People our age shop online so much nowadays. From Ebay to Etsy, you can order virtually anything instantly. Buying from shops like Amazon, one of the largest online retailers in the world, give you insights about where your product will come from, what items are available, and so many options about how to package and ship them right to your doorstep. These days, shopping is so convenient! But even with all these specifications and endless options in a shop that has anything you'll ever need, how many times have you ordered something and it just simply wasn't exactly what you asked for, or your package never arrives at all?
A few years ago, I made an online order for cupcakes from a bakery right around the corner from where my older cousin, a busy professional, works in the heart of downtown Detroit. It was her birthday, and I thought it would be nice to have cupcakes delivered to her office at the end of the week on Friday. I went online to a local bakery's website to put in an order for a half dozen of her favorite flavors to be delivered at a time when I knew she would be working. Being specialty cupcakes, and a delivery order, they were pretty expensive, but I was comfortable paying a premium to ensure that everything went smoothly.
When the bakery’s delivery service reached the office, they got there at a time when she may have been out at lunch or unavailable, and unfortunately they misunderstood my instructions, that it was ok to leave them with a receptionist if they couldn’t locate her in the very large office building she works in. On Monday they tried for a second attempt (now, with 3 day old cupcakes) and again, was unsuccessful. Later the same day, I decided to call and ask how the cupcakes were since I haven't heard from her all weekend, and Mondays are usually her days off. Her response was shocking:
I contacted the bakery immediately to ask what happened to the delivery and they explained the situation to me, they returned to the bakery with the cupcakes when they were not able to locate my cousin at her office and considered the delivery unsuccessful. I restated that I made the instructions clear on my online order that if she wasn't there, the could leave them at the front desk because I was certain the receptionist would locate her. They apologized for the misunderstanding and offered to make a new batch for me, but because they already made two attempts to deliver, I would have to pick the fresh batch up myself. From their bakehouse in Livonia. Almost a half hour away from where I lived, and another 40 minutes from my cousin.
"Livonia?!" I was stunned! The bakery is just around the corner from the delivery address, why would the cupcakes be in Livonia?
It turns out, the bakery near my cousin’s office does walk-in and call-in business, but all online orders in this region are dispatched from a bakehouse in Livonia. I could’ve asked them to make another delivery attempt for an additional $14 delivery fee, but at this point, it was several days later, I felt cheated, and paid a premium for delicious cupcakes & superior delivery services which I did not receive. The employees were not willing to make a compromise as they saw their offer as reasonable, and were not offering a refund for the goods & services that weren’t received because they already tried to deliver, twice.
I contacted my bank about the situation, and because it was an online purchase, and I paid with a credit card, they referred me to call my card company instead. I called, and asked if there were any possible options I had to get a refund, and sure enough there was. It was a feature on my card I'd never heard of before called a "Charge-Back", and credit card companies offer this as a service in case of this very situation. After providing proof of purchase & evidence of various attempts to get a refund, my card provider was able to refund my money through a feature I hadn’t even known existed!
As my card company explained it to me, a Charge-Back can be used if something is wrong with your product or service where you didn’t receive what was listed, it was broken, or you just didn’t receive the product. Something completely out of your control, where the retailer won’t resolve the issue with you after making a reasonable attempt through your available resources.
Sometimes bad things happen that are completely out of our control, even with the best financial knowledge. Similar to the way a bank or credit card insures your money, your card provider insures your transactions, but ultimately it is up to you to guarantee your financial satisfaction by knowing what options you have available in the case you find yourself in a bit of a blunder. The best way in my opinion, is to do your banking with people you trust, has great customer service, and easily accessible help when you need it. Credit Unions are a place you are respected more than just a customer, but a member and shareholder of a place you trust with your hard earned money!