About 2 ½ weeks ago I bought a guitar from an online retailer on the West Coast. Discretion forbids me to mention the name (but I will be happy to for anyone who drops me a private inquiry) but they are making a big push through what appears to be an extensive emailing list. They feature four items per day in “daily specials” and some times their prices for things like guitars, amps, sound reinforcement and microphones appear to be pretty good, although in many cases they are selling items that the manufacturers have discontinued. The guitar I bought was going to be for a student who left me some discretion price-wise and was depending on what expertise I have to select something that would be of good quality for a reasonable price. This retailer goes to great lengths to trumpet their ONE YEAR warranty on all items sold. But shame on me for not reading the fine print. More on that in a minute.
The first annoyance was the fact that AFTER the purchase was made there was a disclaimer that stated any items bought would most likely not be shipped for 7 – 10 days after the purchase. To be frank, if I had known that I would not have made the purchase. But oh well, I thought. The guy who I was buying it for (and by the way – I stood to make about $20 on this, total) could use his present guitar for the time being. Considering the fact that this operation is in California and at least 5 to 7 days ground shipping it was possible I would not see it for three weeks! Beyond that, there was a charge for shipping – something that the big online retailers do not do with new merchandise.
Time passed. No confirmation of the purchase, no email saying the guitar had shipped. Nothing. After a week or so I emailed asking what was up. No response. Another email the next day. No response. Another email, this one more forceful. Then a phone call from someone named Nicole who claimed to have responded to the first two emails. I checked my spam box, deleted messages and everything I could think of to confirm this and it was obviously a lie – I know this because I was STILL getting their daily advertisements. She stated that the guitar had shipped and I would receive it shortly. And a few days later I did, about two weeks from when the order was placed. Grrrrrr. I would bet a bottle of good Scotch that Nicole put in the order after our conversation.
Unfortunately, a week later when my student tried the guitar he did not like it (the neck was too narrow for his fingers). So I decided to take the company up on their much ballyhooed ONE YEAR WARRANTY! Emailed them to ask about return procedure. (Now understand – due to their lallygagging it had been over a month since the order was placed and at least a week since I had received it, but the total playing time on it was perhaps ten minutes and it was in immaculate condition). No response. Next day, another email. No response. The next day, another email, this time cc’ed to another address besides the one for orders I found on their site. Finally, a phone call.
Oh no, Mr. Bourque, we cannot take back used guitars!
But what about the big deal 1-year warranty, I asked.
Well, that is only good IF THE BOX HAS NOT BEEN OPENED (!!!!)
I laughed out loud. Who would NOT open a box? I asked. This young lady passed me back to Nicole, who proceeded to tell me about “their business model of flash retailing” that would not allow returns. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. She also mentioned that she had responded with information to my first two emails. Which yet again was patently false. She then offered to email me using her own personal account and would forward a return form (hey, wait a minute – I thought you didn’t take returns??!) and would “go against policy” and issue a refund.
By this point the entire conversation was bordering on the surreal. I thought about it for a moment and said – what is to keep your boss from saying, oh no, Nicole should not have offered you a refund. Do you want to pay for shipping the guitar BACK? (after I’ve already paid for it to get to me and then back to them!). So, I said, I’ll wait for your email and the return form and decide what I would do.
I’m still waiting for the email.
Next: Paranoia strikes deep, or ….. I know you’re trying to screw me! Admit it!!
Peace & good music,