Sometimes I think
that if it were not for my addiction to Internet shopping, I would
be a rich man. I really wish I could learn to resist the temptation
of getting the latest gadget on sale, especially when companies
spice up the deal with a mail-in rebate.
If I ever manage to get myself under control, I might actually
have some money in a savings account. Well, at least I would
have a savings account, as opposed to an assortment of credit
cards that I scramble to pay every month.
However, until very recently, e-shopping sounded almost too good
to be true. I could order just about anything without leaving my
chair, for the lowest price available anywhere in the country, and
have it delivered straight to my door. What's not to like? Well,
here's an experience that taught me a lesson.
Too Good To Be
Earlier this year, I decided that one of my desktop computers was
due for a few major upgrades, including a bigger hard drive. Thanks
to an ingenious scheme thought up by the nice people at TechBargains.com, I found a
way to buy a fast 60 GB unit from Dell for just US$88.74 with free
The scheme involved "stacking" a 20 percent rebate with a $25 off
coupon, for a total price that was at least $30 lower than what I
would pay for a similar component elsewhere.
I went ahead and ordered the hard drive, "padding" my shopping
basket with a Palm accessory to meet the $100 minimum required for
the coupon. The whole thing seemed to work like a charm. Within
minutes, I had an "Order Acknowledgement" in my e-mail inbox.
However, after that point, the order mysteriously got lost in
cyberspace, and I received neither an official "Order Confirmation"
nor the item itself.
Calls to customer service resulted in even more confusion, as no
one was able to find traces of the order in question. The best
anyone could do was suggest that I "try again." However, since the
promotion was over, I went to NewEgg.com instead and ordered a
similar IBM DeskStar hard drive. Three days later, I had it in my
hands, ready to forget that the whole thing ever happened.
Surprisingly, almost a month later, I noticed a charge on my
American Express account in the amount of $88.74. The next day, I
found a UPS notice on my front door and yet another "Order
Acknowledgement," this time in my physical mailbox. However, a
number of things were wrong with the order.
First of all, although the price was the same, the hard drive was
a larger and slower model. Also, this new order listed only one item
instead of two. Finally, the price reflected a coupon which not only
had expired but couldn't have been applied to this smaller purchase
in the first place.
In total dismay, I called Dell once again and demanded an
explanation. Naturally, they didn't have one. For all they cared, I
had just placed another order, and they had simply shipped it to me.
I told them that this order could not have existed, and that it
also was shipped to my home address, which I would never ask for
since there is nobody there to receive it during delivery hours.
All they could offer me was a refund, which I gladly accepted.
Having been promised my money back, I asked to be transferred to the
fraud department, but they told me they didn't have one.
Realizing that I had to protect myself from repeating this
experience in the future, I asked to be removed from their database.
They politely informed me that since I once placed an order with
them, my name will be forever in their system, and there is no way
to wipe it out.
The bottom line is that while the prospect of getting a "Hard
Drive of the Month" for the rest of my life is not exactly
thrilling, there seems to be nothing I can do about it.
Any suggestions as to how I can rectify this situation would be