Don’t Get Left in the Cold when Buying Hot Holiday Items Online

  
     
December 15, 2016

As holiday shopping season heats up, Better Business Bureau Serving Metro New York is reporting a spike in complaints for several New York-based online retailers, including a few that are advertising sought-after holiday toys or tech gadgets.

Online shopping offers consumers the ease and convenience of shopping anytime and anywhere. Online retailers may display great savings or advertise items that sell out quickly in brick-in-mortar stores, but Metro NY BBB urges consumers to be cautious before pulling out their credit cards to make a digital purchase.

“Looking for great deals online should include doing research about the company with which you are thinking of doing business,” said BBB President, Claire Rosenzweig. “It’s important that consumers take their time and check BBB.org to see if the company has a positive track record with their customers.”  

Metro NY BBB notes that several new business records for Internet retailers accounted for much of the recent uptick in complaints. Some consumers tell BBB that they never received the items they ordered, and that weeks, or in some cases, months, have gone by with no sign of the merchandise for which they paid.

As of Dec. 16, one New York online retailer, Caeden, has received over 150 complaints since BBB created a record for the company in mid-October. Of those complaints, 96 are still pending, while 53 complaints have already closed, and 46 of those went unanswered by the company.

Consumers tell BBB they experienced difficulties after ordering Caeden’s Sona fitness bracelets. Some consumers allege they never received their orders despite several weeks or more passing, and others claim that the bracelet they received was defective. A few of these consumers say they attempted to return the faulty merchandise for a refund or replacement, but have not been successful in obtaining a resolution.

New York online clothing retailer, Next World, racked up 20 complaints with Metro NY BBB since August after consumers claimed they never received ordered merchandise from the company, even though their credit or debit cards were allegedly charged at the time they ordered. Most complainants claimed they didn’t get a response to emails and phone calls about order status or refund requests from Next World. The website for NextWorld Clothing recently shut down, and mail is being returned by the U.S. Postal Service from the address on the company’s website.

When holiday season online orders go bad, consumers commonly tell BBB that they are unable to get in touch with the company to find out the status of their orders or to pursue refund requests. Some companies reportedly don't provide telephone access, so consumers attempt to reach them through e-mail or social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

BBB tips for ordering hot holiday items online:

Check the company’s track record. When an item becomes very popular around the holidays, inevitably new companies will materialize to sell the product. While many of these new companies are honest and well meaning, it’s not uncommon for some to have difficulty fulfilling orders and providing adequate customer service. Research the company on BBB.org and see what sort of track record they have when it comes to resolving consumer complaints and delivering items in a timely manner.

You have a right to timely delivery. When ordering a product online, the seller must ship the product to you in the promised time frame, or notify you of the delay and give you the opportunity to cancel the order and receive a full refund. Click here for more information about your rights when shopping by phone, mail or online.

Be safe and purchase with a credit card. Credit cards offer added protection if you run into a problem after ordering a product online. Card issuers will typically put a hold on the disputed charge and investigate any problems, even if you have already paid the charge.

Understand the return policy.  Be sure you know what the return policy is before you finalize your purchase. Find out where and how you would be able to return the product if it doesn’t work or isn’t up to your standards. It’s not uncommon for the manufacturers of certain popular holiday items to be located outside of the U.S., and returning the product may include footing the bill for international shipping charges. Sellers located overseas may also be subject to fewer regulations when it comes to refunds and exchanges. When you purchase an item from a mystery seller based overseas you may be purchasing at your own risk.  Look for other policies and fees that may be included, such as restocking fees.

For more consumers tips and to find a business you can trust this holiday season, visit newyork.bbb.org.