So last month I was shopping around for an ice maker. Our bar is in our basement but the refrigerator with the ice is upstairs and it was starting to become a drag having to schelep ice downstairs like cave people for our Manhattans. I did the usual Google search and found a plethora of options. I also had a zillion of those Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons along with dozens of other retail stores offers.
But nothing could compare to the offer I found at TRIsterzas.com. A NewAir AI-100R 28 lb. portable Ice Maker in Red. This puppy sells for close to $200 at most places.
TRIsterzas.com was offering it for $50 and free shipping!
Perhaps that should have tipped me off that something was wrong. However, I figured it was simply an inventory clear-out of an older model. I've seen that many times, a manufacturer produces something, then the next model has a better feature and no one wants the older one. Just like with child movie stars when they hit puberty.
So I went through the ordering process. First you have to create an account. After doing so, I got an auto-generated email from Store Owner Jeffrey J. Burke. I placed my order and got another auto-generated email telling me that my TRIstezas.com Customer Service was Helen T. Armstrong. Wow, what a personal touch.
The next thing that happened should have alerted me that something wasn't on the up and up. I got the following email:
Thank you for your order. Once payment is received, we will process it ASAP.
Payment instructions can be found at: http://tristezas.com/checkout.html
If you already followed the checkout instructions, please be patient as we will update your order status soon.
Helen T. Armstrong
TRIstezas.com Customer Service
This email address was given to us by you or by one of our customers. If you feel that you have received this email in error, please send an email to email@example.com
This email is sent in accordance with the US CAN-SPAM Law in effect 01/01/2004. Removal requests can be sent to this address and will be honored and respected.
The link is no longer up but it went to a page that indicated your purchase will show up as a a Sony PlayStation Network Card - $50 [Online Game Code] on your credit card so you won’t have to pay sales tax. "This is normal and will allow us to process your order without any taxes and you'll receive an additional 1 cent discount from Amazon."
Blinded by my desire to get a $200 ice maker for fifty bucks, I rationalized that this 3rd party vendor is probably working with Amazon in some way to reduce costs. I ordered the item and got an email saying it would ship in 5 - 8 business days and my tentative date of arrive was Nov 27 or 28. I really didn't think it was going to arrive on Thanksgiving but figured it would either get there the day before or the day after. Yay, Manhattans for everyone.
When it didn't arrive that Friday, Saturday or the following week, I final got bothered enough to look into it. First, I emailed them. Then I tried the contact us on the website. I looked around for a phone number but there was none. Then I noticed they didn't have a phone number nor did any of my inquires receive even an auto-generated response. Then I noticed that every single product on their website is $50 and has free shipping.
How they get you:
This is when it started to occur to me that something was rotten in cyberspace. Actually, I suspected earlier but this is when I finally eliminated all the other possibilities. After all, Tristeza is apparently Spanish and Portuguese for Sadness. Then I did some Google-fu and found a few websites like Yahoo Answers and Reddit devoted to this scam. I quickly contacted my credit card company and requested a refund.
And this is probably how they get you. By the time you realize your order is never gonna arrive, by the time you realize you didn't get even an auto-generated response to your email inquires...so much time has passed that you cannot expect ot get your money back. So someone ends up with a bunch of PlayStation network cards.
There is a silver (or perhaps red) lining to the story. First, I am receiving a credit from my Chase Card. Second, I did find a nicer ice maker on Sears. It was listed as $149.99 but was on sale for $134.99 and with my Rewards Points got it down to $117.14 though tax knocked it back up $7.32.
But then while checking for this post, I see that Sears is now selling it for $121.49. While deciding what to do next, the onsite ChatBot asked me if there was anything she could help me with. Hell to the YEah!
“I have made the $13.50 sale adjustment. You will receive an email notifying you of the refund. It will take 5-7 business days to post back to your account."
Everything takes 5-7 days in the e-commerce world.
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