Anthony Caruana investigates a reader’s delivery disappointment.
There are few things more frustrating than a broken promise. Michael P sent us the following email and asked us to follow up.
“I ordered a Dell monitor some weeks ago. Since then Dell has repeatedly altered the delivery date - in my case at least four times, and meanwhile the order information still claims the estimated delivery date is March 3.
Dell is claiming there is a parts shortage, and has been for several weeks, and saying there is no stock of the monitor. However, whilst on the phone to their customer service people, I used the online chat to Dell, and this is part of the transcript:
Michael: “Hi, the Ultrasharp U2515H monitor - how long would it take to get to me in Australia - I need a monitor in a bit of a hurry.”
Agent (Allan): “5 to 7 business days.”
Michael: “Really? so they’re in stock?”
Agent (Allan): “Yes”
Michael: “Then why is my order placed Feb 26, not delivered yet? And why is a guy on the phone telling me they’re not available”
Agent (Allan): “I would suggest you to contact our customer care department, they would be able to assist you better in this regards. You can call them on 1300 655 533.”
“Clearly, someone isn’t being honest in their dealings with me, and I guess others. Since there is no apparent means of pushing this beyond some call centre, there is little I can do. I’d rather have the monitor than cancel the order and go elsewhere, but I just get the feeling that I’m being strung along until I finally lose patience. As far as I know, most people on the forum thread have bought the monitor taking advantage of a reduced-price special”.
We asked a spokesperson for Consumer Affairs Victoria for their advice.
“If a company takes your money for a product this must be supplied within a reasonable amount of time, generally seven to 28 days is considered reasonable, or in the time advised by the trader. If you haven’t received the goods you ordered by then, be persistent with the company and put your concerns in writing. Basically a company has to provide the goods you’ve paid for or you get your money back.”
They advised if you don’t get anywhere with the supplier, contact your credit or debit card provider to organise a chargeback (this effectively reverses the credit card charge, and is similar to a refund). Act quickly as many credit card providers have short deadlines (for example, 60 days) for lodging a chargeback request. Chargebacks can take up to one year to be finalised.
We received a response from Dell who looked at Michael’s order, the information he provided to us and the supply situation with the monitor he ordered. They responded to our inquiries.
“We experienced unexpected high demand for this product and apologise for the delay and any inconvenience caused. Customers were given the choice to cancel or continue with their order”
Under consumer law, a store or seller must not accept payment for items if they do not intend to supply the item, intend to supply something different from what you ordered know, or should have known they would not be able to supply the item in a timely way.
In the case of Michael’s monitor, it seems Dell were caught on the hop with a popular product. Where things come a little more problematic is their acceptance of the payment. The advice we received from Consumer Affairs Victoria says a store or seller that accepts payment for items must supply them within any timeframe they have indicated, or
within a reasonable time. If an item was ordered online did not arrived within either of these periods, ask the store or seller for an explanation in writing.
Michael took the opportunity to get the full refund he was entitled to. After waiting several weeks, Michael cancelled his order and received a refund. However, he was told a refund would take ten days. So, he told the Dell customer service person he would have his bank instigate a charge-back. Dell issued the refund in two days.