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How I Got a Bad Deal on BradsDeals and How I Fixed It

Let me tell you a story of a deal gone wrong, how I fixed it, and why I keep a doorknob assembly at my desk at BradsDeals HQ. Don't worry, there's a happy ending.

The Problem

Bar Bistro Set

For $20 shipped, this bistro set looked like the deal of the century.

About a month and a half ago, I was scouring Buy.com for an excellent deal to post on BradsDeals. I'm the type of person who gets really, really excited about a good deal, so my heart started pounding when I spotted a Mandalay Iron Bar Bistro Set for $14.77 with $4.89 for shipping. Iron patio furniture for $20 shipped? I don't even have a patio, but at that price, I'd figure out some use for it. I read the product description twice, to make sure this wasn't a deal on some spare parts for the set, but it clearly described the furniture. Price-checking out my find, the second lowest was $239!

I posted the deal and ordered one myself. As you might expect, the response from our readers was fast and furious. Within an hour, the deal was no longer available at Buy.com. A few readers said that they were able to order, as I did, but many reported problems right from the start.

So at that point, I was waiting for a cancelled order notice. If you play the deal game, you know that cancelled orders happen, and I was ready to chalk this up to a price error. Then I got a shipping confirmation.

a doorknob assembly

Did the seller think I wouldn't notice this doorknob wasn't a bar bistro set?

When I grabbed the mail a few days later, it never occurred to me that my bistro set might be in the padded envelope UPS had left me. Then I saw the sender name: ANTonline. It was the Buy.com marketplace seller for the bistro set. Knowing something was wrong, I opened the envelope and started to laugh. It was a doorknob. A mobile home doorknob.

Now, some of you may be asking, "Casey, what is wrong with you? Why would you laugh about paying $20 for something you don't want or need?" The answer is that I never believed for a second that I would be stuck with it.

The Resolution

So there it is, all out in the open. I confess, I'm a deal editor for BradsDeals and I got a bad deal. A doorknob instead of a bar bistro set. How humiliating! But I knew I had options and my first step was clear:

Go to the original retailer.

I went online at Buy.com and found that in my order history, I had a few options. Since this was a marketplace seller, I had the option to contact them through my Buy.com account. Why did I do this instead of emailing or calling ANTonline directly? Because this way there would be a record of my interaction with the company if things went badly. Buy.com has a guarantee on items sold through their marketplace, but you always want to start with the original seller and give them a chance to make it right.

Be polite.

No matter how obvious it may be that something is shady, don't be rude (yes, I'm looking at you "tkim," who packed up a doorknob in place of a bistro set). You want the person who you are dealing with to be on your side. I wrote a polite email explaining that I did not receive the product I ordered and asked when I could expect to get the correct item.

I'll admit that I didn't expect much from the marketplace seller, but they surprised me. I heard back within a day. They told me that there was an error on their end, and that they would credit me with a full refund (including shipping). The doorknob, they said, was mine to keep. But what would I have done if they had never responded or if their response hadn't been good enough?

Move up the chain.

If I hadn't gotten a refund from the marketplace seller, I would have moved up to filing a claim with Buy.com. Like Amazon, they have a robust money-back policy in cases where marketplace sellers attempt to defraud buyers. In the claim form, there is even an option to select if you received the wrong item.

Go to your credit card company.

The final line of defense against a bad deal is your credit card company (check out our blog post on credit vs. debit cards for more). If you cannot find resolution by working with the company, your credit card company can issue a chargeback on the sale. Be prepared to make your case and offer proof. In my case, the padded envelope, the packing slip, and my shiny gold doorknob would have provided plenty of evidence that I did not get what I ordered.

Final thoughts (a.k.a. why the doorknob is still at my desk)

I keep the doorknob at my desk because I don't have anything better to do with it, it makes me laugh, and because it reminds me that some deals are too good to be true. But it also reminds me that being a smart consumer matters. I went into this deal with 3 possible ways to straighten it out if it didn't go well.

Want more info on how to be a smart consumer and the best deals delivered to your inbox daily? Sign up for Brad's Daily Alerts!

Ever had a deal go south on you? Were you able to resolve it? Share your stories in the comments section below!

About the Author: Casey Runyan

Casey is part of the deal-finding team at BradsDeals. A bargain hunter to the core, she's sometimes haunted by nightmares about deals that expire before she can write them. She's also pretty sure she got her job by telling Brad about the time she got a free golf club.

5 Responses to “How I Got a Bad Deal on BradsDeals and How I Fixed It”

  1. jen says:

    Great post, thanks!

  2. Jinkx says:

    I spied water bottles at a great deal here on bradsdeals; I went to purchase four bottles, I think they were maybe four or five dollars apiece which I thought was a really excellent bargain. Then came the shipping to a whopping forty dollars !!! I opted outta the deal, but forty dollars for four empty water bottles, I coulda driven my gas-eating hog of a truck to the next town and gotten these bottles !!!!
    hugs, Jinkx

  3. Carol says:

    Great story but what do we do when a company will not honor a Brads Deal coupon? This week I printed a Jos. A. Bank a coupon for “$20 off in-store purchases of $20 or more” good through July 26, 2012. Well guess what? Our local Jos. A. Banks store said corporate told them not to honor the coupon and the clerk was told by his manager he could loose his job if he honored the coupon.

  4. Nancy C says:

    I saw a deal on Brad Deal for a Stainless steel Trash can at Brylane Home. It was $39.99 and a coupon for $10 So it came out to be $41.07,so I order one on August 20. I finally received item on September 18. Almost one month later. I had to put it together not that easy got 2 cut from the sharp edges. After its all together I go to place top and its broken. I email then for a replacement of the top they responsed no longer available. They didn’t even offer substitution. They will give 10% discount,. Do they think that I can keep a trashcan with no lid ,really !!. I tell them I want to return item . So I took the trash can apart and sent it back. 10 days later I received an email that it was received and I would get back $23.43 not $41.07. They charged another delivery fee. So now I lost $17 and I have to still buy a trashcan. I will never buy from again. So anyone that want to buy from Brylane Homes be careful !!

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