06 May 2011

Internet shopping - what to do ?

I have to ask some advice here, because a situation has occured that I have never had happen to me before.
Some background :
I've been shopping on the internet, with bookshops and quiltshops, publishers, big and small companies, US, UK and locally. I've been doing it for something like 8 years now, and even though my credit-card has been hi-jacked a few times (and been caught in my bank's 'cheat' filter), I have never experienced anything but good to excellent service, and timely response to my orders and inquiries.
This, sadly, has ended now.

On February 28th, I ordered some items from a small company, whose products I know and love. I got an order-confirmation and were not notified that anything was amiss (such as the ordered items being on back-order).
On March 3rd, the amount due was withdrawn from my account. This usually signals, that the merchandise ordered is now on its way to me.
Sadly, that was not the case.
On March 16, I was notified that the merchant had delays in shipments, that my order was on back-order. For various reasons, this made it necessary for me to cancel said order.
So far, so good.
I would think, that good business-practice, at this point, is for the merchant to return the money to the client immediately. Payment has been received, but no goods have been delivered.
Well ... I am a patient woman, and sometimes banks are slow so I took a breather, and things happened and it took a little while for me to act on the non-refund of my money.
We got to April 28th (almost 6 weeks after I cancelled the order, 2 months after ordering, and 7 weeks after the money were withdrawn from my Credit Card account by the merchant), and I checked again, but no money had been returned.

SO, I wrote a polite mail to the company, reminding them that they owed me some money, and requested that they return my money to me, forthwith. Today, a week and a day later, I have not heard from the company, neither have any money been transferred back into my account.
My question to y'all (who are in the US of A) : What are my options now ?
Is there a place to formally complain ? Or do I 'just' start naming names on the quilting-communities I am in, on-line. I would prefer not to do the latter, but I am fairly angry at this point. One thing is to have merchandise on back-order, but to take money from a customer, knowing full well that you cannot deliver the goods said customer is paying for; not notifying said customer with due diligence; and last - but not least - not in any way reacting to a politely phrased request for the situation to be rectified has sort-of done away with my patience and understanding for the small business-owner.

And please understand, this is not (just) about the money. I can survive donating 35 US $ to someone, but I would prefer to choose the cause myself, and have it be something worthwhile like the Red Cross or Doctors without Borders, not a company that doesn't even bother to answer mail from their customers.

SO : What would you do ?


Mitt lille rosa syrom said...

Oh, this is difficult.
Maybe another e-mail to the company, not-so-politely phrased, warning them that they will be named in said online quilting communities if the money is not returned within the date that you choose? Bad publicity is the last thing a small company need, so this approach could do the trick... I agree that the amount itself is not important here, but the fact that they stole your money. It is theft, sadly.
I wish you Good Luck!

Cathi said...

Do you know if the company is still in business? That's the first thing I'd want to find out. I would imagine there's something like a better business bureau in the city or state in which the business is located to which you could possibly complain. How much good that will do is a whole other issue.

I would be tempted to name names. You may save another person from having to go through the same experience with that company by doing so.

It brings up an interesting question, though. We are, I think, happy to name names when we have good things to say but when it comes to a company or business from which we've had poor service, we seem so hesitant. Yet when people do name names on public forums or blogs, it seems as though they sometimes get their issue resolved fairly quickly. You've been very patient, but six weeks is more than long enough.

Cynthia said...

I would send another email, one that's professional but a little less polite. You should need to contact your credit card company about this. You can file a dispute about this charge. What happens then is you spell out what you've done to get the money back and the credit card company will sort it out from there for you. I've had charges removed doing this when I've had similar problems.

Also, I might be tempted to out the company if to just simply point out a lapse in customer service. A simple, be warned I've had issues sort of thing. Maybe not on the blog, but certainly via email loops.

Oh and a quick apology if I've commented twice, I'm having Blogger issues today.

Chookyblue...... said...

after the contact you have had I would be tempted to out them.............try thru your back credit card people..........try one more email.
The same thing may be happening to others you never know or this may be a one off. BUT as we all take a risk shopping on line I would prefer to share bad experiences just as much as I share the good ones.

Chookyblue...... said...

goodluck too........

Charlsey said...

Don't know what credit card you used but in the states, I have always notified my credit card company. They refund my money and go after the company. Check with your credit card company to see if they can offer assistance. Good luck

Patricia said...

If the company is not responding go to your credit card company. You can usually get help setting things straight from them