Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!


Order return rip-off

The CPU fan on my desktop computer began failing intermittently last month. So I ordered a replacement fan from, where I had originally bought the computer in September 2004. The sales guy on the phone had my order on file, so he figured out which fan I needed and shipped it to me. After it arrived, I tried to replace the part only to find that he had sent me the wrong fan.

So I called the toll-free phone number on the packing slip. The first thing I heard was a warning that they were experiencing heavy call volume and suggesting I'd do better by going to their website if I was calling for a number of possible reasons that the voice listed. Since it was Monday morning�when I'd expect call volume to be heaviest�and one of these reasons was obtaining return authorization, I decided to visit the website. Here's what I found (click on the image for a more readable view):

The $14.99 they were offering to refund did not include the $6.99 I'd paid for shipping. Since they were responsible for the error, I certainly felt I should get a full refund, including for the shipping. So on Tuesday afternoon, thinking call volume would be lower then, I called their toll-free number again. I heard the same message warning me about heavy call volume and suggesting I go to their website. This time I stayed on the line. And�surprise, surprise!�got a representative immediately. It took him a while to process my request, presumably because their computers were slow, but there was no problem with the return. Shortly thereafter I received an e-mail with a link to a UPS shipping label. The question of whether or not my shipping would be included in the refund did not come up. So I'm assuming I'll receive a refund for the full $21.98. If not, I'll call and complain.

I printed the label, repacked the fan, and taped the label to the box. It was pre-paid, so return shipping didn't cost me anything.

Clearly it behooves a company to encourage customers to use their website. It's cheaper and should be more reliable than using a person. But I can't help wondering if, in the case of return authorizations at least, it's also an attempt on their part to avoid refunding shipping costs and to shift the cost of return shipping onto the customer. I should know about the shipping cost refund in a few days.

See my follow-up post.

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