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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Avoid of Fraudsters!

My largest single sale ever (for 58 lighted caps) saved this week from disaster and made up for all the refunds I had to give this month. January is going to be OK now. Not great, but OK. If history holds up I should see a very small Valentines Day bump next week.

Yet another reason to hate UPS: The aforementioned customer paid big bucks for 2nd Day Air. I quickly tested all those caps, weeded out a couple of defects, replaced a few dead batteries, and packed them up neatly. Hoping to impress her, I upgraded to Next-Day Air when I saw that the incremental cost was still within the customer’s shipping charge. The box’s value triggered a requirement that I’d never seen before, to hand the package directly to a driver or “a UPS agent” for a signed receipt. I wedged the big box into my Miata for a trip to the UPS Store…who could not accept it, because they are not “UPS agents”. Hmmm.

OK, back into the Miata we went. UPS never misses a chance to charge my account, so I expect to pay extra for this home pickup that they required. Well, whatever. The big valuable box was finally on its way, I had complied with their insurance requirement, and my customer should be pleasantly surprised when her caps arrive a day early.

Since this is a UPS story, you can guess what comes next: My customer emailed me about receiving delivery delay emails from UPS. She wanted her hefty expedited delivery fee refunded. I had to explain that it was still being delivered within the two-day service that she had actually purchased, and only the upgraded delivery that *I* had paid for was forfeit. My pleasant surprise had backfired. I filed a claim with UPS and offered to refund her shipping charge if UPS would honor their guarantee.

As you might guess if you read this post, UPS’s guarantee is not worth the pixels it darkens. Here is their list of excuses:

• Disruptions in the air or ground transportation networks, such as weather phenomena and natural disasters;
• The unavailability or refusal of a person to accept delivery;
• Delays caused by the consignee;
• Acts of God;
• Public authorities acting with actual or apparent authority on the premises;
• Riots, strikes, and other labor disputes;
• Civil commotion.

And so I added a new section to my shipping policy. OK, I can see blaming God and public authorities. But “weather phenomena”? Come on. UPS has obviously never heard of the post office’s unofficial creed: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” One might even argue that all of those fine-print exclusions make their guarantee border on fraud.

In other news:

I noticed a pending charge to my business Mastercard for $7.50 from PayPal. That’s strange; I didn’t think I owed PayPal money for anything, and why would they hit my charge card rather than my PayPal account, or maybe my linked checking account? Maybe they were doing a routine card authorization check...but those usually use $1, not $7.50.

When the charge settled, the payee's name changed to Rebatesoft. That’s even stranger. Who? When I googled them I found multiple forums dealing with credit card fraud. Maybe Rebatesoft is laundering stolen credit card numbers prior to selling them. It's unclear whether Rebatesoft is the actual thief, or a willing accomplice, or an unwilling tool. There is a real company called Rebatesoft. Their contact page includes this gem: "Avoid of Fraudsters. Please note what Rebatesoft.com not charge anybody credit cards. All payments going via RegNow.com system. Beware of the fraudsters!"

I immediately canceled my card. Now I’m stacking orders until the replacement card arrives. I could use my Amex instead, but I want to earn my cash rebate.

I used this week’s idleness to (finally) poke around in my new merchant services account. I am ready to integrate it into Sunshop and make the big switch…possibly as soon as today, if I can get somebody to hold my hand. I obviously can’t afford to screw up credit card acceptance.

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