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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there, fellows.


I am extremely upset because of a fraud case I am going through and don't know how to handle it best.


Please, be aware that living myself in Venezuela, South America, and being the fraudulent dealer in the U.S., the situation is particularly delicate.


The picture is as follows:


Back on January, I found one dealer (whose name I'll refrain from trashing righ now....I'll do that later!) for Bell'Oggetti a/v furniture and placed my order with them. Now, although my VISA credit card was then charged on the amount of $750 for that order, the shipment was never delivered to my freight forwarder in Miami, FL. In spite of the many e-mail notes I have sent to them since then asking for the status of my order, they have refused to issue any response. Furthermore, they provide no phone number or other alternate way of contacting them in their web site. Before April 29, they used to have one 800-phone number, which was always answered by a machine (never e real person). I decided to leave one strong message to the attention of the contact-person I knew by e-mail, complaining about their lack of committment to meet my order. A couple of days after, when I tried that phone number again, I found it had been disconnected and "erased" from their web site!


In view of all of these events, I have concluded these guys are not "clean" ones. I have been advised to take this case to the instances of the FBI, Attorney General's Office, State Consumer Fraud Dept., Better Business Bureau, and the Local Small Claims Court. But as a customer I am more interested in receiving the order than in spending time to sue somebody.


As you can surmise, since I live overseas, I am pretty desperate about this situation. Could you advise on how to legally proceed in a case like this?


Thanks a lot for your advise, fellows!


J.V. Gomez
 

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Contact Visa and dispute the charge. It will take a few weeks but you will get your money back. As to stopping the dealer in the future that is another can of worms. Visa will do the right thing.


Good luck,

Dave
 

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Yes, contact VISA and give all info and documentation. They will handle things.


Legal pursuits for this relatively small amount will be fruitless, especially being a foreigner.


JEff
 

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Jeff and Dave are right, Visa should be the one to take care of this for you.


For others who may be reading, I'd personally advise to never purchase anything from a company that you can't readily contact by phone. There may be exceptions, but I want to know that I can speak with someone directly if there's a problem. It is too easy for a "bad" seller to just not reply to Email or return calls left on an answering machine.
 

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Go to register.com and find out who owns their domain name. There should be two contacts, an administrative and a technical. The administrative should be the shop owner, the technical should be the host. If you find out who is hosting it complain to them and the Attorney Generals office in the state the server is in. There is a good chance you can get their site shutdown, plus you can get your money back by disputing with visa.
 

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Never buy from a sleazebag company that provides no phone number.

There are too many companies on the net that provide no address and

no phone numbers.

There are also companies out there, on the financial ropes who will

take orders long after there supplies have cut them off for lack

of payment. These, unfortunately, may still have phones. I would

(personally) avoid ordering anything out of New York city. Even if

you have to pay a few % more, go elsewhere.
 

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Richard:

Excuse me for saying so but fraudulent dealers exist in NYC AND OTHER PLACES TOO! To paint all NY shops as dishonest is being truly prejudice. Look yourself in the mirror and say "I am a prejudiced SOB" because you are.

True, there are a number of dealers in NYC I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw them but that figures since it's also the largest market in the country. The law of large numbers rules.

I have shopped in NYC for decades and found many reputable honest folks that were just fine to deal with. NY'ers may not possess some of the manners or attitude you want but that doens't make them dishonest. Fraud knows no region, race, accent or religion. The dealer that looks like your favorite all American QB that speaks as if he is your best buddy could be ripping you off and you wouldn't even know it.

When you purchase something it is up to you to size up the dealer and decide if you want to do business with them. Anybody can make an attractive website, even a crooked dealer in, say, Iowa (this is not a slight or inference against anybody in Iowa). The web certainly makes this vetting a bit more difficult.

So don't buy from NYC dealers if you choose not to but please be fairer in your broad brush strokes of predjudice.

BTW, I am not a dealer, just someone who is sick and tired of old stereotypes being perpetuated. Look at crime statistics of our cities in the US and you will find NYC way down on the list. That means other cities with residients you don't critisize are committing more crimes than those in NYC. They will be more than happy to rip you off.

Bob P


PS: J. V. - I hope your credit card company is able to help you. I recently was ripped off by a software vendor (not in NY) and Visa made me whole.
 

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As others have said, contact VISA. The contract the dealer has with VISA will requre them to provide proof to VISA that you ordered the material (as in, they verified it was by you - this means a signature on an invoice. I asked VISA and this is what they told me). Plus, they have to verify to VISA they delivered the goods you ordered.


Failing to do that, VISA will request the money back from them. If they do not comply, VISA will withold further payments to them for ANY VISA transaction, to recoup what they should have refunded.


I have always successfully disputed several charges with VISA, including when I ordered a 486-DX50 machine, and was instead shipped a 486-DX33 machine. The merchant insisted it was what I ordered (even though I had a tape recording of my order, which was legal in Minnesota where I was). VISA refunded 100% of my money after I shipped the unit back (without an RMA#).


Recently, I ordered a hard drive from a merchant (found via Pricewatch). I did as they requested - mention "pricewatch" on the online order to get that price. They did not honor it, and billed me an extra $10.


One short phone call to VISA, they sent a form which I signed, and I got my $10. No questions asked.
 

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Well said Bob P.


Jose.
 

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Quote:
Look yourself in the mirror and say "I am a prejudiced SOB" because you are.
In defense of RichardMA, I don't believe he was as unfair toward NYC as you believe.

Quote:
True, there are a number of dealers in NYC I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw them but that figures since it's also the largest market in the country.
It's definitely the largest market in the country, but what matters is the percentage of fraudulent AV dealers. I would be willing to bet that NYC has a significantly higher percentage of fraudulent AV dealers than, say, Iowa.

Quote:
The law of large numbers rules.
Technically, what you're referring to is not the law of large numbers. The law of large numbers says, for example, that as you repeatedly flip a coin, the percentage of heads will increasingly become closer to exactly 50%.

Quote:
Look at crime statistics of our cities in the US and you will find NYC way down on the list.
Way down on the AV dealer fraud list? I believe you're referring to the statistics which demonstrate that NYC has seen an impressive decrease in the number of rapes, murders, carjackings and muggings. But I don't believe I've seen any statistics on AV dealer fraud.


Quote:
Fraud knows no region ....
I disagree. For example, many online retailers simply will not ship to certain countries. I understand that Romania is particularly bad. Region is still a significant factor when it comes to fraud. My personal experience has been that consumer electronics, NYC, and fraud have been a rather tight trio for a couple of decades (probably longer). I do agree with your point that it's easy for a fraudulent dealer located anywhere to set up a good looking website. This is becomming an increasingly difficult problem. But my guess is that NYC is still consumer electronics fraud champ.



But NYC also has some great prices. So, it's a personal choice. Do you want to take the risk? RichardMA is simply stating that to him, he would rather not take the risk. Seems pretty reasonable to me.
 

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Quote:
Recently, I ordered a hard drive from a merchant (found via Pricewatch). I did as they requested - mention "pricewatch" on the online order to get that price. They did not honor it, and billed me an extra $10.
I've experienced that exact same problem as well. Just out of curiosity, which online reseller?


By the way, I don't believe this is an accident. Here's the game: They post a low price on pricewatch. You find their store on pricewatch. You go to their store and enter the magic phrase which is suppose to get you the discount. They ship the item to you and bill your card. You don't get the discount. 30% of customers drop the issue right there and move on with life. 60% call them or email them, exchange nasty words, and then eventually drop it. 10% actually call their credit card company and complain. The credit card company refunds the $10, but doesn't contact the reseller and eats the cost themselves ($10 just happens to be the cut off point for which my credit card company will not bother to pursue anything). It doesn't matter what you do, they win.


You would think that VISA would know which companies are doing this and stop accepting charges from them, but I don't think that the individual credit card companies actually share this information. Anyone know this for certain?
 

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DB:

Tell me all about the amount of time you have lived in NYC or the number of hours or days you have spent here. Tell me about all your years of intimate knowledge of being in NYC. Or are you one of those taking cheap shots from 3,000 miles away? What is your NY experience?

With all respect and sincerity I believe those who have not had much experience here tend to bad mouth it based on TV news reports and exaggerated images of criminals lurking around every corner and in every HT store. It just isn't so.

Assumptions and generalizations resulting in hyperbole such as yours are a sign of possible ignorance and prejudice. I hope that's not the case.


J V - If you could, please let us know if the offending web site was based in NYC?


Bob P
 

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Bob P.,


I lived in and around NYC for 30 years. I moved to Seattle 3 years ago.


I hope you realize that I'm not trying to put down NYC. I love the place, and as you have pointed out, it's even gotten better. I will likely move back at some point.


But until I see some good statistics, I have to proceed with the wisdom that my -- potentially no longer valid -- personal experiences gives me. I have a very open mind, and if there is some good data that shows my perception is off, I'd welcome it.



The website that I was referring to above is accubyte.com and I believe it is operated out of Illinois, not NYC. But my experience has been that when it comes to PC components (I was buying a processor) that region is less significant concerning fraud. To be specific, I would be especially concerned about buying camera equipment, AV equipment, telephones, etc. from a website located in NYC. When it comes to PC components, I am concerned no matter where I buy.
 

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Well were getting off topic here but I've bought stuff from several NYC Camera outfits (B&H, Adorama) with never a hint of a problem. Likewise with electronics from J&R. These places may not have rock bottom prices but they aren't going to rip anyone off either.


I think it's prudent to watch out where you buy anything on the net - to me every net seller is suspect until proven otherwise.


I agree with other comments about contacting VISA - but do it by writing them and giving them all the details....
 

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Sorry, didn't mean to stray off topic.


I definitely agree that the best way to handle fraud once it has happened is to contact your credit card company.


But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I think using a credit card for online purchases is a no brainer since you have the recourse of pushing back on a charge. Additionally, I'm a big fan of sites like AV survey and Reseller Ratings . I wish I had been a smarter consumer and used Reseller Ratings before I purchased at Accubyte.


For the record, I would definitely purchase from an online store in NYC if they are well known and have good ratings. An AV dealer in NYC would give me slightly greater pause, but I think that we can all agree that using a site like the ones mentioned above or sharing information about a reseller on this site is a much better way to make informed decisions about a reseller than using region alone.
 

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DB, etal:

Sorry to stray off topic and this will be my last post in this vein.

I would like to thank DB for maintaining a civil tone is his exchange with me. As Geoff correctly pointed out the NYC vendors he mentioned are well known B&M stores with a web presence. They have never let me down.

I think we all need to be wary of stores and web sites that advertise bottom dollar prices. Chances are they could operate on the shady side. A low price for a commodity item could have appeal to J V or any of us.

My standard is to obtain the best value for the $. That does not always equate to the best price. When buying from a web site you often think you are done with them after the basic transaction. But that isn't always the case. Products break down and fail. When you need service your warranty could be invalidated if you purchased product from an unauthorized dealer. We all need to do our homework.

So it is up to all of us to keep both eyes open and note that if a price is too good to be true it probably is.

Bob P


J V - I hope you will let us know if VISA is able to resolve your problem. Can you provide an updated status?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hello, fellows.


Thanks to EACH and ALL of you for your MOST helpful recommendations.


...You know something...?


...I finally received a communication from the dealer (ELLYSON AUDIO, http://www.ellysonaudio.com/, for the

record, in California) this morning. Interested in what came out? Just read the dealer's note I'm attaching below (it is

self-explanatory).


Once again, thanks a lot to everyone!


J.V. Gomez


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



May 6, 2002 NOTE FROM ELLYSON AUDIO TO ME



Destinatarios: JOSE VICENTE GOMEZ/GOMEZJV/MM/[email protected]

CC:


Asunto: CUSTOMER J.V. GOMEZ: PLEASE CONFIRM MY ORDER STATUS


Hello Jose, at this point I have been un-able to find your original shipment. Also, I have tried to credit your card

with no success. Our credit card processing privileges have been revoked due to a huge mistake made by our bank.



The only thing that I can do at this point is ask you to contact your credit card company and have them do a

reversal. I am sorry for this extra work on your part but I have no choice at this time.


Our business has been closed, as of late last week. The mistake at our bank with our accounts has forced us to

loose our credit card processing. This has resulted in the closer of our sales department.


As you can see from our re-vamped site, all sales are now being handled by another site.


I do apologize for not getting back to you sooner, however all of this has been taking all of my attention.


You have no need to carry out your threats, we are no longer selling any items from this location.


Paul Dilley

Ellyson Audio.com
 
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