The Calgary online shopper says his nearly $ 2,000 drum set has gone shipping and he will have to eat the cost.
Although the security video shows that the delivery was never made, the Vancouver man receives a “delivery notice proof”.
Canadians are shopping online at record levels during the epidemic – according to Statistics Canada, sales rose from $ 1.6 billion in February to $ 2.8 billion in August.
What happens when those items arrive? In the case of Vardan Hovakimman, it took the music student more than a year to save for a valuable electronic drum set – but only a week went by to say that it went shipping and he was on the hook for the 8,800 he spent.
The 40003 Speedlight electronic drum kit was shipped in two boxes. On September 16, only one person arrived at the Purolator outlet, missing key pieces and rendering the set useless.
Things got complicated when Hovakimian demanded a refund. He went back and forth for weeks between the shipping company and the retailer, trying to locate the missing box or return his money.
The prosecutor said it would look for the package, but he would have to deal with the seller if he wanted a refund. North Bay, camel seller, praise Sound and Lighting, will only replace this set if it ever gets back in stock in the future – or give him $ 100 from Shipping Insurance.
“I was humiliated and very, very angry,” Hawakimian told Go Public. “It seemed so wrong.”
Consumer laws are on the side of online shoppers when deliveries are missed, but experts say it is harder than ever to take advantage of those laws, which become more complicated when companies try to shift the price of lost parcels on their policies to buyers.
“It’s not uncommon for companies to write policies that make consumers feel unilateral and that they have less rights,” said Ken Whitehurst, executive director of the Consumer Council of Canada.
Although consumer laws make it clear that the retailer is responsible, Whitehurst said some company policies suggest that the buyer is responsible for items lost during shipping.
Buyers are often at the mercy of those store policies, he said. After reading the shipping policy of Howakiman, Acclaim Sound and Lighting, the customer says that there is a “risk of loss” after an item is shipped.
“There are contradictions between laws and [stores’] Policies … consumers do not even know what they are experiencing. ”
Tim Hazelwood, owner of acclaimed Sound and Lighting, told Go Public that the store has a policy in place to protect its small business from unsustainable losses when shipping companies lose inventory. He said he was unaware of the Consumer Protection Act.
“I’ve never heard of it and I’ve been in business for 30 years,” Hazelwood said, adding that small retailers are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to online sales because it’s harder for them to realize the risks and big companies like Amazon and Walmart get better deals on shipping costs.
The company returned the hockeyman’s money more than a month later, but only after the propeller found the missing box in one of its warehouses.
Hazelwood said the company is reviewing relevant laws to see how they apply to its business.
Regional consumer protection laws are very similar but, in this case, the law of Alberta applies because that is where Hovakimian lives.
See | Who will be responsible when your package arrives ?:
Signed for, not distributed
Then there is Comer Yusuf from Vancouver. Despite receiving a “proof of delivery” email notification from FedEx that he had signed for the package, he only got his money back after CCTV footage of his building’s mail room revealed that his online order had never been delivered.
“They put my name as a signatory, but I did not sign anything,” Youssef said of a 30,330 online order placed with fashion retailer Diesel in August.
Youssef said FedEx did not take its concerns seriously at first. He said he sent someone to his building after contacting the Go public agency to investigate and verify that the package had never arrived.
He did not know that Diesel would refund his money after the order left the warehouse, as its policy shifts the responsibility for lost packages to buyers.
The company refunded after FedEx confirmed that the package had not been delivered, minus $ 35 spent by Yusuf on shipping and duty.
FedEx Go tells the public that the package may have been sent to the wrong address and that prompted delivery confirmation.
It states that the seller did not request a signature on the delivery. FedEx, Implemented, along with other transporters “No contact” deliveries during the epidemic, meaning most shipments are not signed.
So who is responsible?
According to Jeff Orenstein, a lawyer and owner of Consumer Law Group, which deals with consumer protection class-action lawsuits, most of the regional consumer protection laws are “consumer-friendly”.
He said that, in general, if the seller fails to deliver the product within 30 days from the prescribed delivery date, the customer has the right to cancel and refund.
But using those laws to get a refund can be tricky, unless the seller cooperates. Those cases end up in a small claim court, requiring time and money from the buyer – which is not worth pursuing except for very expensive purchases.
“This is where practical reality and law ide come together and it becomes more problematic,” he said.
Instead, Orenstein said consumers should try to avoid court by paying for online purchases with a credit card instead of e-transfer or any other method.
Hawakiman paid for the drum set using his Visa debit card and Youssef paid for his costume by credit card.
Most banks, Orenstein said, allow cardholders to receive a chargeback when an order is lost during shipping.
Consumer lawyer Whitehurst says the same thing, but warns online shoppers to make sure they know their banks’ chargeback policies before using their card to make purchases.
Banks and credit card companies often have specific rules on how to apply for a chargeback and how quickly it should be made after purchase.
He also recommends researching shipping practices before deciding where to shop, pointing out that large retailers often find it easier to get a refund due to the size of the sale.
Hovakimian said he swears to online shopping after his experience. He said the government should look into passing legislation to protect consumers by empowering consumer protection departments to fight on behalf of buyers.
“I think it needs to be looked at and improved by the government,” he said.
Youssef wants to swear off online shopping himself, but will have to continue doing so due to the epidemic.
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