T Nation

Internet Purchases - Your Thoughts?


#1

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague the other day. A few weeks ago, his nephew placed an online order with an Internet retailer. His order arrived on time as expected.

However a few days later, the retailer mistakenly shipped a duplicate of the item to the nephew. Of course, the honorable thing would have been for the nephew to notify the retailer and arrange for the return of the duplicate. But being greedy (and normal), the nephew subsequently sold the duplicate item on eBay.

Fast forward to the present, and the retailer sends an email and shipping label for the return of the duplicate item.

I told my colleague that the email can be ignored and that the nephew doesn't have the obligation to respond -- how could he, since he no longer has the item? My colleague isn't so sure and is afraid the retailer will eventually charge for the duplicate item if it's not returned.

Anybody ever experience this or have any thoughts? My thoughts are that the duplicate wasn't ordered, so the retailer can't legally charge for it. Clearly, the nephew should have returned the duplicate, but that's no longer an option.


#2

If your nephew does not return it, he will have to pay for it, and the vendor is legally entitled to charge it on the credit card used for the first transaction if he doesn't.

The fact that the item has not been ordered does not change that -- the fact that your nephew sold the item instead of immediately contacting the vendor basically constitutes acceptance of the transaction and hence he has to pay for it.

On the other hand, they can decide to press charges for petty theft... Which one would you prefer? :slightly_smiling:


#3

Did anyone have to sign for the package or did they just drop it off and leave it outside?

While I agree that what should be done is to contact the company and pay for the second item as well, that's not the only thing that can be done.

If no one signed for the item then you can simply tell the vendor the second item was not received and as such you have no way to return it.

However, as stated above, I think needs to happen is your nephew needs to cough up the money and pay the company.


#4

Where is boston barrister when you need a lawyer? Ok, they sent a duplicate without you asking for it. You should be under no kind of liability to owe them , but they will disagree with this. I say, if they charge your credit card, take them to small claims court they will give up. Have fun


#5

Sooo, what'd he get a duplicate of is what we're all wondering?


#6

Suffice to say it was something worth a couple of hundred bucks, which is why he got greedy.

Ethically, he did the wrong thing -- that much I agree. But legally, I can't see how this can be considered theft as somebody suggested. It was sent to him; he didn't break into their warehouse and take it from them.

So if I decide to send you something in the mail that you didn't ask for, and you keep it (or lose it), I can then press charges on you? Something's missing in the logic there...

And just for the record: he's my co-worker's nephew.


#7

I thought part of the values preached here is having some character.


#8

Instead of trying to figure out what he can get away with, why don't you want to advise him on the honorable thing to do?

Attitudes like these are a big part of what's wrong with people these days.


#9

moral of the story - no such thing as a free meal. Now pay up.


#10

Yes, as long as you offer to pay the shipping charges to you, yes, you can demand it to be returned or for the recipient to pay up. Happens all the time. Legally, keeping it is accepting the transaction.


#11

I believe if you recieve something unsolicited in the mail you do not have to pay for it.

Perhaps the retailer has something covering this in his terms and conditions of sale, but if the customer had no previous dealings with the retailer he could keep the item.


#12

The right thing to do would have been to contact the vendor and return the item if he didn't want to pay for it. I agree that by selling the item on EBay, he agreed to the purchase of the item. Whether or not anyone can prove it in a court of law should be beside the point. Then again, a lot of people think it's right to steal if they know they won't get caught. People do this on their tax returns all the time. It still doesn't make it legal or right.

DB


#13

Just call it "Wealth Redistribution" and everyone will agree that it's ok except for Hardcore Religious Reich Wingnuts.


#14

I don't see how the recipient can be forced to pay for it if it was shipped to him. It's the company's mistake, and the recipient should not be forced to take any action, including the "inconvenience" of calling/emailing them, and or bringing their item to the post office for them.

If I own a company, and send out some items to people, and they're forced to pay if they do nothing, then I'd send out duplicates all the time. Some will return it, but I can count on the laziness of Americans to not send it back, or the greediness of them not to send it back, and wallah, I'm making a killing selling extras of my product that I don't want. I think the law protects buyers from that.

This also happened to my father with magazines that he did not order or pay for. He's an honest man, but felt it would be wrong for the company to make him return the item (even if they will pay postage) because of their mistake. Just think if this happened almost routinely, with multiple companies.

Wouldn't it get pretty annoying and piss you off if you were continually bringing things back that were accidentally shipped to you? Especially if they were of no value to you.

I can understand if a mistake was made with a reimbursement of funds that may have been mistakenly put into your account, and later taken out, but still a notification would be in order (actually happened a lot in the Military).


#15

Something similar happened to a co-worker of mine when I was in the Marines. He ordered a computer from Gateway and a few weeks after the first one got there, another one came. Within a week his credit card was charged for the second computer. It was shipped UPS, though, and to a military base, so it was signed for. He ended up volunteeringly paying for it and giving the second computer to his father.

I honeslty don't know the legalities of it, but I would just pay up if there was proof it made it to your (or his...whatever) residence.


#16

And people would stop buying from your company, your company would stop making money and go out of business.

Thereby making you less money in the long run.

I'm not sure if it is illegal or not, however I'm taking this more of a moral issue. If he doesn't care about honesty or anything, end of discussion, he ignores the company.

If he has any moral value, though, he'll fess up.


#17

The exact same thing happened to me about four years ago. I had been waiting for months for one of the first affordable wireless base stations. When it finally did ship the company sent me two (they were worth about $250 each at the time).

After a few months they called and wanted the second one back. It was still boxed and unopened (I had all but forgotten about it) so I told them sure, send FedEx or whomever over.

Instead they insisted on giving me a FedEx account number and wanted me to go drop it off. Screw that, I had better things to do than wait in line at a shipping station. I gave it away and forgot about it. They never did anything. Let them take the money out of the paycheck of whoever wrote their shipping software.

-Daniele