I'm not an online shopper. I'm too wary and careful for that. But recently I decided to order a sample of a product online. The website said that, from the day I ordered the sample, I would have 10 days to cancel if I changed my mind. If I didn't cancel within the 10 days, then a full order would be shipped and my credit card charged for it.
I figured 10 days was plenty of time to try the stuff and cancel online or by phone, if I didn't like it. I ordered the free sample on the 16th of the month so I should have had till the 26th to cancel before anything was charged to my credit card, right?
On the 20th, just four days after I ordered the "free" sample, they charged my credit card $140 and shipped me a three-month supply of the stuff. I hadn't even received the free sample yet, when the full order was on its way.
The sample arrived on the 21st and the three-month supply on the 23rd. So I called the company's 800 number on the 24th, two days before the 10-day deadline, to tell them to cancel. I had only used the free sample once. The three-month supply was unopened. I had no idea whether I liked the product or not, but I knew I did not like their way of doing business.
After I waited on hold through 20 minutes of loud annoying music, an operator finally picked up and quickly told me it was too late to cancel. He even verified that I had placed my order for the sample on the 16th and only 8 days had gone by. But he still said it was too late. I had the product in hand, which was not returnable, so therefore they were justified in charging me for it. End of story.
I can't refuse to pay because they have already charged my card. I can't send the product back as "Refused" because they shipped it by private carrier. No matter how I send it back, I will be stuck paying the postage in addition to the money I'm already out.
They have literally stolen $140 from me. But what recourse do I have? It would cost me way more than that to sue them for it. And I would have a devil of a time even figuring out who to sue.
The return address on the package is somewhere in Miami. But that location is just an order fulfillment center - a warehouse and shipping company. My credit card account shows a foreign transaction fee along with the charge for the product, which tells me that the pockets filling with my money are not even in this country. And that makes me even angrier!
Now I'm wondering how many thousands of people they have bilked just this way. And they probably continue doing it to hundreds more every day. In addition, they are probably just one of thousands of little web merchandisers doing exactly the same to millions of honest, trusting people every day! That could really add up. But who's counting, and more importantly, who's going to stop them?
I feel like a fool for getting taken this way, but the product was recommended by someone I thought I could trust. Maybe the product is actually good and it's just the sleazeball selling it who can't be trusted. I don't know.
What I do know is that I am never ordering anything online ever again unless I'm sure it's from a nationally known American company so I have some hope of recourse if I'm dissatisfied.
Wow! Lesson learned the hard way.