Bad Business

Two weeks ago, I placed an online order with a company that sells collectible memorabilia.  I won’t name the company because, honestly, I see no point.  Anyway, the transaction was done online – payment submitted, and a receipt issued.  I was thrilled, as I’d been considering the purchase for over a year and I finally had the money (and gumption) to follow through with it.

Then, two days later, I noticed something odd: I hadn’t received any shipping information.  No tracking number, no e-mail, no telephone call – nothing.  I’ve done business with this company in the past; there’s usually some acknowledgement very soon after the deal is done, so this was just weird.  I waited a few more days, and then I sent a note explaining that I hadn’t received any acknowledgement beyond the receipt.  If they could send me the tracking number – or let me know when they anticipated shipment – that would be great.

Nothing.  For nearly a week, not so much as a peep from them.

Meanwhile, I’m checking my home each day for an unexpected arrival.  See, I’m anal about postal information because of the number of “porch thefts” that happen in and around my neighborhood.  A postman or deliveryman will drop a package off on the porch with little-to-no shielding or protection, and then some schmuck strolls up, takes it, and vanishes off into the night.  I’d had mail stolen from my home once a while back; it’s not a good feeling, especially when you catch the thief, and they simply don’t give a damn.  Since then, I try to schedule packages so that they arrive when someone’s at home.  Barring that, then I ask the services to hold on to the packages until I can come get them.  Inconvenient, yes, but at least I know that I’ll receive my purchase.

Well, after another couple of days, I wrote a second, then a third letter asking for information.  The longer this has progressed, the more I’m convinced that there’s no shipping information because there’s been no shipment.  This realization really ate away at me – the product was clearly listed as being in stock, and I have no use for tying up my funds with a “pre-sale” order.

Today I received a very short (and dare I say, curt) e-mail:

Per your request, your order has been cancelled.  (My emphasis.)

Uh, okay.  I don’t know how asking for a tracking number can be interpreted as give me my money back, but at least I got a response.  A second note clarified things:  Turns out that the online catalogue was in error, there were no copies of the product in question, and there’s no anticipation of further availability.  My payment was returned, and balance in the world was restored.

Still, I don’t know how I feel about this.  The lack of communication, the incorrect online catalogue, and now this ‘blame the victim-esque’ response – it’s all affected my desire to do further business with this merchant.  I mean, the amount involved was only a C-note – one hundred dollars – but what happens if my five hundred dollar order is screwed up?  Will that be my fault, too?  I give them credit for the clarification, but geesh – this was not how I saw this transaction ending . . .


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