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This story has happy beginnings and endings, but an unhappy middle. And there's a moral at the end.

In mid-November, I read this thread about the Puron reversing aid system. It sounded like a good product, and I decided to buy it. Based on the thread, I emailed The Worm, and he kindly sent me some wire connectors to ease the install. Meanwhile, a search of the web showed that AutoToys.com had the best price for the Mini3LV unit, albeit by just a couple of bucks over the manufacturer. So I ordered the Mini3LV from the AutoToys website, and paid for my purchase with PayPal, which was their only option for processing credit cards.

A couple of weeks later I received the AutoToys package, but the shipping carton looked like it had been run over by a truck. It was crushed, torn, and haphazardly pasted back together with packing tape. I unpacked the Mini3 and found that one delicate piece was indeed broken, and that two of the three sensors were in the crushed area and could have sustained fatal damage. The UPS driver noted in his delivery record that the box had been damaged in transit by UPS and repaired. He also explained that UPS will only initiate damage-returns on the request of the shipper, not on request of the recipient.

Now the troublesome part begins. I tried to call AutoToys to explain the problem and to request that they initiate the damage-return process. But phone calls yield a message saying to use the website. Emails do too. In fact, the only way to communicate with AutoToys' customer service department is by entering a message into a form on their website. So I used the form to describe my damage-in-transit problem, including all relevant info -- order number, product number, UPS tracking number, etc etc etc.

This produced a canned email from AutoToys saying they'd respond in 3 business days. But they didn't. So after a week, I again used their web site to re-enter my plea. That produced the same canned response as my original request.

Since I wasn't getting anywhere, I decided to up ante by contesting the transaction. My credit card company (CitiBank) had been very responsive and accommodating on the couple of occasions I had done this in the past. But PayPal transactions don't really use my credit card, and PayPal's was neither responsive nor accommodating . Like AutoToys, there is no user-accessible customer service contact process except through a web form. So I wrote a missive to PayPal about the situation, and requested that the transaction be contested until AutoToys stepped up to the plate.

As you might guess, this produced a canned email response with a case number and a 30-day investigation period. Thus no immediate help. But I did copy AutoToys on my PayPal complaint, again through their web form. And again I got the canned reply message. So much for turning up the heat.

But a few days later, I received what seemed to be a breakthrough. I got a different canned message from AutoToys, this one about UPS issues. This message said that I should contact UPS to have the damaged package picked up. I did, but of course was told by UPS that only the sender could make that request.

After a few more days of no news, none of the time, I drove down to my local UPS depot and explained the situation to the familiar guy at the counter. He took pity on me, and initiated the damage-return process himself. He gave me a call tag for the package, and a day or two later my friendly UPS driver took the box away. Of course, I kept filling out those forms at AutoToys' and PayPal's web sites, apprising them of the situation and requesting meaningful response. Which of course I never got.

Since UPS' nifty web-based package tracking service doesn't work for damage-returns, I occasionally bugged the UPS counter guy for an update on my package's progress back to AutoToys New Jersey location. A couple of days ago, I found out that my package had been received at AutoToys nearly a week previously. So I again used the web sites to request some action.

And today, I received two things. First, I received an email from PayPal saying "Our Buyer Complaint Policy does not apply to disputes about the attributes or quality of goods received. As a result, we cannot reverse the transaction or issue a refund". Screw me. While it was nice to receive some kind of communication, it was depressing that Paypal's refusal to take action was based on a complete mis-reading of my problem. They clearly put lots of time into this review.

But I also received a package from UPS containing a shrinkwrapped, whole and unmangled Mini3LV system from Autotoys. It had been sent to me days before, shortly after my return hit their dock. But no one at Autotoys bothered to tell me that they were finally handling my problem. Nevertheless, this was better -- no communication but a satisfactory result.

So now, two and a half months later, I have my slightly less expensive Puron backup system. Hooray.

What's my message in all of this? It is not that internet commerce is a bad idea. On the contrary, for the past 3-4 years, at least 70% of my wife's and my purchases have been made over the internet. On the very few occasions on which we have had problems, they were minor and were easily and promptly solved by concerned sellers.

It also is not that Paypal is a bad business. Again, both my wife and I have used Paypal frequently over the past 18 months for both purchases and sales, all without problems. And 'without problems' is the key -- service at PayPal seem to be really different when there are problems. And clearly, our leverage with Paypal as good, long-standing customers who are having a problem with a merchant, and PayPal's willingness to take useful and timely (read 'any') action is orders of magnitude poorer than that of our credit card company. (Kudos to CitiBank. Kudzu to PayPal.)

And I am not convinced that AutoToys is a bad business. After all, they did faithfully send me my original order, and its damage in transit was not their fault. They also faithfully and promptly sent me a replacement once they received my damaged return. But I am appalled that they took no noticeable action at all in response to my problem, and clearly impeded my ability to fix it myself.

So I guess my point is to be warned. Don't rely on autotoys.com to handle -- or even to assist you in handling yourself -- any problems with any transaction.

And if you have any concerns about redress when you're having problems with a merchant, don't use PayPal for payment processing. Stick with your credit card company.

So there. Thanks for listening!

--Marne
 

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I feel for you

Sorry to hear about your experience, but at least it worked ot in the end.

On Sept 2, 2001 I ordered a camcorder from www.rajsoftware.com for $1150 and paid them through PayPal. They said it would be shipped out on Sept. 25 and even gave me a tracking number. Well, after tracking it for a week it finally arrived - in a diff state. They basicallymade me wait past the 30 day limit for paypal and then i could not file a complaint with PayPal anymore.

Well, after that they have given me several more trakcing numbers of which all have gone elsewhere. They emailed me a number to call them, but it is invalid.

They even gave me tracking numbers for refunds they were sending me but also bogus. I played this game for several months from them and then on Jan 1, the site was down.

If anyone knows how I can get my money back, I will give them half of whatever I get back.

I have every email that was sent between us including all bogus tracking numbers and emails stating they were refunding my money.

Please help, this situation has caused a lot of stress for me.

Thanks
 

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Marne,
Thanks for sharing with us your story on autotoy, ups and paypal. I am certainly warned about the use of paypal. Just like you, I am still convinced in internet purchase. But, I think we all should be careful using reputable merchant. This forum is certainly very helping in sharing good and bad experiences.
Anyway, when you get your reversing aid system to work, please share with us on your experience.
JW
 

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Marne,

Sorry to hear about all the problems you had.
I once ordered a CD changer from AutoToys a while ago using a credit card and had no problems. I even had some good technical email exchanges before I placed the order.

So, how is the backup sensor working?
I'm planning on putting a camera inside the back and using the Nav screen, but if there is an easier solution, I'll consider it.
 

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Return and damage scenarios don't happen to me every day, or every week, but they do happen. If the business handles it correctly, it can strengthen the relationship even more than if the accident never happened in the first place, just by showing concern and dispatch. Bottom line is that I or UPS should suffer the loss of damage, but not the customer. It's just good business.

I myself do quite a bit of business personally on eBay, selling and buying, and have made many friends over the last couple of years (in fact, I've got maybe 10 auctions up now to pay for my new Marantz receiver and monster 900 watt Sansui that I just bought yesterday. Self-supporting hobbies are the best :D. If you're interested in my personal stuff, send me a PM and I'll give you my user ID).

FedEx gets my "lemon award" for service. I had once received a television shipped from the UK, a 1950s Phillips set, and it was in so many pieces on arrival, that I was like an archaeologist on a dig on my basement floor trying to piece it back together (and it cost me $320 to ship, which was refunded finally 2 months later). Same story with a Perdio Portorama from Wales. This also happened when the cabinet for my rare RCA CT-100 color TV was physically pushed and dropped right off the back of the FedEx truck right in front of my house, to my wife's horror while I was at work. Luckily, that was packed excellently and received no damage. And the driver was very rude to my wife. All of my experiences with FedEx have been about the same, so that's why I never use them.
 

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This is why I always use a credit card when paying with Paypal. They make it a little harder for you as it requires an additional step to use a card rather than your bank account when paying, but it gives you that extra margin of protection if there is a problem.

Tom

marne said:
Since I wasn't getting anywhere, I decided to up ante by contesting the transaction. My credit card company (CitiBank) had been very responsive and accommodating on the couple of occasions I had done this in the past. But PayPal transactions don't really use my credit card, and PayPal's was neither responsive nor accommodating .
 

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Mushman,

I feel badly for you - it appears you may be out of luck. I have never had a problem ordering on the internet - but I refuse to get paypal for the reasons you & marne experienced. A credit card company can always issue a credit - even after 30 days.

I was curious about this company so I did a search on google.

I saw some postings from people that ordered camcorders & wasn't sure if one was you. Anyway - if you haven't advise the TX Attorney General, you can get the info on this site.
http://www.traderlist.com/rajsoftware.html

good luck
 

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This thread just invites responses:D

My comments on Fed-Ex - They suck, and for so many reasons I won't waste the time list them.:mad: I'll have to admit their level of service is very consistent, consistently poor.

A couple of comments about paypal. While I never had to actually test this, while having a problem with an online order (paid with paypal via credit card) I searched the site to determine how to do a dispute. According to their site, you can not do a dispute through your credit card company unless it is PAYPAL that has done you wrong. From what I could piece together, the story is you the cardholder have a credit card transaction with paypal, not the end merchant. As long as paypal performs their duties (passes your money along) then you have not dispute on the credit card transaction:confused: .

Another note about paypal. I too, found myself lost in their web-form customer service nightmare. I couldn't believe I could not find a number to get some help. I searched for days trying to get any number as a start. One day I thought to actually read the electronic "Terms and Conditions" document. Guess what, they had a phone number in that document. When I called I immediately got through to a very helpful customer rep whom immediately handled my problem. Should I need service again, I'll definitely use the same approach.
 

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Actually, that is not quite true. The final determination rests with the credit card company, not PayPal. I once had Visa cheerfully reverse a paypal charge because of a problem with the merchandise received.

Tom

KBD431 said:
This thread just invites responses:D

A couple of comments about paypal. While I never had to actually test this, while having a problem with an online order (paid with paypal via credit card) I searched the site to determine how to do a dispute. According to their site, you can not do a dispute through your credit card company unless it is PAYPAL that has done you wrong. From what I could piece together, the story is you the cardholder have a credit card transaction with paypal, not the end merchant. As long as paypal performs their duties (passes your money along) then you have not dispute on the credit card transaction:confused: .
 

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Re: I feel for you

Mushman said:


On Sept 2, 2001 I ordered a camcorder from www.rajsoftware.com for $1150 and paid them through PayPal. They said it would be shipped out on Sept. 25 and even gave me a tracking number. Well, after tracking it for a week it finally arrived - in a diff state. They basicallymade me wait past the 30 day limit for paypal and then i could not file a complaint with PayPal anymore.

If anyone knows how I can get my money back, I will give them half of whatever I get back.

I have every email that was sent between us including all bogus tracking numbers and emails stating they were refunding my money.

Please help, this situation has caused a lot of stress for me.

Thanks
Here are a few contact numers and address. Don't know if any of them are valid still but its worth a shot.

Trivedi Infosys, Inc.
Raj Trivedi
808 Fourth avenue #516
San Diego, CA 92101
US
Phone: 6192311404
Fax..: 6192311404
Email: [email protected]

Aslo call up youre credit card.
and if all else fails call up the Consumer fraud number at 1-800-876-7060 .

Hope you get youre money back.
-Harris
 

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Mushman -

Sorry about your camcorder. Paypal goes to great lengths not to post a number for customer service but I dug it up once and called for help with a dispute. Much to my surprise, they were very helpful.

Don't know if you have actually spoken to someone at paypal or not but if not, I would give them a call (what do you have to loose?).

Paypal customer service info is:

Telephone Customer Service at (402) 935-2017

Good luck.
 

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Mushman -

Sorry but my thoughts seem to come one at a time. Another thought, file a small claims suit now. One of the things that is going against you at the moment is time. Early action would have given you more options and leverage. Using the past as an example. I would file a small claims suit to recover your original investment and all costs that you may have spent so far in trying to collect. The previous post with the address gives you the information you need to file. Often times just being served with a lawsuit will provoke someone to take action (you have to assume there is more than one person in your siuation, the key is to be the most agressive).

A small claims suit is pretty easy to file and typically pretty inexpensiive.

Good luck!
 

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Thanks to all

First of all - I have tried PayPal and they are truly useless. I have also tried the phone numbers for rajsoftware.com and they are all disconnected. I have also tried the link for www.tradelist.com/raj.... and that was also no good.

If anyone knows an attorney who would fight this for me please let me know as I would be forever greatful.

If I could just find these people, I have no idea what I would do to them. They cause too much stress and would definitely pay for it.

A key to all - PLEASE if a deal sounds too good to be true, trust me... it is. We all work hard for our money. I got screwed big time, please don't let it hapen to you. What's worse than losing my money is being baggered by my wife every day for losing over $1000. Now that really sucks. The I told you so's are killing me.

Mush
 

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AWESOME NEWS!!!

Thank you so very very very much.

If I get my full money back I promise I will hold a contest here on the site and offer an awesome prize to someone for all the help I have gotten here. I truly love all of you as my friends.

I work for a big Japanese manufacturer and am sure I can get a good deal on something to offer my friends for all their help.

Mush
 

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Mushman -

I can't help but be excited for you! I hope you get every penny back!

This thread has been of particular interest to me. I went to buy a digital camera at yahoo auctions late last year. I won an auction for a new sony digital camera at a fair price. Just prior to making payment, I received an email from another yahoo member that she had been taken by the same seller and that the auction was a fraud.

Without pages of detail, I found that there was a "club" of users on yahoo auctions that had been scammed on new elctronics and they had baned together to try and prevent other people from being scammed. I joined and I am sorry to say that we are loosing the battle. We turn over a 100 fraudulant auctions into yahoo PER WEEK. While they shut down about half, the sellers pop right back the next day with a new id and a new set of auctions. Just this year we have found over $60,000 worth of losses from innocent buyers that were taken before we could get to them. Our estimate is that 50% or more of the NEW hi tech electronics on yahoo auctions are frauds.

Hope maybe this will help prevent someone else from being taken. My advice is not to buy new electronics from yahoo auctions at all. If you do buy online, buy either directly with your credit card and dispute it if not received in a timely manner. If you can't do that then demand a buyer paid escrow account. We have found that any real seller will accept that.
 

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Thought this might interest some of you. Paypal's been in the biz news recently, since their doing an IPO tomorrow (Thursday). Many of the articles thought the timing interesting for a dot-com company, and all of the articles referenced a couple of sites:

www.paypalsucks.com
www.paypalwarning.com

I looked @ those sites and a good number of the comments, warnings and horror stories were similar to marne's experience insofar as difficulty getting Paypal to just answer an email, let alone step in. Some went far beyond that - with "locking" of Paypal accounts (that had $$ in them) without explanation and encountering a "customer service black hole" to get them restored.

I haven't had any major difficulty w/Paypal on the buy side, and I've also sold a couple of ebay items and rec'd $ via Paypal without difficulty.

One thing I'd note, however, is that their fees have increased significantly, even for Paypal-to-Paypal payments. I learned this the hard way when I sold one of those Polycom teleconference units -- Paypal said my few-hundred bucks was in my account...BUT...I had to "upgrade" to a merchant account b/c personal accounts have a $100 receive limit. Wasn't the case when I signed up, nor did I receive notification of the change until, of course, the money was there. No problem: sign up for the merchant account and get my money. Problem: less 2.9% and a $3 flat fee (or something like that).

Other issue I had was with a refund of shipping costs. Bought using Paypal and coughed up about $65 for UPS Red shipping. UPS misses the shipment, the seller requests the refund from UPS and credits my account $65.

Of course, Paypal whacked the seller for 2.9%+ when I paid him, and then whacked me 2.9%+ when he sent me my refund. Not bad (for Paypal): about 6% in transaction fees on a cancelled transaction.

That said, and after reading some of the horror stories, I'm contemplating cancelling my account altogether. The free transactions (where they make money off the float) was a great deal. No doubt there's some value they provide that deserves a transaction fee or %, but for a regular guy like me, I don't think 3% is reasonable, especially without built-in escrow or fraud protection.

IMO, of course.
 

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The more I learn about Paypal, the more concerns I have as well. Citibank has launched a competing service called C2it. Works just like Paypal with TWO MAIN EXCEPTIONS. First, you get the customer service of Citibank and second they are charging no transaction fees on any type of payments, even credit cards. I;m guessing the second will change after they significant market share from Paypal but until then it is great.

If you notice on ebay this service has moved from almost never heard of just a few months ago to now you can find it as an option on about 20% of the auctions.

They also have a promotion going now which gives you $10 the first time you use your account.

They have had a couple of bugs recently due to some significant volume but the biggest problem I have heard of is email notification to account holders when money is received is not always reliable.
 

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