Few weeks ago, I ordered something online expecting it to be delivered within 7 working days. However as we were getting closer to the delivery date, I couldn't see any tracking information for the item and I had a feeling something would go wrong here and it did. I didn't get my delivery on time and I contacted customer support who told me they would chase up on this.
The way the company works is that they forward orders to another company/manufacturer and the latter does the shipping. Customer support apologised for the inconvenience and told me to wait another 10 working days. I was like "You are kidding, right?". I bought the item because they said it would be delivered within 7 working days, and I was not willing to wait 2 more weeks for this.
Getting the order cancelled
I made them understand they failed to deliver on their promise but it was taking between 24-48hrs to hear back from the support team. So I made the decision to cancel the order. However I noticed, they adopted a stalling technique. Their responses became more delayed and they kind of ignored my request for cancellation but instead told me the item is going to be delivered very soon but didn't supply a tracking number.
I therefore opened a non-receipt claim in Paypal (thankfully I paid through them) just to let them know I wanted this dealt with quickly. Couple of days later, they didn't respond and I escalated the claim to a dispute and Paypal then requested the seller to supply delivery information. Paypal gave them 7 days to reply. Meanwhile when I logged onto the merchant's website, I saw the status of my order marked as "Refunded" but I haven't received any refund yet. So I contacted the company again asking them what is really happening. After another few emails, I was told they couldn't refund me the money because was holding on to the funds due to my claim and that I should close the dispute with Paypal so I could get my money back or if I was going to wait for Paypal's decision, it can take more than a week.
Now I read that if you close a dispute, Paypal will not allow you to re-open the case. Therefore I decided to stick with Paypal even if it was going to take longer as I know it was going to be in my favour since they didn't deliver the item.
How I got my money back
The seller responded to the Paypal request with no tracking info. However the status in my Paypal was "Requiring your action" but there was no link/button for me to click or no place to enter a message. If I didn't respond to that within 7 days, the case will be closed. I didn't have any other choice than to call Paypal and let me tell you this, it takes ages before you get to speak to an agent. Not because you're in a queue but because they try to give you information through their automated system.
Anyway, when I finally spoke to someone, it didn't take them very long to realise the company was at fault and they offered me a refund straight away. Phewww the nightmare was over.
But why did they deliver the item after all that hassle?
Saturday morning, I'm sleeping and I hear the bell ringing. I didn't want to open the door because I wasn't expecting anything but I thought it might be something important. A delivery guy is standing outside with a big parcel. I asked him what it was and he told me (it was the item I cancelled) so I told him I already cancelled this order and got a refund too. He told me I just do delivery and I have no clue what happens behind the scene.
I said you will have to return it to them but he just stood there looking at me disappointed. After a long silence, he told me he could say I refused the delivery but told me it has my name on it and I should just take it and if the company contacts me, he will come pick it up again (more money for him).
Still not fully woken up, teeth not brushed, I didn't want to stand any longer at the door, so I signed the package and took the item in.
Is it right to keep something you've been refunded for or should you return it?
This is a delicate question and after much pondering I came to the conclusion that it depends on the circumstances. Let me explain this better.
- The inital agreement between me and the seller was that I would pay a speficic sum (£48) for a particular item which would be delivered within 7 working days. I honoured my part of the contract by paying in full, however the seller didn't do their bit.
- I've asked them to cancel the order and they knew I didn't want the item anymore as that was recorded on their system by means of numerous emails and order status set to "Refunded".
- The order reached me after 4 weeks without any notification from them informing me about this delivery.
Now many people will regard this as theft because you are expected to have paid for the item before you keep/use it. So let me provide some more insight into the matter.
- I was on the phone with Paypal for 25 minutes to get this resolved. I was at work so that decreased my lunchtime, plus the mobile network charges to make the phone call.
- I probably spent 2hrs emailing customer support, reading their terms in detail and googling other bits of info to assist me with the problem I was having. If my hourly work rate is £25, that's already £50 I spent for something that cost only £48.
- Their mistake caused me unnecessary stress for a period of more than 3 weeks.
- The item I ordered is meant for use during summer, now the good sunny days are gone.
- I work hard during week days and have a bit of a lie on Sat/Sun, it is not fair for them to wake me up early for a delivery I was not expecting.
It's not black on white, it all depends on circumstances
I have decided to keep the item for the reasons mentioned above. I would only return it if I was dealing with a smaller company (eg small family run business) but for a large multi-national company, I don't think they should be making a profit after putting me through all this hassle. Take it as Robinhood if you want.
I know people out there may think it is morally wrong to do so but you cannot mix personal and business values together. On a personal level, you can argue you haven't paid for it but from a business perspective, they failed to honour their own terms and as a good citizen, I have done my bit.
So if you're in a similar situation, I'd advise you analyse your circumstance first before getting caught in ethics.