Online Ordering - Harvey Norman Style

The birthday request was made: a Fit-bit Charge 2 with a Teal band.

With a couple of weeks lead-time, it seemed too easy - find a good price, buy, wrap, happy girl on her birthday.

The best price? Harvey Norman. No stock in the local store at the time, so disregarding a previous bad experience with Harvey Norman online ordering that was a few years back, I placed an online order for the unit on 19 August - $149.00 payed with PayPal. PayPal and Harvey Norman send me the payment/order advice within seconds, and we wait … Harvey Norman’s advice comes with notification there is an “app” I can install to track the order, but honestly, they have my email address and my phone has only what I need on it, not every app someone thinks I need. My credit card is charged on 19 August for the full amount.

… and we wait …

With the birthday approaching, on 29 August I emailed Harvey Norman using the email address on their order confirmation asking for an ETA. Nothing until 31 August when without any additional explanation I receive a Tax Invoice from Harvey Norman - all seems to be in order, product is correct, price is correct, but there is nothing to suggest any ETA.

In the meantime, the price of the unit is further reduced - to $139.00 !

On 1 September I follow up the email and mention the further price reduction. Nothing.

With the birthday only 4 days away I follow up on the same day with a live chat to Harvey Norman online. There seems to be some confusion but eventually the agent confirms the order was dispatched the previous day (31 August) and confirms the store it was dispatched from. “Allow 2-10 business days for delivery”. Given the store it was dispatched from, 2 seems more likely than 10, but it was said to be “posted” so with Australia Post involved anything can happen… but there was hope and the agent said he’d address the price issue.

5 September rolls in and nothing. I call the local store and the sales person was helpful, however he confirmed the order had NOT shipped. He called the store it was alleged to have shipped from and they knew nothing about it. He did however offer to check stock elsewhere, and found a couple of stores in South Australia with stock and offered to call them and try to get the product in. This is late on the 5th so we’ve missed the date, but finally some more hope …

… only to be dashed on 6 September when I get a voice to text message from another sales person in the local store advising they have issued a refund. I contact the online agent again to be told this was a partial refund but when the agent contacted the store they confirmed the order has indeed been cancelled and a refund issued for the full amount.

Oddly - that specific model was no longer searchable on the Harvey Norman website, but a link I had saved still worked and the site reported stock in four South Australian stores - with the price still listed as $139.00 !

I took this screenshot on 6 September:

I considered ordering online again to see what happens - in the meantime engaging the equally unsatisfying Facebook agents on the same issue - like the online website chat people, all well schooled in apologies and wishing a nice remainder of the day but seemingly unable to do anything productive to solve the problem.

Even JB Hi-Fi had the units out at $139.00 - maybe that was an option? with cheap delivery to my area at least it might work. Screenshot taken on 6 September:

Then to my (almost) surprise - they are searchable on the Harvey Norman website again - for $248.00 !!! This screenshot taken on 7 September:

In the meantime, JB Hi-Fi has also gone back up - to $249.00.

The cynic in me fills in the blanks - it seems fairly transparent.

In fairness - Harvey Norman have sent me a $20 gift voucher to try to make good on the hours of wasted time, the multiple instances of misinformation, the ultimate failure to deliver anything, and the disappointment my daughter has now experienced … not to mention my suspicions about the couple of possible stories that might actually explain how and why this happened.

I mentioned I’d had a previous bad experience with Harvey Norman online ordering - where the order was delayed as part of their standard “fraud prevention” - days after my card was successfully charged and while there was stock sitting in the store - I eventually cancelled the order and went in and bought over the counter.

Another point - while I was told a refund had been issued, it did not appear immediately as I’d expect a PayPal refund to do - that is, until I lodged a dispute with PayPal, resulting in a very prompt refund. I’m sure this was ‘a coincidence’ :wink:

A few lessons - I won’t be using Harvey Norman online ordering again. Period. If I can’t buy it over the counter from store stock I’ll go elsewhere, and even then I feel Harvey Norman will be my last choice. It’s also handy to have screenshots of your purchases and the associated advertisements online - I’ve always done that. Finally, pay using something with a good complaints process - I dislike PayPal’s currency conversion, but their buyer protection and complaints process have worked out well for me, so far. I know this comes at a cost, albeit hidden, and I know there are PayPal sellers who can tell horror stories of being boned by unscrupulous customers.

A couple of side points: I wanted her to get a Garmin - some more research and I found the return rate on Fit-bits is ‘significant’ and depending on which surveys you find, that is being kind. She’s now getting a Garmin, which rates substantially better in the satisfaction/reliability surveys - and the people at Johnny Appleseed GPS took the order this afternoon (8 September) and later this afternoon I received a tracking number that shows it is in transit - ETA 11 September - with free shipping. I’ve dealt with these people before with similar speedy response - and their prices are very competitive!

Go Harvey!


Gerry Harvey confirms the problems with our domestic retail is that GST makes them uncompetitive, not their disjointed sales and ‘service’ commonly experienced for such esteemed businesses as HN. Unfortunately many of the pollies listen to 'his money" and respond, to everyone’s disadvantage. Perhaps Gerry and his like minded competitors will find another reason for their sales shortfalls when the GST for off-shore purchases doesn’t work for them.


I can’t wait to try Amazon when they arrive, if they’re only 10% better than most Australian retailers, I’m sold, I will never use an Australian retailer ever again, online stores often never carry any stock, it takes them days to give the order to the Courier’s, they can take weeks to process refunds, as above they are tardy at replying to correspondence the list goes on…

I hope the arrival of Amazon does send some of the Aussie retailers to the wall because they deserve it, they will only have themselves to blame! I have a disability and don’t drive, I do most of my shopping online and it’s always frustrating. I have a friend in Germany who raves about Amazon, their prices and their service, I can’t wait to try them out.


Rant Warning -
I too have had too many bad experiences with the businesses which make up the shambolic conglomerate that forms “HN”. As a consequence @draughtrider, I will only use “HN” as a last resort, and only if I can examine the goods first, and have them in my hand when paying.

Completely agree. I think he is a showman that has the pollies looking in the wrong direction, while he performs his tired old ‘magic trick’.

(As I have said before) GH is promoting a business model that should have been retired many years ago, and has failed to innovate with the evolving markets. Perhaps this is why GH appeals to the Government pollies: they too seem to have a massive reluctance to be innovative as markets are evolving (NBN, Energy, coal, fracking, water, …)

He and his kith will continue to promote the idea that their declension is ‘someone else’s fault’, while decaying in the dust of progress.

Bring on the competition!


Picked up the parcel today, maybe a day later than ETA but it was to a parcel locker and involved both Startrack and Australia Post and I live in the middle of nowhere, so I reckon 2 business days from placing order to receiving is pretty damn good … got a happy birthday girl now, even if it is a week after the big day …


You mentioned there was a currency conversion involved with Pay Pal. Do you actually use the AU edition of Pay Pal or the US version? I’ve never had to worry about currency conversions when ordering from Australia. When you go to Pay Pal, don’t forget the .au at the end of the web address so you get the correct one that uses AUD instead of USD.

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I use the Australian PayPal site - anyone who bills me in Australian Dollars is ok. It’s when I buy from overseas (not in this case with “Hardly Normal”) that conversion comes in - in my experience so far, it is consistently better to let my 28 Degrees card do the conversion as the PayPal payment instrument, and be billed by PayPal in the native currency of the seller …

Edited to add: I’m confident all the prices above are in Australian Dollars and using Australian companies and sites. Not sure if I gave the wrong impression somewhere. I have mentioned conversion in other threads when dealing with overseas purchases.


One of the problems with HN is that most of their stores are franchises (yes that dirty word again). Every year a huge number of HN franchises go to the wall (I even think different parts of one store are different franchises). HN still makes money out of them as I believe that he lends them the money (no doubt at nice high interest rates) to buy into the franchise in the first place. Not a bad business model if you can get away with it.


Quite right @jepc. If you go into a HN store, every section within that store is a separate business entity. A business can own more than one part of the store, or even own say the IT area in several stores, but I think that this is not too common.

This is the problem with returns and warranty etc. You have to return to the place of purchase. You can’t just go into another HN outlet.


I’d never thought of that … is it really the case? I did a quick search and found nothing authoritative, and having some time I called the ACCC just for grins - after 5 minutes of recorded messages abdicating responsibility for anything useful and selecting the right option the recorded message said they were too busy and hung up on me. Clowns.

Something to bear in mind if you live remote like I do - there is a local HN store, but the next nearest is just under 1200km away in a direction I never drive. The others are closer to 1500km away … and further. So if one were to buy from HN in the big smoke thinking that any problems would be easier to deal with ‘back home’ because there is a store there as well, it’s probably not true. Might also explain some of my original problem with sourcing goods through them.

Another good reason to avoid Harvey Norman - and a relevant question to ask other stores, eg JB Hi-Fi, etc.

I know this from bitter experience, plus I had it confirmed by Choice staff.


From the HN website that differentiates their online store from the bricks and mortar world by:

If you wish to view the refund, return or repair policies of any Harvey Norman store, please contact or visit the relevant Harvey Norman store for details. As Harvey Norman stores are operated by independent franchisees, these policies may vary between Harvey Norman stores.

Many if not most franchise operations play that game. I once had the problem with The Good Guys (franchises), while JBHiFi (corporates) provided brilliant service across stores. Since JBHiFi bought The Good Guys it may have changed. It is worth asking the question to any franchise operation prior to parting with your dollars.


I found the HN references, but have long since distrusted that corporate websites would give reliable information :slight_smile: … I’ve beaten HN at their own game with regard to their dodgy price matching a couple of years ago, since then they have slipperified their policy further! _ was unable to find anything on ACCC or fair trading, I guess its just implied that a ‘different company’ is treated differently. You’d think given they share so much in the way of resources for purchasing, advertising, etc etc that they would be collectively accountable also, but I can see how that also wouldn’t be fair in some contexts …

Just easier not to deal with the clowns … and I’ve learnt some more - thanks !!

And JB Hi-Fi are not franchised it seems?! Sadly again it’s 1500km to the nearest store :slight_smile: but they do cheap shipping at least …

I also had a troublesome experience with ordering online from HN. It didn’t register an account when I ordered and I don’t believe I received an email confirmation of the order - just the delivery. I ordered two of the same product but only one arrived. It was very difficult to prove to them that I had ordered two products other than my card charge, which they did accept. I won’t be shopping online with them again.


6 posts were split to a new topic: ACCC funding and performance discussion

I wonder how this fits with Australian consumer law. I know how it fits with gut; if you sell me something and you have a sign over your head, then I can return it to a place with the same sign. You’re gaining benefit from the name, and I expect you to honour that name when things go bad. I don’t care about the internal HN ‘franchise’ shenanigans, and how you get your money from the other franchisee, because that’s a big old SEP - Someone Else’s Problem. If I buy from a store that says it’s Harvey Norman, then I expect to be able to make my warranty claim at Harvey Norman.

I am not sure how well this approach might work, but it would at the very least require the manager’s attention. And time. On a busy shop floor with other customers hearing all about my problem.

(Some companies may, although they would not dare to suggest it within range of my hearing, consider me a ‘difficult’ customer. I consider me a customer who knows what they want and have paid money for.)


I bought a leather lounge suite (made in Australia ) at HN. Several years ago, it was not a cheap item. Within a year the leather peeled at the head rest…both chairs, I coomplained…they followed up, but was told it was body chemicals that caused it, and the suite was out of warranry…poor service.
I will never put one foot in any Harvey Norman store again…even if the give the stuff away. They should stop advertising add nausium on :tv: and look after their after services better. DISSAPOINTED


I too had a chair, not from HN, where the leather on the main seat cushion started to peel after a few years. It was well before the ACL and outside the warranty, so I was on my own. I approached an upholsterer and he informed me it was bonded leather and he would not touch it unless I reupholstered the entire chair. I doubt it was body chemicals since the peeling was on an area that was never exposed to ‘body chemicals’ but compressed when sat upon causing delamination. If you wander op shops and Savers you will often see ‘leather’ furniture with peeling sections. Now you know why. It is not leather as one expects, unless one wants to play semantic games.

It shouldn’t have mattered about the body chemicals. Products must be fit for purpose. Sofas are for people to sit on, and they must be able to stand up to the rigours of contact. Body chemicals is no excuse. Unlike the sofa, you were properly covered by the ACL, or it’s predecessor.


My son purchased some speakers etc approx $300 via click and collect at Harvey Norman. The website said they were in stock. The transaction went through ok, the money went straight to Harvey Norman. About an hour later, he got a status update announcing that the transaction had been “denied” and it would be 3 - 5 business days before he got a refund. He called them and made a complaint and they told him to “read the fine print” and yes it does say, in the very fine print, that you will not get a refund straight away. My questions is, how can they take money for an item they advertise as being in stock and then after the funds are cleared, they tell you it’s been “denied” Actually what does that even mean?? When he called customer “support” (HA, no support) they could not give him a reason why it had been “denied” so we assume it was due to not having the stock. What a rip off. Needless to say, Harvey Norman have now lost my son as a future customer and myself as well. So now he has to wait a week before he can purchase the items from another supplier.