Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fake UGG Boot Update

The fake pink boots are still sitting in a box in our living room, awaiting a paid mailing label to China. I really want these Fuggly things out of our house. But they won’t walk away on their own.

Our crackerjack financial advisor, Nina, and credit card disputes caseworker, Love, took care of crediting our account. Now we await the paid mailing label to return them to China. According to Visa disputes, the Internet company has 45 days to redeem itself. Today, however, I didn’t receive a label. Instead I received this message:

Dear customer
        Sorry for the inconvenience,you placed an order on our website cheapuggboots-forwomen.com   on Jan  26 ,the products is a pair of Air UGG Classic Tall Baked Clay   US-8 . The order was sent out, and it was signed .
But we found the bank chargeback the transaction,   could you contact the bank to cancel the  chargeback, then we can process u 70% refund ,thank you so much.wait for your reply

Best Regards

Visa Disputes called this letter a “form of harassment.”

To me this whole experience is more a form of pain-in-the-assment. Consider this message on the website’s home page: “You can shop with confidence knowing that all our designer products are guaranteed authentic plus our 100% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee.” This is not only untrue and fraudulent, but it’s also laughable.

Nina and I both had the same reaction to the letter. “Un FREAKING believable.” Obviously “Angela” still doesn’t understand the meaning of guaranteeing a customer’s 100% satisfaction. She’s getting closer with this 70% offer, but still fails to acknowledge that what was ordered (baked clay) was NOT what was sent (brick red). And this, of course, doesn’t even take into account the fact that they’re fakes.

The UggAustralia.com website now lists cheapuggboots-forwomen.com as a known counterfeit website. Since counterfeiting is illegal, I can’t help but wonder what notice or transaction Angela and her company will find next. It will hopefully cost them far more than a mere chargeback for a pair of pink boots and a mailing label to China.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

An UGGly Situation

Our daughter, an avid online shopper, learned the hard way—right along with us—that there are unscrupulous vendors on the World Wide Web. And today I seek to avenge our experience by outing this company for its illegal and fraudulent practices.

www.cheapuggbootsforwomen.com . . . you are SO BUSTED!

A pair of Classic Tall (Genuine) UGG boots costs $200. Eager to own a pair, our 14-year-old’s  $20 per week allowance made this expensive fashion statement out-of-reach. She thought she was being clever—a “good” shopper—by searching online for a more affordable pair. Cheapuggbootsforwomen.com offered a pair she wanted “on sale” for 50% off.  To her credit, she planned to perform a host of chores and tasks to work off the debt, and I ordered the boots for her on this promise.

"Baked Clay": The boot we ordered
We ordered the Classic Tall UGG boot in “Baked Clay.”  The total charge, according to the email order confirmation, with shipping was $106.99.

Two weeks later, what we ordered was not what arrived in a soft box wrapped in plastic with a return address printed with Chinese characters. Instead of anything resembling the color “Baked Clay,” what we received can only be described as Puke Pink. The description on the box didn’t even read, “Baked Clay.” It read, “Brick Red,” a color option not even featured on the website.

As anyone would do, particularly with a company that advertises “100% satisfaction guaranteed,” I contacted customer service to obtain the return/exchange procedure. This is the first (verbatim) response I received:

Dear Customer,

We are really sorry for the trouble. What a shock! There must be something wrong. We never get this kind of customer complain. Could you do me a favor and send me the pictures of the product which you received. Thank you so much.

Best Wishes 

"Brick Red," the boot we received

I sent photos of the pink boots, and the box label reading “Brick Red.” Twenty-four hours later I received this:

Dear customer
Thank you for your email. I have checked it for you. The shoes of this style is this colour.
about the"shipping&return"policy on our website:If you ship the item back you need to pay the shipping fees which is very expensive and you just get 50% refund.Then you lose so much money and get nothing finally.It is not a good choice for you.Could you keep it or sell it to your friend,then when you re-order from us,we give you  discount?wait for your reply
Best wishes

I’m using the copy/paste function so, dear readers, you may get the full effect of the correspondence. Certainly, I was not pleased with this response. It didn’t come close to guaranteeing my 100% satisfaction with the transaction. Considering the suggested high price of shipping back to China, I stood to be far less than 50% satisfied. “Then you lose so much money and get nothing finally.” Really?

Smelling a scam, yet still willing to give “Angela” the benefit of the doubt, I thought perhaps “she” failed to translate properly and missed the part that I ordered “Baked Clay” rather than “Brick Red.” So I tried again. Five hours later I received this:

Dear customer
The style of your order is that one.
If you exchange for it, we also send the shoes which you received  to you and you need to pay the 30% processing fee and expensive shipping fee. so could you keep them? if you reorder from us, we will give you a big discount.
Best wishes

At this point, even though the letter makes little sense, I get it. I’m not going to be satisfied. I therefore contacted my feral financial advisor, Nina, who I trust has my back on all things financial and specifically credit card related. She put me in touch with the disputes department of our credit card company, where we spoke to a woman named “Love” (not kidding). Love advised me to request the return address of the company in order to attempt to return the product I didn’t order. (The shipping label was in Chinese and there was no paperwork or return/exchange form included with the package).

I made several attempts via email, each time requesting the return address in English. And each attempt failed:

Dear customer
If you ship back, you need to pay for the expensive shipping fee and just get 50% refund, do you accept it?
wait for your reply
Best wishes

Dear customer
It't not a good choice to you. could you keep them or sell to others, give your friends ?then reorder from us, we can give you a big discount.
Best wishes

Dear Customer
Thank  you for your reply. could you keep them? we can process 5% refund to you. wait for you reply
Best wishes

Dear customer
If you ship back, you need to pay for the expensive shipping fee and just get 50% refund, you will lost much and get nothing, could you keep them or give your friends? we can refund you 10%.
wait for your reply
Best wishes

Clearly, Angela had no intention of providing the return address. So, we returned to Love, our advisor in credit card disputes. While on the phone with Love, Nina and I learned something else about these pink boots. Surprise, surprise, they aren’t even genuine UGGS.

That’s right. In addition to being a Fuggly shade of pink, they’re also FAKES. Flippin’ FUggly fakes.

We discovered this when Love advised us to check the UggAustralia.com website where there’s a boot-load of material dedicated to exposing the practice of counterfeit products passing themselves off as genuine. It’s as simple as keying in the name of the retailer in a search function to determine whether or not they are authorized UGG dealers. Of course, www.cheapuggbootsforwomen.com AND the company that actually billed my credit card, (for a higher figure than the $106.99 printed on my original invoice) www.salenow-online.com, are NOT authorized dealers. The site suggests these companies may retail counterfeit Ugg products.

Turns out there’s far more than a boot-load of material on the Internet—articles, YouTube videos, etc.—instructing consumers on how to determine whether or not an Ugg boot is counterfeit.

We definitely have a pair of pink fakes.

Although I was tempted, I didn’t respond to “Angela’s” final request for me to keep the fake pink boots. Instead, I reported the companies she represents and their illegal practices to the Ugg Australia counterfeit department, and notified several anti-counterfeit organizations and government agencies listed on the Ugg Australia website. My credit card company has all the necessary paperwork to dispute the charge.

Meanwhile, I’ve been advised to hold onto the pink boots until we hopefully attain the goal of receiving a postage-paid mailing label so I can return them—not keep them or “give my friends.” The charge(s) on my credit card (for the boots and for the credit card company’s surprise international shipping charge) are currently being held.

Many thanks to Nina for helping me stomp out this unfortunate event and for helping us learn a valuable lesson. We now understand that counterfeiting is rampant and illegal. According to Ugg Australia, “It has a significant impact on the global economy, removing tens of thousands of jobs and costing the economy an estimated $600 billion of legitimate revenue a year. The International Trade Commission concluded that U.S companies have lost close to 1 million jobs domestically due to Chinese counterfeits.”

Ultimate message to all: Beware of UGG boots for sale or discounted, or cheap UGG boots advertised on Ebay or anywhere other than Uggaustralia.com or reputable registered/authorized dealers. Don’t make the same mistake we made. If you do, I 100% guarantee, you’ll kick yourself.

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Book Review: Guilty Pleasure

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My teenage daughter insisted I read this and, I admit, it had me engrossed from start to finish. This is the first person account of a young girl in a post-Apocalyptic world who volunteers as "tribute" from her district to participate in what is essentially a reality TV show, The Hunger Games. Twenty-four kids, ranging in age from 12-18, representing 12 districts in what was once North America, are primped and prepared to fight to the death in a wilderness arena. They must find their own food and water, shelter, weaponry and companionship. Only one will survive and return home a hero.

Reading The Hunger Games was like watching a gorier version of the television show Survivor. It included both loathsome and likeable players, alliances, back-stabbing, solid friendships and even a love story.

Katniss and Peeta are the girl and boy from District 12, who their mentors and stylists present to the viewing audience as star-crossed lovers. Peeta is actually in love with Katniss; however, she is a hard-nosed, focused hunter and only believes she's playing a role through the Games. For example, she has been instructed that every kiss she gives Peeta may result in a reward, or some kind of treat or necessity from her mentor/sponsors. That the reader is aware of Peeta's true feelings and Katniss is not, is part of what makes it a simplistic and even silly love story. But I think that's testimony to the genius of the author. It magnifies how reality TV can be both inane and riveting at the same time.

I believe it was the good writing and the author's technique/story-telling ability that made me turn the pages non-stop until I finished. As for the subject matter?  File this one under "guilty pleasure."

View all my reviews

Friday, February 03, 2012

Kankle Time

Last week a stepstool collapsed from underneath me as I reached for a sweater on a high shelf. Without warning or a chance to anything to break my fall, I was in a heap on my closet floor next to a pile of wood. That stool had been reliable for at least a dozen years. Now it’s useless. And so am I.

Unable to get up, my initial cries for help were met with no response. Not even from the man in the next room who was servicing our heater/air-conditioner compressors. I therefore scooted my way into the bedroom, continuing to call for my daughter in the next room. When she finally came into my aid, she thought I was sneezing.

After the accident it took about 20 minutes before I could put weight on my left foot. My ankle was swollen but not incredibly painful. More painful was a deep cut on the side of my foot just below the pinkie toe. Unfortunately, I had to be somewhere in 15 minutes and was unwilling to cancel. So I didn’t immediately ice the injury. Instead I hobbled my way around the task at hand and took care of the foot later.

With ankles the size of most people’s wrists, I’ve been no stranger to sprains. I know how to treat them and with a little ice and a little elevation, they go away. Unfortunately, however, the swelling isn’t going down and now there’s an ugly black-and-blue patch lining the base of my foot from heal to instep. I’m afraid I’m dealing with torn ligaments in addition to the sprain.

“Keep it elevated and iced, and take some Advil,” said my sister, who faced a very similar injury when she slipped down the stairs a while back. Offering an empathetic, “I feel your pain, sister,” she also admonished me for not staying off it.

So, yesterday I stayed off it and spent most of the day on the phone and on Facebook. And so far today, I’m catching up on all the shows recorded on our DVR. Man, there is some raunchy $hit on Showtime. I mean really! Have you seen “Shameless?”

Now I’m watching the movie “Too Big To Fail” and it’s just aggravating me. I wish someone would come and bail me out of this mess. I can’t manage a household and a business with my foot propped up.