Grandma upset gift won't be arriving

The trouble with buying online

CLAIRE ROGERS
Last updated 11:46 21/12/2012
Trudie Lasham
Derek Flynn
Online woes: Rarangi grandmother Trudie Lasham is upset that $900 of Lego she ordered will not be delivered before Christmas.

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A Marlborough grandmother is fuming after a $900 Lego order she placed for Christmas through online retailer Fishpond was repeatedly delayed and then cancelled.

Trudie Lasham, of Rarangi, ordered two Lego Mindstorms robot sets for $898 for her twin grandsons from the site on November 4. At the time, she was advised they would arrive between December 19 and January 2.

"I thought, "That's all right, they can have them for their birthday in late January, but there's also a good chance they'll have them for Christmas'."

She subsequently received several emails delaying the delivery as far out as February 4.

The emails included a link to cancel the order, but Mrs Lasham said she had been unable to do so through the site, and a cancellation email she sent went unanswered.

She went to the bank to apply for a refund and from there sent another email asking for her order to be cancelled. Fishpond replied and said it could not be cancelled as the Lego had already been ordered from the supplier.

This week she received an email from Fishpond advising her it had to cancel her order and refund it because it was out of stock.

Fishpond was still advertising the Lego sets as in stock.

"This is really bad trading for this New Zealand company. They shouldn't be advertising products if they're not in stock. It's a nightmare," Mrs Lasham said. "I'm 73 years old. It may not be very much money for Fishpond, but it's like a month's income from my pension."

Other Fishpond shoppers have reported delays in receiving Christmas gifts, and last week the Commerce Commission warned online retailers against breaching the Fair Trading Act by promising delivery dates they could not meet.

Fishpond general manager Ben Powles said the company would investigate Mrs Lasham's case but it was confident it had not breached the act or misled her.

He was "absolutely confident" she would have been specifically warned when placing her order that it might not arrive before Christmas. "We've been quite upfront with her. With the delivery dates we stated, some are before Christmas and some are after."

Customers had 24 hours to cancel an order after receiving a delay email before it was reordered through a different supplier, he said, but Mrs Lasham said she had not been told that.

Mr Powles said estimated delivery dates were based on average supply times for each supplier. Some suppliers regularly communicated what was in stock, but others didn't, and some sent shipments in with items missing, he said.

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The Lego sets still for sale through its site had different barcode numbers despite having the same product name, he said. "We have different suppliers . . . the one she has ordered is probably not in stock. Our system can't just order her another one instead."

Fishpond had included a link to the similar available sets when it advised her of the cancellation.

There had been the usual "few delays" in delivery of Fishpond presents ordered for Christmas but nothing widespread, he said.

"It's terrible for us and for any other online retailer to say you can supply something and then don't. Regardless of Christmas, it's bad for business."

- The Marlborough Express

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