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’
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!