Thursday, January 6, 2011

Shopping Online - Pros & Cons

I kind of live in the country, so my opportunities for shopping are limited and I do a lot of shopping online. Most of the time, everything goes smoothly. On Monday, I placed an order with Adagio (feel free to ask me for a $5 gift certificate) for some tea and paid for their basic shipping. The box arrived yesterday (that's 2 days). I'm thrilled, but if it had been shipped within a couple of days, I'd have been happy as well.

I was a little nervous about ordering John's Giftmas present from a place I'd never heard of, but had to take that chance. Luckily, did everything that I expect from an online store: when the item I ordered was unexpectedly backordered, they contacted me right away and offered a refund or some bonus goodies if I wanted to wait. The present arrived, packaged very well (with the promised bonus items), exactly one week after Giftmas, but because of their communication, I wasn't panicking (much). John knew all about it (we picked out our own gifts this year - I got a vibrant orange (persimmon) Kitchen Aid mixer because I've wanted one for just ages) and has been having all kinds of fun with his Archos 101. (Now I'm saving up for one!)

Sadly not all experiences go like this. Because I'm a knitter, I hear about questionable yarn shops all of the time, although I'm sure that all hobbies have similar scenarios. What's terrible is that people frequently allow themselves to be bullied into waiting. What everyone should know is that some payment options have limits to how long you can request refunds. Credit cards might have longer windows, but with PayPal, you have 45 days from the time of your payment to file a dispute. After that, you're SOL and the shop owner gets to keep your money and your product. There might be other ways to get the refund, but PayPal is out of it.

Rant: don't get me started on the "it's only yarn" thing. No it's not. It's money. My money, which I paid in exchange for a product. If you don't deliver the product within a reasonable amount of time, and you don't communicate with me, I'm going to want that money back.

There's no excuse for an order to not be in the mail within a week, unless you ordered something custom-made. Never, ever wait a month for someone to send you yarn, unless they're spinning it and dyeing it to order, and even then you are going to want it before your 45 days are up!

It had to happen eventually
Yesterday, I filed my first dispute with PayPal. It had only been eleven days since I'd placed my order, but I couldn't get a response from the shop about the status. Not that I was expecting it in my  hands a little over a week past Giftmas, when I'd placed my order during the holiday, but I started getting nervous when there was no word about the package shipping. After a week, I sent an email asking about the status. I waited a little over 24 hours, and sent a communication via the website. Another day went by. I tried to call, after finding a phone number on file with PayPal. After finding the voicemail box full, I filed the dispute.

Turns out, if I'd done a little more research, I would have found that this is a pretty common-place experience for customers of The Backwards Loop. I found a conversation on Rav that started six months ago, with people waiting over a month for their orders. If I hadn't read this thread, I might have assumed the full voicemail box was due to the holidays, but no: it was mentioned at least three months ago.

It appears that filing a PayPal dispute is just about the only way to get this shop owner's attention. Eleven days after I placed my order, but just a little more than 24 hours after I filed the PayPal dispute, I had a refund. I wonder how long I would have had to wait for my yarn if I hadn't filed the dispute?

Note: PayPal doesn't involve themselves immediately. All communication about a dispute is handled in their system, though, so they can make a determination. If a refund is issued, as it was in my case, the dispute is closed. If the the other party doesn't respond (I think they have 20 days), they money is automatically removed from their account and refunded. Assuming there is money in the account.

Now that I have the refund, I'm going to try ordering from one or two small, "indie" yarn dyers that I've heard good things about. I'll report back once I have some news.

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Catching Up

Sorry I haven't been around much. I sold my soul to Blizzard and have been playing lots & lots of World of Warcraft, thanks to a surprise gift card from an unexpected source. I have in the past had difficulty treating myself or deciding what I want. Not this time. I opened the envelope, saw the card and couldn't get it activated fast enough. We immediately started downloading all the patches and the Cataclysm expansion. It had been over a year since we played, so it took several hours to get all the files downloaded. (Luckily, I learned this last time and had zero expectations of playing that first night. We set up the downloads and watched a couple of movies.)

We decided to start new characters and try to level them together. As of last evening, I now have a level 32 Goblin priest (shadow, naturally) named Sereknity (dorky, I know, but I wanted something knitting-related). I love everything about playing a goblin except the transportation (motorized trikes, which are cute, but loud). I'm getting close to the point where I can get a wolf mount from Orgrimmar and then I'll be happy. (John is playing a warlock, and they automatically get a horse, so he's already set.)

Other geeky fun
After watching the crazy prices for years, we found a pretty good deal on season 1 of Star Trek and I'm really enjoying it. I watched it in the 70s, mostly under duress because we had one TV and it seemed like the males in the family dictated the TV-viewing a lot of the time. I didn't become a geek until I was in my mid-twenties. Watching it on my terms is fantastic.

Before the holidays, I also got a great deal (better than shown now, although these prices aren't bad) on the first 6 Trek movies and the Star Wars trilogy with the original theatrical versions, which is the only way I'd consider owning them. (Han shot first, dammit. Stop messing with my childhood memories!) Firefly will always be my favorite, by a narrow margin, but I love the other two. (Pic found online - if anyone knows the source, I'd love to credit it. Update: friend Kristin IDed the source - a meme called either "Nerd Rage" or "Troll Quotes," a collection of which can currently be seen @ know your meme.) We've stalled on watching the Trek movies at #5, which is our least favorite. But we'll get through it eventually.

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