How to get a refund on online purchases
I purchased a memory module kit from The Tech Lodge via Amazon's online marketplace last year (on 20 January 2010).
It turned out to be faulty and caused my MacBook to crash, so I contacted The Tech Lodge earlier this year to ask for a refund. I was redirected to the manufacturer. However, the manufacturer wanted me to post the product to the Netherlands to replace it - at considerable cost.
I didn't want to do this so I contacted The Tech Lodge again to ask for a full refund instead. Unfortunately, it hasn't responded to any of my emails. I believe I'm entitled to a refund under the Sales of Goods Act 1979. I've sent follow-up emails, but still haven't received a reply.
I also contacted Amazon but was directed to various different places due to the cross-over with the Amazon US call centres, and I don't know who to contact now.
Martin Underwood/via email
Internet shopping is great for convenience, but when something goes wrong and you need some assistance, it can feel as though you're up against a brick wall.
We had to contact The Tech Lodge through an email form on its website as there was no contact phone number or email address available. Thankfully, spokesperson Chris Dyson got back to us within a matter of days.
Dyson defended The Tech Lodge's suggestion to send the memory module kit back to the manufacturer, claiming: "In line with most retailers, we do not effect warranty repairs ourselves; we use the services of warranty agents.
"For this particular product, our warranty agent is OCZ, which is also the manufacturer of the product. We believe that in the majority of instances our customers enjoy a higher level of technical help, and faster turnaround times, by contacting the warranty agent directly."
However, he added that the company is "always mindful of its responsibility as a retailer" and should the direct contact course of action not be suitable for a customer, it will always accept returns itself and take the appropriate action.
But it seems Martin's experience tells a somewhat different story.
Dyson claims when Martin told The Tech Lodge he didn't want to send the item to the warranty agent because of the postage costs, he was offered free postage. Martin, however, says he never received its email.
Following this, The Tech Lodge has agreed to offer Martin a full refund if he returns the product to the freepost address now provided. Dyson says: "I offer my personal apologies to Mr Underwood for failing to meet his expectations and I hope he is satisfied with this response."
Safe shopping online
If you want to shop online it's important to follow these safety guidelines:
1: When you visit a bank or retailer's website enter the address manually - never follow an email link.
2: Keep account details and passwords secret - if you surrender them yourself you may not be covered in the event of fraud.
3: Stick to trusted companies. Don't judge a company or person on their website alone - look for a telephone number and address.
4: Sign up to a secure payment method such as Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode, which will verify your card information and provide an extra layer of protection. For transactions over £100, use a credit card for security against non-delivery or fraud.
5: Check the website is secure - look for a padlock at the bottom right of the browser window. Click on the padlock to check that the seller is who they say they are and that their certificate is current and registered to the right address. The web address should also begin with ‘https://'.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.