R12,000 cautionary tale: Do your research before paying online retailer

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler’s ‘Watch-outs of the week’

28 May 2021 - 13:34 By wendy knowler
A mom is R12,000 out of pocket after forking out online for a PlayStation5 console for her son which was never delivered.
A mom is R12,000 out of pocket after forking out online for a PlayStation5 console for her son which was never delivered.
Image: SUPPLIED

If you’re one of those people who has to get their hands on the latest must-have electronic goodies which either aren’t yet on sale or are in extremely high demand and therefore hard to source, you are at high risk of being ripped off.

Sonja wrote to me this week about doing that with her son, who in November was looking for the PlayStation 5. Finding it out of stock “at all the better known websites”, they found Craycart.com, and paid R12,000 for the items.

However, her son has nothing to show for that money, and many others have reported a similar experience.

“The mandatory instant EFT payment method should have been a massive red flag, and I have kicked myself 100 times ever since,” she told me.

Indeed.

Dodgy retailers know that when a person pays for something by credit card and doesn’t get it, they can apply to their bank for chargeback and the money will be whipped out of the retailer’s bank account to refund the ripped off customer, which is why they insist on EFT as a payment method.

Interestingly, Sonja said at the time she had seen a few positive reviews about Craycart.com on the customer review website HelloPeter.

A current search of HelloPeter reveals 14 reviews by people between late November and late December 2020, all complaining about not receiving what they paid for, so I’m guessing the rave reviews were later found to be fake and taken down.

As was the Craycart.com site. When it was still live, it gave a business address in Johannesburg, which actually belonged to unrelated businesses.

Another red flag was that all its pseudo products were being offered at a 20% discount. Genuine online retailers may discount some stock, but not its entire stock.

Before you buy anything from an unfamiliar site, imagine them to be a very dodgy, tiny operation in a part of town you’d never visit the kind of place you’d never buy from and only change your opinion if your in-depth research reveals otherwise.

If you are under-insured you’ll pay at claim time

A warning from the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance (OSTI), which adjudicates complaints from consumers who have had their claims rejected by their insurance companies.

When you take out insurance on your house and household contents, it is up to you to stipulate the amount to be insured.

“There is a misconception that the sum insured is related to the market value of the property or the purchase price of an item,” OSTI said.

“Rather, the replacement value represents the cost to reconstruct or replace the building (from scratch) or the item insured.”

If you’ve provided an amount too low to cover the cost of rebuilding your home or replacing your possessions — in other words, you are under-insured — your insurance company will only pay you a proportional share of your loss.

If you are deemed to be 50% under-insured, you will only be paid half the replacement cost of your lost or stolen items.

“The onus is on the policyholder to ensure the sum insured on the policy schedule represents the true replacement value of the property,” OSTI said.

Also, if the risk address has changed, the property has been renovated, the security has been improved, or additional contents obtained, you must be update your policy accordingly.

You don’t pay before collection of a parcel

The SA Post Office (Sapo) this week warned of an e-mail scam which tells recipients a parcel addressed to them is being retained pending payment of customs fees.

“The notice entices them to click on a link which leads them to a website where they can make a payment to release the fictitious parcel,” the Sapo said.

“The e-mail includes a parcel number which was not generated by the Post Office. Although the sender appears to be ‘ZA-post office’, the actual e-mail address originates from a server in Germany.”

That’s not how these things work, Sapo said.

“We send customers an SMS or a collection slip when they have a parcel waiting for collection.

“If there are customs fees payable on a parcel from abroad, the client pays the fees when they collect the parcel. The Post Office does not require the payment of any fees before the time of collection.”

You can report postal crimes to the Sapo’s toll-free crime buster hotline on 0800 020 070.

TO CONTACT WENDY: E-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za; Twitter: @wendyknowler; Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer


subscribe