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Online order, out of stock but money taken

I ordered an expensive camera lens with digidirect. On their website it was nowhere mentioned that the lens was out of stock. After the order was confirmed and my card debited I received another e-mail which said:

"Due to your ordered items being out of stock, we have placed an order for new stock.

It generally takes 7-14 business days for stock to arrive at our stores. However, please keep in mind that this is subject to stock availability, and at the moment many products have been hit with delays due to manufacturing and supply chain issues caused by Covid-19.

We will inform you via email once again once the item has arrived in our store."

That was a month ago. Since then, I haven’t received any further information. My e-mails don’t get a reply. The lens is still advertised on their website without any hint that it is out of stock.

How long do I have to wait? Can I cancel my order and get my money back?

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Welcome to the Community @HenningMet

They have a 1300 number posted as well as an online chat. Your first avenue is to request a refund via one or more of those options, assuming you find one that is responsive rather than a black hole.

In each communication be clear it is not a change of mind, it is their apparent inability to timely deliver. You should cite your rights as stated in

If they are not forthcoming for an amicable resolution that suits, follow up with a ‘Letter of Complaint’. Use the Community search tool to find many links and advice regarding how to write one.

If you get no satisfactory (or any) reply to emails, phone, chat, or a Letter of Complaint contact your card issuer for a charge back refund for non-delivery. Note there is a finite time to be able to do that, so do not let that time expire - it is usually 60 days but check with your card issuer.

Please update how you go.

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Whilst they have a high overall rating on Product Review, the bad reviews are shockers with some people having the exact same issue as you.

Elaborating on that a little:

I would take the most relevant bit to be:

When a business accepts your payment for products or services they must supply them to you within the timeframe they have indicated or if no time was specified, within a reasonable time.

(That is to say, I believe they intended to supply the item. This isn’t simply a scam.)

I believe that no timeframe was specified - and of course the supplier is sadly, completely correct about the effect of COVID on the supply chain.

So it comes down to what a “reasonable time” to supply is.

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It does, and this isn’t dependent on the time the person who made the order wants it buy.

If one manages to contact the business and they say that there are none available in their own stock or in that of the Australian distributor, and it will take say 3 months for new stock to arrive in the country…this could be seen as reasonable as the product is unlikely to be available from other retailers…and no matter who one buys from, it would be the same time frame.

If for example they say they grey import the product and it takes three months, if the product was far cheaper than other Australian retailers, this could be why there way a delay and may still be seen as reasonable.

If they said it will take 3 months because they have a backlog of orders to get out, then this is the retailer’s issue and as such may not be reasonable.

Without being able to contact them, it would be hard to know of the delay and if it is reasonable.

I agree with @PhilT about contacting them and requesting a refund if there isn’t any reasonable reason to why it can’t be delivered in a timely way. If one paid by credit card, one could say that they will commence a charge back if they don’t respond with 5 business days. This might spark them into action.

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Thank you for your helpful answers and your time writing that down!

I will try to contact them on the ways you suggested. The link to the ACCC website is also quite useful.

I still would like to purchase that lens. I just don’t want to be kept in the dark about a possible delivery date. Otherwise it might be Christmas …

I am happy to do that.

Furthermore, I also understand that in these times there can be delays. I am also aware that not every business can have all products permanently in stock, since it will tie up a lot of capital. But I think it would be only fair to make that clear before you order. Then you can decide if you still want to wait maybe a long time or not.

I had purchased products with digidirect before and had no problems.

Once bitten, twice shy. Some time ago I ordered something online with a different company. They also had informed me that they had problems with the supply chain etc. etc. Only to learn about their insolvency about 8 weeks later … maybe that’s why I am a bit uncertain about it.

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Yees you can. I had done the same thing a few years back and that was even after ringing to see that they actually had the lens… they said they did, but that was not true. I asked for a refund, received it, and bought elsewhere.

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Update:
I contacted them through live chat. I made clear that I don’t want to wait indefinitely and would like some timeframe. Their answer was
Your order is currently on backorder. Unfortunately, our supplier does not have an approximate date as to when the stocks will be available. I do apologise for this but as soon as we get an update, we will let you know. Once we receive the stocks, we will send it to you right away and update
I made a point that their answer was not really an answer and that this could be months before I might receive the lens.
The next answer was similar “we are still awaiting our supplier to get back to us as to when stock will be coming in of this order at this time. when they do get back to me I can let you know

Since I still would like to buy that lens and prefer some amicable solution, I gave them two weeks to find out a timeframe from the supplier. And they should come back to me after that time without having me again to contact them. They agreed. See what happens. I will let you know.

And I also expressed my surprise, that that same lens was still not marked as “out of stock”. but they didn’t really respond to that.

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I understand your synopsis was just that, but if you are not happy waiting you need to explicitly ask for a refund. FWIW once you exceed the time frame for a charge back on your card you will be at their mercy and discretion.

While waiting you should research other sources. I can sell you a back ordered widget for $5, but if you want one in stock it is $45. I hope that makes a point in what one can expect from pricing strategies.

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This is really the crux of it regarding online retail. Sure, it’s cheaper, but there are some online retailers that are really virtual retailers i.e. hold little to no stock (maybe just high volume items) and everything else has to be ordered in. When their suppliers can’t deliver, they can’t deliver.

The pandemic has made it worse in two ways: more customers moving away from bricks-and-mortar retail to online retail (due to bricks-and-mortar stores being closed and/or the customer being locked down or in isolation and/or hesitancy); and ongoing and long term disruption to global supply chains.

Yes, disappointing. Wherever possible an online retailer should be accurately setting customer expectations - whether it’s “in stock”, “out of stock”, “order in” or “unavailable” - and for the second and third option giving some kind of ETA. This is actually a complicated juggling act but it does sound as if this particular retailer could do better.

I’ve been in your position as the ETA on the web site just kept on being moved to a later date, week after week, and ended up being perhaps 6 to 8 weeks (for something that might ordinarily be 1 week) but this wasn’t a large amount of money (probably less than your “expensive camera lens”) so it wouldn’t have been a disaster if it all went pear-shaped.

Note: I would check with your card issuer now what the charge back period is, apply that to the charge date, in order to calculate the hard deadline for messing around with the retailer. (This was already pointed out above by @PhilT.)

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We have bricks and mortar vehicle dealers in Cairns who carry virtually no spare parts and everything has to come from Melbourne.

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The BIG problem with online buying is that one doesn’t know who isn’t a criminal! Stay away from online buying. The dummy is the one left carrying the baby. I have stopped online buying on platforms like Amazon.and ebay after having very bad experiences. The garbage coming out of one PARTICULAR country (plenty of instant billionaires ( get the clue?) and channeled through criminal sellers isn’t a wake-up call for desperate FOMO fools.

As Phil said, ‘Your card issuer’ … I have created one card to deal with such bad service; that card is the easiest to get a reversal (and cancel the card, if necessary) when the retailer fails to act. My Credit Union has no problem helping me do that. We should all ‘get our money back’, if only to discourage such unacceptable behaviour.

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That’s why the Product Review website is always my first stop when purchasing online from unknown dealers… Great site that’s saved me a lot of anguish by avoiding dealing with shonks!
http://www.productreview.com.au/

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The forum at Whirlpool.net.au is often worth checking out for buying anything at least a bit tech.
Plenty of plain speaking from some well-informed people IMHO!
Here’s the very first result of a search on Whirlpool …

Digidirect poor stock practices
https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2742214

Anyway, good luck.

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Really? Both Amazon and eBay resolve issues relatively quickly if something goes wrong and we have certainly utilised this. As a regular purchaser on these sites I have never had an unresolved issue.

Last year I ordered a small floodlight (c.$100) from Digidirect and after some weeks delay I was told that the original item was discontinued by their supplier and replaced with a version 2, that was $16 dearer. I ended up speaking to someone Who said they had stock of version two and would send it as soon as they got the extra $16. It was only $16 and it was a slightly improved item so I paid the money and got the item in a couple of days. It did seem a bit unprofessional and I don’t think they’re very diligent in matching stock availability to what’s available. “ Get the sale!“ Seems to be the mantra. They are then prepared to make some other arrangement if supply isn’t forthcoming, with refund as a last resort. Even with the best intentions it can be quite hard to keep up with stock availability at Overseas suppliers over a varied range of products. I think as consumers do you have to be aware of that marketplace - it’s not like buying from a reputable local vendor

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Doing a little digging online, it is possible (likely) Digidirect is a dropshipping company. What this means is they are a selling platform which doesn’t hold stock. They advertise products on their website and when an order is placed with them, the product is despatched from the distributor, manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer which they have a relationship with. They in effect work a bit like eBay, with the major difference being they are the seller.

Many businesses use similar models or only for some of their advertised products. Examples are Kogan and Amazon for those products which they don’t keep inventory but sell. They use second parties to despatch an order to the customer when purchase has been completed through them.

This form of selling has risks to the business and consumer. Businesses operating under this model take on seller responsibilities and financial risks (of the second/third party). Consumers can find that products may not be shipped locally, could be grey imports or the business doesn’t respond to communications or complaints adequately.