Saturday, January 10, 2015

What Assurance Does a Consumer Have?

I've blogged about the good experience I have with Lazada Malaysia, Taobao and Threadless. Of course, I do have bad online shopping experience too.

On 18th Nov 2014, I helped my friend to buy a Xiaomi Mi4 16GB smartphone for his son's Christmas present from Groupon Malaysia. Groupon promised that they will deliver the product within 20 days from date of purchase. 
On 5th Dec 2014, Groupon sent an email saying that “due to unforeseen packaging and delivery issues , Groupon is currently in the midst of proceeding with deliveries, and you will be receiving your purchased item(s) latest by 18-Dec,2014”. 
Until 17th Dec 2014, there's still no sign of the Mi4 so we sent email and called to check the delivery status. The girl on the phone seemed clueless.  
On 21st Dec 2014, finally received the official reply from Groupon saying that “I just wanted to get in touch to let you know that we’re in the process of following up your query. We haven’t found a solution to your case yet, but we hope to have something for you very soon. As soon as we have some news, I or one of my senior colleagues will get back to you.”
On 23rd Dec 2014, I received another email from Groupon saying “Because the product you ordered will be distributed by one of these third-party companies, it could take a few days for all of the orders to be fulfilled. Extremely popular products may also take a bit longer to ship than others. Please be informed that we have escalated this matter to the relevant department to investigate from their end. As soon as we get a resolution we will update you accordingly.” 
On Christmas eve, at 5:43pm!!! Groupon announced that “Unfortunately, we weren't able to get enough inventory to deliver your Groupon Goods order as promised. Also we aren't able to offer exchanges or replacements at this time due to limited inventory. I have now cancelled your Groupon and our partner has already been informed that this Groupon is no longer valid. I have also sent request to our payment service provider to refund the amount of RM1,199 back to your method of payment. Please allow up to 14 working days (excluding Sat, Sun and PH) for the amount to reflect in your account statement.”

Customers have to pay on the spot when they make any orders on Groupon Malaysia. When Groupon Malaysia failed to deliver as per promised, customers have to wait for 14 working days (More than 3 weeks!!) for the refund. What is the logic? Why do customers have to suffer because of the blunder Groupon Malaysia made? Who is accountable in this case?

I would expect a company as big as Groupon Malaysia would control the 'deal' subscriptions, where it should be capped in advance to a reasonable number that they can handle. I still cannot believe that they have to wait until Christmas eve 5:43pm to announce that they are not able to get enough inventory to deliver!

Worse still, when I check for “Xiaomi Mi4 16GB Smartphone” on Google on 30th Dec 2014, I can still see this good available on their website (see print screen below)!

Why Groupon Malaysia still selling goods that they do not have enough inventory to deliver to their customers?
Why do they collect money from consumers for products that they knew they cannot deliver within 20 days from date of purchase as per promised to consumers?

I have a very bad feeling about this. What assurance does a consumer have if this company shutdown?

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