The risks of ordering tangibles online
Until this week, I had never ordered anything tangible online (other than CDs/DVDs & 75% less than high street priced USB cables), for the simple reason it is all so unpredictable. We have all heard about or you may have even experienced the nightmares associated with the alternative to walking into a shop where you get to see, handle, purchase (and if need be, return), your goods. Purchasing/downloading something digital that immediately appears on your desktop or in your music ordering/playback system of choice is fairly foolproof, so less problematic. Digital downloads asside, breaking my own rules, I recently ordered a number of electronic goods and experienced stressful time consuming problems with almost each order. I also got to discover just how more and more businesses out there are exploiting the potential for fraud or terrorism for their own gain – and loss to the gullible consumer.
- If one is placing an order for the first time, online resellers now insist that the first order is delivered to the same address that the credit or debit card it linked too. So, how do you have something delivered to a friend? And what if you’re in a hurry? Seems to me they just want that first order as extra business. Think about the time and inconvenience of this rediculous policy!
- If you order a small item, such a tiny USB stick that itself costs say, £9.95, the ‘shipping’ fee will be around £4.00 – and it will take 2 to 4 days to arrive! Yet, if you pop the same item in an envelope and post it first class for what, £0.75p, it will arrive at its destination the next day. I know, I have just sent two different items first class, and both arrived the next day. (UK to UK.)
- If you order something from a company and they don’t process the payment until the next morning, they REFUSE to deliver the item the same day, even if it is ready and waiting. They will wait until the next day! Huh? Just this week, (I rarely get angry), in a very very tense and venomous phone call I threatened a fairly well known company with bad publicity if they did not get me something I had ordered for next day delivery two days ago by the time I demanded. And it worked, they got it to me 2 hours earlier.
- On not one but two occasions on the same day, I placed orders and was informed my payment had gone through succesfully. The next day, by email (not phone call!), I was notified that the item was out of stock or disontinued. If this is the case, why did the stock level indicator show otherwise at the time of purchase?
We all know the reason for most of the above issues. It is for the same reason that in an age of electronic communications, cheques still take 3 to 8 days to clear – to earn interest on your money. The same greedy motives lie in being charged 25% of the cost of a small item for ‘shipping’.
Fight back club: If writing and complaining fail, avoid doing business with any company that behaves like this. Threaten them with bad PR – ensuring you maintain a log of every order, call (and who you spoke to), payment, complaint etc in case you need to take or respond to legal action. Avoid business with any company who charges any more than standard First Class postage for next day delivery. First Class is First Class – you’re not dealing with a motorcycle courier! Companies like FedEx and others exist to handle special direct orders to specific individuals pronto, but regular postal mail exists to handle all else. Related to my previous post, all this greed is messing up poeple’s lives and it is time it was stopped in it’s tracks before a fully automated planet makes protest impossible. Don’t go wobbly now people!
And if few businesses exist any more that are fair, start one yourself. There are many people out there looking for alternatives. For every problem lies opportunity.