A couple of months ago, I stupidly reacted to an advert that popped up on my smartphone feed. It was for some sandals that looked rather snazzy and I clicked BUY in an instant. The price including postage was $47.88. I did wonder if the retailer was in the USA, because the price was in dollars, but thought no more about it.
Weeks went by with no sign of the delivery but finally my fears of a no-show were allayed some four weeks later when the postman delivered the parcel.... covered in Chinese stickers and customs labels. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I opened the parcel and eagerly tried on the sandals. They didn't fit. Feeling like one of the ugly sisters when the Prince turns up with the glass slipper, I tried and tried to get my foot into the sandal, but my toes hung out the end by several inches. I had ordered a UK 6 or European 39. Then I looked at a label stuck to the sole. They had sent me European size 36 or a UK size 3. No wonder they didn't fit.
I dug out the order confirmation email and contacted the company explaining that they had sent the wrong size. I offered to send the shoes back and requested a refund or replacement. The next day a girl called Allina replied. She was sorry for any inconvenience and suggested I keep the shoes and they give me a 10% refund. Alternatively, I could reorder and get a 20% discount. She clearly did not understand they had sent the wrong shoes and that I did not want to either suffer a 90% financial loss or reorder paying a further 80% more for their mistake.
When I went back onto their website this message filled me with confidence!
I messaged Alina back, saying I could not accept her offer. Dutifully she replied the next day raising the refund offer to 30%, meaning I would still pay 70% of the cost for shoes I could not wear because of THEIR mistake.
Again, I messaged Allina and said I could not accept her offer. It was THEIR mistake not mine and I wanted a full refund or a replacement with the correct size.
The next day Allina replied. The best they could offer was a 50% refund but I would need to return the shoes and she suggested the postage, which I would have to cover, would be high, making it an even worse financial loss for me. I reminded Allina that it meant I was still paying for her company's mistake. It fell on deaf ears.
In frustration I approached Paypal. After a week or so in their resolution centre, they sided with me. However they said that I would have to return the shoes to China, pay the tracked postage, get proof of postage to upload onto the Paypal website and then I would be refunded the 100% cost of the shoes.
When it came to post them, I was rather shocked that the cost of the postage and tracking would be £16.60, almost half of the refund I expected to get. I decided I would have to accept that as the best I could hope for and chalk it up to experience. For a split second, I did wonder whether it was worth even going through the return process, but my anger over Chinese customer relations got the better of me. For me, it was now not so much about recovering my losses, but more a war against unfair consumer practice. I decided I would sooner lose 50% of my costs to Royal Mail to send the shoes back than give a penny to the Chinese company whose customer service is non-existent. This morning, Paypal inform me, having seen my proof of postage I uploaded to their website, that they have refunded my account with the total cost of the shoes and charged the Chinese company. I feel somewhat relieved and slightly smug. Is that bad of me?
Needless to say, I shall steer clear of adverts in the future which involve trade with China. It just ain't worth the hassle.