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This 59 message thread spans 2 pages: 59 ( [1] 2 > >     
The nerve of this customer.
Says didn't recieve the correct item, received an item we don't even sell !

 1:11 am on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

My wife owns and runs a small ecommerce business for 3 years. I'm the part-time webmaster and marketer.

She sells widgets to moms and she packs all her orders herself, about 5-7 a day.

A woman placed an order and received a package from us yesterday with one item in it valued at $200. She wrote us an email last night saying she was excited to get her order but when she opened it, it wasn't the item she ordered from the website. OK, maybe twice in the last few years my wife (or me filling in) may have sent the wrong item.

She said she just wants to return it and get her money back. She'll go get a cheaper widget at a store because she needs a widget right now.

In her email she also described the widget. A widget that we have never heard of.

So we emailed and asked her if she could send us a picture of the widget from her order. She got upset and said "I already described it for you. I just don't know why I have to send you a photo and make it more inconvenient for me."

Most people with returns call the 1-800 line because they are very anxious about it. She didn't. My wife called her today and said we need a picture for a UPS claim. She took a picture of this widget sitting in our packing box with our wrapping paper. No tags, no plastic covering it.

Surpise! It was an item we don't sell, never have sold. Looked like some cheap plain (pre-owned) widget.

The woman said the box wasn't tampered with. Not double taped. UPS driver has "MET CUST MAN" as the signing.

Now what?

We've had 4 charge backs in 3 years. Three of the charge backs were a mistake by the customer (didn't remember I ordered it, etc.) And the other one we won.

My wife was inclined to just take the money back from the claim with UPS ($100). I said we should try to force the customers hand a bit.

I think the customer is lying.




 2:33 am on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

Place a price tag sticker on each widget you sell, with the company name, the part number, and a simple bar code (or just some meaningless bars that look like a bar code).

A Dymo 1" x 1" sticker works well, just complicated enough to dissuade customers from substituting a company-x widget for yours.


 2:33 am on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you have all the pictures of your widgets on your site have her look

at them along with the item # and tell you if the item she has on hand matches

anything you have posted on your site. Dont cave into an erroneous claim!



 8:35 am on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

KF is right. If you are 100% certain that she is a chancer point her to the category on your website and tell her to show you the widget you sent her.


 1:53 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

We did point her to the website and had her look. She said it wasn't on the website.

She couldn't explain how a widget we don't sell it got in her box, but she took a picture and said this is the widget that came in the box!


 2:03 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

I know what she is doing. Getting a your widget selling it on ebay or out of a store and claiming it was the wrong one from you and sending back a cheap version of the widget so you can eat the loss.

Tell her you want the box the widget was sent in with wrapping paper and you will do a pickup. Once you get the item back with the box tell her you won't be issuing a refund and will fight any chargeback. Ask her if she wants the item she sent after you take pictures of it.


 2:37 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)


We sell brand name designer widgets from about 10 different companies. They have tags and labels on them from the manufacturer.

The picture she sent was of a noname widget that looks nothing like the product she bought or any product we sell!


 4:00 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

tell her what's she doing is fraud and threaten to call the cops


 4:29 pm on Aug 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

We couldn't think of a reasonable explanation for her actions.

Did her husband swap out the item? Did the UPS driver tamper with the contents? No, she said the box hadn't been opened.

We emailed her and said something along the lines of...

We're a small family business that ships about 5 orders a day. Each box is packed by me which is why we can be 100% sure the contents contain the correct widget.

we continued... We discussed this with UPS today and they have escalated the case to the fraud division. They will be contacting you and may involve the local police as well. The police will likely interview yourself and your neigbors to see if anyone tampered with the package. Interstate commerce is considered a federal matter that everyone takes very seriously.

Before this gets escalated, check with your neighbors one last time to see if someone took the package by mistake.

Let's see what happens.


 2:19 am on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

The first job I ever had was as a stock clerk in a discount store. We used to get people doing this all the time--returning things that they did not buy there. They would do it for the money or merchandise they would get in return. They did this normally as a regular thing. Not at that store in particular, but just as a matter of course, wherever they could. The store's policy at that time (1969) was to accept any return. We would get to go through the return cart and take anything that was not merchandise. I remember getting a large metal amulet from Afghanistan.:)

At any rate, I will bet you that this scam even has a name amongst the people who do it all the time. I think you did the right thing with UPS.


 4:03 am on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well she just responded to our email. Unbelievable.

Do you think it would help our case if we have her return the bag that we DIDN'T send her? She actually wants to send the other bag back to us, and that we would have to pay return shipping!

I think they call this a swap scam.

UPS won't really do a fraud investigation for value of $100 or less (it was only insured for $100, the wholesale cost of the item).

[edited by: lorax at 3:56 pm (utc) on Aug. 3, 2008]
[edit reason] removed email quote [/edit]


 6:22 am on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

If she is that persistent I think I would hear alarm bells ringing.


 7:13 am on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree with jwolthuis. I ship stuff for a friend of mine and everything is placed in a bag. The bag is then sealed with tape which has the company name and logo. The tape is actually 1"x2.6" clear mailing labels which I custom print. The bags cannot be opened without tearing either the tape or the bag. in short - no tape, not her product. These labels also work well to put over packing tape to see if a box was opened.

This is a low tech solution and very cost effective, if I may say.



 1:30 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)


I get what you're saying, but what is to stop a customer from saying, the product they ordered wasn't in the box. Isn't it your word against theirs? The CCs tend to side with the consumer.

This scam would have worked better for her if she said went to our website and said she received style B but ordered style A. That is a scenario that could have happened. Then she could have sent the widget we don't carry back to us. Now we won't accept the return.

Instead she just said it was the wrong widget and described a widget we don't sell. When asked to send us a picture, she hesitated but finally agreed because we told her we needed it to submit a claim to UPS (we also had no idea what she was talking about)

I remember reading on these boards about a seller taking a picture of the contents of each box and invoice before it went out.

We're going to contact our locally police detective and ask him what next steps we could take. Obviously she is going to contest the charge, and we'll fight it. I'm just really disappointed.


 1:56 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

How much time have you spent on this and how much of a headache has this been?

Take your emotions out of the picture and ask yourself if it is worth the $200? I know itís easy to get caught up in things like this, but you should take a step back and just consider this a cost of doing business. Tell her to send it back and refund the money. Then blacklist her.


 5:54 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

It's worth $200 if you're shipping five orders a day, like OP says he is.


 6:09 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'd agree with TowerOfPower in a situation where you weren't absolutely 100% definitely certain that the customer was ripping you off.

But if I know beyond any possible doubt that someone is trying to thieve then I'm prepared to spend the time to fight it. Call it a hobby ;)


 10:56 pm on Aug 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

i'd be very polite and ask her to check once more that the ups package she is talking about came from you and not soemone else, like she might have 'accidently' confused the two.

also tell her that of course you will refund her but that you'll have to add her address to the 'retailers' black list which is distributed amoung online retailers, as obviously the delivery people in that area are iffy - never accuse her.

i've used this method successfully a couple of times.


 1:01 am on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sorry for posting the direct email quote. Just to summarize (because I think it clarifies some previous postings to this thread)

Basically she responded that there is no way anyone else could have taken the box from UPS that fast (a neighbor). She is the only one that opened it (no double tape) and why should she be stuck with an item she didn't order. She said she will just have to dispute this with her credit card company and that she should have bought it directly from the manufacturers website (had she known what would happen)

We were at a big trade show today and saw the manufacturer of those widgets. We told them the story and showed them the picture she sent us, and they couldn't believe it. So after the thousands of widgets you've sold for us over 3 years you sent a customer a widget that wasn't ours and you don't even sell? Yeah right. Tell her to take a long walk...

They said they would back us where required. Write the woman a letter, or the CC company after the charge back comes.

We're going to tell her tomorrow that we can not refund her for a widget that we didn't send her. Again, 100% sure we didn't send that to her.

I just can't see what could be in place to avoid this from happening.


 5:03 am on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't see how you could avoid this either. Some people are just thieves and are very determined. Thankfully, they are rare.

Have you googled her name? It's amazing what you can find out about a person that way. It can be helpful in these situations. I had a customer who ordered a goodly amount of stuff and paid me with what turned out to be a stolen cc. I googled them and found they had been convicted of minor criminal stuff in the past. I sent them an email detailing how using a stolen cc to buy online was not like check kiting but a federal offence--wire fraud--and meant the Treasury Dept. would be involved, not the Keystone Kops. I didn't accuse them of doing this; I just explained what could happen to someone who did. The customer actually sent me cash to pay for the charge plus the chargeback fee.

Also, have you talked to your cc processor? Recently when I had a kook who I felt would do a chargeback, I called my cc processor and told them I wanted to document the situation with them just in case. At least the risk dept. would have that info there. It made me feel a lot better to do it, too.

[edited by: HRoth at 5:04 am (utc) on Aug. 4, 2008]


 10:10 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

Also, have you talked to your cc processor? Recently when I had a kook who I felt would do a chargeback, I called my cc processor and told them I wanted to document the situation with them just in case. At least the risk dept. would have that info there. It made me feel a lot better to do it, too.

I agree. Contact your cc processor and apprise them of the situation. You'll find a lot of doom and gloom scenarios in regards to chargebacks here on webmasterworld, but I honestly don't lose too many of them. A low number of chargebacks and having all of them reversed bodes well for you, too.

In any case, I've always contacted my cc processor, merchant bank, etc. whenever I felt someone was attempting to take advantage of me. You never know what sort of information the banking industry might have on someone...she may already be showing up on their radar. I get the feeling she has pulled this trick at least once before...and her history of crying wolf and filing chargebacks will be available for the cc processor to review. She might not have enough of a record to save you on this one, but if you have the cc processor put it in writing you can always save someone else down the line! The more documentation you have and create, the better off you will be.

In the end, you will be out the same amount of cash if you fight and lose as you are if you just lay down. The only chance you have at recouping your costs are to fight her (within reason...tempting though it may be to actually accost her).

Best of luck!


 10:35 pm on Aug 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

I had a guy write me the other day asking me for the status of the shipping on his widget when all I have is Adsense ads pointing to sites that sell the widgets in question. My page is simply a review which made it really odd.

People never suprise me anymore.


 5:33 am on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Don't beat your self up over the customers they are all very aware that they are trying to get something for free so don't bother explaining anything to them, they all ready know A: They ordered B: They Received and C: How to get it for free by charging back.

Your argument is with VISA/MC the merchant bank and the cardholders bank all of which have a vested interest in the card holder, the merchant bank LOVES charge backs because they charge upwards of $35 to the merchant to send the merchant a notice, the cardholders bank just wants to make their customer happy 99% of the time the card holders bank does not even read your response they will decline you anyway.

There are all ready possible systems in place to STOP for ever all charge backs example if you want to order online have customers use an encrypted password on the merchant form only seen by the processing bank will it ever happen NO because the processing banks will lose out on the multi-billion dollar industry of charging merchant $35 for a $0.42 cent letter.

Have you ever noticed that's merchant card banks OK all transactions even if the cardholder types in Mickey Mouse for a name...Why? because they get to charge the merchant the processing rate and get to charge a charge back fee on top later, merchant card banks love it when a name and address is made up.. Think about it there is no reason what so ever why a card processing bank cannot decline a card by saying incorrect name does not match card Incorrect address does not match card.

Its a multi billion dollar shoplifting scam being run by the bank a cardholder can order and steal a product in broad daylight try walking into a shop and walk out with a candlestick for $10 you would be pleading no contest by morning along with probation but go online and steal $100's of dollars using your own card and no one sais a thing..

Its a banking scam 'Period' and a way of legalizing theft orchestarted by the banking industry.

If someone loses there card for example the only person who loses is the merchant, why the F the merchant should be made responsible if the cardholder loses a card I will never know the idiot should have reported it right away and the bank should decline everything, how many of you out there have had cardholders say they lost their card months ago just never reported it! The whole system is bull you have the cardholders bank police-ing if their own customer should get their money back and the merchant being billed by the processor talk about the Fox Guarding the Chickens

[edited by: ChargeBackDragon at 5:35 am (utc) on Aug. 6, 2008]


 7:26 pm on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

Well she responded to our email of Monday stating we can not refund her for a widget we did not ship her.

She said she will throw the widget out. She wants her refund. She did not receive the correct widget so she will not pay for something she did not receive.

We won't refund her for something we didn't ship. And there you have it. He said, she said.

She didn't mention contesting the charge this time.

We called our CC processor as HugeNerd suggested. They couldn't really do anything until a case was initiated.

So now we wait and see wait the CC card says if she contest the charge. If we never hear from her again, we'll know what she was up to.


 10:35 pm on Aug 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

And at least you are on the record, first. It doesn't seem like much, but they know you are being proactive and you have a contact at your processor. Even if they told you they are doing nothing, someone checked up on her account to see if she has been "ripped off" in this exact same manner before. I have no idea the exact statistics, but I have a hunch that chargebacks follow an 80/20 spread -- 80% of the chargebacks filed are done by only 20% of all cardholders...

While we may disagree with some policies of banks, processors, etc. they are very good at identifying patterns...that's how legitimate chargebacks are discovered. Your bank/cc company knows your buying pattern and spending habit well enough to figure out, with rather astounding accuracy, which items you are likely to have purchased and which you are not. Some here would have a lot more experience and knowledge in this sector than I: I bet Google would pay a king's ransom to see the algorithm Visa/MC/AMEX/First Data etc. use during arbitrage...

If you want some insight, wikipedia 'arbitrage' and imagine them applying this theory to chargebacks :o)

First Edit:
Just a little thought after the fact...CC processors, banks etc. will be on edge over chargebacks in the near future: Google "40 million credit card details" "TJMaxx credit card" "11 hackers charged". Something along those lines. Shouldn't be news to anyone here!

Second Edit:
A thought just occured to me while responding to ChargeBack on another thread:
Do you have a proof of delivery/receipt? I work with UPS mostly, so I cannot speak to your exact situation. However, UPS technically requires a signature for delivery unless otherwise noted on the shipment...and a scan of the package weight upon pick-up and prior to delivery. If you have a tracking number, you can view package weight. It is possible that someone removed and reboxed your item...but it is also possible, via shipweight, for you to show that she received a package with, at least dimensionally, the same item you shipped. Then, you can show that the item you sold her, when packaged, weighs the exact amount of the package she received. Or, if there is no signature, you can file a claim with UPS and recoup some cost, as they violated their internal procedures and may have legitimately damaged your case in a chargeback scenario.

[edited by: HugeNerd at 10:50 pm (utc) on Aug. 6, 2008]


 12:16 am on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

HN, we ship UPS but this package was without a signature.

She lives in a private house where it isn't possible for a neighbor to take a package by mistake. The UPS delivery said MET CUST MAN and she agreed that did occur. She took it from him and opened it right away. Not a lot of opportunity for tampering.

We talked about it with our regular UPS pickup driver and he said it was highly unlikely for anyone at UPS to open and repackage a box.

Even if someone did, she would have noted either double tape on the box or the box would have been damaged due to pulling the original tape off.

Even though our first thought was to pay her a refund and be done with it, that wouldn't help anyone down the line. She was only going to try again with someone else, and at least if she does a charge back there will be a record for the next victim.


 2:47 am on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

If you check out Verify by Visa you will see it is possible to put chargebacks into extinction but passwording credit card shopping carts needs to be a standard feature.



 3:19 pm on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

She lives in a private house where it isn't possible for a neighbor to take a package by mistake. The UPS delivery said MET CUST MAN and she agreed that did occur. She took it from him and opened it right away. Not a lot of opportunity for tampering.

We talked about it with our regular UPS pickup driver and he said it was highly unlikely for anyone at UPS to open and repackage a box.

Even if someone did, she would have noted either double tape on the box or the box would have been damaged due to pulling the original tape off.

Exactly! And with the shipping weight from the tracking number results you can basically prove she received whatever it is you sent her. The more difficult part will be proving you actually sent what she purchased. This is where being legitimate pays dividends. Is your website set up as an LLC or anything? Filed with some (worthless -- sorry for the editorialization) third party watchdog group like the BBB? Just about anything, including a history clear of chargebacks, to show that you operate a clean business with nothing to gain and everything to lose by cheating your customers will help in any dispute situation.

While ChargeBackDragon is right, cc companies live for their fees on chargebacks, overdrawn accounts, etc. they also need the processing fees from regular transactions. There is no incentive to anger a loyal customer on either side of the transaction. Why lose their 1-3% cut of your sales! Especially if you have proven to be low-risk and she shows a problematic past as I suspect she does.

She was only going to try again with someone else, and at least if she does a charge back there will be a record for the next victim.

If she has done this before, there may already be a record. At least now you are on file with the cc processor saying you are wary of this customer and think she might be a scam artist. I am guessing she has done this before, but not too many times as she wouldn't have called you prior to the chargeback. She would have filed and waited for you to contact her...all the while hoping she never heard from you again. I've found that being proactive is the best way to scare these people straight. Her MO is to avoid human contact and make easy money/get items for little or no money. It's in her best interest at this point to make you go away, however that may be done. The more people looking at this situation the more likely she will be found a fraud. Not good idea if she plans to do it again!

You could even file a damage/loss claim with UPS. Let them pick up the packaging and the product and determine they were not at fault. You most likely won't get anything from UPS, but they will get involved and "investigate". If she's a scammer, she won't want this at all. Probably tell UPS she threw some of the stuff out and they will deny right away. Simply more proof for your on a chargeback dispute. Who files a chargeback, keeps the material, and throws out all of the evidence? Thieves, liars, and people with something to hide, of course! :o)


 3:51 pm on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just to add to HugeNerd post if you dont mind, thats a good idea to file with UPS maybe ask them to weigh what she states was in the package I doubt it will match the exact weight they have on record this will show she switched.

Also Hroth mentioned above about googling names I have had great results from running email addresses in MYSpace.com of which I have managed to scare a few with arrest into paying up when I found their real identity on there.


 4:05 pm on Aug 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

Did I mention she never called us on the phone, only email.

My wife decided to call her after the very first email because it seemed strange. She hung up on my wife. My wife immediately called back and the woman said, we must have been disconnected...

We're preparing a case for the chargeback if it ever comes. Package weight, the picture she sent us of a bag we don't sell, phone conversations, email convos. My wife is very organized.

She emailed us twice yesterday saying she wants a refund but she didn't mention chargeback in these emails.

She mentioned it only once in an email last Friday I think.

This 59 message thread spans 2 pages: 59 ( [1] 2 > >
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