I just love shopping online. I can sit back in the comfort of my own little den, no trudging around, it’s just all so easy. And then, at the end, the package is delivered right to your door. What’s not to like? Mind you, I am very cautious when buying online. I stick with reputable sellers and only purchase through PayPal. If a vendor does not offer PayPal, I look elsewhere. I’ve never been dudded (do you say that in America?) it means ripped off, or conned. That said, I’d like to relay a very recent experience which clearly demonstrates that, no matter how careful you are, there are still potential pitfalls.
The story goes like this: My lovely wife and I decided to buy a little balcony setting — two chairs and a small table — to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee under the shade of our back verandah. After much hunting around online (and in bricks and mortar stores) we fell in love with this one from an online retailer:
It was very reasonably priced and just what we were looking for. The product description included “chic rattan finish” and “some minor assembly”. Perfect! After waiting in eager anticipation for several days — as you do — the package finally arrived. As I dragged the largish box out to the back verandah I remember thinking to myself… how on earth did they manage to pack two chairs plus a small table in there! I soon found out. This whole thing came in about a squillion pieces which you then have to put together like a giant jigsaw, or a massive Lego set. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. To top it all off, the whole thing is made from plastic/resin, not a sign of rattan anywhere. I’m thinking… they’ve got me, I fell for it.
This is not what we expected or wanted so I’m quickly in touch with the vendor requesting a return and refund. To the vendor’s credit, he was both understanding and helpful, almost immediately agreeing to refund our money in full once the goods were back in their hands. I won’t bore you with the details but, as it turned out, getting the product back to the vendor proved to be an even more difficult chore than assembling it.
Actually, I will bore you with one detail– this courier company I rang will only accept packages up to a certain size. So, I provide the courier company chap with the carton’s dimensions and he promptly informs me that, at almost 80 cubic centimeters, it’s too big for them to handle. I do the math myself and come up with a little under 40 cubic centimeters. When I then put this to him he tells me, “Oh, we always work out the cubic centimeters and then multiply by 2.5.” Now I’m getting really mad. I say to him, “Ever since math was first invented, cubic volume has always been calculated by multiplying length x width x height, why on earth would you then multiply the result by 2.5?” This is what he answers, I swear this is true, he says, “I dunno, that’s just the way I’ve been told to do it.” Needless to say, I hung up. It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys!
Anyway, after we decided it was probably easier to keep the damn thing, I ended up paying a young feller to put it all together. It took him 1 hour 35 minutes — or what he described as a ‘3 cans-of-beer job’. I estimate it would have taken me at least 2 and a half days, and most likely a full carton of beer. Now for the happy ending — as it turns out, now it is all together, we actually really like this setting, it looks smart and is very comfortable. And the big plus– being made entirely from UV treated plastic/resin, it is virtually indestructible.
Even though we ended up being happy customers, I did take the vendor to task over the misleading description on the product page, pointing out to him that “rattan” is actually a natural fiber, nothing to do with plastic/resin. And that “some minor assembly” was possibly the understatement of the century. Again, to his credit, he has taken that on board and since amended the online product description accordingly.
So, even though this (mis?)adventure started out looking like a a potential disaster, all ended well. In finishing, I must put in a good word for the vendor who was extremely communicative, patient, and understanding all through the entire process. Plus, to his eternal credit, he has now described this balcony set in much more transparent terms. Still no images of the unassembled setting in all its squillion pieces though, but I suspect that may be a bridge too far.
Would I recommend the company, absolutely! Would I recommend the setting — definitely yes. On the proviso that the purchaser understands and is prepared to accept that it is going to take a while (plus a few cans of beer?) to put it all together.
I’m sure many of you will have similar tales to tell, please feel free to share via the comments.