Phew! Feeling relieved having survived all that shopping, cooking, sending off presents, partying and eating days of left-overs of rich food? Well, take a deep breath, honey, you will start the cycle all over again tomorrow!
How did you spend your Boxing Day? If you’re in England, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you were probably busy at the shops picking up the best deals of the year! I remember when we were in New Zealand, Boxing Day made me feel like I shouldn’t be doing any shopping all year except for that day! That’s THE Day when best deals are truly best! It’s probably the equivalent to Black Friday shopping here in America, but minus the stampede and the overnight queues.
Well, as for me, I went to the post office first thing, after I had done all my basic chores for that day. With the Christmas rush over you would think the streets would be quieter and the mall parking less stressful but no, there were still many people. Well, probably buying post-Christmas item sales for next year’s trimmings, gift wraps, cards, Santa hats and suits? Or returning purchases or presents with receipts for the right color, size, style, model, edition, etc, or refund? Boxing Day or Returns Day?
I had bought a reference book but realized I bought the wrong edition year I wanted for that book just hours after I placed the order on Amazon. So, I went online again to cancel it. They didn’t reply although the status didn’t show anything like it was already being prepared for shipping. I sent 4 emails in total, still no reply. There is no number to contact, by the way. (Later, my credit card company gave me a number to contact Amazon but it turned out to be a fax number.) When the status started showing that it was already being prepared for shipping I emailed for the 5th time and only then did they reply saying it cannot be cancelled anymore and that I can always return it but they won’t refund me for the shipping charges I would incur. So I disputed the transaction saying I had cancelled it early enough but they insisted on shipping it. I thought even if I would incur some money for shipping back I don’t care, I really don’t want that book. They probably are hoping I would get discouraged by losing money on the return shipping and I would just keep the unwanted merchandise. But our house is already bursting at the seams with old books I don’t even want anymore. The USPS (US post office) has this “flat rate” boxes that are relatively reasonably-priced. Anything that fits in those boxes, no matter the weight, would ship at that flat rate. So, I thought I will try just see how much it costs to send back the item as it is first and then compare its price if re-packed and sent in a flat-rate box. So, that’s what I did. And voile! The post office clerk said since I didn’t open the item she can treat it as “refused” and she can send it back as it is, WITHOUT any fee on my part! Hurray! I’m glad I was so mad about the way they treated my cancellation that I was actually mulling sending it back as it is, even if the price of shipping would cost me a bit more than sending it back on a flat-rate box. (The book is big and heavy.) I’m glad I decided not to even touch the thing!! So, she gave me a tracking number and I called my credit card company again to continue with my dispute. Yesss, that should be the end of it! I was blessed by God through that clerk on Boxing Day, and for all time for that info on “refused” deliveries!
Meanwhile, I just read this feature article by Alex Shephard saying that Amazon business did so well this past year and his conclusion is that, “Amazon’s influence on the American economy is greater than ever been before, and it will almost certainly be even greater next year. There are some reasons to feel good about this—no company is more committed to making it easier for consumers to buy things—and a lot of reasons to be troubled.” I can’t agree more on that. They make shopping so easy but “returning” wrongly-bought items seemingly difficult; well, in fact, it actually is not only difficult but impossible. (Read the Epilogue all the way below.)
Actually, this was the second time this happened to me – buying the “wrong” thing. Last time I also bought a reference book from Amazon and I got two confirmation emails from them for that transaction. I thought it was just a duplicate email. Horrors! It was actually two distinct purchases for the same item. They said their system got two purchase orders from me and it looks like I clicked on the “buy” button twice!? Their solution? “Just return the merchandise but we can’t pay for the shipping charge you incur.” Of course that deterred me at once as the book was heavy and that time I did not even know about flat-rate boxes in the USPS (not sure even if they already had that option then). So, I kept the merchandise and decided to give it as a present to a friend instead. But now that I discovered about this “refused” option at the USPS, phew! that’s a relief! Online shopping may not actually be suicide, just close.
On the other hand, I just found this thread online on how to refuse a delivery and it looks like if it is delivered by a private courier, like UPS, returning goods is not that straight-forward. Apparently, with private couriers, they have their own “culture.” (Well, just as my son had said, I could have known about this earlier if I just Googled it. *emoticon*)
So, there, this has put my guards up on online shopping, at least for now! Meanwhile, I’m cleaning up my house for the year-end “Spring cleaning,” at least before the New Year frenzy starts all over again, and will be boxing away clutter and happily throwing away a lot more! Hopefully, my house will get a clean, streamlined look again,… till new clutter sets in, again. Hmmm, sounds like the humdrum of life, year-in, year-out. Still,
Blessings to You All and All the Best for Your New Year Celebrations!
If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2015, Dec 29). Boxing Day [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2015/
Epilogue of this Incident:
I got a refund of 75% of the book price from this transaction although I returned the item well within the return window of 90 days given by the third party vendor BooKnack. See here for Amazon’s Partial Refunds & Restocking Fees. I ordered it on Dec 20 and they received it back in original condition on Dec 29. Well, I’m sure BooKnack have their own returns policy to justify the lesser amount they are refunding me, and it’s too late for me to know what their policy is. The wrong purchase on my part cost me a total of $13.42, the vendor citing “restocking fee and the return shipping costs that the USPS charged” them. That means the post office clerk telling me that return shipping costs me “nothing” is as good as a lie. I looked at the USPS website online to send them an email to inquire how they can make such an empty claim when the vendor can actually charge me their “free” service but there is no option available in their menus to make that kind of inquiry. I guess I can go back personally to the post office and tell the clerk to stop spreading “misleading info” (euphemism for “lies”) to naive customers like me when it comes to Amazon merchandise but that is the best this case can go. No, there is no free lunch on Amazon, honey. You clicked the wrong button, you pay for that and walk, drive, park and line up as well. Let’s just say, set aside a pleasant morning for that. The trite thing is, I cancelled this order 6 hours after I realized I placed the wrong order and emailed them four times (they give you no phone number on their site to contact them for cancellations, returns, etc.) and they did not reply. In one of the emails I offered them to please just cancel the order, just charge me 25% of the book price plus the Amazon shipping fee of $3.99, because I did not want to go through the hassle of receiving the item and going to the post office to return it. I even argued that we would be doing the environment a favor if they agreed with my proposal. No reply. Until then Amazon had not posted any status on my order so I knew the book was still with them, the order unprocessed and could have easily been cancelled. When Amazon already posted the status on their site that the item is being “prepared for shipping” I emailed the third-party vendor BooKnack for the 5th time confirming that I really did not want that order and I still wanted it cancelled. Only then did they reply and all they said was that the order was already processed too far down the line to be cancelled. I have never cancelled an order before on Amazon or anywhere, so, the 25% amount off the item price plus the shipping fee charge I had proposed was just a wild guess on my part. Well, true enough, those are the amounts they lopped off the money I had paid them for this order. So there. Hard lesson learned. Don’t be so click-happy with your cursor when ordering online. Just a finger-press on your part and you have to pay 25% of the item cost, plus the shipping fee, plus incur a trip to the post office. The main hard lesson learned for me: Online shopping is not there for the convenience of the customer but rather for the vendor/s and the credit card companies.
Did the credit card company help me by withholding payment just because I argued I made the cancellation request just hours after I made the wrong order? No. They said once you give the vendor authorization over your credit card number they have no authority to stop payment.
Was Amazon able to help me cancel the order? No. The best they can do is give me the $13.42 I lost in the form of a coupon which I can use on my next purchase with them. (Will I still shop with them?)
Did the USPS promise of “free shipping” for “refused” delivery carry through? No. USPS is over-ruled by the vendor’s “return policy,” of which I usually don’t even bother to know before I place any order. Yup, that’s head-in-the-sand me.
Did the third-party vendor reply to any of my requests for cancellation just hours after I placed the order? No.
Did the third-party vendor have a phone number on their website that I could easily contact for customer support when I wanted to cancel the order? No. Their system only allowed me to email them.
Does the Amazon website have a number I could easily contact for customer support when I wanted to cancel the order? No. I called my credit card company to stop / hold payment but instead they gave me an Amazon phone number to contact but it turned out to be a fax phone number. That was before the transaction had “posted” on my online credit stream, which, being “unposted” yet, could not be “disputed” at that point. When it had finally “posted” already and I called them to dispute the transaction as they had promised, then my credit card company gave me another Amazon phone number instead which I could finally contact. By then Amazon could not do anything much to help because the product had already gone through the whole cycle of being delivered and returned to the vendor. The transaction was over and they had all the right to refund me just any percentage-amount they arbitrarily decided to do so. I was at everyone’s total mercy. All that by just one wrong flick of my finger.
Well yeah, here’s naive me, thinking online shopping was so convenient! Well, not anymore! If I was just shopping at a brick-and-mortar shop, say Macy’s or Barnes and Noble, and changed my mind about a purchase, I could come back hours or even a day or so later, return the product with the receipt and they would credit back the full amount to my credit card. Online shopping does not allow that to happen.
Alex Shephard quoted in his article which I cited above that, “Amazon resists narratives because Amazon has only one narrative: complete commercial domination.” That actually sounds just as it does: alarming. The last Barnes and Noble in Queens, NY will close this coming year and now, having had this experience with Amazon (and BooKnack) makes me even more sad about B and N closing down. Will I keep my account with Amazon? Maybe I will, but just for the purpose of snooping around. Or I lose a grip on what the real world is like? But hey, “Happiness!” This mis-purchase just opened my mind to yet another window of what our real world is like – the reality of the increasing predominance of e-commerce and its powerful and sinister curb on our shopping liberties.