Sometimes the people out there who pretend to be in business really amaze me. Whatever you do, don’t try to do business with an outfit called Chocolate Fantasies (www.chocolatefantasies.com). You’ll regret it, and they don’t deserve your business.
The rest of this is long and boring and contains no spanking; I’m merely putting it here so that potential customers will always be able to find out about these jokers in Google. Feel free to skip it, with my apologies.
A couple days ago Bethie posted a blog post featuring a gummy candy whip. Because she found the whips at Chocolate Fantasies, she linked there, gratis. And because the whips amused Bethie, I tried to order some for her, for Valentine’s Day.
When I went check out with my order, I noticed they were asking for my phone number, and the form stated “Number must be valid” next to the phone number box. As is my habit, I wrote “declined” in the box. There is no valid reason for an internet merchant to telephone you regarding an order for less than twenty bucks worth of merchandise. As a matter of policy, I never give any vendor any personal information that’s not relevant to my transaction, and neither should you. Yeah, every vendor out there wants your telephone number for their marketing databases, but most of them will suck it up and do the transaction when you refuse. A few places have their forms jiggered to reject a text string like “declined” — and so when I find a vendor like that, I abort the transaction and find someone willing to do business on my terms.
This outfit, by contrast, uses a web form that accepts “Declined” in the phone number box. No problem, right?
Next thing I know, I have a form letter in my email inbox entitled “Cannot Process Order”. The text said “I’m sorry, but we can’t process an order without a valid telephone contact” and “We have to have
this info for credit card processing, not to use for sales or give out.”
I should have aborted the transaction right there, because that email was, in my opinion, a lie. I do enough business in the online world to know a thing or two about internet credit card processing, and the bottom line is that there’s no way to use a phone number to validate a credit card transaction. Too many credit card customers (like me) don’t keep a valid phone number associated with their credit card accounts, because that information gets sold to telemarketers. So I knew right away that Chocolate Fantasies was being deliberately deceptive. It’s simply not possible that they are unable to process an order without a telephone number, or that they “have to have” the info in order to process my credit card.
The first reason I should have canceled is that these people are playing fast and loose with my personal information, demanding it when they don’t need it, and doing so under false pretenses. The second reason is that it’s a bad idea to do business with people who have what my sister calls “a loose association with the truth.” Or, as tycoon J Pierpoint Morgan used to say: “I wouldn’t buy anything from a man with no character if he offered me all the bonds in Christendom.” That goes double for people you are paying with a credit card.
However, to my eternal joy and sometimes folly, I have been led astray by a woman, and I wanted to please her by buying her some candy. So I wrote back, against my better judgment. I gave them a working phone number. And I made it clear, politely, that I wasn’t happy with their policy of requiring irrelevant personal information.
Their response was interesting:
“It’s just a policy we have because when we’ve had bad or fraudulent transactions in the past. Bad trans customers didn’t include or would give us a bad phone number for obvious reasons. We don’t use it to process a credit card.”
Here, I probably should have shut up and let them process my order. But I became angry, because here they are admitting that their previous email was a lie. How did they get from “We have to have this info for credit card processing” to “We don’t use it to process a credit card” in 51 minutes? Admittedly they moved toward truth, but the confirmation of the earlier lie got me hot.
So I wrote back. I thanked them for processing my order, but I said I was “quite displeased” by their policy of collecting irrelevant personal information under false pretenses. I explained again that my phone number (which by now I had provided them) was irrelevant to the transaction, and that if I had known in advance they would require it, I wouldn’t have placed the order. This was all polite and professional, if a bit cold. I intended to let them know that they had angered a customer, so that they could avoid doing so in the future.
Now hang on to your hats, folks, because this part will astound you. Even if nothing I’ve described so far strikes you as unusual, this will. Here’s what they wrote back:
We’ll just cancel your order since we’re really not the company for you then. We have a posted policy and it says on our website when you check out that we need your phone number.
No response to my concerns about the info collection under false pretenses, followed by what amounts to “we don’t want your business.”
From here on, I’m the fool; I should have let it drop. But I didn’t. I wrote back and explained that, although I was unhappy, I wasn’t so unhappy that I wanted to deprive my sweetheart of her Valentine candy. I asked them to reconsider. And I even said please.
That got me a more conciliatory response, the essence of which was that they would still process my order if they could make me happy. Bizarrely, this email again denied the initial misrepresentation that they had admitted to in their second email. So I explained, once again, that I was unhappy about the data collection under false pretenses, and outright angry that they had threatened to cancel my order when I dared to give them the feedback of an unhappy customer. I told them I still wanted their merchandise, but that there was probably no way I was going to ever be a happy customer. Again, I’m polite, although I doubt I sounded particularly friendly.
The reason I am banging my head against this stone wall? Doubtless it will feel good when I stop.
Their final response:
I’m sorry, we’re going to cancel your order.
Have a happy Valentine’s day.
It’s the “Have a happy Valentine’s day” that gets me. These people are in the candy business, right? So three weeks before Valentine’s day, they make a customer unhappy while he’s buying candy for his lady. When he explains why he’s unhappy, they say they don’t want his business. He swallows his pride and says “please” because he wants to make his lady happy. They say no. But by the way, “Have a happy Valentine’s day.”
Jerks. Two thumbs down from Spanking Blog. And from the Soviet judge? A “2″.
And now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m off to Google up a more reasonable source for gummy whips.