New Castle News

August 4, 2012

Josh Drespling: Buying Hardware For My Home Is Not That Easy

Josh Drespling
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Sit right back and hear a tale, a tale of a fateful... online shopping experience.

Ok I admit it, I went the cheap route and found an online retailer who had some seemingly great prices. I shopped around for new hinges and hardware for the cabinets in my kitchen and was overwhelmed by the retail cost of such simple things. I have 16 cabinets and 6 drawers in my kitchen, that is a total of 32 hinges and 22 pulls (or handles) that I needed to replace them all. With each of them caring a cost of a few dollars you can see how that will quickly add up to hundreds of dollars. Yes, my wife and kid think I'm made of money and it just miraculously appears in my wallet or bank account, but I know better. I was not willing to shell out a couple hundred hard earned dollars for some unsophisticated pieces of metal to help me move a piece of wood to get to my peanut-butter or tea bags.

It took some digging and research but I found an online retailer that had just what I needed and at a cost that was nearly half of what I was going to pay at Lowes or Home Depot for the same items. The retailer who will remain nameless had a descent looking website and was based in Florida. I did my due diligence and found a couple scant reviews online for them, but nothing warning me about the huge debacle and customer service nightmare that was about to befall me.

It all began to go downhill as my mail carrier pulled into the driveway. I walked out to meet her at the car as she dug in the back for my package. She handed me a box that was in shambles with packs of hinges falling out. She dug around some more and handed me the loose ones that had fallen on the floor of her car. She apologized to me as I told her it was not her fault. I could easily see that this company had ingeniously packed nearly 30 pounds of loose metal objects into a standard Priority Mail box with nothing more than a single strand of clear packing tape holding it together.

I ran inside and pulled one of the hinges from the heap to hold it up against the cabinets. To my dismay they were the wrong ones! Yes they sent me wrong hinges. I ordered a flush mount hinges and these were recessed.

I hoped online and sent an email explaining the problem and asked them to send me a shipping label. Two days later I got a response from a person named Gladys. She informed me that she could make me a label and email it to me.  

I felt relieved that they were going to take care of it. A day passed then two, and a third. I sent a second email to Gladys asking her if she was going to send me a label. No Response. Yet another day had passed as the mound of hinges and handles sat on my kitchen counter yearning for a home.

On the fourth day I sent yet another email asking for an update on my situation. I finally got a response stating “I have the label printed; I will scan it and sent it to you in the morning”. Ok, but why would you just not send me the file you printed? You can simply print to PDF rather than print it out, then scan it and then save it as a PDF. Whatever, I thought at least it was moving forward and that was all I cared about.

She also told me to place the order for the correct item and they would refund the previous order once they received the merchandise back. Big mistake! I fell for it, I can’t believe it. I just gave this company more of my money. In my haste to finish my kitchen project I whipped out the ole debt card and bought some more of their products and headaches to accompany them.

I re-packaged their product from the first shipment nice and neat using a heavy duty box I grabbed from work, secured it with extra tape and applied the label that I had finally received. However in the process of repackaging the merchandise I noticed that there were twice as many hinges as I needed.  They were in packs of two. I went and checked the website and as plain as day in bold letters it said SINGLE. I don’t know what that means to you, but single means one to me. They were misleading customers into buying double the amount of product.

When I emailed our friend Gladys about the situation, she replied with several obscure links from their website that had absolutely nothing to do with the single verses two pack situation and one of them even stated that they were sold as a single hinge.

Four days later I received my second package which contained the correct hinges although it too had double the amount that was anticipated. This package was followed 2 days later with an email stating that my package had shipped.

Next Monday, I got to see my original package again. It was sitting on in my doorway as I returned home with a big red stamp “Return To Sender”. They had refused the package, returned my return if you will. Not only had they taken me for the cost of two sets of hinges (which was really 4 sets) but they were adding insult to injury by returning a package with their own shipping label on it.

After a two weeklong email battle with our conveniently incompetent and forgetful customer service rep Gladys, I have learned my lesson. A few dollars of saving in no way was worth the aggravation that this situation created.

Eventually my bank got involved and quickly reversed all the charges after showing them all the correspondents from this company and information on their website. I got my money back, but none of the wasted time or energy. Next time I will most likely still use an online store, but never again will I use this little home hardware outlet for my home.