The Online Order That Made 72 Hours Feel Like Forever

The Online Order That Made 72 Hours Feel Like Forever

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Sarah Rae Smith
Nov 30, 2009

These days, online ordering is an everyday occurrence, in fact it's the preferred method of shopping for many—so when my husband and I recently hit the "Order Now" button, we had 100% confidence in not only our method of purchase, but the retailer we had ordered from so many times before. What we didn't know is that the purchase of just one item would flip our financial world upside down.

To start, my husband and I are anti-credit cards. We don't have them, don't need them and like our simple life without interest rates. If we can't afford it, we don't buy it. So two weeks ago, after we had saved our collective pennies to purchase a new Wacom Cintiq 21UX—it was a big deal.

We were frustrated to learn that there wasn't a store within 100 miles of our Midwestern home selling them, so online ordering was sadly our only option. We Googled and found several retailers, but many were exclusively site-to-store and having worked in the logistics side of retail for many years, I just wasn't comfortable with the option. So we turned to one of the major online retailers (which also happens to be a rain forest) to get things ordered, as we had done so many times before.

After hitting "Order Now" we received an email stating our transaction was canceled for unknown reasons and to resend the order once more. Never having had a problem with the site before, we went ahead and made a new transaction (as our account showed no previous order history) which resulted in the same error email. Not understanding the complications, we put in a call to their Customer Service line— which we're glad we took the time to do! After we were transferred through 10-15 rounds of escalation queues, the hours on the clock just kept on ticking by.

After being passed around their internal phone tree for 2+ hours, we were finally told that although both transactions were canceled, our bank account would still be billed for them until the return or cancellation processed in 72 hours (although it could be up to a week).

Never before had we considered the consequences of having that much money suspended from our checking account at one time. We were able to rotate funds to cover things (which took us another few hours of phone calls), until the charges dropped off, but what would have happened if we weren't so fortunate, let alone called to confirm the problem at hand? It's not like we were double charged (never mind the fact that we still hadn't made a successful transaction) for a lesser expensive item like a DVD or Wii Game. We had over $4,000 charged to our bank account due to computer mistakes and glitches and we couldn't do a thing about it besides sit there and wait. Had we not had the cash to cover the problems the website generated in our bank account, we would have accrued overdraft fees and negative balance fees until things were squared away, which could have yielded the inability to eat or even put gas in our car to get to work.

We were eventually able to order our Cintiq from another retailer with exemplary customer service and significantly cheaper shipping and couldn't be happier. While we're glad everything worked out in the end, we fear we'll forever be soured from the lack of help that such a large retailer should have been able to provide—especially at their highest level of management. We'll be voting with our dollar going forward and looking elsewhere to purchase our goods, but it really had us thinking about all our future online orders for home electronics, at least with this specific retailer.

Have you had an experience like ours? Do you have confide in the internet to take care of your purchases without a glitch in the system, or assume that things will go as planned? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

(Images: Wacom, Flickr Member TheTruthAbout, StuartPilBrow, and Sarah Rae Trover)

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