Happy Holidays
December 16, 2002 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Happy Holidays from Buy.com! Like any other red-blooded American, you're probably doing your holiday shopping online, and in this day and age, you're probably buying electronics. So was I. I ordered a DVD player from Buy.com but decided to cancel the order. I was notified it shipped anyway. Here's the kicker: when I called their 1-800 to speak to someone about the issue, I was told that it would cost $10 TO TALK to someone and I was prompted for my credit card number before proceeding. Have e-commerce sites finally found a way to make a profit? Not on my dime, thank you.
posted by robbie01 (33 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason:

That happened to me with Iomega, and I swore I would never buy anything from them again.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:00 PM on December 16, 2002

The customer, apparently, is never right.
posted by risenc at 12:03 PM on December 16, 2002

maybe you didn't read the instructions on the site correctly? after all, you haven't done here....
posted by andrew cooke at 12:05 PM on December 16, 2002

Yeah, but man, nothing says "You're special to me" on Christmas like a Samsung DVD+MP3 Player/HiFi VCR , donja think?
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:08 PM on December 16, 2002

match.com requires a call to a 1-800 number to cancel service subscriptions.
posted by mischief at 12:19 PM on December 16, 2002

andrew cooke: His post may not follow the metafilter rules, but I, for one, value his remark about his experience, and am glad I saw it. I don't read MetaTalk so I'd never have seen it otherwise.

I personally don't think the guidelines exist to be followed 100% literally "no matter what", but then again, I didn't write them. It is, however, my humble opinion that this post is valuable, despite the link itself not really being useful, and the fact that maybe you could argue it belongs on metatalk or whatever...
posted by twiggy at 12:24 PM on December 16, 2002

"We have cameras."
posted by ColdChef at 12:25 PM on December 16, 2002

metatalk is for talk about metafilter. this post doesn't belong there either. perhaps consumer reports has a discussion forum? or, he could do what any red-blooded american would do - register buysucks.com and put up a website. a plain old link to the front page of buy.com and some text complaining about customer service is a loser - an attempt to hijack metafilter in support if his personal vendetta.
posted by quonsar at 12:31 PM on December 16, 2002

mmmm, personal vendetta [gaaaaaah!]...
posted by blue_beetle at 12:34 PM on December 16, 2002

This is a job for AngryMobJustice (aka Blog Justice).
posted by jacknose at 12:45 PM on December 16, 2002

So, this personal vendetta...it vibrates?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:51 PM on December 16, 2002

metatalk is for talk about metafilter. this post doesn't belong there either.

I agree with you, quonsar. But wouldn't Metatalk been a better place for this spanking?
posted by timeistight at 12:56 PM on December 16, 2002

*claps quietly for ColdChef's reference*
posted by Cyrano at 1:04 PM on December 16, 2002

oh, guys, come off it. just talk about it and leave the fucking etiquette alone for five seconds.


so, what are you going to do about it, robbie01? wait til it gets there and then call up and flame the automated customer service request system?
posted by oog at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2002

The fee for talking to customer seervice is ridiculous, but what was the issue you needed to talk to them about? You cancelled the order, but they'd already shipped. It arrives. You return it. Is there another problem here that I'm missing?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:26 PM on December 16, 2002

I've already flamed their customer service e-mail, which promises to respond in 12 hours. The problem with the order will be taken care of, of course. I'll have to go through the hassle of returning a package that I had cancelled. The issue I wanted to bring up here was this new experience of having to PAY a substantial fee just to talk to someone on the phone about a fault of the Buy.com order/cancellation process. I'm just a little nervous that this might become a standard. Wonder how much Amazon would make charging little old ladies who can't figure out their tabbed navigation?
posted by robbie01 at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2002

Despite the fact that this thread will probably be dead soon, I will say this... buy.com is notoriously bad about updating status on the orders that are placed. Only after I receive my package does it say "Shipped", or even then sometimes it can take 3-5 days for them to update it.

One of the things the Internet was supposed to solve was this problem of lag time in knowing when a package was coming. Allow 6-8 weeks the television ads say, but that is expected. In this age, these kinds of wait times are unacceptable. I want real-time access to status of my package information. If this were 1998, I would say ok... but it is almost 2003. By now your shipping, order, and inventory databases should be integrated and updated in real time.

I think amazon.com does a good job on updating status markers. ebgames is another one I have found that does this.

The fact that buy.com has removed all notion of customer service is appalling. They used to have the 800# on the home page. Then they hid it in the help files. Now they want to charge you just to talk to someone about their incompetance.

Buy.com has always had a policy, though, that it is 99.9% impossible to cancel an order once it has been placed, and you must wait and return the item.
posted by benjh at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2002

Darn, darn them for shipping too fast before I could change my fickle little mind! Darn them for making their warehouse workers pick and package the order they thought I had placed in good faith! Darn them for not having an 'unsend a package' link. Darn them all!
posted by sageleaf at 1:45 PM on December 16, 2002

How about posting your experience HERE.

At Epinions, we display the sum of our users' reviews of a store as a 1-5 star rating next to EVERY "buy this thing" link on Epinions. Merchants with a low customer rating have a hard time getting people to click through, they have to spend more money buying traffic, they lose margin, they go out of business...

Participate in the system and let it do its work. Buy.com is already down to 3-stars. That's the edge.

I don't think this thread violates the rules, necessarily, but there are definitely better places for shopping gripes. We all have way too many to start posting them as MeFi links.
posted by scarabic at 1:54 PM on December 16, 2002

Or instead of returning, just refuse delivery when it shows up and report the charges to your credit card company as a fraudulent transaction. You canceled the order, they charged you anyway. Let VISA fight it out with them. A few headaches like that, plus a bad rating for buy.com, and they might start having human beings answer the phone. That $10 charge for help is just insane.
posted by ednopantz at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2002

Just write REFUSED - RETURN TO SENDER on the package and hand it to the mailman. Works like a charm with ColumbiaHouse.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2002

I'm glad that you mentioned this, robbie01. I, as I'm sure that many MeFites do, buy from Buy.com regularly. I switched from Outpost about six months ago (for no really good reason, frankly), and I've been happy, but I'm not sure that I want to take the risk that I might need to call them at some point. Back to Outpost it is.

I liked them better when they were called Cyberian Outpost. It was more quaint. :)
posted by waldo at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2002

The fee for talking to customer seervice is ridiculous

No more so than the fees for talking to a teller at a bank. The fee does not exist to soak customers. It exists to keep customers from calling, which is a perfectly rational strategy.

If I ran an online retailer, I wouldn't offer telephone customer service at all. You know all your customers have e-mail; why would you ever expect them to call you? E-mail is not only more convenient and less expensive to deal with than a phone call, it also protects the business and the customer by providing a written record of all promises made.
posted by kindall at 2:14 PM on December 16, 2002

Do e-mails really count as written record? I'm pretty sure they don't in my country - Denmark. Here they are treated with the same level of truthfulness as verbal agreements.
posted by FidelDonson at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2002

Three words: Better Business Bureau. When my Handspring Visor stopped syncing for no real reason, I noticed that Handspring has free email tech support. However, after some back and forth with the email tech people, during which no real support was given, I was told to call the help line, which had a per-incident fee. Claiming that their website offered free email tech support, and noting that they did not provide this support, I emailed the Better Business Bureau in their area and got a callback from a tech who fixed my problem [I would have settled for real email support as well] on their dime.

In your particular incident, it still leaves the question open: is email support free? Did you try that? Does it say on the website if the calls cost money? Did you read the website? If you can't figure out an online store, you are always welcome to go to a regular old store, and you save on shipping costs! Ecommerce doesn't exist purely as a public service, it's a business. Why should amazon.com [as per your example] spend valuable phone time explaining to little old ladies -- who may not be buying anything -- how to use tabbed navigation anyhow? I agree that it sucks, but flaming customer service seems like a less than optimal way to handle it, in fact it only probably reinforces the policy they seem to already have in place.
posted by jessamyn at 2:40 PM on December 16, 2002

You mean you can get screwed on the internet just like in the real world?

*jaw drops*
posted by Stan Chin at 2:43 PM on December 16, 2002

I did look around in vain on Buy.com's site for any information about charging for customer service calls, but could only find this regarding their exclusive move to e-mail.

"* In an effort to provide our customers with a superior level of standardized customer support, buy.com made the decision to move to an eMail-only forum. The eMail-only policy began on February 23, 2001 and promises to be a premium method of supporting you, as we are committed to answering your eMail in 12 hours or less. To send us an eMail, please use the form above. We apologize for any inconvenience and encourage you to use our enhanced support method."

For those wondering why I don't just "use" the system and email them -- I did! I initially tried to retract the order using their system, giving them plenty of time to do so, and because of the time-sensitivity of the issue (I wanted to cancel it before their warehouse sent it out), I preferred to talk to someone live who could take care of the problem right away. The fact that I might not hear from someone for 12 hours would virtually guarantee the order would be processed by their warehouse -- costing us both time and them money. Probably more than $10 in man-hours to send out the item and then have to deal with my eventual return.

For those keeping score, I still haven't heard back from them regarding my cancelled order... via their red-hot e-mail support program.
posted by robbie01 at 2:59 PM on December 16, 2002

Kinda reminds me of BestBuy's actual store.
posted by cinderful at 4:21 PM on December 16, 2002

wow, you mean I can really make metafilter my own blog and post about how I got screwed?

Next week! angry modem's sex life!
posted by angry modem at 4:22 PM on December 16, 2002

my new motorola cellphone (service by verizon) has a voicemail indicator. it never comes on, even days after a voicemail is left. woo hoo! front page post, here i come!!!!
posted by quonsar at 4:50 PM on December 16, 2002

quonsar: You'll need a link. Try this.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:57 PM on December 16, 2002

she's lookin' good, sos!
posted by quonsar at 4:58 PM on December 16, 2002

"We have cameras."
posted by ColdChef at 12:25 PM PST

This is brilliant. Makes the whole post worthwhile.
Ah, memories . . . .
posted by LeLiLo at 10:57 PM on December 16, 2002

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