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Can you cancel a customers order?
Samiam




msg:4536542
 2:24 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would greatly appreciate some advice from some more seasoned ecommerce veterans. I had a product listed on on website as on backorder and due 1/14. When the products did not arrive at our location, I contacted the manufacturer which forwarded me the tracking information that showed it would be delivered 4 days later than what they had originally told me. I notified all my customers of this delay. One customer, that placed his order on 1/13 is not happy. He felt his need to through all his titles into an email, told me it was unacceptable I WILL deliver his product or else. I apologized to him, void the authorization on his credit card and cancelled his order, logistically speaking I simple cannot ship a product I do not have. Since canceling his order I have received 6 emails, each more threatening with lawyerese than the last. Now he tells me he will be filing some type of lawsuit, there will be a "final legal resolution", because he never gave me power of attorney to cancel his order and I am obligated to deliver this item or else. I was always under the assumption I could cancel orders. Can I cancel a customer's order?

 

oliondor




msg:4536561
 3:10 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

No obligation, you cancel if you want, it should be in your conditions also.

engine




msg:4536568
 3:26 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

oliondor is correct, it should be in your T&Cs that your customer agreed to when they ordered from you.

Threatening legal action is a complete overreaction, imho. Often there's no reasoning with such individuals and their threat is unlikely to amount to much beyond being a pain to deal with.
Quote your T&Cs to them, and explain the order will be delivered at a later date, giving them the choice to leave the order on, or to cancel the order.

wheel




msg:4536581
 4:03 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

I had a flake of a customer a few years ago. They hadn't paid their bills in three months so I shut down their service. They called me and things went downhill when they started with the list of demands. Eventually I told him I wasn't going to restart the service because I wasn't going to do business with him anymore.

He freaked out (even more) and told me I had to sell him the service. I told him that unless my wife said I had to, I actually didn't have to sell him anything.

Then he threatened to go to the authorities to make me provide the service.So I asked him who he thought he authorities were, Papa Smurf?

Frankly I would simply start ignoring this person's emails and carry on with your life. Though what you should be learning from this is that you have some potential supply chain issues that you may want to address.

ssgumby




msg:4536601
 5:01 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

im not a lawyer, but I did sleep at a holiday inn last night. I think he has no ground to stand on, create a filter for his email and file it directly in junk mail. As long as you refunded, thats the end of it.

We've had some crack pots as well. One lady had her credit card declined. We obviously could not ship. She insisted it went through and we had to ship it to her. She started emailing literally every 30 minutes, so I created a rule to permanently delete and that was that.

Some customers you have to just "be done with" or they will drive you nuts!

LifeinAsia




msg:4536609
 5:23 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Although I agree with most of the comments, the fact that you charged his credit card before shipping is a bit problematic. I though you weren't allowed to charge the card until the item is ready to ship? The rules may be different in your jurisdiction.

ssgumby




msg:4536631
 6:07 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

The OP said he "voided the authorization" ... getting an authorization is not charging the card, and you have to get the auth during the placement of the order. You then capture when you ship it.

Samiam




msg:4536636
 6:32 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

I did not charge his credit card, we just authorized, we don't fully charge until it ships. This gentleman's emails are escalating in rudeness and very specific demands. (over four in one night) He announces all his titles in every email and really just seems a bit unstable and bullyish. I was under the impression I could cancel the order and I thank you for the comments.

LifeinAsia




msg:4536643
 7:08 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sorry- misread the OP.

I'd send a certified letter to the person saying the order was cancelled and his credit card was not charged. You consider the issue closed and do not want any further communications about the issue. State that you consider any further harassment by his part on the issue to be actual harassment and will be reported to the police. Then set your e-mail server to block any messages from that address.

jecasc




msg:4536675
 9:59 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Did you already close the sales contract?

What do your TOS state when the sales contract is closed, what does the law in your jurisdiction say?

Usually a sales contract is closed when someone offers something and the other accepts. My TOS for example state that submitting an order is the offer, by shipping the goods I accept the contract.

Or you can state that you accept the offer in a separate email, or by charging the credit card. You can also do it the other way round: That what you have on your website is the offer and the customer accepts by submitting the order.

However if you have not thought about this and have made no provisions for this in your TOS, then a court would look at the circumstances.

For example If your customer submitted the order and you sent an email stating: Thank you very much for your order, we will deliver on January XY. A court could conclude that with this email you accepted the offer and already closed a contract.

A payment is not necessary to close a contract - but already part of fulfilling the contract.

Once the contract is closed it is usually binding - unless you have made provisions in your TOS that state when someone can cancel. And unless this TOS are even valid in your jursdiction (which is often not the case). Often there are also differences between B2B and B2C contracts in the relevant laws.

Samiam




msg:4536681
 10:50 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sadly my TOS did not cover this scenario as clearly as it should have, I fear. It was not even 24 hours between the time he placed his order and the time I notified him of the delay in processing his order. No delivery date was ever given and on no shipping date was ever stated on our website, no guarantee of delivery by such and such date was ever given. The first email he sent me demanded that I WILL deliver it by such and such date or else and said I promised, again no promises, no dates, nothing was ever stated you will receive it by this date. He then threatened to ruin us on the internet by publishing negative reviews and filing a complaint with the BBB for such "weak excuses." In his next email he then told me he was an attorney and he needs to authorize me to cancel his order. In the next email he told me I needed a power of attorney to cancel his order. The last two emails are just demands that I will deliver this item by such and such date and there will be legal proceedings and he advised me to keep all of my emails as we proceed towards a final legal resolution, with lots of caps, lots of exclamation points. All of my emails to him have been apologetic as the delay is not intentional on our part and I told him it could be delivered, but it would arrive after his NLT deadline, which was "absolutely UNACCEPTABLE" to him. Unfortunately by the tone of his emails I fear he may make this a difficult situation for us.

As for the supply chain issue mentioned early, I wish I could truly tell this manufacturer how I feel, they have messed up this order twice, but unfortunately, for this product they are the only maker and they know it. I need them, more than they need me.

LifeinAsia




msg:4536693
 11:31 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

In his next email he then told me he was an attorney
It might be fueling the fire, but you could look into filing a complaint with the bar association (or whatever organization has local authority over lawyers) about his behavior. Include copies of all the threatening e-mails/letters he has sent you.

Your case may not be an isolated incident for this person.

wheel




msg:4536697
 11:38 pm on Jan 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

>>.As for the supply chain issue mentioned early, I wish I could truly tell this manufacturer how I feel, they have messed up this order twice, but unfortunately, for this product they are the only maker and they know it. I need them, more than they need me.

No, sorry. You messed it up not the manufacturer. You sold it when you didn't have inventory. Which is why you should own the problem and consider how to prevent it in the future. Anything else is an excuse. I love it when my competitors do this!

But to your concerns, the problem is no longer the customer. The problem is your inability to ignore the customer. Because that's what you need to do. He's not going to sue you,he's just being an idiot.

Hey, I had a lawyer send me a C&D letter last month too - and followed it up with a phone call to me threatening to sue me. I had a good laugh at his expense. Maybe you'll find the tale enlightening. There's a forum I haven't been a part of in like 6-8 years. Somehow this guy decides 'I own it'. He doesn't even do a whois lookup, I still don't know how he figured that I owned it. So he calls all sickly sweet, telling me how professional I am and how I'm going to help him out. OooooK. Then I ask him exactly what he's talking about. He says (C) information has been posted on this forum, so I ask him what. He proceed to tell me that 'an event happened in Tennessee in December (I think) and photos were taken, and that photos were posted on the forum, those photos contained copyritten information'. I'm thinking, hey some idiot took a pic ofsomeone's banner sign at a conference or something and was posting pic of a nike sign or something. Nope, that wasn't it at all.

Turns out the lawyers daughter was at a drunken college party. At the party they had a photo booth that posted pics right to Facebook. Somehow amongst the frenzy of college boys and alcohol, pictures were taken of his daughter being a, ahem, willing participant. Pics on to facebook, then around the web they went.

So his daughter's publicly servicing guys, and he translates that into copyright infringement and threatens to sue someone who's not even associated with the site. And when I called the real forum owner, he checked, and they were only talking about the incident - no pics were posted.

So thats what many lawyer's threats to sue are worth. Not much. Doesn't cost them anything to bluster - as long as you're confident they're blustering. And in this case, they're clearly spewing nonsense.

if you still can't get over it, email him and tell him all further communications are to be by registered mail. Then ignore his registered mail :).

dpd1




msg:4536777
 7:17 am on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

Wow, what a nut. I would just ignore him. He's obviously unstable, and continuing to communicate with him is just fueling the fire. If he got this upset about something so miniscule, then he will undoubtedly find something else to obsess over in no time, and move on.

When I read radically negative reviews online, I feel like it's pretty easy to tell who the cranks are. I'm not sure it really has all that much negative effect in the end, unless it starts being a large percentage of people.

Rugles




msg:4536947
 9:28 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think your "customer" is just looking for free stuff. I bet he is just trying to leverage this problem and bully you into sending him the product.

I have had similar problems in the past. I usually tell them politely that we have cancelled their order and will not be accepting any new orders from them.

Usually a sales contract is closed when someone offers something and the other accepts. My TOS for example state that submitting an order is the offer, by shipping the goods I accept the contract.


I really do not think that is legal. I think the website with the price displayed is the "offer". When the customer puts it in the shopping cart and completes the checkout process with a payment that is the "acceptance".

When I studied contract law at University, they would use the example of a grocery store. The product on the shelf with price was the "offer". The customer walking to the checkout was the "acceptance".

At that point you have a binding contract.

But, you can put a note on the website (or a sign posted in a store) saying .. "we reserve the right to refuse orders".

Rugles




msg:4536948
 9:33 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

If he got this upset about something so miniscule, then he will undoubtedly find something else to obsess over in no time, and move on.


Absolutely, you can almost guarantee that will happen. He might claim damage, not sign for the package and pretend it never arrived ... or something along those lines.

Then of course he will do a chargeback and try and keep the product.

Run from this customer and don't look back!

votrechien




msg:4536966
 10:31 pm on Jan 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

Usually a sales contract is closed when someone offers something and the other accepts. My TOS for example state that submitting an order is the offer, by shipping the goods I accept the contract.


I really do not think that is legal. I think the website with the price displayed is the "offer". When the customer puts it in the shopping cart and completes the checkout process with a payment that is the "acceptance".


There's a lot of examples of large companies falling back on this clause. A couple of years back Staples accidentally advertised iPods for $10 (or some other stupid price) and canceled hundreds of customers orders. Even without this clause, it's arguable what constitutes acceptance of the contract. I don't think there has ever been any consistency in case law regarding issues like this (let alone a Supreme Court ruling) so opinions on this are probably a lot like buttholes. We should all be grateful your customer is so omnipotent on this issue though :)

All legality aside, we all know how reliable threats of lawsuits are. However, he can easily write some damaging reviews to you, which may be even more detrimental so it's best to deal with the customer in a reasonable manner.

Also, from my experience, the very best thing you can do in these situation is prolong things as long as possible (his interest will dwindle in a couple of weeks or even a couple of days) and the very worst thing you can do is promptly reply to his messages. Apologize and let him know there's nothing you can do now but if he contacts you in xxx time you'll be happy to see what you can do in terms of arranging a discount.

jecasc




msg:4537067
 9:17 am on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I really do not think that is legal. I think the website with the price displayed is the "offer". When the customer puts it in the shopping cart and completes the checkout process with a payment that is the "acceptance".

Yes this is legal - at least where I do business. The law may be different in other countries. My website is simply a catalogue. An invitation to make an offer. Which I can accept or not. However you are right in so far as in some countries accepting a payment would already indicate an acceptence of the offer. That's why credit cards usually are not immediately charged but the payment is only authorized. And then charged after the shipment.

It's the same in a B&M store. There are items on display with price tags - but that does not mean that this is already the offer in legal terms. If you go into the shop, pick up an item and go to the cashier you have not already closed a sales contract but are only making an offer: "I am willing to purchase the product for the price on the label" (You do not have to say that, this is implied by you putting the product in front of the cashier). The shop can still refuse to sell. Or he can say "I accept your offer". Usually not in words but as an "Implied-in-fact contract". Which means he accepts your offer by typing in the price into the cashier and accepting your money.

That is the reason a supermarket for example is not obliged to sell to the price on the label when there is an error on the price tag. The contract has not yet been closed.


*** Back to the question of the original poster ***

If you have made no provisions in your TOS about when the contract is closed a court would look at the total circumstances and what is customary.

What happens if there is a binding contract and there is a delay or a party refuses to fullfill the contract all depends on local law and the individual circumstances.

My advice would be to contact a lawyer and provide for the future by letting him write proper TOS. The reason you should let a lawyer do this is: If you simply copy some TOS from the web, they might be in conflict to your local law and therfore be null and void. Also if the lawyer screws up your TOS, he is liable. You could then also ask him what you should do in cases like that. Because if you stay in business this will not have been the last time you encounter such a situation.

Relying on your "gut feeling" about what is wrong or right is not a good strategy. In the end the question is: What is the law?

Samiam




msg:4537152
 3:35 pm on Jan 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I do feel he is trying to get a free item, as mentioned earlier. His last email, indicates that if he receives the item by his NLT deadline he will take that into consideration. At this point he knows we do not have his money and I have canceled his order. I guess we have been lucky thus far, we have been selling online since 1997, we aren't huge, just a dad & daughter shop, and this is the first issue we have had. I personally think that is why he feels he can bully us into doing what he wants. And I do mean bully, because he left no wiggle room when I tried my best to make this right. I simply could not make the deadline that he set, such at January XX 12:00 PM or else. So, I guess I just wait and see what happens when the deadline passes and he does not have the product.

Thanks for all the replies, I truly appreciate it.

Luxoria




msg:4538069
 8:31 pm on Jan 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am curious to know if this is a high value item, say $300+; and if this item is mission critical, say some sort of electric hardware for a production machine.

Samiam




msg:4538078
 8:51 pm on Jan 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

No, it was a $45 item. It was a gift, so I do understand him being upset about possibly not getting it in time for a party. I just wished he would have been more compromising on the time it had to arrive by.

votrechien




msg:4538084
 9:31 pm on Jan 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

Samiam, you will quickly feel liberated when this is all over and done with. Back in the day when selling on eBay I used to bend over backwards to avoid getting our first negative feedback- sometimes at a very high cost. Eventually we got our first negative feedback and ever since then I've stopped worrying about the one d*^#head customer who leaves an unreasonable negative review. My life is a lot less stressful now. So will yours. And trust me, it won't affect your sales at all.

Rugles




msg:4539035
 7:31 pm on Jan 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hang on, he was going to sue you for a party gift? Wow.
I figured his living was depending on the product arriving on time and that is why he was angry.

The jerk should just go buy a bottle of wine and while he is at it ... get a life.

Ban his IP address from your site if that is possible. You don't want any part of this guys business in the future. Let him be somebody else's problem.

oliondor




msg:4539042
 7:48 pm on Jan 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

All these people who threaten to sue me on my shops make me laugh...

I'm offshore !

Samiam




msg:4546835
 6:58 pm on Feb 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to thank everyone for their responses. I never heard from the customer again, after I made it clear we neither had his money nor was I sending him an item for free. Which as someone mentioned earlier was probably what he wanted all along.

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