So you’ve just bought something online, with a credit card–and the item never arrives–or proves defective.
Even worse, the online company insists on charging your credit card for the item.
What to do?
Here’s what a friend of mine–Ralph–recently did when he faced just that problem.
One night, while surfing the Internet, he saw an ad for a new computer security product. For him, its biggest selling point was: “Make yourself invisible to the bad guys with just one click.”
An even stronger selling point for him: The product was being offered by SUX, the company whose anti-virus software he had subscribed to for the last three years.
And, so far, he had never had any trouble with the company.
SUX offered several options for subscription:
- One month
- One year
- Two years
Ralph decided that one month was too short, and two years were too long. He chose a one-year subscription, intending to renew at the end of the year if he liked it.
He typed in his credit card number and clicked on “Download.”
Soon afterward, he received an Order Confirmation email from the company, outlining the product he had just purchased and the amount he had just paid for it.
He then got into the anti-virus security item on his desk. A few clicks later a new screen popped up–and the message: “Disconnected.”
Even worse, the screen warned: “Your license has expired. Renew now.”
The product he had just paid $60 to download hadn’t downloaded.
So Ralph called SUX–and explained to a technician what had happened.
And the tech responded: “We don’t offer phone support for that product.”
Nothing Ralph said could elicit the help he needed. Furious at the man’s arrogance, Ralph hung up.
To avoid accidentally reaching the same worthless technician, Ralph decided to wait several hours before again calling SUX.
When he did, he reached a technician who was willing to provide help. The tech said that he would like to run a remote scan on Ralph’s computer to try to find out what was causing the problem.
For the next five minutes he could see his cursor moving around his screen, as the tech checked first one file, then another.
Finally, the tech said that Ralph needed to “clean out” his computer before the SUX product he bought would work properly.
“OK, how do I do that?” asked Ralph.
“You need to buy our BS2U product,” said the tech.
Now Ralph was really steamed.
He had just spent $60 on a product he couldn’t download. And the tech was telling him he had to spend even more money on a second product to make the first product work properly.
Ralph then said he wanted to contact someone in an executive positon at SUX. But the rep said he would have to call outside the United States to do this.
Ralph hung up, then got back onto his computer and onto the SUX website. He drafted a short but detailed message on the problems he was facing with one of the company’s products.
And it ended:
(1) I am UNABLE to make use of the product I paid $60 for; and
(2) I am UNWILLING to pay MORE MONEY FOR ANOTHER PRODUCT in hopes that this will enable me to use the one I just purchased.
“Therefore, I am requesting that the credit card transaction I had with your company on —- be canceled. If it is not, I will dispute this via my credit card company when I receive my next statement.
“To enable you to quickly locate this transaction in your files, I am enclosing the Order Confirmation Number: #———-.
“I am making a copy of this email, so I can establish, if necessary, that I have notified your company that I am NOT receiving the product I paid for.
“I have already contacted my credit card company and informed them that I will contest this charge if your company does not make good on this refund.”
Six days later, Ralph called his credit card company, to see if SUX was still charging him for an item he hadn’t received.
Luckily for Ralph, he had been a longtime student of Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of political science.
In The Prince, his treatise on how to gain and hold political power, Machiavelli raises the question: Is it better to be loved or feared?
And he answers as follows:
“The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved….
“Men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared.
“For love is held by a chain of obligations which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.”
It was time to invoke the spirit of St. Niccolo.