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Customer is Cheating

But how do we prove it



9:06 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Customer orders and pays for 2 items from our online shop. We remember shipping two items. He phones to say that we only shipped one item.

Has anybody seen this scenario before?.
Any answers?.
What can we do in future to stop anybody else doing it?

We're still considering what to do. I suspect that we're going to try and "front it out" and refuse to give him a refund or send another item (value around £70) because we KNOW that we shipped the two items. I also suspect that he'll go to his credit card company and we'll end up with a chargeback.

What is ethically correct....is the customer always right even when he's trying to defraud you?
Any solutions?



9:12 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

We remember shipping two items

If the only shipment record you have to go on is your memory, I might be inclined to cut the customer some slack. You don't have any written records of the shipment? A double-check process to check shipments against orders? Packing label? Anything?


9:16 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How about an audit, shipments vs. inventory - that's probably another good piece of info to have to back yourself up. You may not be able to show it to the customer but it might be helpful if you have to deal with their credit card company.


9:19 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Here's what we used to do when this happened - if you have a UPS scale system that measures packages to a decimal place or two, recreate the original package with two items and weigh it. Compare it to your UPS log. If it matches closely, you can demonstrate that you shipped both items. Of course, if the items are very light or if the packaging you use isn't fairly standardized, this may not work.

Even if you can show you shipped both items, though, you still have a dilemma. Being a jerk, this person will no doubt threaten to tell the world how bad you are on his PR7 blog, e-mail 1000 of his closest friends, and post in every discussion forum. My policy, if the customer absolutely refused to listen to reason, was to grit my teeth and reship the item (within financial reason), and flag that person for no more orders. Sort of liked getting mugged - you give the mugger your wallet to avoid serious injury or death... If you sell mail order, every now and then you get mugged. :(

(The other possibility, though remote, is that you shipped the product but someone removed it before the customer got to the box. Could be someone at UPS, a neighbor who saw the box left unattended, etc. Very unlikely, but I've seen it happen with expensive merchandise. If you buy a camera from a specialty mail order, you'll notice that the shipper is probably only identified by initials - that's to avoid tempting people who might have access to the box before it reaches you.)


9:21 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Maybe you can use the weight of the package you shipped. Unless your merchandise is very light, this will clear things up for you.



9:27 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Probably your best bet would be to just ship the customer a product (assuming it isn't something like a $50,000 diamond necklace) and not take any future orders from him. If you don't comply with the customer and end up with a chargeback you will probably not be able to convince the credit card company that you shipped two products. They almost always side with the consumer on those issues.

As far as it being "lost" somewhere during the shipping process, that is always a remote possibility. I worked at UPS for a couple years and boxes do get broken open occasionally. I know of a couple instances where boxes were broken into and products were stolen but that would rarely be the case. If they received the box at all there probably wasn't anything stolen from it.


9:41 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Being a jerk, this person will no doubt threaten to tell the world how bad you are on his PR7 blog

Hey, I've seen this happen to a site before, then others catch on, and next thing they know they go from a PR4 to a PR6 from bad word of mouth. Which in the end was pretty good for the site as they moved from nowhere to the top of the serps.


10:58 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Mardi Gras : Our order processing prints in large red numbers anything where more than one of an item is ordered, therefore on the printed copy of the order there's a tick against the big red 2....and they remember packing it.

Hawkgirl : It's also a retail shop so no check on inventory levels I'm afraid

Rogerd / Mikemike : I'll check with Parcel Force, our shippers. We don't have to weigh the parcels, I guess we've got a contract that allows us to send all parcels under a certain weight for a single price but it's just possible that they weigh them.

All : You're right, we've been mugged. We can refuse to supply the guy again but that doesn't ease the hurt, nor does it stop him telling all his mates about his latest little scam.


11:03 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

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

Well, if you offer optional shipping insurance, you can always tell him, "We packed two, so if you only received one, it's an issue to take up with the shipper.... Oh, you chose not to insure the package? Well, terribly sorry, but you might want to consider that option more carefully in the future."


11:28 pm on Sep 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'd issue a refund for the complete purchase, then call your merchant bank and report the credit card is being used fraudulently... as it is.


8:55 am on Sep 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>What can we do in future to stop anybody else doing it?

golden rule no1 - only ship to the cardholder's address
golden rule no2 - require a signature from the customer for the delivery

having the cardholder's signature can also help prevent chargebacks.

if you don't follow these simple rules, you leave yourself wide open to fraud. admittedly there may be problems with this in some countries like the USA where people don't have secure mailboxes in which a "collect your package from our depot" card can be left if nobody is at home to sign for the delivery, but there are very few problems that cannot be overcome with a bit of thought.


9:24 am on Sep 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Crazy_fool : We DID ship to the cardholders address and he DID sign for the goods, it's just that he says there was 1 item in the box...we know that we shipped 2.

We might be foolish but we sure ain't stupid :)


1:13 pm on Sep 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


you and a mate need to break into his house at night and search it for the other item. take a camcorder with you to film everything you do and to prove that he has the other item. then go to his room and wake him up to confront him. then you got all the evidence you need to go to the police.

more seriously, check with your local trading standards. they might recommend you ship a replacement "as a gesture of goodwill" and never accept orders from him again. they might say that he signed for the order so it's his tough luck. at least as you have his signature, you may be able to stop a chargeback.

i'd also make it very clear on the site prior to purchase, at the time of purchase and in any post purchase emails etc that it's the customer's reponsibility to check goods at the time of delivery.


5:11 pm on Sep 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Your order was checked by TWO people in your office before dispatch? No. Then get two to check and sign ALL future orders that they have been checked.

If are 110% certain you sent both items, tell the customer that both items were sent and that you are going to check with the courier the proof of delivery. If a courier delivers a damaged or opened box, the receivor must sign the machine or paperwork as such. Offer him a free replacement if the goods were signed for in this way.

Or alternatively, claim from the courier and tell the customer that his goods will be sent as and when the claim has been accepted. ParcelForce are generally quick in responding.


11:37 pm on Sep 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

If the purchase is small, ignore it, and calculate
it in your buisness model. We set aside 1/2 of 1%
for questionable or fraudaulant customers.

Golden Rule:
The customer is always right, even when they are wrong !

Learning Curve

12:57 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's over. You lose. Credit the ***'s credit card.

[edited by: eelixduppy at 9:57 pm (utc) on Feb. 18, 2009]


1:06 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This reminds me, there is a web retail company that takes video of the packing process from an overhead camera and makes it available to the customer too. It might be CDW. That sure eliminates any discrepancies!:)


8:29 am on Sep 20, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As you all so rightly said "The Customer is Always Right"

We've given him his money back.

Thanks for all the suggestions and thank goodness that the vast majority of customers are decent and honest...like most of the online retailers ;)


1:17 am on Sep 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I recently had the same thing happen to me, except the customer claimed there was nothing in the box! Well, I know that we shipped the items in the box... I think some people put this into system and use it against a number of different merchants because they know the problems of chargeback that faces us. In her first email she immediately stated that she was contacting her credit card company to stop payment unless we refund her credit card. There is no question in my mind that she had done this before. In my case the order was for about $120, which is not really a huge deal, but it was the way this fraud was committed that made me so mad!

In the end I decided to refund the order to avoid a chargeback. I was then thinking of a number of ways of to get revenge, like entering the customerís email in every spam newsletter on the Internet etc. In the end I just told myself to "grow up" and recognise that these things happen. Let's keep things in perspective; the Internet is a fantastic place. Where else can you set up a successful business in a couple of months for almost nothing, and make in a month what most people earn in a year? We will look back at these years as the "Internet gold rush" and we will be saying to each other: "Do you remember 2002, you could get thousands of visitors to your store per day FOR FREE!" :)


2:49 am on Sep 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

It may be worth concidering using recorded delivery... That way the customer is required to sign for his/her goods on delivery and woudl avoid situations like this. It woudl involve additional costs, but may be worth it long tirm to avoid the cost of refunds and or replacing missing items.


4:22 pm on Sep 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Our order entry system knows the weight of the products that we sell down to the .000 of a pound. When the picking slip is printed it knows the total product weight, what size box the products will need, the weight of the box, and how much packing material is needed and how much it weights. If the picker has the wrong amount, the packer will know.

We then use our UPS On-line package to permanently record the actual weight to prove that it is correct, and provide proof that we shipped it, and the customer got it. If something is missing, then maybe the box was opened by the freight company, and we file a claim.

Our packing slip entry program double checks this with a different person checking it, and signing off on it.

We can go back and determine if the customer is right or wrong. If the customer is wrong, we call them and explain the exact weight of the box, packing material, etc. We explain the procedure to them. At the end we ask that they check around the room, and the packing material to make absolutely sure that it is not hidden somewhere. The customer now knows that you are serious about solving their problem. If you ignore them, then expect a chargeback. If the customer ignores you and doesn't do it, then you can explain their behavior to the credit card company.

Last, and probably the most important, go join www.merchant911.org. It is free. Only Merchants can join. They will do a background check on you prior to letting you join. This organization shares information with it member about people who like to commit fraud against merchants. Credit card companines don't care about customer who commit fraud against merchants, unless the sale amount exceeds $10,000.00. Less then that, you are on your own.

If you are going to be an on-line merchant, you need to protect yourself, and prove to your customer (and credit card company) that you are above reproach.

If you cannot prove that the customer is wrong, then the customer is right, even when they are wrong.


2:14 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

One of our e-commerce sites sells cd burning software, and because we don't physically deliver the product (they download the software then buy a serial to unlock it), our fraud % is even higher.

Unfortunately the credit card companies are really geared to protecting the consumer, not the merchant, and so until that changes I would have to agree with Lgn in that you must allow for any fraud when you work out your costs.

I would say, assume that 1% of mail order/online sales will turn out to be fraudulent.


2:27 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

u got the guys email address?

subscribe him to loadsa dodgy newsletters.

I wont help your situation, but the amount of spam he gets will make you feel better (unless he has a hotmail address, in which case he wont notice any difference!)



8:02 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We have had similar cases to this many times over. Either an item was missing, or it "supposably" wasn't the item they ordered (even though the shopping cart states that it was). When this first started happening to us, I naturally got angry. There is nothing worse than being cheated when you are an honest business, and unfortuneately as mentioned in here, credit card companies always side with the consumer.

Here is the zen I use to deal with this matter:
No matter if I know the customer is lying or not, I kill them with kindness and give them the benefit of the doubt.. A refund, credit, or replacement, make their shopping experience the best you can...yes I bit the dust on it.

The Reason you ask? Well, usually they always attempt to do it again if they know they painlessly got away with it the first time. If I have a gut instint the customer is lying, I place their name on a "black ball" list. When an order comes through again from them (which in most cases it will), then I go out of my way and have it insured, weighed, and checked by third party.

It usually bites them in the (you know where) when they attempt to do something a second time and they are caught red-handed in lie. In one case, we notified the credit card company, and their account was terminated for consumer fraud.

[added]By the way, the credit card company also gave us credit for the first time it happened [/added]

It is an ideology that what comes around goes around. If you are honest, in the end you will come out ahead, rather than stooping to their level.

My two cents, now back to the dance.


9:35 pm on Sep 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Thanks, that is a really solid strategy and one that I'm looking forward to trying.

Best Regards



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