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Solar Illuminations Complaint - Excessive restocking fees

Review by tuyet on 2007-04-23
CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA -- We've been in business here over 23 years... this is certainly the most expensive ordering mistake so far... We ordered and received 4 sets of solar deck lights... opened the first box... noted poor quality materials and workmanship at first glance... not a usable product at all... immediately returned for credit... they deduct a 20% restocking fee... well over $100 to restock 4 small boxes... they said it was noted in fine print on their site that we neglected to read... still quite excessive...

Careful when ordering from solar illuminations on line...

Sincerely,
Daniel
Company Response on 08/24/2009:
We charge up to a 25% restocking fee. Usually however it is 20%. This helps to cover the initial credit card fees to process the original transaction, refund it, deal with issuing an RMA number, deal with processing the return and placing back into inventory. 20-25% seems to be normal with most internet/e-commerce stores. It is not excessive and others would agree. We have seen plenty of other internet retailers with much higher restocking fees or worse, no returns accepted and all sales final policies.

Our Returns Policy which displays the restocking fee is displayed at our web site for all customers to see BEFORE they make a purchase. It is also displayed on all the pages during the check-out process at our web site. We then ask all customers to enter their initials during checkout to confirm that they have read, understood and accepted our Returns Policy. We then send an email confirmation of the order where Returns Policy details are mentioned again. Finally, every customer is sent a hard copy of their invoice which has a footnote containing Returns Policy information.

After all of this, Solar Illuminations feels it makes a VERY exhaustive effort to make sure a customer is fully aware, in writing, both BEFORE placing an order, DURING placing an order and AFTER placing an order.

We would certainly not want any situation where a customer claims 'they were not advised' of anything. There are plenty of web sites out there that may operate that way but we are not one of them. We like all the terms, conditions & policies to be clear and upfront. Our customer’s appreciate that.

95% of products sold by Solar Illuminations are our own brand. In this particular case this customer purchased product that was not our own brand. The fixtures were made by Malibu. Malibu products are generally of good quality and that brand does not have a reputation for 'poor quality materials' or 'poor workmanship'. The product was advertised correctly at our web site and Solar Illuminations feels that this customer did not understand the product and/or its specifications, and therefore had far higher expectations than what this Malibu product could possibly provide. That was discovered upon delivery but does not deem the product as being 'poor'. Malibu solar light are also sold in the many of the billion dollar ‘big box’ hardware, home and home improvement stores so if they were ‘poor’ those stores would not offer them.

Solar Illuminations has a returns rate of less than 1%. Unfortunately, we put this complaint down to the customer misunderstanding the product’s limitations and additionally several times failing to observe our written Returns Policy.
Comments:6 Replies - Latest reply on 2008-02-26
Posted by Hugh_Jorgen on 2007-04-23:
I don't know about the lighting business, but a 20% restocking fee isn't excessive for a lot of industries.
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-04-23:
I agree
Posted by Ponie on 2007-04-23:
Restocking fees are not uncommon.

'they said it was noted in fine print on their site that we neglected to read...' And whose fault would that have been?
Posted by bill on 2007-04-23:
I am not a fan of "restocking fees", but 20% does seem to be the norm.
Posted by CheekyMonkey on 2008-02-25:
20% re-stocking is certainly not excessive in my opinion. In fact it seems to be about standard these days. I have seen web sites charging 25% or 30% and there are plenty of sites that do not even accept back items for refund. Some of the merchandise shipped back to online retailers can barely be resold because of the way it has been used or abused, parts missing, damaged etc. If stores have to trash the stuff those losses just end up being passed back onto the next customer with higher prices. Losses cannot get eaten, price just rise instead, so then everyone pays for those idiots that cannot be bothered to return something in the condition it was received in.

Bear in mind, it can cost around 2.5% in credit card fees for the initial transaction and then the same again to refund it. That's 5% the retailer looses (finacially) right away with an item returned for refund.

Also, if the store displays its returns policy before a customer makes a purchase and then displays them all the way through the checkout process, and then asks the customer to enter their initials to confirm that they have read, understood and acknowledged all the terms, conditions and policies, how can the store possibly be blamed for a customer 'not knowing'. The customer is not always right and there are plenty of good, honest, genuine and upfront stores out there on the web, just like the one mentioned, that serve hundreds or thousands of customers, all over the world, each week, with the vast majority of them being very happy with their purchases.

Finally, when a store advertises such a vast amount of information and images of the products it offers, its actually quite difficult for a customer to make a mistake in ordering something they do not want or bought in error. Online stores cannot be held responsible for customer negligence (or ignorance)!
Posted by tuyet on 2008-02-26:
the 20% restocking fee would have been fair if the merchandise was returned due to the customer changing their mind...in this case, the lighting was returned because it was of such poor quality...junk really...not worth installing...live and learn

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