Check my profile for photos of these conditions.
Can anyone provide me with guidance for the following situation:
In the thread below I made mention of some new car suspension hardware that was to arrive today (19Feb2009).
Well, after my hardware arrived, I noticed the box was a bit beaten up (not such a big deal in my mind). However, after opening the box, I was surpised to find the following:
- The hardware I ordered was scattered about inside the box with the apparent retaining straps laying loosely in the box.
- One of the strut piston rods had poked throught the box at an odd angle (suggesting that they were not packaged correctly).
- 2 plastic "packing slip" envelopes attached to the outside of the box contained no documentation. Aside from a shipping label, I received no receipt or packing slip in my shipment.
- Upon inspecting the hardware, the shocks/struts were significantly marred from rattling around loosely in the box during shipment. As I'm bolting these to the undercarraige of my car (and not putting them in a museum), even this I would be willing to tolerate to some extent.
- After looking at other hardware, several pieces had a "used" appearance. The bump stops were dirty and the paint was marred and cracked on one of the rear shocks at the lower mounting bolt location.
- Most disturbingly, the upper (threaded) portion of a rear shock piston rod had been stripped of about 7mm of threading! Even if I would tolerate the other problems with this shipment, this would make the product impossible to install. Additionally, the hex fitting of this piston rod (to prevent rotation during tightening) was stripped.
- Misc hardware (washers, nuts, etc) was spread throughout the box unbagged.
- My packaging had "Tire Rack" stamps on it. It's of no concern to me if TR is the supplier of this merchant, but this seemed to be a further suggestion that I received a used/returned kit!
After finding these conditions, I contacted the merchant and left an answering machine message as per their protocol. I had contacted the merchant one other time prior to shipment and recieved a reply very quickly. In this case, I was not called back.
About 1hr after placing my phone call (and leaving a message), I outlined these problems and provided photos of the product to the merchant. I followed up with a phone call and was surprised to hear the merchant insisting that my product was fine?!
After significant back and forth the merchant conceded that "maybe" one of the shocks was damaged during shipping. When I illustrated that the damage in question was due to torquing associated with product installation procedures and likely could not have been caused by shipping, I was told again that "the product is fine". I was then told that "no other kits are available in the country" and that even if he wanted to send me a kit he could not.
In time, the merchant offered to send me one replacement shock at my shipping expense. I summarized my position by stating that I ordered a "new" shock kit and clearly did not receive the product advertised. I expected the product to be returned at the merchant's expense and to have a new like kit provided. At this point the merchant refused my position and made some vague allusion (I can't remember specifically) that I should not bother contacting my credit card company (I didn't mention doing so prior to his comment).
After my unproductive discussion with the merchant, I called AmEx (with whom I haven't disputed a charge since obtaining a card 8 years ago). I advised them of my situation and they initiated the dispute process. I offered all of my supporting data on the phone but was advised that AmEx could not accept e-mail (only fax or hard photos, which I said I could/would provide). I was told that the charge would be removed during the AmEx investigation and would remain removed provided that they found in my favor.
After completing my AmEx call (almost on cue), the merchant called back and offered me a free return shipping label and replacement shock kit (all of a sudden, one appeared in Nevada despite earlier claims that they were unavailable country wide). As an aside, I believe this is a Tire Rack warehouse location which may explain the Tire Rack stamps on my previous shipment.
I told the merchant that I accepted his exchange offer in principle (this is all I wanted in the first place). I then proceeded to recontact AmEx to ensure that I and the merchant were permitted to attempt independed resolution while my dispute was in process. AmEx advised that I could leave my dispute open or close it (and reopen it later if needed) at my choosing.
At present, I have an offer (from the merchant) to exchange my shock kit as I originally desired.
I am a bit reluctant to trust this merchant after my earlier conversation with the outfit.
Am I better off pursuing this with AmEx only? If I deal directly with the merchant, I will certainly be documenting the condition of the kit (should I need it for future reference) before sending it back.
Should I give the merchant a chance before pursuing this with AmEx. If the merchant follows through on his word, it would present the resolution I seek with less hassle. I also don't believe that this precludes me from disputing the current charge with AmEx in the future (if need be).
Can someone with experience in this type of matter offer advice on my best course of action? At present, it would seem that giving the merchant a chance (against my better judgement) is potentially quicker/easier while not precluding me from following up with AmEx if required.
Since we have a number of photographers on this site, I'll paint a context... the verbal run around and general demeanor of this outfit was very similar to the NY camera shops advertised in the back of photo magazines (the ones with really cheap prices). I made that mistake when shopping for my first SLR camera!
I do concede that the condition of the kit I received could have been due to a previous customer return and would have likely been unknown to the merchant I purchased the kit from. However, given that I called the merchant 20min after delivery, they had no reason to be so unaccomodating.
After reviewing this message, I made mention of Tire Rack a couple times. Tire Rack is NOT the business in question here. I have received nothing but excellent service and products from Tire Rack since 1997.