November 19, 2009

Buyer beware!

It's just struck me that I'm not having a lot of luck with orders placed over the internet right now. A few days ago, the order I placed for a backup phone went pear-shaped, and now the order for a memory card (placed elsewhere) has, too.

The phone I use most of the time is a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. As its name suggests, it's designed for people to use as a music player as well as a phone (and many things besides), and I do like to carry music around with me. Lots of it. Right now, the 8 gigabyte memory card that came with the phone is as good as full, there's only about 150 megabytes of space left on it, so I want to get hold of a bigger capacity card that will still leave me room to take some photos and shoot video if the need arises.

The type of card that this phone uses, microSDHC, comes in various "classes" that have different maximum speeds. There are class 2, 4 and 6 cards, which have a maximum data throughput of 2, 4 and 6 megabytes per second respectively. A class 2 card is too slow for the amount of data stored on it when used in conjunction with my phone. I don't want to have to wait forever while the phone is storing a photo on the card or accessing applications, music playlists etc. that are stored on it, so I went out looking for a class 6 card, or a class 4 card at a pinch. I found this on, thought it would be just the ticket and ordered it.

The package arrived today. What was in it? A class 2 card with a part number other than the one that shows on the product's main page on the site. They advertised a class 4 card, billed me for a class 4 card, printed "Bytestor 16GB Micro SDHC Class 4 Memory Card" on the bill, and sent me a class 2 card.

Of course, the first thing I did was to log onto the site and check that I did indeed order the class 4 card and not the cheaper class 2 alternative, and I did get it right. I then started the refund procedure pointing out that what I ordered and paid for is not what I got.

Note that the page on amazon has changed since I received the order and informed them that what I received is not what was on the order. In fact it's a mess now because the title is still "Bytestor 16GB Micro SDHC Class 4 Memory Card", while further into the page it says "ByteStor 16GB Micro SDHC Class 2 (Micro Secure Digital High Capacity) Card", and further down still it says "Unformatted capacity of 8GB (1GB=1000MB)"...

Also, when I ordered mine, there was no mention of them being low on stock, but now it says "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."

It could well be genuine error on the part of amazon. I'm sure most people are not aware of what to look out for on memory cards (hence me posting this!). I can't help thinking that it was more likely to be a case of "no class 4 cards left? Let's shift the class 2 ones instead and hope nobody notices!"

Regardless of the explanation, I shouldn't have to be lumped with a slow memory card for which I paid the price of a faster one. If they're going to send out products with specifications lower than what's advertised, why don't they just send out 4GB cards and have done with it?

Buyer beware!

November 17, 2009

Some traders are, well.... Read on.

So, I see this great offer on the web for a Nokia 1661 phone on T-Mobile PAYG for £14.99 with free P&P. Sounds good, right? The phone works out at £9.99, which is not bad, even for a really basic phone like this one. I only want it to have minimal coverage in areas where there isn't O2 coverage, I'm not going to be using it as my main communications device.

I placed the order on Friday evening. Maybe I should've guessed something would go wrong since it was Friday 13th...

Fast forward to Monday 16th. I expected them to do something about the order that day and the order status to change from "being processed". Nothing did happen.

Earlier today, Tuesday 17th, I checked back on the website and saw that the order status was "cancelled".

What the.....? Why is this and why was I not informed? I called them to find out.

It turns out that the online store had run out of stock. Surprise surprise... Apparently, I could place the order by phone, but they would charge £3.99 for P&P, bringing the total price of the order up to £18.98.

I countered by saying that the website indicated that there would be no P&P. The person I spoke to replied "There are some terms & conditions". I countered again by saying that the website was explicit in saying that postage by Royal Mail was free of charge and that it was difficult to see how there was any wiggle room for terms and conditions. The salesperson then changed her story and claimed that P&P is not charged only if orders are placed on the website.

This all sounded rather fishy to me. It seems obvious that the cheap price on the website is simply bait to lure the punter in. It then becomes impossible to fulfill the order and the punter is encouraged to spend a bit more money than originally intended for the same thing.

The conclusion of this is very simple. Don't shop at!