May 11, 2021 • By Dennis Beaver
We have all seen the modern version of county fair hawkers on the various home shopping channels.
Southern California resident Julia Ortiz was watching Shop HQ in March of this year and saw an item, “That seemed ideal for my 75 year-old husband who suffers from leukemia that greatly has affected his mobility.”
It was a $1,178 electric scooter from Tucson, Arizona, eWheels. “As it was being sold by Shop HQ, I felt confident in the product and eWheels,” Julia said.
Her trust in eWheels was badly misplaced, as it has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau, and horrible reviews on both Yelp and Amazon.
Fortunately she paid with her Citibank credit card which permits challenging any improper charge.
“The Shop HQ operator told me, ‘The scooter will be custom delivered by two individuals who will unpack and assemble it.’ But it was delivered by one FedEx driver who pointed out a large hole in the box.
“I was afraid the scooter was damaged,” she told the FedEx employee, asked him to please send it back, but he refused, saying, “Why not open it? If it’s OK, fine, if not, call me and I will come right back later today to pick it up.”
Later that day, upon opening the box, Julia discovered significant damage to the scooter, including a broken seat. She called FedEx and was told that ShopHQ had to initiate the pick-up.
“So I phoned ShopHQ and the operator tells me, ‘There is nothing we can do unless you pay a $150 return fee!’
“What? This was crazy! It was shipped from eWheels, delivered broken and they expect me to pay to return it!! Then I called you, Mr. Beaver.”
No help from Mr. Nasty
Requiring Julia to pay anything for the damaged scooter to be returned violates Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, and the eWheels warranty which appears on ShopHQ’s webpage. It states: “Return shipping will be at the buyer’s expense unless the item is damaged or defective.”
It was clear that someone at ShopHQ was unaware or had misread the eWheels policy concerning damaged goods.
Now, you would think that, with ShopHQ selling their scooters, eWheels would want to know about Julia’s experience and help her, right?
With Julia on the line, I phoned eWheels and spoke with Operations Manager, Derrick. After our chat, Julia commented, “He could care less and is so nasty, so sarcastic! He just makes me mad! I worked in retail for years. You can’t treat customers that way!”
I have spoken with few people in his position as unpleasant as this guy. My guess is that he was the founding member of the “Black Eye of the Month” club in elementary school. I would not be surprised if his high school year book describes him as “Most likely to be murdered.”
He refused to pay shipping costs for return of the damaged scooter, instead, proposed sending her a replacement seat – not even knowing if it had sustained other damage.
Anyone considering an eWheels product absolutely must read Yelp and Better Business Bureau reviews.
Angel steps forward
Realizing there was no hope with eWheels, early in the evening of March 24th, I left a detailed voice mail for Cathy Bauer, Director of Customer Solutions at ShopHQ and asked her to look into Julia’s situation.
Talk about customer care — within the hour she called back, and this had to be around 9 PM Chicago time.
Cathy promised to immediately look into the matter, and do what was right for Julia.
Within 24 hours arrangements were made to pick up the scooter and ShopHQ issued a credit to her Citibank credit card account.
So, would she do business with ShopHQ in the future? “Yes, and I would get informed about warranties and return policies of before buying.”
Credit over debit
Especially during the past year, TV shopping has proven itself to be an essential service, with the better known channels having excellent Better Business Bureau ratings. That said, you’ve got to protect yourself when making a purchase, and that means, whenever possible, using a credit card that allows a charge to be contested whereas a debit card usually will not.
Cathy acknowledged, “Mistakes can happen and we try to correct them as soon as possible. Julia’s situation was the result of one of our people not being aware of the return policy for the scooter. We’ve been around for over 30 years, have an A+ BBB rating, and plan to be here 30 more.”
I’m sure they will.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.