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View Full Version : SC Wants $25, Gets Charged $400


Xieg
03-26-2008, 12:10 AM
This started normally. A lady had recieved a shipment that wasn't hers. In fact, she hadn't ordered in a long time. Strangely enough, she was quite helpful, and gave me a detailed list of what the order contained, was willing to take it to a UPS store and ship back one she recieved the labels, and was understanding over the fact that yes, we screwed up. Generally sounded like a decent human being.

Now, when we screw up and the customer is helpful in resolving the issue, we usually send them a gift card. I explain this to the customer and offer her another option. She had expressed interest in one of the sweaters in the order for her dog. I offer to send her the right size for her dog, as well as let her keep on of the toys from the order for the dog. She was thrilled, and that was that. Call ended.

I get in today to find out she had called one of my reps later that night to get an order for free. The rep, who did his job damn well, explained it would need to be approved by a supervisor. So my boss dropped this off with me, since I took care of her the first time around, with a note stating the obvious, no way in hell. Call up and offer her free shipping and no processing on the items, but she would have to pay for the items. The following ensues.

Me: Woke up too late, got in late, not ready for this shit.
SC: Either the Evil Twin of the original caller, or just a money grubbing bitch, not sure.

Me: While we cannot send you an entire order for free, we can offer free shipping and handling on the order. It isn't something we would do normally, but since you have been so helpful, we are willing to offer you this deal as further compensation.
SC: Well I thought it would be nice, since I could have just kept the order.
Me: And we are thankful you did call, hence why we sent you a free sweater and let you keep the toy your dog fancied.
SC: Well I wasn't looking to buy any extra items, I just wanted some compensation for my time.
Me: I do understand, and that is what the sweater and toy are. A gift card would likely not have exceeded that amount by much anyway.
SC: Whatever. *click*
Me:... WTF?

Thats the end of it right? If this crossed your mind then bess you, you still have misguided faith in humanity. She called back 5 times within 2 hours to try and complain about me and weasel out free stuff, claiming the harrasment, poor service, "snooty and shitty reps", and so forth. She got the same supervisor three times in a row, hung up all three in the middle of the conversation. On the fifth time she demanded free stuff, or she was going to hold the order hostage.

So my fellow supervisor tells the customer plain and simple, she is getting nothing from us, that we have a list of what the order contains, and that she is recieving a bill. If she does not pay us she will go to collections. Her account has been cut off, and anything with her name attached is flagged so whenever she calls she is sent straight to the supervisor on duty.

The kicker, she wanted about 25 dollars worth of stuff free, plus maybe the 15 dollars worth of stuff I already gave her. She is now going to be responsible for 400 dollars worth of stuff. SC got screwed.

marasbaras
03-26-2008, 12:52 AM
haha! great stuff!

Andara Bledin
03-26-2008, 01:26 AM
Just an FYI to all the would-be-scammer SCs out there: Just because a package shows up at your door does not mean that stuff becomes yours if it's an obvious mistake.

Keeping a package like that is called theft.

^-.-^

BookstoreEscapee
03-26-2008, 02:02 AM
Was the package actually addressed to her? I'm a bit confused on that point. If it wasn't addressed to her, why not just give it back to the carrier and tell them it has the wrong address? It would just get sent back to your company then. Also, why open it?

I once got a double shipment of my Old Navy order. (I was only charged once on my credit card, but I got two identical packages.) I could have kept it and they never would have known. But while there were a couple things in there I wouldn't have minded having extra of (socks and underwear), I really didn't need duplicates of the plaid PJ pants or 2 pairs of identical t-shirts. Or, I could have returned one package back to the store for a refund on my card and gotten it all for free. But I didn't. I just brought one package to the store, explained what happened, and thoroughly perplexed the cashier who didn't have a protocol for that scenario :). They just took it back and, I presume, sent it back to the warehouse.

Andara Bledin
03-26-2008, 02:27 AM
Was the package actually addressed to her? I'm a bit confused on that point. If it wasn't addressed to her, why not just give it back to the carrier and tell them it has the wrong address? It would just get sent back to your company then. Also, why open it?

My impression (which could be completely wrong) was that the package had been attached to the wrong customer so that it was actually addressed to the woman who received it.

However, the packing slip would have given indication that it was an order (PO# and all that) and so it couldn't be reasonably considered a gift or the like. Especially since the woman in question called in to let the company know of the error.

If the package was addressed to a different name at that address, I'm not sure what the laws are, but if the woman knew it wasn't for her but opened it anyway, she could be guilty of a crime.

^-.-^

venroses
03-26-2008, 05:05 AM
Was the package actually addressed to her? I'm a bit confused on that point. If it wasn't addressed to her, why not just give it back to the carrier and tell them it has the wrong address? It would just get sent back to your company then. Also, why open it?

I once got a double shipment of my Old Navy order. (I was only charged once on my credit card, but I got two identical packages.) I could have kept it and they never would have known. But while there were a couple things in there I wouldn't have minded having extra of (socks and underwear), I really didn't need duplicates of the plaid PJ pants or 2 pairs of identical t-shirts. Or, I could have returned one package back to the store for a refund on my card and gotten it all for free. But I didn't. I just brought one package to the store, explained what happened, and thoroughly perplexed the cashier who didn't have a protocol for that scenario :). They just took it back and, I presume, sent it back to the warehouse.

This happened to me once to, at a different store. I just called them up and told them of the error, and sent it back. I don't really expect compensation for it and it seems a little ridiculous to expect it.

Hello Kitty
03-26-2008, 07:26 AM
That customer was indeed very sucky. However, I don't think she legally owes you the $400. There are a couple of points that are not clear.
1) was the package addressed to sucky customer or another name?
2) was it sent via UPS?

If it was sent via USPS then I believe the postal code applies, and the postal code says that if a package is sent to you unsolicited, you don't have to pay for it. I don't think this applies if the wrong name is on the package (e.g. former renter) and it doesn't apply if it was sent via UPS or FedEx or whatever.

When you place an order with a company, I believe you are making an ad hoc contract - you pay the agreed upon amount, for the agreed upon goods. Sucky customer never agreed to pay you anything for these goods.

Probably when the order was shipped, it legally belonged to whoever bought it (let's call him screwed over customer, SOC). This ownership issue is I think set by law by the state, so the law would vary. So if SOC is the legal owner of the items, he could sue SC for them. However, most companies would just reship the items to SOC since it would be in their best interest to keep SOC happy, and morally it's the fault of the company anyway.

So, if the package was addressed to SC, with her name and address, I think legally she is entitled to keep them. You can refuse to sell her anything in the future, but I don't think you can dun her for the $400 since she never agreed to pay in the first place.

Keep in mind that what is morally right and what is legal are not always the same. This is just my 2 cents. I don't agree with her keeping the stuff, I just don't think you can make her pay for it.

Dorath
03-26-2008, 08:45 AM
I don't agree with her keeping the stuff, I just don't think you can make her pay for it.

As soon as she announced her intent to keep the package, she became responsible for payment.

trunks2k
03-26-2008, 12:27 PM
If it was sent via USPS then I believe the postal code applies, and the postal code says that if a package is sent to you unsolicited, you don't have to pay for it. I don't think this applies if the wrong name is on the package (e.g. former renter) and it doesn't apply if it was sent via UPS or FedEx or whatever.


I'm not sure how this case would be handled. The company could argue that it had made a mistake, the woman knows it was an error, and had tried to retrieve the package at no cost to the womanand even offered some compensation for the person's time in the form of free items. It was a shipping error and there was no intent by the company to scam the woman by charging her for unsolicited merchandise.

Once that has been offered, I'm not sure you can argue that the postal code for unsolicited mail would apply.

Record Store Tough Guy
03-26-2008, 03:21 PM
If it is mailed to you by mistake, it's yours to keep, period, regardless of whether or not you inform the company. You owe the company nothing. There's no gray area, according to the USPS:

Do I have to return unsolicited merchandise?

If a company sends you a gift in the mail, but you didn't request it, the item is yours, and you are under no obligation to pay anything (regardless of the mail class).

You, the consumer, may only legally be sent two types of merchandise through the mail without your consent or agreement:

* Free samples which are clearly and conspicuously marked as such.
* Merchandise mailed by a charitable organization that is soliciting contributions.

And in these two cases, you can consider the merchandise a gift if you wish. In all other situations, it is illegal to send merchandise to someone, unless that person has previously purchased or requested it.

If you do not wish to pay for unsolicited merchandise or make a donation to a charity sending such an item, you may do one of three things (in each case, by law, you have no obligation to the sender):

* If you have not opened the mailpiece, you may mark it "Return to Sender," and the United States Postal Service will return it with no additional charge to you.
* If you open the mailpiece and don't like what you find, you may throw it away.
* If you open the mailpiece and like what you find, you may keep it for free. In this instance, "finders-keepers" applies unconditionally.

Furthermore, it is illegal for a company that sends you unordered merchandise to follow the mailing with a bill or dunning communication.

If you are aware of violations of the federal law prohibiting the mailing of unordered merchandise, or if you have personally had difficulty with such items--especially if you are sent statements insisting on payment for the merchandise--you should contact you local postmaster or the nearest Postal Inspector.

Note: These rules are codified in Title 39, United States Code, Section 3009.

This happened to a friend of mine. He ordered some books from Amazon. Some time later, they mailed him a Wii he did not order. He did contact them, but they told him to keep it.

Of course, the rules regarding a package carrier may be different, but I think a similar law may apply. In fact, I'm almost positive one does. It's actually a common scam for some shady office supply companies to send reams of paper to a company that did not order it, then bill them exorbitant amounts of money, hoping they won't know that if they didn't order it, they can keep it, and they don't have to pay for it.

I suppose if there were no laws like that, anybody could ship anything to anyone else, and then legally bill them for it.

eltf177
03-26-2008, 03:33 PM
Was the package actually addressed to her or was it accidently delivered to the wrong address? I have a neighbor who lives at the same house number and quadrant of town but a different street who's name is quite close to mine. I'm always getting his stuff by accident. I just give him a call at home and he drops by and picks it up. I would never dream of keeping it, it was delivered by accident and is in _no_ way a freebie!

LifeCarnie
03-26-2008, 03:36 PM
This happened to me once to, at a different store. I just called them up and told them of the error, and sent it back. I don't really expect compensation for it and it seems a little ridiculous to expect it.

Yeah, it's happened to me too. I ordered $30 in guitar strings from musician's friend.com and wound up with my strings and $200 worth of humbucker electric guitar pickups (at no charge). I called their customer service and they emailed me a Fed Ex call tag to send them back, no biggie. I really didn't break a sweat printing that label.

Record Store Tough Guy
03-26-2008, 03:38 PM
^^ But that's a completely different situation. It's mail that has been delivered by mistake to the wrong address, not mail that was addressed to you that you did not request.

digilight
03-26-2008, 05:11 PM
Like others have said, if you recieve a unsolicited package you are under no obligation to return it. If it showed up under a different name but to her address I have no idea how that would be handled.

Now where your company may have a leg to stand on is the fact that she had previously agreed to return the package (once she recieved the call tags for it). I would assume this to also be a oral contract (I assume that your calls are recorded).

Now is it worth it to try and press the issue for 400 bucks? Probably not, if your company is wrong it could turn into much more then just 400 bucks. There could also be fraud involved as well (If it had her name on it, and now you are trying to collect on a unsolicited package).

Legally she is most likely entitled to the items (Depending on the name on the package, and if her initial promise to return the items with the call tag is considered a contract). Now morally her compass is in dire need of a tune up.

Andara Bledin
03-26-2008, 05:14 PM
When you place an order with a company, I believe you are making an ad hoc contract - you pay the agreed upon amount, for the agreed upon goods. Sucky customer never agreed to pay you anything for these goods.

Probably when the order was shipped, it legally belonged to whoever bought it (let's call him screwed over customer, SOC). This ownership issue is I think set by law by the state, so the law would vary. So if SOC is the legal owner of the items, he could sue SC for them. However, most companies would just reship the items to SOC since it would be in their best interest to keep SOC happy, and morally it's the fault of the company anyway.

It is actually FTC regulations that are at work with mail order issues due to the fact that they often cross state lines.

Once an order is placed, that is a contract between the buyer and the seller. The seller is obligated to have the order in question delivered to the buyer at the address specified by the buyer so long as it conforms to any rules set forth by the seller prior to the sale.

All mail order items fall under the USPS for filing of complaints regardless of the actual shipping method. This is to keep everything uniform.

As regards the rules stated earlier about gift and unsolicited packages, neither of those cases apply to this.

Those regulations are specifically in place to prevent a company from sending unsolicited merchandise and then attempting to collect from the recipient of the merchandise.

This is a case of a shipping error on behalf of the seller with no intent to attempt collection of the value of the merchandise from the recipient. In a case such as this where it is obvious that the items were sent in error, and the recipient acknowledged that error and originally agreed to return the merchandise to the seller, it becomes much less cut and dried.

At this point, the recipient is attempting extortion.

^-.-^

Record Store Tough Guy
03-26-2008, 05:23 PM
As regards the rules stated earlier about gift and unsolicited packages, neither of those cases apply to this.

Those regulations are specifically in place to prevent a company from sending unsolicited merchandise and then attempting to collect from the recipient of the merchandise.

This is a case of a shipping error on behalf of the seller with no intent to attempt collection of the value of the merchandise from the recipient. In a case such as this where it is obvious that the items were sent in error, and the recipient acknowledged that error and originally agreed to return the merchandise to the seller, it becomes much less cut and dried.

At this point, the recipient is attempting extortion.

^-.-^

Did she order it? If not, it was sent unsolicited, whether in error or not. Therefore the regulations regarding unsolicited packages apply.

trunks2k
03-26-2008, 05:51 PM
Did she order it? If not, it was sent unsolicited, whether in error or not. Therefore the regulations regarding unsolicited packages apply.

But I believe the fact that she contacted the company that sent her the item and agreed to send it back to them because it was a shipping error might make it less cut and dry.

The purpose of the USPS rule/law was specifically to keep people from purposely shipping unsolicited merchandise and trying to charge for it. In this case there was no such intent, in fact the company wants the merchandise back and was willing to compensate the woman to send it back.

I'm not familiar with the wording of the actual law, but in this case the spirit of the law in question doesn't apply to this situation.

Cyphr
03-26-2008, 06:00 PM
I'm not familiar with the wording of the actual law, but in this case the spirit of the law in question doesn't apply to this situation.
That law relates to sending a freebie to someone and then trying to get them to pay for it. A good example is the way razor companies send freebies of a razor and their shaving cream. This law prevents them from sending a bill saying you owe $xx.xx.
however i understand it as that if it was addressed to:

Joe Somebody
1234 SC Lane

and your

Jane Sucky
1235 SC ROAD

then it is considered theft and is illegal

Peppergirl
03-26-2008, 06:09 PM
I guess I'm confused as to why she even bothered to report it, and then turned around and is acting like an SC and wants to keep it.

Why bother to report it in the first place, then?

Perhaps she had a qualm of conscience for a moment and thought that if she reported it they'd just tell her to keep it? Then she got pissed when they didn't?

I don't get it.

Or am I just using logic again?

ClovenMusic
03-26-2008, 07:09 PM
You, the consumer, may only legally be sent two types of merchandise through the mail without your consent or agreement:

* Free samples which are clearly and conspicuously marked as such.
* Merchandise mailed by a charitable organization that is soliciting contributions.

And in these two cases, you can consider the merchandise a gift if you wish. In all other situations, it is illegal to send merchandise to someone, unless that person has previously purchased or requested it.

If you do not wish to pay for unsolicited merchandise or make a donation to a charity sending such an item, you may do one of three things (in each case, by law, you have no obligation to the sender):

* If you have not opened the mailpiece, you may mark it "Return to Sender," and the United States Postal Service will return it with no additional charge to you.
* If you open the mailpiece and don't like what you find, you may throw it away.
* If you open the mailpiece and like what you find, you may keep it for free. In this instance, "finders-keepers" applies unconditionally.


Now, I'm just a 27 year old peon, so by no means am I a lawyer, but I am judging that by the wording of this, the law of keeping stuff applies ONLY to free samples or merchandise sent to you BY A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION LOOKING FOR DONATIONS. This does not mean you get to keep something that was mis-mailed to you, and was meant for someone else.

I know the wording of "if you do not wish to pay for unsolicited merchandise or make a donation to a charity sending such an item" may seem as though it's describing two different scenarios, but I am pretty sure it's still describing something sent to you by a charitable organization. In the first part of "unsolicited merchandise", the paying for the merchandise would be considered the donation, in which case you're still paying a charitable organization that sent you merchandise, and not just some company that sent the wrong merchandise to the wrong residence.

In any case, I also don't think it matters if the lady is able to bend the wording of the law in her favor, as the moment she tried to return the merchandise, she was legally recognizing herself as being NOT THE OWNER of it, as well as her NOT WANTING the merchandise. She was offered compensation for her troubles, and then turned around and wanted MORE compensation, and decided to hold the package hostage for it, after already waiving her right to keep it.

Personally, I think any lawyer worth their salt would be able to conceivably argue that once she decided to take the box hostage, she should be liable to compensate the company for not being able to set things right with the rightful customer with immediacy. And I also think any lawyer that she went to with a case to keep it, would probably look at her like she's nuts.

Then again, this IS America, and...


~ Chris

Cyphr
03-26-2008, 07:36 PM
yea america tends to get a little stupid in the justice department at times but i think any judge/jury worth their weight in dirt would understand it is theft. there are precedents for this sort of thing... i just dont know the case numbers or details off my head.. if you want to find one just look for something like <mail/phone order company> v. <average citizen>

Xieg
03-26-2008, 09:06 PM
Couple of clarifications.

It was sent by UPS, not that this really matters at this point.

By some quirk of the system it was labeled with her name and address, and according to her, not real ready to believe this at this point, it was without a packing list.

As it is, the fact that she contacted us and we have her voice stating she would send it back and was happy with the previous compensation, which she had suggested in the first place, would likely be enough for a verbal contract.

And we aren't directly charging her, that would be trouble. We are sending her a bill, which she can choose not to pay, and which will have collections calling her occasionally.

If it wasn't addressed to her, why not just give it back to the carrier and tell them it has the wrong address? It would just get sent back to your company then. Also, why open it?.

Our stuff is clearly labeled with our name. Its on the box, the tape, the label. Anyone not having ordered would have noticed, told UPS its not theirs, and it would have come back to us. Happens more often than not in these cases. It is clear now she just wanted free stuff, and if she could have used the majority of the order she would not have called. Most people don't have uses for a few shock collars when they have one dog.

Ironclad Alibi
03-27-2008, 02:46 AM
Now, I'm just a 27 year old peon, so by no means am I a lawyer, but I am judging that by the wording of this, the law of keeping stuff applies ONLY to free samples or merchandise sent to you BY A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION LOOKING FOR DONATIONS. This does not mean you get to keep something that was mis-mailed to you, and was meant for someone else.

This not restricted to products sent by charitable organizations. I have in the past received collectible stamps in the mail from companies selling stamp collections. They send a sample with the hope of getting me to buy it and subscribe to future issues in the collection. They ask that I buy it or return it, providing a postage page envelope to do so, but also say they I'm under no obligation to do either.

The US Post Office web site describes their policy regarding the receipt of unsolicited merchandise (http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/merch.htm). No mention is made of erroneously sent merchandise.

StevieJD
03-27-2008, 02:50 AM
I am a relatively small business. Nitche market and all that.

One day I got a call. Just by chance I answered the telephone because it was a funky call and would have been confusing to most employees, and even harder for them to explain to the chain of command.


A woman, let's call her Sally Sqwiertier live at 101011 Swit St in Springfield was calling us.

We had shipped an 8 box, 400 lb UPS shipment to Sally Sqiwertier who lived at 101077 Mwit St in Fairfield.

UPS had re-routed the packages to the caller.


Stuff happens. It was just one of those really weird things. Really weird.


Of course I am in panic mode. Did one of my employees F***up the name and addy. Nope. UPS had done a consignee moved re-routing. Their computer messed it up.


Sally Sqwiertier was nice enough. Understanding. UPS picked up the packages within the hour which was quite remarkable. But something about the entire conversation was "what are you going to do for me".

Hey, all she did was call the shipper's telephone number. Took 5, 10 minutes tops. She don't need or want my products, so there is nothing I can offer her. Oh sure I could have given her $$, but why and how much. Besides, if I give her $, UPS is not going to compensate me for their screwup.

So I left the situation with a thankyou and hope somebody looks out for you was well as you did for Sally Sqiwertier.


I guess in a manner of speaking I was "poor customer service".

Andara Bledin
03-27-2008, 03:50 AM
The US Post Office web site describes their policy regarding the receipt of unsolicited merchandise (http://www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/merch.htm). No mention is made of erroneously sent merchandise.

Mis-delivery does not equal unsolicited merchandise.

Unfortunately, the FTC site is completely unresponsive to it's own search feature, and every page I've found includes a quote from an FTC page that no longer exists. While it may contain the same text at a different URL, it's possible that they've changed some of the text.

As it currently stands, there are many consumer protection laws that protect against practices that involve the sending of merchandise followed by the sending of a bill for said merchandise. And other than a note of advice quoted from the old FTC page, there is nothing mentioned about what is legally required when there is an honest and recognizable shipping error.

There are a lot of opinions, and most of them support that it is ethically proper for the merchant to be allowed to collect the merchandise. But there is nothing defined regarding the legality.

I'm military law, any time a person receives something as the result of an honest error and they are aware of that error, the failure to make some effort to alert the sender of the error is tantamount to theft.

^-.-^

Ironclad Alibi
03-27-2008, 04:32 AM
Since we can find no guidance from either the Post Office of the FTC regarding mis-sent merchandise, we shall have to make inquiries to a higher authority, Miss Manners (http://http://lifestyle.msn.com/Relationships/Article.aspx?cp-documentid=27876). Especially since Dear Abby has recently disgraced herself.

Rine
03-27-2008, 05:19 AM
I think it is just sad that people expect to be rewarded for doing the right thing. You should simply do the right thing and if you get a reward in return, well, that's nice, but it's never necessary. People can be so greedy.

Sliceanddice
03-27-2008, 11:55 AM
heres why i think she can be held liable for the charges.
She knew it wasn't hers, made the moves to return to the company, and was even compensated for her time. She then deiside instead of returning the products she would keep them instead, there for she is saying she wants the porducts and there for can be billed for them, like for a free trail of a product, since she was informed she was being billed its perfectly legal (not a lawyer just giving an opinion) also she is also saying until her demands are made shes keeping the products. Which can be consue as a treat and of holding private proper hostage.
I think the company is going whats right.