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Dishonest customers

Please someone respond, I need immediate advice.



10:26 pm on Aug 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

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I am fairly new to ecommerce. I have an online fragrance store. I just received an email from a customer who purchased 2 items that said she got her order but only received one of the items. Now, I packed that order myself. I rolled both items up in one long strip of bubble-wrap and know absolutely beyond a doubt that both items were in the box and she is lying. The package was sent by Priority Mail if that makes a difference. I have sent her an email telling her I know I packed both items and asking her if the box had been opened when she received it.
What can I do to avoid having to send this dishonest person a free expensive product?
Thank you.
10:44 pm on Aug 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member nffc is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Hi Hissyfit, nice to see you,

>absolutely beyond a doubt

I'd still triple check, do you have a stock control system that will show if the item has been sent.

>sent by Priority Mail

I'm from the UK so don't know what that is but does it include insurance. If so you could ask the courier to investigate.

>telling her I know I packed both items

Are the packages weighed before dispatch? Maybe you could use this to "prove" that both items were sent.[If you don't weigh them you could always call their bluff, politely of course ;)]

Generally your reaction to problems like this can determine how successful your business will be. Hard as it may seem try not to get in to the mind set of assuming that every order could be dishonest, always give the customer the benefit of the doubt and even if you know that they are lying, don't let on until you have no choice.

Also have a peek at Tedster's recent post here [webmasterworld.com].


11:48 pm on Aug 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Tedster's comment is right on target, and a policy of "the customer's always right", is good policy with long-range benefits for the merchant. But this person is not a customer, this person is a crook. There is no doubt. I'm not a big company, I'm one woman doing everything from site construction to shipping myself. My entire inventory is kept in one large locked cabinet in my home. The 2 items in this order were new, I had just got them in, (exquisite hand made fragrances from the House of Creed in Paris) and this was the first sales I'd had of this line, and it was pretty exciting to me, so yes, I distinctly remember packing them, and know they were both sent. They were both rolled up in the same long narrow strip of bubble wrap.
So as far as the sound idea of satisfying the customer's complaint so that you will keep them (and potentially all their friends) as customers - this is not a "customer I wish to keep or receive referrals from (what endorsement would she give? "Yeah, order from _____ and then tell them you didn't get it...they'll send you another one!") That reputation would bankrupt me even faster than whatever rumors of poor customer service she could spread about me, if she has the nerve.
I have no plans to reward her dishonesty. I appreciate your suggestions, and think I will continue to answer her with delaying tactics until she just (hopefully) gives up. She knows she's lying, so how far will she push? That's the unanswered question.
I am very angry and frustrated, as I'm sure you can tell. I have been open for business for just about a month now, and out of about 47 orders received, 15 have been fraudulent (stolen or fake credit card numbers) and now this.
I expected some attempts at fraud, but doesn't this seem like a pretty high percentage? Is it just cause I'm new...do the crooks troll the waters looking for new and therefore possibly green, niave, and eager merchants to take advantage of?


11:48 pm on Aug 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

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Hissyfit--You may not like this, but after 14 years in retail, my advice is to send her the product she says is missing, no (more) questions asked. It sucks, I know, but you need to remove yourself emotionally from the issue and think about what the long term effects could be. Especially as a new e-tailer, if there is any possible way that this product could have been missing, and anything is possible unless you not only packed it yourself, but also hand delivered it, and never had it out of your sight until it was put into her hands, you need to take care of your customer.
Yes she may be dishonest, but it is not worth taking the chance she is telling the truth, one disgruntled customer can do a lot of damage, especially online.
On the flip side, you have an opportunity to display some outstanding customer service and take care of her. Did you ever hear the story about Nordstroms taking a return on a set of car tires? (Nordstroms doesn't even sell them) Sometimes you need to take a loss in the name of customer service.


11:54 pm on Aug 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

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oops--we were posting that at the same time--didn't mean to argue with your follow up post--just throwing in my .02


12:33 am on Aug 19, 2000 (gmt 0)

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I know, and I appreciate that. And I know you're probably right.
I received an answer to the email I sent her asking her if the package appeared to have been opened.
She wrote back that the package appeared normal, except for a lot more clear packing tape than she would expect.
I didn't use clear packing tape, I used Priority Mail logo packing tape.
So I must concede there is a chance that this package was intercepted by a sticky-fingered postal worker.
How big a problem is this, and is there any way to combat it? I mean prevention tactics. I've been using return address labels with my company name on them. The name is probably a give-away that there is expensive perfume inside. Do you think this adds to temptation and I should use a less-identifying label? Do you think boxes who's contents are unknown are less picked upon? Is there a relationship between the amount of tape used and the likelyhood of the package being pilfered? I mean, I don't want to laminate the box, but i will if it helps!!
Even though there was no insurance on this package, should I report it to any particular postal authority anyway? (Not that I think that will recover the product, but just out of a philosophy that all crime should be reported).
Does anyone here recommend buying insurance for every package? I don't know how big the problem of dishonest customers/postal workers is, so don't know which would be more expensive in the long run, insurance or product replacement.
Also, if i start buying insurance for every package I send out, how does that work? What are the steps that I take when a customer tells me their package is missing some items. How is the claim filed? Will the post office want some kind of proof that the items were in the box? How do I do that?
Thank you, thank you, for your advice and putting up with my rants. I know every person in here is more experienced than me, and I hope to learn from you. I don't know what I can offer in return, unless anyone needs fragrance advice :)
1:02 am on Aug 19, 2000 (gmt 0)

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joined:Nov 6, 1999
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Hi Hissyfit

Fraud is always a problem when you sell over the internet. Here are a few things that I do and should help you.

-Always weigh your package before you ship it.Do not give any indication whats in the package. Have a label on your package stating that if you find any damage to the package to mention it to the delivery UPS guy and to mark on the delivery form, Exception-damaged package.

-I always ship via UPS ground and require an adult signature. If it is something really expensive you can request the receiver must have ID.UPS gound includes insurance up to $100USD.This way you can always verify delivery if some scum bag says they never received it.

-Always make a quick phone call to your customer when you have received an order just to verify the order. Install a call display on your phone for phone orders and log all numbers.For a few pennies you can save a lot of hastle by phoning for that quick check.

-If you are using a realtime transactions make sure it has address verification so the address and delivery info match.

-Only ship in the U.S. as address verification only works in U.S.

-Put a warning on your site and tell the people that you are logging their IP address and gathering info. In the case of fraud we will be able to track you down and will prosecute to the full extent of the law. Tell them if they want to commit fraud they should go to a different web site because if you try it here we will make your life a living hell.

Works for me and I have never had one fraudulent purchase and I have been selling over one year.


1:07 am on Aug 19, 2000 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Yes, I'd suggest reporting this to the post office. You'd be amazed what they can accomplish. If you can get the clear packing tape from the customer, that might help the investigation a lot.

I'm glad you decided not to fight with the customer on this. There is a second rule:

1) The customer is always right
2) When you know the customer is wrong, refer to Rule Number One

I tripled business for three different brick and mortar companies with this kind of policy. And I know it hurts, especially in that moment when you just KNOW you're being ripped off.

And you will get ripped off. I suggest you get used to it, factor it into your costs, and then give it no more concern. Don't let it make you drive away even one customer -- that's a loss you cannot afford.

In eCommerce we've got to keep our eye on the ball -- and the ball is a successful business, not policing customer morals.

The rest of the decisions you face will no doubt be a learning curve, and a lot of it will be idiosyncratic to your particular situation. Insurance may add too much to your costs. Or maybe insurance costs will be cheaper than covering uninsured losses. Packaging changes might make more sense and be cheaper than insurance.

One way or another, losses and loss prevention need to be factored it in as an ordinary cost of business. Good luck with it all.


11:21 am on Aug 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Full Member

joined:June 21, 2000
votes: 0

I hae to agree with Tedster and Q. I have been on-line now for a little over a year.

1) I have stopped drop shipments
2) If AVS (Address verification) does not match I call the customers bank and let them verify with a call to the customer. I then have to call the customers bank back, but this has weeded out some fraud so I feel it is worth it.



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