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Web stores and questionable customer care

29 March 2013 14:00:00 misc, rant

Sometimes shopping online just works, sometimes it doesn't. This is a story about the latter.

Back in November when I had finally received my first Android device ever I also tried to purchase a protective cover for it. I turned my attention to PandaWill that was selling a neat looking case that didn't add too much bulk to my otherwise compact device. I placed an order on 3 October and started waiting. I liked their check out process for not forcing me to create an account. The final step in the process confirmed my order and said that I'd receive another confirmation in an email with full details including order and invoice numbers. I never did.

Three weeks passed and hadn't heard anything from PandaWill. Not even that confirmation email. I didn't think much of it as I didn't register and I figured I had to be minority and the system was largely untested for this use case. Still, being tiny bit worried, I opened their fancy online support, explained the situation and was given my invoice number that I should be able to use to track the status of my order on their website. I couldn't. Using the feature would have required me to create an account. Them having confirmed that my order had been received I was content for time begin. Their online support was friendly and didn't use canned replies like some bigger companies do.

Four week later on 25 November I emailed their support explaining the situation again and asked what I should do next. I got a quick response telling me that my pacakge was shipped on 19 October. I was asked to wait for another week and promised that if I haven't received the package by then, they'd send me another package. They told me that it usually took about a month for a package to be delivered.

On 20 December I reported back and told I still hadn't received the package. I was given three options; pay extra three dollars for registered mail, have the package resent with no guarantees or get full refund as store credit. I decided to pay up, bringing my total to whopping 17 US dollars. After some hassle with PayPal I was given a tracking code to be used on Signapore Mail website. Also, I was told to refuse the package if the original package arrived first.

Original package was still nowhere to be seen. On 9 January my registered package arrived. Interestingly enough the tracking service said the package had been shipped only a week earlier, on 2 January, and not in mid or late December.

Fast forward to 20 February. I had just come back from work and noticed a padded envelope from China waiting for me. There was nothing on the envelope that I could have used to recognise the sender. No logo and no sender name. The envelope had been stamped 2013.01.28.20 by China Post. Being curious, I opened the envelope only to find another protective cover inside, packed and wrapped in much smaller package than the one I received before.

Later that evening I sent PandaWill an email explaining that I had just received and opened their original shipment. I made sure to explain that I had no chance to refuse the letter. After checking local post office for prices I told them that postage for returning the item back to China would exceed what I had originally paid for the item (shipping included) and asked what they'd like me to do. I figured that they might have a return address in Eurpose, which would ont have been anything unheard of, really.

Two days later I got a reply. They suggested that I'd pay extra 8 USD and keep both items. They agreed that sending the item back would not be worth it. I refused the offer stating the fact that as I only had one device, the other cover would be uttely useless to me. I also reminded them that I had already already paid 3 USD extra and waited for three months for the first received shipment. I got one more reply from them. The message was short and right to the point, even if I didn't fully agree with it.

Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2013 14:44:55 +0800 (CST)
From: customerservice@pandawill.com Mon Feb 25 08:48:01 2013

OK, You keep that two items .and at the same time ,your are blocked in
pandawill.com for your   non-honest .

Of course, you only have my word for it, but from my point of view I had been rather courteous during the whole ordeal. I hadn't threatened to dispute my PayPal payment, used offending language, compained about the delivery time or asked to have a discount because of the delay. Also, I actually told them that I had finally received their original shipment and offered to send it back (at their expense). Had I not reported back I would not have been accused of being dishonest or been blocked from their web store. Little did I know when I first placed my order...

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Web stores and music downloads

28 March 2013 20:37:16 misc

Today I had my first experience in purchasing music in form of digital download. Everything went better that I ever dared to expect.

It was probably a month ago when I came across yet another random YouTube video on IRC. On this particular video two artists I'd never heard of performed live with nothing but a drumset, keyboard and a looper used by the singer. (Please excuse me if I got the name "looper" all wrong.) I found the song most interesting and checked YouTube for more. I continued to listened to this playlist for some time until I closed the browser that didn't have Flash disabled. I moved on.

After I finished listening all changes between HVSC 53 and 58 I needed something else to listen for change. I then remembered Sóley. Today I decided to spend some money to support the artist. At first I checked a record store that, I think you could say, specialises in indie and alternative music - or anything but mainstream. They had a single copy of the CD available, but as they didn't have it locally where I live, I would have to wait for it. Besides that, I would then have to rip the CD and find a place to keep the physical media.

After some consideration and then a little search work I found that Boomkat was selling a digital copy in FLAC. I didn't spot anything (too) alarming in their website and decided to give it a go. Two minutes later I had downloaded an unencrypted zip archive with perfectly fine FLAC files and covert art in JPEG in it. Contrary to my expectations the whole ordeal was quite painless. They didn't require me to enter irrelevant info such as my home address, click through a questionnaire of my music preferences or even create an account beforehand.

I probably won't be listening to this piece of art for as long as I will listen to HVSC, but this experience certainly restored a bit of that little faith I have in humanity.

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