The Joys of Buying Online

If you’re like me you do a lot of shopping online, it’s convenient and the majority of the time you get great deals, that is until you have to return something or in my case never receive the items.

This happened to me not once but twice recently when purchasing items from the HomeDeopt.ca and a merchant on Amazon.com.

HomeDepot.ca:  Back on December 13th, 2011 I ordered some items for Christmas from the homedepot.ca.  The items were not in stock however the website indicated they would be shipped within 7 days and should arrive by Christmas.  Five days had past and still no delivery confirmation so I ended up buying the items elsewhere from a bricks and mortar store and tried to cancel the homedepot.ca order which I couldn’t do.  On February 13 a UPS driver attempted to delivery a package from guess who?  the homedepot.ca,  I was surprised to see the package from the homedepot.ca since the order had been placed two months ago and the homedepot.ca never communicated with me once during the past 60 days to inform me of any delays or ask me if I still wanted to proceed with the order,  they just shipped the order out on February 8th and billed by credit card which they kept on file.  I declined the delivery and the UPS driver returned the merchandise to the homedepot.ca warehouse for a refund/credit.  Well my credit card statement came today and I did receive a credit from the home depot but not for the full amount, for some reason they decided to short my refund by $8.50 ?  I called the homedepot.ca customer service line and after waiting on line for 20+ minutes had the pleasure of speaking to CSR Boris.  Boris informed me that I was partially refunded less a portion of the shipping charges?  Why I asked?  I never received the item in the time promised, I never received any communication from homedepot.ca as to the status of the order, why it was delayed or when it might be shipped.  I never received an email asking if after 60 days I still wished to complete the order – Nothing!  Further once homedepot.ca received the declined delivery, once again silence … no phone call asking why I refused the delivery and no email from customer service.  After being placed on Hold so Boris could discuss the matter with his manager, Boris returned to the phone to credit me the additional $8.15.

While I was successful in obtaining my $8.15 from the homedepot.ca, I wasn’t as lucky in obtaining $48.15 from Amazon.com from an order which was billed and never shipped.

In early January, I purchased some merchandise from a merchant on amazon.com (US site) the item was $728.66 American dollars and converted to $754.94 CDN.  I received an email from the merchant telling me the item was shipped however I did not receive a tracking number, the merchant said it was because it was an international order but was shipped by FedEx on January 24, 2012.  I waited patiently for my order to arrive but it never came, although my credit card statement did.  It was not more than 3 weeks since the order was supposedly shipped, no tracking number and no additional information from the merchant or FedEx.  After 4 weeks I filed a claim with amazon.com and three days later received a credit from the merchant for $709.84 (CDN) a difference of $45.10 (approx 6%).  Why the difference? Why didn’t I get credited the full amount?  Why did I get charged for an item that the merchant never shipped?   Well it turns out that I did get a full refund of $728.66 USD from the merchant however due to the purchasing exchange rate, the refund exchange rate and the value of the Canadian dollar at the time the sale was processed and then refunded I lost $45.10 for the pleasure of ordering an item from amazon.com that was never shipped or delivered.  My attempt to resolve this matter with the amazon.com merchant was futile because in his opinion – I did nothing wrong and refunded you 100% of your purchase price – it’s not my fault the item was not available and I’m not responsible for the cost to convert currency.  Currency conversion, freight and customs brokerage are the necessary costs of purchasing things on line from other countries, these costs are factored into the buying decision when contemplating a purchase from an internet merchant.  As a buyer you don’t mind paying the costs of currency conversion etc … if you actually receive the item, but when the online merchant takes your money and never ships the product losing $45 due to conversion is a little disheartening.

So in one case I obtained a full refund from a Canadian on-line merchant from items which were never received while on the other hand I lost $45 for the pleasure of trying to buy merchandise from an American merchant via Amazon.com which was never shipped.

So what’s the morale of the story.  Be careful when purchasing items on line especially if the items are shipped cross boarder or overseas.  Make sure the deal is good enough to cover the cost, expense and hassle if things don’t go as planned.  High value or complex electronic or fragile items could arrive damaged or not working which may require return shipping and even if you do receive a full 100% refund you may be out the cost of shipping or in my case the cost of currency conversion.  There are some great deals to be had online and the convenience and selection online trumps shopping at a bricks and mortar store any day, just be careful and make sure the thing you’re buying is a good enough deal to cover the costs and risks involved.

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