Buyer Beware

As we begin a new school year, I would like to share with you a true story that is an excellent example of Buyer Beware. We can all learn from what happened to Rachel. Here is her story in her own words.

In the wake of the Great Recession, it’s sometimes hard to see a financial institution as a consumer ally, but recently my credit card company helped me when I thought a furniture store had absconded with my money – money I couldn’t afford to lose.

Four months ago, I was shopping for a new bed and bedroom furniture. I spent the day in and out of a number of stores without finding anything I both liked and could afford. On my way home, I saw a sign spinner waving his ‘going out of business’ arrow at a store. They were advertising huge markdowns and I figured it couldn’t hurt to look.

I did more than look. I bought. I left the store having purchased a new king-size mattress and box spring as well as a bed frame and nightstands. And, I got a really great deal on all of it. I had what I wanted and I was able to stay within my budget. They told me it would take 4-6 weeks delivery and I charged the cost of my purchase to my credit card.

Then, I waited.

Five weeks later the mattress and box spring did come in, but I had them hold off on delivery because I was still waiting for the bedroom furniture. At eight weeks and still no furniture, I had them deliver the bed. Worry had set in and I wanted to make sure I had at least part of my purchase before they shut their doors completely. At this point, I should have cancelled the purchase of the furniture and asked for a refund.

Instead, I continued to wait. 

Every time I called, they told me it would only be another week. I could be considered too trusting, perhaps. But finally, at three months since the date of purchase, I decided to call it quits. I called the furniture store one last time to ask for a refund and I was told it would be processed in 10 to 15 business days.

I was getting very good at waiting. 

Can you guess what happened next? Day 16 arrived without a refund. I probably should have been more polite on the phone when I called the store again. Actually, there were a number of things I should have done like request the refund as soon as the furniture store couldn’t adhere to the delivery estimate. I also should have called my credit card company as soon as I was sure there was a problem. But, instead, I found myself yelling at the woman handling customer service.

She gave me another number to call to check on the refund. I called it. The phone rang and rang with no answer. It rang and rang with no answer for four days. At the end of my rope, I contacted the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint. But given that the store was set to close their doors in only a couple weeks, I didn’t have faith that I would see resolution in time. So, I finally called my credit card company.

My credit card company explained that the furniture store should have been able to simply charge back the cost of my purchase to my card, and even though I had allowed my charge dispute window to lapse (a 60 day policy), they were able to open an inquiry since I never received the goods for my purchase. While the investigation was open, they gave me a credit on my statement for the cost of the furniture as well. 

I made one last call to the furniture store and they were able to put my refund on my credit card. I may not have gotten the furniture I wanted, but at least I had my money back. I was thankful that I had used my credit card since I was able to track the charge and have the financial institution as an ally. Had I called them sooner and explained my situation, I could have saved myself months of hassle.