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Old 03-04-2005, 08:25 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hudson
The only thing I would contest in your statement is that you say the dealer is responsible for warranty issues and replacing product under warranty. That is simply not true. Some manufactures insist that the dealer NOT be involved, and will not honor the warranty if the dealer becomes involved
Hi Robert, it's not so much a warranty issue as it is a matter of recieving a DOA item. Warranty issues are about products that break down after the item has been used, this particular area is dealing with DOA items, items that are broken or non-working out of the box. And in many cases, it would be wise to find out the laws of the states your shipping to. Most states will consider themselves to have jurisdiction in such matters and state law may very well render any manufacturers requirements of you moot. I'm sure you've read the standard warranty disclaimer, you may have other rights afforded to you under blah blah blah. In any case, ultimately the consumer has the right to contest charges made on their cards and many issuers are getting fairly liberal as to when they will grant a chargeback.

I have had a two personal experiences along this line, both times the businesses made a claim that they couldn't exchange a DOA item, both said I had to send it to the manufacturer for repair, not more than 24 hours after the purchase. I didn't even have to go to court, I just called my bank, informed them of the situation and requested a charge back and dropped the items off at the stores. One was a small business, he did file a suit against me in small claims, a one page motion filed pro se dismissed the suit for lack of cause.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hudson
Some manufactures of electronics have authorized warranty stations that can do repairs, or some dealers are authorized by manufacturers to accept merchandise in return, but not often in this industry
I can think of no store in 42 years that has ever tried to make me return something I purchased that was non-working out of the box with the above noted exceptions. I agree some people may try it, but at least in my experience, the only way they'd get away with it is if the customer did not assert his rights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hudson
Stock and inventory is a tricky and sticky issue. The customer always has the right to cancel an order, and a credit card should not be charged unless there is a reasonable expectation that the order will be shipped within a short time frame of the card being charged
We're basically talking about stores that list items in stock when in reality it isn't. That is patently illegal. If it happens that the discrepancy is due to an honest mistake, the merchant must notify the customer and the customer has the right to cancel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hudson
Partial shipments with items on back order are perfectly legal as long as the customer has the right to cancel it
If an order can not be shipped in it's entirety, the customer must be made aware of this prior to shipping the order, and the customer at that point has the right to cancel the entire order. The exception would be a stated policy that clearly outlines partial shipments and the customer by placing an order after being informed of that policy places the order. Additionally, if the back ordered items were listed as being in stock at the time the order was placed, the customer has the right to cancel the order in it's entirety. "Oops, sorry our website wasn't updated isn't a defense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hudson
In the same vein however, when the customer places an order online they are entering into a legal binding contract. The customer can cancel the order without monetary obligation if they give the vendor sufficient notice, or if they did not enter into an agreement where the vendor special ordered product specifically to fill that order. Imagine ordering a thousand dollars worth of flowers for a wedding and then cancelling the order the day before the wedding. You still pay. Cancelling the order the day before it is due to ship, or after it has shipped, or refusing the shipment is not fair to the vendor who is ultimately responsible for the shipping cost and labor cost, and can be considered a breech of contract by the customer, even if the credit card company honors the charge back. It can still be considered a deliquent debt, and go on your credit record if reported
The basics of a contract are an offer (say a listing on a website, an acceptance (customer placing order) and consideration (authorization to debit the customers card). Unless the customer is made aware of any specific conditions of return to the contrary prior to placing an order, it is assumed that the merchant is obligated to provide a correctly working item. If the customer does not receive a working item, the contract being between the merchant and the customer, the merchant is responsible for fulfilling his obligations to deliver a working item.

Also, if you have a stated policy regarding the time frame within which you will ship the item, and fail to do so, the customer has the right to cancel the order period, he should give you notice of that and give you the opportunity to refund his money if his card has already been charged.

If you have already shipped the item, then as I understand FTC rules and how they have been applied in the past cases, your out of luck. But any reputable dealer, and I know from what I've heard from many others you are definitely included in that group, would inform the customer that they can't meet the deadline. Unfortunately not all merchants are reputable and will string a customer along to try and save the sale. if they do that, they get what they deserve.

If there is no promised shipping date involved, the FTC allows the merchant 30 days from the date of payment to get the merchandise to the customer.

As a rule, they will not get involved for 30 days regardless, allowing for glitches in shipping.

You could report it as delinquent debt of course, but all the customer would have to do is contest it, provide the neccessary documentation to prove he had the legal right to cancel the order, regardless of whether the merchant allowed him to, and I don't know of any collection agency who would continue collections efforts at that point, and the customer might just end going after the merchant if the reported delinquency has any detrimental effect, such as being turned down for a loan.

Please keep in mind, there are specific circumstances under which the customer can legally cancel the order, I'm not saying he just cancel without cause, most of the scenarios you describe do not fall within those circumstances and if I gave the impression to the contrary, I apologize.

The bottom line is, there are rules and laws governing these matters, and the merchant and the customer should make themselves aware of them to protect themselves. And obviously there can be differences in various state laws which may apply either way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hudson
Any merchant that offers mastercard or VISA is required by the CC companies to display on their WEB site a phone number, address, and a clearly stated return policy and terms of doing business. Many people do not read the "fine print".
On the other hand, some merchants (again certainly not you) ignore the rules or try to bend them to their advantage. I've seen some fairly generic statements of warranty and return that wouldn't impress any judge. I read one where they just stated "some manufacturers may require" without specifically stating which manufacturers. And any statement is over ridden by contrary laws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Hudson
The best course is always to try and work out any problems with the vendor before taking more drastic measures or making assumptions. Some of us get bull headed, make mistakes or screw up, and sometimes we try to draw a line in the sand, but in the end I think most of us vendors want to accomadate our customers.
I whole heartedly agree with you, and yes, there are some very unreasonable people out there when it comes to being a customer. That's why the rules goes both ways. But at least in my experience, the majority of problems are caused by alack of communication on the part of the seller, intentional or not, and some merchants take advantage of a customers willingness to be patient and "work it out". Some of them just have bad attitudes in general.

When I patronize a business, I don't think I'm unreasonable. If I give them my hard earned money, I expect to receive the merchandise in good working order as advertised, if it's not, I expect them to make it right, if it costs them money to do so, that's the cost of doing business. I don't expect to be made to jump through flaming hoops to get the merchant to do the right thing. I don't want to be misinformed or lied to, I don't want excuses after the fact.

But then I make sure we both have a clear understanding of whats expected and then hold them to it. Unfortunately, the good ones suffer sometimes for the bad ones behavior.

What I tried to do here is address some of the issues that I've experienced first hand and through the complaints of others. I really would welcome anyone from the legal community to clarify anything I may be incorrect on, some of it may not apply due to variances in state law obviously.

But for the most part I believe it to be accurate in general, and it's good to know there are people like you out there who can be trusted. I encourage you to do whatever you can to help ferret out the ones who can't be trusted.

Last edited by kretinus; 03-04-2005 at 08:44 PM..
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piscesgirl
On a side note -- don't you just love those incorrectly routed calls?
Not as much as the ones I get at home from people wanting to order a pizza or asking for medical advice when they think they dialed the hospital.

Every once in awhile I do get annoyed and take the order for pizza. I haven't resorted to giving medical advice though, there's a line ya know.

As a side note itself, when I first moved here last year, I started getting calls for this guy, I must have got his old number just after he changed it. I even looked up the guy and asked nicely to please make sure he got the new number to people, after a month, he apparently hadn't. Started getting collection calls from rude people who wouldn't believe he wasn't there. Finally I got so fed up, when the creditors called, I just told them I was going to pay so sue me. Then his boss called one night, apparently he wasn't at work when he was supposed to. I told the guy "he just left to go out drinking for the night with some friends.

The calls stopped not too long after that one. I would have changed my number, but hey, I just blew $25.00 bucks on business cards.
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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It occurs to me that it might also be wise to contact any manufacturer or distributor to clarify their policies for yourself if a merchant is claiming one of their suppliers or manufactuers policies is preventing them from accepting a return or satisfying some other issue. If you don't like the terms find a merchant that will provide you with the service you want. They are out there.
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Old 03-06-2005, 05:35 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Great post! Really helpfull. It can be frustrating dealing with uncooperative vendors, and helps to know your rights.
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Old 03-09-2005, 10:51 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kretinus
I encourage you to do whatever you can to help ferret out the ones who can't be trusted.
Be careful what you publish on the internet though. I know of a couple of lawsuits pending on other boards because a member wrote a bad review of a company. History has a way of repeating itself even if the players are different. I'd keep it to emails, PMs or chats where you know who everyone is and the chat is not logged somewhere. Better safe than sorry. Just keep reviews to the facts and don't embellish them at all. It's been my experience that any issues can be worked out with a vendor 99% of the time if you just remain civil and polite.

Last edited by opiesilver; 03-09-2005 at 10:53 PM..
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Old 03-10-2005, 12:56 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I've never been straight up screwed by a vendor, but I know if it happens I will be neither polite nor civil.
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