Ecost Complaint - Ecost.com Bait And Switch, Fraud, No Returns
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA -- Ok. I'm in a pissy mood and I won't try to hide it. Yesterday I had to turn into evil jj, and while the tactic is usually effective, I don't like doing it, and it always makes me in a bad mood for a few days.
Being that is a marketing blog, I thought I would share my ecost. Com horror story with you for 3 reasons.
After reading this, please digg, stumble, sphinn, tweet or whatever it. You can even post it on your blog and change it to your name. I want this in front of people, don't give a crap if it's my traffic or yours.
1. Ecost. Com royally screwed me, and in turn, has to be royally screwing others who are too timid to stand up for themselves.
2. The scenario is the perfect example of how not to market your products if you want to avoid a felony bait and switch charge.
3. Their shady practices will end up costing me a few hundred bucks. Not earth shattering, but enough that it makes me want to cost them about 10 times that at a minimum. I tried to be nice.
So here is the story:
last week, our vacuum died. My wife has been bugging me to get one of the new dysons, so we started shopping online. We found the one we wanted on ecost. Com. It was the dc15 model that included the swirling attachments that are supposed to rock for dog hair - an ongoing issue in our house with 2 big german shepards.
After reviewing all our options extensively, I plunked down my credit card and ordered the dc15 which is about the most expensive model you can buy, but we really needed all the stuff.
3 Days later the vacuum shows up. We unbox it and find there are no attachments inside. No biggie, it was a recertified unit, so I figured I would call and get it straightened out.
The horror story begins:
I call and sit on hold listening to some voice pitch various products for about 10 minutes. There is no indication that I am on hold or how long I will be so - at this point, I'm not even sure I am at the right extension - returns or customer service are not options.
After the wait, an indian woman comes on the line and asks for my order number. She is serious and business like, but not unpleasant. I give her the number and she asks how she can help. I proceed to explain that the unit I ordered did not come with the attachments and that I would either like them sent to me, or I would like to return the unit for a refund.
Her first words are this "there are no refunds offered. No exception." Ok. Not a good way to start a conversation. I instantly start inching into "dick mode." She hasn't looked up anything yet.
She then looks up the order and says "this is a recertified unit. It is clearly noted that no accessories are included." Her tone has also gone from business indifferent, to kinda unprofessional. My "dick-o-meter starts to go into the red."
At this point I look at the page, and approximately 7 page scrolls down, in product specifications its says *recertified items do not include accessories. " I kick myself in the ass for not seeing it the first time, but dick jj is already here, and when you understand the rest of the story, it is a moot point.
The textbook example of a bait and switch felony
I ordered a dyson dc15. Without the attachments "or accessories" as ecost calls them, it is no longer a dc15, it's probably a dc14 or a dc13 which sell for substantially less. The fact that the product is named a dc15 on the site combined with them including the pictures of the "accessories" on the item order page, combined with them offering no returns on items clearly makes this a bait and switch, regardless of their tiny print caveat. Let me explain why:
lets say you are shopping for a corvette. You really like the z06 model. And lets' say that it's the same exact car as the z01 model which is considerably less expensive, but the z06 model includes ground effects and a spoiler that you really like.
Now suppose you were shopping for one and it was advertised as a z06 including pictures of a z06 and everything. But there was fine print that said that it was a pre-owned so accessories were not included - and it turns out their definition of accessories were the ground effects and the spoiler.
Now doesn't this make the corvette a z01 now which is considerably cheaper? If the defining difference between the products were those accessories, you can't legally call it anything other than a z01... Because that's what it is now. You certainly can't advertise it as a z06 including pictures and specs of a z06 and price it as a z06.
Well, that's exactly what ecost. Com did.
The saga continues...And zero response from ecost
getting nowhere with the now thoroughly unpleasant customer service representative (understandable since I am now getting pretty irate) I ask to speak to a manager. She says "they will tell you exactly the same thing. No accessories, no returns." I tell her firmly that this is absolutely unacceptable and I will speak to a manager now. She then puts me on hold for 20 minutes. I wait, and am now fuming. After 20 minutes, she returns to tell me that no one is available and asks if I would like his voice mail, I say yes, and before I can ask for his name and extension she goes off the line. Another 5 minutes, she comes back on and says I will now connect you to his voice mail. I interrupt and ask for his name and extension in case I "miraculously" get disconnected. She asks why. I tell her. She gives me his name but no extension. I ask for the extension again more firmly. She gives it to me and asks as kindly as a schoolgirl "is there anything I can do for you?" I'm about ready to dive through the phone and rip her throat out. She connects me to voice mail. I leave a detailed message (or start to, but the vm cuts off after about 60 seconds)
anticipating that the service representative was correct and the manager would say the exact same thing the representative said, I decide to immediately move to phase 2. Contact the big wigs.
This approach has worked for me several times in the past. As you know, I used to be a big corporate marketing fancy-pants, and I actually liked when I would get this type of communication. I was saddened to get them, but top brass rarely gets any useful customer feedback from the trenches. This type of feedback from a customer points to where I would need to fix things and where my policies were not being implemented.
So I dug up the contact info for the ceo, head of investor relations, board members of the holding company, top marketing brass etc, and I sent them an email outlining what went on. Every time I have used this tactic before, I received a call from a chief muckety-muck sincerely apologizing and immediately making things right.
After all, all I wanted was either the accessories or to return the item so I could buy one with accessories.
It has now been 3 days. No response from the service manager, no response from customer service, no response from any big wig.
In summary and a moral lesson
this leads me all to believe that the folks at ecost. Com really don't give a crap. In my executive email, I explained that I was also a marketing guy and that simply allowing a return on an item even if "not company policy" was a lot better than me posting this all over the intertubes....And you know I will post this everywhere. It was not a threat, just smart marketing. 1 Lost sale is not worth 100,000 people reading this and maybe deciding to go to amazon. Com next time.
But oh well, they made their bed. Lie it in.
The moral is that as a marketing person, you have tremendous power for good or evil. I was told early in my career that as a marketer I can want stupid customers, or smart ones. The stupid ones you can lie to and get easy sales, but so can anyone else... But the smart ones you can offer good products, good prices, and good service and they will reward you for that - with loyalty.
I think it's pretty clear which camp ecost is in. I am a bit saddened that another big corporation has chosen the easy buck mentality. But they have to know that this is not a sustainable business strategy. You can only screw so many people...So many times... Before there is a critical mass.
Then all you need is a tipping point - perhaps this post - that will make it all crumble.
That's it. Don't be a shady marketer, it's just not worth it. And ecost - hope this reaches millions of folks on the web. This site alone will reach a few hundred thousand before the year is up j
ps: I had a similar incident with bmw a year back. Upon reaching the big wigs, I immedeatly received a response back acknowledging their error, and everyone I spoke to from that point bent over backwards to help me out. They did such a tremendous job resolving the situation that I have actually become a more loyal customer and would give my highest recommendation to anyone to purchase a bmw new or used - they clearly want the smart, loyal customers - and they take good care of them.
Psii: wanna see the page for yourself? Http://www.Ecost. Com/detail. Aspx?Edp=42811178&navid=155441519
psiii: don't know how many you have had issues with ecost before. From this experience, I gotta guess a few. My next step is to file a complaint with the better business bureau and a whatever oversight committies are in their home base location. If you have had a similar issue with them and have not spoken up, drop me a line. If there is a enough, a class action is a possibility.