Posted by: GW7AAV | October 17, 2011

Caveat emptor

Caveat emptor is Latin for “Let the buyer beware” and nowhere is that more true than when buying off the Internet.

I have a couple of 3-15V DC 25/30A power supplies which I purchased cheap and second hand off eBay. They are identical apart from one is badged Palstar PS-30M and the other Manson EP-925. They usually retail new at between £90 and £120, although you can find some unscrupulous sellers vending them to the Tattoo market at well over £250. I only paid around £30 each and so I was not bothered that one had a noisy fan, it would be a cheap and easy repair.

This morning in my email I received an advertisement from a computer retailer from whom I have dealt since well before the Internet and eBay. Yes, that was way back in the days of printed adverts in magazines and telephoning orders in. What caught my eye was a fan of the type I needed for my power supply for 49 pence. So I went to the retailers site and thought while I was there I would purchase a hard drive as well. The hard drive had free post and packing.

I was about to buy a 2TB Western Digital HDD which came with free postage, but when I added the 49 pence fan to my basket it said my postage would be £6.95 plus VAT, therefore making the true cost of the 49 pence fan £9.42. Annoyed I wrote a letter asking them to explain and received this explanation…

The free delivery offer is only intended to be on the hard drive but the same parcel that the hard drive ships in can accommodate up to 5 kgs and we’re happy to ship other items in that parcel for no additional delivery charge if you order over the phone.

The web site needs re-programming in order to accommodate this scenario and the costs will run into thousands in programmers time so we’re stuck with the anomaly until we order a new web site.

Please call to order or send your number and we’ll call you.

Which is fine until you call and they then say these two items are web order only.

Oh well I ordered my fan from eBay for £3.42 including P&P, but wonder how many others have thought they were getting free P&P only to be charged 18 times what the item cost for the postage.  The only reason I don’t mention the retailer by name is because I have had some great deals and excellent service from them in the past but I shall be keeping a close eye on them for tricks of this type in future.

Welcome to ‘Rip Off Britain’!

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