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When s/w screws up

 
Enthuware Software Support
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Here is what happened with one of my friends. Let's call him A. He purchased an HP laptop as a gift during last Thanksgiving from Office Depot. The laptop was delivered at his home and he sent it as it was, unopened, to his cousin. Let's call him B. Last month (i.e. 8 months later), A and B met at a family function and it A learned that his cousin never used the laptop because the laptop was a very low end machine. Even though A had ordered a high end laptop (i7 + touch screen etc.), the actual machine that was delivered was i3 + HP screen without touch. B never told A about it out of politeness. B didn't know that A had actually wanted to gift him an excellent (and expensive) machine.

When A learned about it he was obviously very upset and he chased Office Depot about it. They didn't believe that a wrong machine was shipped. Office Depot's argument was that the machine was readied by HP and Office Depot merely ships it to the purchaser. HP support was looped in and, after a week of back and forth between OD, HP, and A, they determined that it was not the same machine that was advertised in the deal. OD agreed to take the laptop back on the condition that it was unused. A shipped the laptop back to OD in original packaging.

OD received the laptop and issued a refund to PayPal.

Sounds good, right? Well, A had made the payment using his wife's PayPal account. After two weeks when W did not receive the refund in her PayPal account, A contacted OD about it. OD confirmed that they had issued the refund but PayPal maintained that they received no refund.

Apparently, the refund issued by OD was under A's name while the original payment from PayPal was from W's account and PayPal's matching process is somehow not able to match the refund with the original payment.

Finally, as of now, the status is that OD says they issued the refund and PayPal says they did not receive the refund. A has lost the laptop as well as the refund. A has no idea what to do now because neither OD nor PayPal is willing to do anything about it. OD has stopped entertaining A's request for proof of refund and PayPal has stopped entertaining A's request to trace the payment without transaction details from OD.

It is unbelievable that such a mess can happen in this day and age, in the US. What legal recourse does A have to recover his money? Any suggestion?
 
Master Rancher
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If OD cannot show proof of refund then they are in the wrong.
Plain and simple.

Aren't there small claims courts in the US?
 
Rancher
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A very unfortunate incident Paul! I feel bad for both A and B...A because he wanted to gift his friend with a high-end laptop, and B, because he didn't want to upset his friend over getting a low-end laptop. I have to agree with Dave in that the burden falls on Office Depot to provide proof that they issued the refund. This is a classic case of business "A" blaming business "B" and vice versa, and the customer is left out in the cold. I would suggest not giving up. As for legal recourse, if you happen to have a lawyer, having even just one session with him/her might be worth the fee, at least to find out if you do have legal recourse.

Going through small claims court can be expensive, which is why a lot of people don't bother taking their case to court. If you win it works in your favour - sometimes the person you are seeking a settlement from ends up having to cover your legal costs as well. But please don't take this as solid legal advice. I am by no means a legal expert. I am just putting it out there based on experiences of others who have taken their case to small claims court and their experiences with that process.

I sincerely hope this has a happy ending. Cheers my friend.
 
Marshal
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The small claims procedure has been simplified recently in Britain, and the court fee is added to the claim, but wherever PA is writing from, the legal system might be completely different.
 
Paul Anilprem
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Looks like this has been resolved after a month of back and forth. OD was the culprit. Their system showed that the refund was issued, which is why their CSRs were so uncooperative, but underneath, the payment never actually went out to PayPal. After calling their billing dept repeatedly, one guy finally figured out the problem and resolved it!
 
Randy Maddocks
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To be honest Paul, unfortunately, seldom does this happen where a company digs this deep and resolves the problem, at least in my experience. Usually it's one of those "Company so and so is at fault, take it up with them" type of responses. So glad it worked out in the end!  
 
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