UPDATED. During the course of your computer buying experience, you may come across a company, vendor, or retailer that provides you with unsatisfactory service in any number of ways.
Sometimes, you may get a refusal for repairs that you deserve. Other times, wrong products are shipped or inaccurate information is given. Then, there are more severe circumstances where people pay for an order, and never receive proper correspondence or even the products from a seller. This is a common theme on eBay and other places such as Craigslist. It's always advisable to look into a vendor that you have never purchased from before especially one that is not well known.
QMS Inc. (MacPadd.com) is one such company.
We attempted to order the solid aluminum mousepad from MacPadd.com on October 23rd, 2009 and after going through the confirmation process and payment (done through PayPal), we received an automated response. The website also indicates that the product should ship to the US within "3 to 7 business days."
During the next 7 days following the initial order date, we contacted the vendor several times with no success. The business number of (519) 429-0126 constantly goes to a voicemail. An attempt to call the vendor on the 30th of October did not yield any success either. Leaving a voicemail to have a rep respond went unheard.
We never received a shipment confirmation, tracking email notification, or any other type of email to indicate that the product would be delayed, was unavailable, or was on back order.
Suffice to say, we were getting a bit worried.
After looking through the PayPal transaction record, we were able to find another business contact number listed by PayPal for QMS Inc. at (519) 429-3141. We called that several times. No answer either.
At this point, it was becoming obvious that something was terribly wrong. We went ahead and opened a dispute for the transaction with PayPal and indicated what was going on.
Five minutes after filing the dispute through PayPal, we receive an email response from a David Free (claimed he runs the company) responding to our email request for a tracking number. Free indicated the following:
"Your Macpadd was mailed yesterday however, our experience is that it takes much longer to get to California. I don't know why, that is just our experience.
I will see if I can take [the tracking number] down."
It was odd to us why Free couldn't simply include the shipping number in the email.
Then we also received a call from Free, in which he indicated that the product was shipped "yesterday" on the 29th. Yet, no shipment info was provided on the 29th. We asked Free to provide us a tracking number. After a hesitant pause, Free asked if he could email it to us. We agreed and asked Free to deliver the tracking number within one hour. He agreed.
Three hours passed and we did not receive anything. We called Free back, and asked for the tracking number. Free said the following:
"I forgot, and I'm having a drink with my wife."
We asked Free to provide us a tracking number yet again by the end of the business day. MacPadd.com operates out of the eastern time zone, and by 6:45 PM EST, we still hadn't received any number. We called Free again. This time however, Free became annoyed that we called him again to ask for the number. We disclosed to Free that we were a tech publication and ordered the product for a quick review.
Unphased, Free lashed out at us saying that we were harassing him. After raising his voice several times and repeated swearing at us, we asked Free to be honest and inform us if the product was really shipped. Free exclaimed "yes." So we asked for the tracking number again. Free continued lashing out at us, and eventually talked about something completely unrelated to the issue at hand, asking us:
"Do you know I have a CPA, and an MBA, and I am an engineer?!"
We couldn't see the correlation at this point between what Free was saying and our request for tracking information. We also disclosed to Free that we would warn Tom's Hardware readers of this unacceptable, rude, and seemingly fraudulant business practice. Free then offered a refund. We told Free that we weren't asking for a refund, just a tracking number for the order. All attempts to reason with Free were cast aside.
Free then accused us of committing extortion.
"Extortion" over a tracking number? We didn't even want a refund. Just a simple tracking number.
Free then exclaimed:
"Get out of my f***ing life!"
And hung up on us.
By now it was becoming clear to us that we weren't going to receive the product we paid for.
During the course of the day, we had updated the dispute with PayPal several times. When you submit a transaction dispute, PayPal attempts to contact the seller. Every time you update the dispute, PayPal will attempt to contact the seller for a response. All updates are logged in the PayPal Dispute Center and updates are seen by both parties. Free ignored all of PayPal's notifications and request for a response to us.
Later in the day, we received an email from Free with a Canada Post tracking number. We then attempted to track the package, and Canada Post revealed that the number corresponded to a shipment logged on October 3rd, 2009 -- not the 29th like Free indicated. As of this writing (November 1st, 2009), the tracking information still has not changed.
We emailed Free and notified him that the tracking number he provided was invalid. Instead of providing a valid tracking number, Free threatened to sue us.
Why couldn't Free have provided a simple and valid tracking number? We may never know. But at this point, it's safe to say: because the product was never shipped. Instead of supplying a number, he offered a refund instead.
The refund didn't come.
On Saturday, with the tracking number remaining unchanged, we escalated the PayPal dispute into a claim, and selected "Possibly Fraudulent" as the reason for the escalation. We provided nearly an identical account of the buying experience to PayPal and submitted the claim. PayPal indicated that there was no guarantee that we would get our money back, but that it would try to help. The escalation occured at 9:29 PM on Saturday, the 31st.
Free indicated that we could either:
"Make this world war III or handle this in a civil manner."
We responded saying:
- Listed business number is unattended and never answers
- No shipment information sent despite claim that it was sent on the 29th
- Failed to respond to the filed PayPal dispute through the PayPal payment system
- Failed to respond to PayPal's request for seller information regarding the transaction (Free ignores PayPal's emails for response)
- PayPal dispute escalated; still no correspondence by Free through the PayPal mediation system
- Repeated refusal to send tracking information
- Invalid tracking info (dated Oct. 3rd, 2009), and now reveals no data from Canada Post
- Responds with another refund offer, yet fail to release a valid tracking number dated Oct. 29th, 2009 to invalidate filed PayPal dispute
- Nov 1st, 2009, still have not provided the valid tracking # (ignores PayPal dispute message to provide valid tracking information)
No only did Free fail to respond to any of PayPal's request for a dispute response, he still didn't provide a number. We repeatedly told Free that we weren't asking for a refund, just a tracking number. Yet none was ever provided as he said he would.
In an email, Free said to us:
"We are very small. I invented this product and have shared it with thousands. You are the only one complaining so far. No one has been ripped off and no one will be."
Coincidentally, we found these on RipOffReport:
In his final email, Free said to us:
"Have you thought of getting emotional therapy? Your are truly a disturbed person and your correspondence will be sent to the CEO. Get a life you are truly disturbed person."
Originally, MacPadd.com indicated that it was "under new management." But after the dispute with us, Free removed the claim from the site, since he indicated that he invented the product and was still running the company. The Google cache of MacPadd.com has the original claim. At this point, we believe that Free added the "new management" to the site after several customers indicated that they never received the products they ordered.
By early Sunday morning, we received this response from PayPal's investigation team:
What happens next
Please allow up to 7 days for the refund to appear in your account. Once the refund is complete, the case will be closed.
It looks like PayPal has agreed with our claim and retrieved the funds that were held hostage.
At this point, Tom's Hardware recommends readers to avoid products and services offered from David Free and the company he runs.
UPDATE: David Free of MacPadd.com has responded to our report.