Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The blender saga...

...is finally over, almost 9 months after it began. It all started a few weeks before our house warming party, which was to be held the first weekend in December last year. The plan was to serve cocktails, but I noticed that there was a crack in our blender goblet. The blender was part of a Kenwood food processor, which was only about 3 years old. Needless to say, everything else was in working order, and the broken blender goblet did not warrant purchasing an entirely new food processor. So I began the hunt for a place that sold spare parts in the hope of replacing the blender.

There didn't seem to be any Dutch supplier of spare parts, and so I subsequently began my search in the UK. Although there were more options, many had strange payment systems or did not deliver to continental Europe. I then found to another UK on-line supplier of spare parts - they had the part, it would be €64 in total and would be shipped within 2-3 weeks. So I placed an order and just over a week later, received an email confirmation that the package was sent.

Given that deliveries from the UK typically take about a week to arrive, I expected my package to arrive within a few weeks, at most. But more than a month later and no sign of the order (and no blended cocktails at the party). It was getting close to Christmas at the time, and we received a number of packages, but not my spare part. After sending a few emails with no response from the vendor, I was starting to get a bit annoyed. And since the original confirmation email had no tracking number, I had no means of knowing what had happened to my order.

While I was trying to find another way of contacting the vendor, I came across a forum with not so glowing stories about this particular on-line supplier. Furthermore, the stories sounded very familiar - orders not received, no response from the vendor and no indication if and when they would get their part. My heart sank. What to do now.

I decided to send a formal letter to the vendor, but also contacted the European Consumer Centre. They act as a mediator in trying to resolve issues related to purchase within the EU - and this service is free! And they were very willing to help get to the bottom of the situation. So while they started their investigation, I continued to try to get in touch with the vendor.

Early in March, I finally received an email from the spare parts supplier that the package had been returned to them with a note saying that it had not been picked up, although a card would have been left in our box requesting us to do so. Despite receiving a number of packages in December, I don't think we missed the card from the postman. The on-line supplier then mentioned that they would have to charge me for redelivery. At this stage, I just wanted my money back and certainly didn't want to pay another €19 to have the package reshipped and run the risk of it not being delivered, again. So I requested a cancellation of my order and a full refund.

Their response was that the postage and handling is not refundable and they would be deducting a 33.3% restocking fee - thus the refund would be approximately €25. What!! A restocking fee!!! For a part I never received let alone used!!!! I was livid. About the same time, the ECC had also had got in touch with the vendor, to which they received the following response.

Even in this day of pampering consumers to the detriment of suppliers, surely she has to take some responsibility for her lack of action when this card was left (which it undoubtedly was - TNT are a reputable organization and would not have said they tried to deliver if this was not the case)?

Given some of my more recent experiences with TNTpost, I am not sure that they deserve such praise ;) But seriously, isn't this vendor's whole livelihood dependent on consumers? And is refunding my money pampering me? However, we came to an agreement. I would waive the postage and handling but receive a full refund for the part I ordered. The next catch? They only refund by cheque, which Dutch banks charge a fee to deposit. Upon receiving the cheque, I did notice that they had written the address incorrectly; they had put the number before the street, while the Dutch convention is the reverse. Could this have been the initial problem?

So after many months of blood, sweat and tears to get my blender goblet or money back, I ended up being out of pocket €40. In the meantime, I did eventually find a Dutch spare parts supplier (although I am sure they didn't exist in November). On Sunday, I placed an order with them for a blender goblet - it was in stock for €28 (including shipping) and would be sent within 24hrs of placing the order. Today, we received it! And so ends the saga.