clearly that returns are accepted within 14 days of purchase. However, it goes on to list the items which are not allowed to be returned. Apparently the list includes every item they sell!!! Not to be outdone, I made a copy of my receipt and wrote across the bottom that I did not need said item, that I was returning it unopened in original packaging and that I would be filing a claim with American Express. I then took said package to the post office and mailed it to the return address and paid for delivery confirmation. Fast forward 48 hours. I promptly received an email that my returned item had been received and that the return process had been started. A few hours later, I received another email stating that my refund was being processed. I am happy to report that I received a refund including the $3.99 for shipping! Would I recommend doing business with this company? Absolutely not!! I should have done a quick Google search of the company name before making my purchase. There  were many, many negative reviews and no positive ones for the company. Apparently, their mode of operation is “bait and switch”. So, I learned my lesson the hard way. For those of you who do not know, most credit cards have some type of consumer protection. I use American Express and a Capital One MasterCard for as many purchases as I can in order to accrue travel reward points. I have found that both of these cards offer wonderful consumer protection. Every time I have filed a claim, it has been handled promptly and efficiently. As a small business owner, Lydia's House.com, I have found that credit card companies are on the side of the consumer. I once had a charge back to my business because the consumer reported the charge as fraudulent. She didn’t recognize the name of the business or the location. She had forgotten that she made a purchase from me at an out of town conference. I received a letter from the credit card company asking for documentation including a copy of the signed receipt. I promptly sent them the receipt and documentation. They did nothing! They closed the case and never gave me credit! I called the lady who had made the purchase,luckily I did have her phone number, and she apologized and asked me to run the charge through on her card again. It went through with no problem, no questions asked. That experience let me know that consumers have more rights than retailers! So, do not be misled by anyone telling you that returns are not acceptable. I have been told that any purchase made on a credit card must be able to be returned.

I hope that my negative experience can save someone from a similar headache!

I’ll be linking to Tips, Tidbits, and Tutorials at Stone Gable.

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