Online Purchase Protection

by JL Beeken on 8-03-2010

Sometimes you get in trouble online and you need some good old online purchase protection.

The economy is twisting this way and that and people are doing whatever they’re doing to make a good thing out of lemons. This is not always done with the highest regard for integrity and the feelings of others. ‘Tis the way of the world.

I don’t always hang out in safe places like Ancestry.com and GenealogyBank. The Internet is huge and there’s lots of things to look at. So, in my wanderings  far and wide, I purchased a digital product during a webinar. A week later I decided it was not my cup-of-tea and decided to return it.

I asked for a refund well within the 30-day guarantee period. Twice. And was met with a wall of silence. I started to wonder if this is how it was going to go to the bitter end. And how I’d feel about kissing that amount of money good-bye. I’m not on the brink of being thrown out in the street so it’s not dire. There’s no point getting into catastrophic emotions about something that is not strictly-speaking catastrophic, just kind of sickening to consider.

So, I refused to get sucked into a mental hole about it. And then my aged wisdom kicked in to offer me an idea. First, I looked up the seller’s name followed by the word ripoff because I thought someone else might be in the same boat. Sure, enough, there was a blog post about how this product had been stolen from the original creator, re-packaged almost word for word and then sold at a highly inflated price. Plus 44 ticked-off comments. That was reassuring.

The next thing I did was call my credit card company to see if there was any recourse for stupid purchases. As it turns out, there is. If I can prove the guarantee, the credit card company will, 30 days from the date of requesting a refund, pursue the seller through his bank and retrieve my money. I don’t know exactly how they do that but it’s exciting to have the weight of a credit card company’s Dispute Department standing behind my puny savings.

My first hurdle was finding a ‘guarantee’ in writing on the seller’s website. Of course, there wasn’t one. Only the URL for the support desk that wasn’t answering my queries.

BUT, during the initial webinar, the money-back guarantee was talked about over and over. If only I could find the webinar! I had downloaded the video, watched it again and then deleted it from my computer. Rats!

Oh, wait a minute! Maybe it’s in my Carbonite online backup? Yay! It was. A quick restore and I was back in business. When my 30-day waiting period is over, I can send the video to the credit card company and they will go get my money. One for the little guy!

So, to summarize this lesson:

1.) When you make an online purchase make sure that you retain proof of the guarantee, no matter in what form it exists. Your credit card company will need it to go after the perpetrator. Assuming your credit card company does this kind of thing. First of all, check your credit card company’s policy about this; don’t just assume. Do it right now.

2.) This one we already know and love. If you don’t know the seller, before making a purchase, look up their name on the Internet and see what other people are saying. Use words like ripoff, scam, etc to see if you can find any aggravated people talking.

Sometimes those words will only take you to sales pages used by salesmen to get your attention. But, they might turn up something valid. I would usually do that except, in this case, I got caught up in the excitement of a webinar and there was nowhere to check out this product online. I’ve since looked up info on the seller himself and there’s nothing out there except plumped up trash that makes him sound like a saint, so that doesn’t help.

3.) Do not believe a single word you hear online unless it’s coming from someone you’ve been listening to long enough to trust them. Me, for instance.

I’m sure you’ve had your own similar experiences. Please feel free to share them and enlighten the rest of us.

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