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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

January 27, 2006

Skanked

Towards the end of September, I ordered an organic vegetable box from River Nene.

By some freak slip-of-the-mouse, I set up a regular weekly order instead of the one-off I thought I was doing. Probably thought I chose the right option from the pop-up menu, and didn't notice that I hadn't. And didn't read the confirmation email that came later. Usually, the fact that you get an email is sufficient to know your order has gone through.

Anyway, I ordered a selection of things: a fruit and veg box, a bag of lemons, some milk, and some other drinks.

We thought after this first order that the quality and quantity of what you received wasn't really worth the expense, and there was nothing there that we couldn't get more easily, with more choice, and at a lower price, in a supermarket. The bananas, for example, were so green that we hadn't even started to eat them over a week later.

You don't really realise it when you log on and make an order, but the River Nene thing is a franchise. Your order is just passed on to the franchise holder in your area, who is presumably paying a fee for all the services run by the web site (order taking, on-line payments etc.). In other words, the service is only as good as the franchise holder.

Because I thought I'd made a one-off order, I was a bit surprised when the exact same order turned up the following week. Another bag of lemons, the same drinks, another box of fruit and veg. When life gives you lemons, what do you make?

A phonecall. We phoned up, explained that we'd made a mistake, and I went on-line and cancelled the repeating order. I drove home that night wondering what I was going to do with all the unexpected produce. Another lemon soufflé, that kind of thing.

But when I got home, the order had been collected and returned, which we thought at the time was a result. That was the beginning of October...

This week I received a letter from the franchise holder, asking for an overdue payment of £18.88. Now, I don't know how it is where you come from, but I've never known companies to give consumers 90+ days to pay. 30 days is the maximum I'd expect.

I emailed them, saying that the order they were referring to was made in error, and had been delivered and returned on the same day. Not a few days later, so the vegetables were as "fresh" as they were when they turned up at the door. And since they'd taken the goods back, I didn't expect to have to pay for them.

Tellingly, a trawl round the River Nene web site revealed no actual Terms and Conditions of sale. Buyer beware!

Following my email, I got a reply to the effect that the order wasn't a mistake, because I had made it (I didn't say it wasn't my mistake) and that it had been delivered, therefore I had to pay. It's a bit like the frog ringtone thing, in other words.

I replied again, saying that the goods had been returned on the same day, and again they replied, this time saying they remembered the phone call about it being an error, but "would have remembered" driving over to pick them up.

"Would have remembered." Hmmm. If you wait 90 days before chasing people for money, you stand a better chance of them not remembering events too clearly.

Unless you're dealing with me. Still, I ended up paying it, not because he was right, but because I have previously been burned by unjustified credit blacklisting for a similarly small amount due to an accounting error on the supplier's side. Even when they are in the wrong, they always have the final sanction of reporting you as a bad debt, something you might not know about till years later, when it fucks you up good. I was turned down for a bank loan because - years before - Radio Rentals had tried to collect one extra payment for a rented TV, after the rental agreement had ended and the TV had been returned.

So River Nene can stick their organic vegetables up their organic arses and I hope Tesco put them out of business. I feel like I've just been extorted for £19 (it was over £19 including the card payment fee). Not a fortune, but I could have purchased 12 additional tickets for the £100million Euromillions jackpot with that money.

In 10 years of using the internet to buy all kinds of stuff, this is the worst experience.

3 Comments:

  • That's fucking outrageous.

    I'm all for local produce and local businesses, but that's like fecking blackmail!

    By Blogger SimonHolyHoses, at 3:25 am  

  • i would guess that you didn't make a mistake when you signed up. they were just trying it on, counting on you being too rich and stupid to stop it.

    if lottery tickets are a tax on the stupid, what does that make organic food? it's outrageous that we should take the hit on it, especially when half of it is fake.

    By Blogger dog, at 6:30 am  

  • That seems to be the norm now in business, doesn't it?

    Respectable businesses just try it on with you - ignore letters, continue debiting money when they shouldn't, send you returned goods in the hope that you won't complain.

    It's skank savvy and ruthless.

    By Blogger SimonHolyHoses, at 7:01 am  

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