Business Lifestyle Opinion

Consumer Diary: A Frustrating Tale and Fake Shipping

Portion of the living room rug with iron impression. Can you spot it? Would you care? Courtesy photo

Consumer columnist and West Hartford resident Harlan Levy has more than 20 years of experience writing stories about everyday experiences that anyone could encounter.

By Harlan Levy

Harlan Levy. Courtesy photo

This is a frustrating, almost comical consumer tale:

We were visiting our son A. and daughter-in-law K. in Pennsylvania for our granddaughter’s fifth birthday party Dec. 4 when K said that they needed a new living room rug. They’ve had the current one since four apartments ago, and their two children, 5 and 1½, have spilled countless liquids on it. Also, she said, a few days ago A was ironing a shirt on the 6×9-foot rug, because he couldn’t find the ironing board. Now there’s a mark on the rug in the shape of an iron.

“Where is it,” my wife asked. K pointed. “Where is it?” she asked again. K pointed. And finally she could see it. It’s one of those things where you think about it all the time, but nobody else would notice. But she wanted a new one anyway.

She found a similar rug on major shopping site Wayfair.com, and my wife placed an order for the rug and a rug pad to go underneath for under $250.

We woke up the next morning to discover the rug and rug pad had already shipped, and the rug pad would be delivered that day and the rug on Friday. But they were both coming to OUR HOUSE, while A and K live in Lancaster!

My wife got upset, because they were much too big and heavy to put in our car, and we’re not visiting Lancaster any time soon. She immediately visited Wayfair.com to reroute it and discovered that although she had specified their address for shipping, somehow, at the last minute it had stupidly(?) switched it back to the billing address!

My wife went went on the FedEx website, and it said she could only reroute it through the shipper.

She then called Wayfair, and the Wayfair person said that she cannot reroute it, that only FedEx can reroute it, and that you can only reroute it by creating a FedEx account. They discussed the contradictory information for almost 20 minutes, but she kept insisting there was nothing she could do. But she suggested we let both items be delivered to us, cancel the order, pay return shipping for $30 each, and then create a new order and send the rug and rug pad to Pennsylvania. So we would pay an extra $60 for Wayfair’s mistake! Another alternative: My wife could sit all day at the front door and watch for the FedEx man and refuse delivery. That would cost us only $25 apiece to send the items back, saving us 10 bucks. She must’ve been kidding. Guess what: We weren’t going to do either.

So my wife created a FedEx account. Then, texting with a virtual assistant, she learned that she couldn’t reroute anything for 24 hours and that when she rerouted those packages it would reroute ALL OUR FUTURE ORDERS TO PENNSYLVANIA!

[She laughed. I guffawed.]

Meanwhile, my wife called FedEx and told a woman the whole saga again in excruciating detail, but she said the rug and rug pad were already on a truck. My wife begged her and pleaded, and the woman told her the only ones who could reroute the packages were the Premier Shipping Team — and only the sender can speak to the Premier Shipping Team. My wife then asked if she could get Wayfair to call her directly. She said no one can call her directly. My wife then asked if the woman could call Wayfair. She said no.

My wife took a breath and called Wayfair and told the story to Jeremy. A miracle: He said he understood and that he was going to help her. He said the rug pad was already out for delivery, but he could reroute the rug and would call FedEx and do it right away. He also gave us a 40% discount ($37) to cover return shipping.

Last weekend we gave it to A and K in New York City where we all gathered to celebrate our daughter’s and husband’s joint birthday (coincidentally both Dec.18).

The lesson: Even if you enter all the information correctly on your online orders, double check it, because screw-ups happen, and they’re not easy to fix. Also, be persistent. Ask for supervisors when customer service reps won’t help. Don’t give up!

Fake shipping notifications

When ordering  online, you’ll get emails or texts confirming your order, telling you it shipped, and saying it’s out for delivery. Last week the Federal Trade Commission posted a warning about scammers this holiday period sending bogus email and text messages. They say you missed a delivery attempt and ask you to click on a link to re-schedule – or that your item is ready to ship, but you need to update shipping preferences. Some say if you don’t respond immediately, they’ll return your package to the sender.

If you click on the link and enter your personal or financial information you can lose your cash, or the link could install harmful malware on your phone or computer that steals your information to open new accounts in your name.

What to do:

  • Don’t click on links in messages about unexpected deliveries.
  • If the message appears legitimate, contact the shipping company using a phone number or website you know is real.
  • If you suspect it’s about a recent order, go to the purchase site. Find the shipping and delivery status there.
Merry Christmas. Be nice to your family. Don’t eat too much candy!

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