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September 8, 2012

Looking Back: Getting on my soapbox about unethical business practices

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The Daily Star

---- — There are many disappointments in a lifetime, and many are expected as years and the aging process goes on. Then, too, there are the unforeseen occurrences, as mentioned in one of my favorite scriptures at Ecclesiastes 9:11b. Of course there is always the addition of human imperfection. But, and I say a big BUT — when a situation occurs that is completely against moral code — I must speak out.

Please allow me to stand on my soapbox (as one of our appreciative readers suggested). You could call this a “rip-off” or any other descriptive “nasty” word but the fact is that this was the reality and, I hope, not happening to others.

We purchased, online, a rather expensive item. We did our homework and decided after much deliberation that the “major-major” company that we decided to buy from was every bit exemplary not only in presentation and information but guarantees and a good price. All was exactly what we wanted. No wonder the “major-major” company was at the top of the heap.

The product was ordered, the approximate delivery date set and our credit card accepted. Now the wait.

And now the wait ... now the wait ... and now more waiting? 

Too much time was going past and no word about our order. Previously with other purchases online, we were able to track merchandise coming from the source and we could ascertain the progress and arrival time. We can also check the activity of our charge account online, and this particular “major-major” company had already charged our account for this particular item. (A common practice ... so we learned.)

We contacted the company. “All is on go and the product will be delivered tomorrow.”

My husband innocently inquired where it was coming from. After a slight pause to research the computer: “The warehouse” was the reply and when asked where that was — another pause — and we were told it was about a six-hour drive in another state.

That didn’t sound too feasible and so we inquired about more information. We were given another toll-free phone number to call.

At this particular point we asked why our account was charged “way back when” while we are still waiting for our purchase.

To make this upsetting experience a bit shorter and to the point: We learned that the warehouse did not have our merchandise. Horrors! Wherever our order is, or even if it isn’t even manufactured as yet, are facts that were completely white-washed.

The poor unsuspecting employee representatives who were trying so hard to answer our questions and to please this customer had their hands tied with false information. How can a product be deliv

ered if it isn’t even there?

Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? What would our forefathers have done about such an unethical business practice?

What my father-in-law would most likely have done cannot be put into print, for my husband, being a “chip off the old block,” stood up for righteous principle and — you guessed it — canceled the whole transaction. (Tactfully)

Am I back in the dark ages? How can you buy something that’s not even there? That’s like the old joke about buying the Brooklyn Bridge.

Well, all this actually took place as I sit at my desk listening to my husband talking on the phone and becoming most irate to the entire situation. The atmosphere became so charged that I must “vent”’ and get relief by writing this and accept another disappointment chalking it up to the times that we live in. What next?

Perhaps we need more “soapboxes,” and at least let unsuspecting people be informed.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 79-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at elaine-kniskern@stny.rr.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www. thedailystar.com/seniorscene.