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Overstock.com-Beware of Bait & Switch

Old 06-05-03, 10:48 AM
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Overstock.com-Beware of Bait & Switch

Recently Overstock.com has been plugging a super deal for the new Animatrix DVD/CD combination, at a price that was lower than most dealers were selling the DVD only version for.

I never bought from Overstock.com before, but the deal was too good to pass up. I went to their site, ordered the disc, looked around and found a few more to add to my basket.

Which is the result they were hoping for.

Since the site lists if an item is "out of stock" I felt assured that my DVDS that I had ordered would ship. I should have known better. I get an Order Confirmation that the items will ship soon.

Then, the next day, I get an automated letter that the Animatrix DVD is out of stock, but the rest of the items were already shipped (i.e. I cannot cancil my order):

"I am sincerely sorry that the Animatrix DVD was cancelled. This is such a great title that we sold out of it before we were able to get yours out to you.

Unfortunately, we cannot cancel your other items as they have already been shipped out to you and are in transit by USPS. As stated on our website we do not accept returns on media items.

Please let me know if I can be of any additional assistance. I hope you will visit Overstock.com again in the near future and please don't forget to tell your friends and family about the great savings you've discovered by shopping with us.

Thank you,

Summer F.
www.Overstock.com
Customer Service

Thomas, I am sorry for the problems you have experienced with this order. Let us show you how satisfying shopping with us can be. I have found some exceptional deals I am sure you’ll love... "

And then goes on to list more items that probably they do not have in stock either.

What is interesting is that one of the items they have shipped was a "pre-order" that was not scheduled to be released for another two weeks. I wonder how that title was shipped this quickly?

Needless to say, I will be disputing this charge with my credit card.
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Old 06-05-03, 10:53 AM
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Re: Overstock.com-Beware of Bait & Switch

Originally posted by litza

Needless to say, I will be disputing this charge with my credit card.
Why? How should Overstock know that Animatrix is the one you "really wanted", while the others were merely filler? Certainly their stock system leaves much to be desired, but I would hardly call it bait-and-switch.
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Old 06-05-03, 10:56 AM
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I would have to agree with bralph. You ordered the other items. Overstock did not send them in exchange for Animatrix. They sent what you ordered and I'm sure they did not charge for the Animatrix.

Therefore, I cannot see you argument for "bait-and-switch". Sorry.
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Old 06-05-03, 11:07 AM
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I have ordered from them a dozen times, and have never experienced any problems.
IMHO, I think they are a reputable dealer.
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Old 06-05-03, 11:10 AM
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This isn't bait and switch.
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Old 06-05-03, 11:14 AM
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Return the other items and never shop from them again.

Me, I'll keep looking for the occasional steal. I miss their $9.99 Criterions. It was so much fun fishing for them last year.
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Old 06-05-03, 11:19 AM
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Originally posted by clappj
I have ordered from them a dozen times, and have never experienced any problems.
IMHO, I think they are a reputable dealer.

They are reputable, but they do have a very screwed up system. They stock some of their products (the ones that are truly "overstock" items and are the best deals), but many ship from 3rd party distributors. If it's coming from there they have horrible info as to whether the product is in stock, shipped, etc.

As everyone else said, it's not bait and switch, but it is kind of a cousin of it. You really don't have a complaint because you did order the other items, presumably because you wanted them at that price. But you probably wouldn't have ordered them if you weren't getting the first item. Their shipping prices reward you for ordering more DVDs.

So, what's the verdict?

I'd fall between the people that just dismiss your claim and you. I feel your pain and understand your anger, but it's really not something they set out to do.

I'd just keep the stuff but I would be annoyed. It's not worth getting upset about.

Of course, how this helps you out or makes you feel better I have no idea.
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Old 06-05-03, 11:28 AM
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Overstock did not need to cancel his order for the animatrix. They may be out of stock, but that title is not in short supply. They can easily get more stock. And, despite their name, this is clearly not a case of a limited "overstock" buy from some other vendor since the title is brand new this week.

In your situation, I would tell them that they have three choices:

1) Complete your order
2) Pay for someone to come to your house and pick up the other titles for return (UPS can do this) - it is not your responsibility to put in any effort like paying for return shipping or even driving to the post office to correct their error (alternatively you may refuse delivery if you are there when it arrives)
3) They can gift you the already shipped items for free, because you will dispute it with your CC if neither options 1 or 2 are taken.

I have taken a similarly hardline stance with them when they sent me the VHS version of the 4-volume BBC "Blue Planet: Seas of Life" which I had ordered the DVD version. At first they tried to blow me off, but when I made it clear they would be fighting VISA if they didn't fix things to *MY* stringent statisfaction, they caved and credited me for the order since they were out of the DVDs and let me keep the VHS set (which I gave to my local library).
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Old 06-05-03, 11:36 AM
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my 1 and only experience with them was when I bought a movie that was re-shrinkwrapped and it didn't have the disc inside. I called and they told me they would send me an email with a return label and an RA #. well, they said I had 15 days to return the empty case. 15 days came and went with no email. I kept calling and they gave me the runaround. Then when I finally got the email about 3 months later they told me my time limit had expired.
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Old 06-05-03, 11:56 AM
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I also tried to purchase the same Animatrix DVD gift set from Overstock. I got the same e-mail that my order was canceled (though it was, thankfully, the only thing I ordered from them).

I called to ask why, since no reason was listed. They first told me that it was out of stock, then transferred me to someone else's voicemail. I left a message and spoke with Byron Winward when he called back. He told me that the studio had pushed back the release date for the gift set, but that they had the DVD by itself available.

After checking other online and local retailers, I've come to find that Byron is, needless to say, full of crap. The Animatrix DVD gift set was, indeed, released on June 3rd. Though this sort of works out in my favor because I used a $5 off coupon and they credited the entire $19.09 back to my card, rather than the $14.09 I actually paid, I am still unable to find a deal to match or beat the price that Overstock had.

I won't be shopping with Overstock again.
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Old 06-05-03, 12:03 PM
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Overstock gets all of their information from their suppliers - they don't talk to the studios, etc. to get their release dates. Someone else is giving them incorrect information, as anyone else who got the wrong disc in the "Blues Brothers" problem from a couple of years ago will attest.
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Old 06-05-03, 02:21 PM
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Originally posted by Jah-Wren Ryel
In your situation, I would tell them that they have three choices:

1) Complete your order
2) Pay for someone to come to your house and pick up the other titles for return (UPS can do this) - it is not your responsibility to put in any effort like paying for return shipping or even driving to the post office to correct their error (alternatively you may refuse delivery if you are there when it arrives)
3) They can gift you the already shipped items for free, because you will dispute it with your CC if neither options 1 or 2 are taken.
It's great to see such information being posted here. It gives some of us who wouldn't have thought to bother some ground to stand on. That's what these forums are all about, showing us not-in-the-know the way out of these hassels. Thanks Jah-Wren Ryel. I actually saved this post. Now let's see what happens when the next e-tailer tries the same thing. Eat my VISA, biaaatch!
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Old 06-05-03, 02:26 PM
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Before ultimatums are given you should contact customer support and try to work things out.
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Old 06-05-03, 02:27 PM
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Had everyone in here received wrong item shipped from Overstock.com ?? How's the service handling when they send out wrong item ??

Thankz
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Old 06-05-03, 02:34 PM
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I just thought I would point out that Amazon.com owns over 70% of overstock.com. I received a prospectus from them. They ship through the same methods as Amazon and usually have the exact same product at about 10-15% less (normal products) and overstocks at about the same price as Amazon's huge sales, maybe a little less.
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Old 06-05-03, 02:42 PM
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Moving to store forum....
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Old 06-05-03, 02:55 PM
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If I remember correctly "litza" was a user that was causing a lot of problems in a hitmenow.com thread from some months ago and came close to getting suspended. "Litza" appears to be a person that looks for confrontation.
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Old 06-05-03, 03:12 PM
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While not wanting to turn this into a book length example.

To make some corrections to assumptions being tossed around...

1) I specifically notified Overstock.com that if the Animatrix DVD was not in stock, to cancil my order at the time of my order.

2) When I immediately attempted to cancil the order, once I discovered that my "confirmed order" had been changed, and this title was no longer available, I was told that the order had already been shipped (which included, as I had noted, a major pre-release, which would break that title's street date considerably if in fact they did send it out), and that they would not be able to cancel the order.

3) Regarding the advice to "just return them" please reread their correspondence to me. Quote "As stated on our website we do not accept returns on media items."

4) Regarding the advice about contacting customer service first, that is excellent advice and that's exactly what I did. Who do you think wrote the "tough luck Charlie" letter? Customer service. I requested, in writing that a supervisor contact me. So far, no response.

For the those who think that this is not a case of "bait and switch" I would be curious to learn what they feel would consitute "bait and switch" .

The legal definition of bait and switch "a fraudulent or deceptive sales practice in which a purchaser is attracted by advertisement of a low-priced item but then is encouraged to purchase a higher-priced one (called also bait advertising)".

Courts have found that the mere act of advertising a product, without being able to actually provide the product a form of bait and switch. Look at this way, I would not have visitied Overstock.com in the first place if I wasn't lured there by their ultra-low priced item. I wouldn't have placed my initial order with them, if it was not for their ultra-low priced item already being ordered. At the time of the order, they claimed they had this item in stock. Classic "bait and switch".

While on one hand, this is hardly the stuff of major lawsuits, it is typical of consumer fraud. Another example of how major companies practice deceptive actions. I'm always amazed at how people are so tolerant of being nickled and dimed from stores and companies, mispricing of a few pennies here, overcharging a dollar or two there, it adds up folks.
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Old 06-05-03, 03:13 PM
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I see this as a legitimate complaint. There simply is no acceptable excuse for stating the item was in-stock and available if it wasn't. PERIOD. And what is worse is that Overstock has had these inventory status problems for a long time and clearly has made no real effort to fix them. It's amazing how some of these companies such as Overstock, and even some of you, are so hypocritical that the buyer is supposed to bear the all of the obligation in the transaction and the seller is supposed to have none whatsoever about indisputably lying to the customer! When a seller realizes that they have lied to a customer about being able to fulfill part of an order there is absolutely nothing preventing them from emailing the customer and asking if they still want the rest of the order or not.
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Old 06-05-03, 03:14 PM
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Originally posted by jarsim
If I remember correctly "litza" was a user that was causing a lot of problems in a hitmenow.com thread from some months ago and came close to getting suspended. "Litza" appears to be a person that looks for confrontation.

When you can't argue with the message, attack the messenger.
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Old 06-05-03, 04:58 PM
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That's enough, break it up.

Hope you get this thing settled.
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Old 06-06-03, 10:23 AM
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Re: Accepting returns on media items

They *have* to accept returns if you paid by Visa or MasterCard. Any merchant provider knows that the credit card companies pretty much dictate your return policies.

Due to the expenses incurred with "charge backs" (that's the term for getting a charge reversed) the credit card companies try to minimize the potential damage a company can do by refusing to accept payments from a company who won't allow returns on closed-box, still wrapped tangible items (not software downloads, or a DVD you've opened and watched and decided you didn't like).

When your order comes in, DO NOT OPEN THE BOX if you don't want the items. Just write "REFUSED" in large (preferably red) letters over your name and address on the label and drop it off at the post office.

They should receive the "return" and credit your account. If they don't, it's fraud.

So by all means, if they do not accept the return, call your credit card provider and claim that they charged you for products you did not receive. In fact, tell them the whole story.

If Visa/etc. gets enough complaints from customers of Overstock, they can put them on a "terminated merchant" list - which pretty much means that they won't be accepting credit cards.

Of course, to get on such a list a high percentage of their orders placed would have to be charge backs.

But at least you can get *your* money back, and help to put an end to a merchant you believe is behaving poorly.

I guess I'm lucky, I've never had a problem with Overstock. But there's always a first time.

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Old 06-06-03, 01:22 PM
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Perhaps they "had" it in stock when he placed the order, but, he was not the only person that placed an order while it was listed as "in stock", you do realize that most internet sites are not automated to track the exact quantity of in stock items.

It is not bait and switch, as they did not advertise something, and then send you something else in return. They just cancelled the order, which is what any internet/online or regualr store would do if it is no longer in stock. Deep Discount DVD does the same exact thing when an item goes out of stock. (Mostly, becaus they assume you don't want it any longer, sicne it will take that much longer to get, and they don't even tell you about the cancellation.)

I would never shop at Overstock anyway, as 99% of what they sell, they bought from other e-tailers or re-tailers such as Toys R Us and Best Buy, and they also keep the stickers from TRU on the package. Sometimes the DVD's are not even wrapped. Ask yourself, how they can sell things for such a cheap price. NO, it is not because they buy or order it in mass quantities. It's because they buy what other stores can no longer sell.
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Old 06-06-03, 06:07 PM
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Originally posted by Erik68

It is not bait and switch, as they did not advertise something, and then send you something else in return. They just cancelled the order, which is what any internet/online or regualr store would do if it is no longer in stock. Deep Discount DVD does the same exact thing when an item goes out of stock. (Mostly, becaus they assume you don't want it any longer, sicne it will take that much longer to get, and they don't even tell you about the cancellation.)]
Obviously you do not know what the term "bait and switch" actually means. It does not mean that the dealer actually sells you one thing and then substitutes another.

Legally, What is "bait and switch"?
"Bait" is an advertisement that lures a customer into a store with the promise of an incredible deal. "Switch" occurs when the salesperson (in this case, the website) informs you (or in this case does not, they just are happy they got you to their site) that you should buy a different or another product instead, allegedly because the advertised product is no longer available"

This isn't a problem just for the USA, here is what the Canadian Goverment says about this problem:

"How bait and switch advertising affects you as a CONSUMER

You are attracted to a store by an advertisement for a bargain-priced product. Once at the store, you discover that the product is sold out or otherwise not available. You may then be "switched" to a higher priced item by a salesperson, or while you are in the store, you may find yourself induced to make other purchases. In either case, the retailer captures your shopping dollars by luring you to the store with an advertised bargain that was never intended to be made available in reasonable quantities. You have become the latest victim of bait and switch advertising.

How bait and switch advertising affects you as a COMPETITOR

Bait and switch advertising is anti-competitive. By advertising products at bargain prices that are not available in reasonable quantities, retailers can unfairly lure consumers to their stores, thereby taking business away from you. Your loyal customer base begins to slip away, and new customers may not consider entering your store. You are also a victim of bait and switch advertising. "



Let's not be naive here. On the internet, the key for a business is traffic. By advertising a product at an incredibly low price, as Overstock.com did, brings shoppers to a company's website. Nothing wrong with that, accept when said company has little chance of actually following through with their end of the bargain. In exchange for visiting their site, they will sell me ITEM X for Y amount of dollars. But when they don't have ITEM X, or have such a ridiculously low number of ITEM X that they could never possibly fufill the demand, and they don't inform the consumer of the small quanties that actually have. That's fraud.

An example. When the 99 Cent Store has a promotion where they will sell a brand new TV set for 99 cents, they need inform the consumer that in fact, there will only be 2 TV sets available at each location. Obvioulsy there will be a great demand for a 99 cent TV set, and to falsely give hope to everyone who happens to read the newspaper that they can buy a 99 Cent TV is dishonest. Which is exactly what Overstock.com did.

The Animatrix was obviously a high profile title. It was advertised extensively on Network TV, it was tied to a current hit movie, etc. There was a high demand for it. Overstock.com used that high demand to lure shoppers to their site with a promise that they could buy this title for an incredibly low price. They advertised the heck of this deal. I saw links, pop-ups, etc everywhere. Do you think that Overstock.com was selling this title at such a low price because they got it for a bargain price? If you do, I've got some swamp land I'd like to sell you. They advertised it for such a low price to sucker people into going to their site. Obviously they had no intention of supplying all the demand that this type of price promotion would generate. That wasn't the point of their sale. The point was to get you to go there and shop. Bait and switch.

Two days later, and my request from Customer Service to speak with a supervisor and/or cancil my entire order still has not resulted in any response. When I suggested that they might back-order the item and ship it when it got back into stock, no response. Hmmm, I wonder why?

Erik, to make a correction, no Deep Discount DVD does not do this. I have yet to see them offer an extremely low price, with a blitz of advertisments, and then retract it later. I'm well aware of having products go in and out of stock. But considering the other factors involved (such as refusing to accept unopen returns of unwanted items, the bait and switch with the product, etc), Overstock.com didn't just experience a normal "out of stock problem, what Overstock.com did was sleazy. Plain and simple.
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Old 06-06-03, 06:40 PM
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Just to add-on to what Erik wrote, in my experience if DDD has a sale for an item which is backordered, they'll ship the product when it comes in (eventually) at the sale price that I originally agreed to pay (they can't charge me more that that or else it's fraud).

In fact, this happened just a couple of weeks ago with "Adaptation." It was backordered, and they shipped it to me at the sale price when it was in stock.

That's the expected behaviour for a company.

-- Jough
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