Buyers Beware!!

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tonyhFri, 07/01/2022 - 10:27am

There is evidence of what I think are deceptive, and possibly illegal, trade practices being conducted by Australian internet retailers. They are advertising for the sale of goods with delivery promises they have no hope of achieving.  They don’t actually have the goods in stock, and they don’t have a clue when they will get them. But they do have your order and your money.

Then, when you give up in sheer frustration, you can’t easily contact them - or they pass the buck.

Two instances I have had recently.

I ordered a heavy four-wheel tipping barrow from Kogan. Kogan is a sales and marketing front for many small suppliers. 3-5 days despatch promised on their website. They passed my order on to a company in Perth, Direct2U. They claimed to have despatched the barrow shortly after receiving the order. But, four weeks later, it hadn’t arrived. Instead of Kogan resolving the problem and refunding my money, they passed me on to Direct2U who, would you believe, said it was lost and tried to passed me on to a carrier for resolution. They said they wouldn’t arrange a refund until it was located! An ill-conceived delaying tactic until new stock arrived? How do you lose a wheel barrow?

It is definitely against fair trade practices for the retailer (Kogan in this case) to pass your problems on to their suppliers. Your contract is with Kogan, no one else. They have the sole responsibility to you to resolve the problem.

I set about buying a water pump from another retailer – MyDeal - this week. "Millions of deals!"  "24-48 hours despatch! "Another front for small retailers – often from China. I was a bit more cautious this time and asked for written (email) confirmation on stock availability. Reply eventually received, “Apologies as we don`t have stock available now but have requested the supplier for more details about ETA. We will let you know as soon as we hear from our supplier with regards to the stock.”

Again, they were happy to sit on my money knowing there was no chance of despatch in the promised timeframe, or possibly even in the near future.

What is really irritating is that, whenever I open a website page for the news, weather or whatever, these bloody companies swamp me with ads for the very things I have ordered and they can’t supply!

You will know there is a serious world-wide shortage of manufactured goods right now. Huge supply chains are at a standstill and China has no hesitation in locking up major manufacturing centres/cities threatened by covid outbreaks. But these Australian on-line retail fronts have to keep the revenue flowing, even if they can’t get the goods. So, they indiscriminately take our money knowing full well they can’t supply. If they go bust in the meantime, we get nothing back.

Even dealing directly with major international car and manufactured goods companies can be problematic. I’m aware of two companies recently that have taken orders and large deposits and placed customers on a waiting list. Only for the customers to find they have silently slipped down that waiting list for reasons that you and I can guess. It’s a suppliers’ market and the highest bidder gets the goods.

Recommendations:

  • Don’t place your order until you have received written confirmation that the goods are in stock in their warehouse in this country.
  • Pay using a reputable organisation that will help you get your money back if necessary. PayPal is an example. Not easy to contact directly, but they can exert huge pressure on a defaulting retailer.
  • As a last resort, contact the Office of Fair Trading through their website. They are swamped with consumer complaints right now, but I have found them to be quite responsive and helpful when I have had an unresolved issue with a supplier.

Tony Hann

 

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