DealExtreme Dispute

I seem to be getting into a lot of disputes lately. Last month I ordered a pretty little flashlight from DealExtreme. I was pretty happy with the batteries and charger I bought from them previously and this light got some good reviews. It takes 1 AAA battery like my tiny flashlight, but it is stainless steel with a brass ring that looks real sharp. It also has a tail power button and remembers the last mode it was in. This means if you had the light on High before, it will come on in High again. I like that. The tiny flashlight always comes on at Medium, then Low, then High. Most of the time I want High. This light has three modes, but one is strobe (pretty useless). So I would have to skip over that one. And the low is 80 lumens instead of the high of 150 lumens. I would like for the low to be lower, maybe 20 lumens (turns out to be about 10 lumens).

Anyway, it was only $13.80 shipped from China, so I thought I’d try it out. I ordered it November 1 and although DealExtreme said it was available in a few days, I didn’t get a shipping notice until November 10. Once shipped, they said the light should arrive in 5-10 working days (ignoring the favorable part of their range, that’s two weeks, or November 24). Well that didn’t happen, so I gave them another week and still nothing. They have an online form where you can tell them the item never arrived and they are supposed to get back to you in 24-48 hours. However, 48 hours later I hadn’t heard anything. Every day I’m checking my mail and now I’m checking my DX account to see if they are trying to contact me. Nothing.

Fortunately, DX uses PayPal for payment. So after giving DX another week (four weeks total) and having never heard from customer service, I opened a dispute with PayPal for having never received the item and asked for a refund. Reading about user experiences with DealExtreme, it turns out that after 45 days from when you paid someone, you can no longer dispute the item. I wasn’t all that close to 45 days (28 days, plus 9 days from when I ordered, so 37 days total), but I was getting there fast, so it was time. Once you file a dispute PayPal gives you 20 days to resolve it or escalate it to a claim. So you definitely want to file a dispute before the 45 day deadline because it at least buys you some more time.

Within minutes (maybe less) I got an e-mail from DX saying they were refunding $13.17. I checked my PayPal account and they hadn’t sent any money. Maybe it would take a little while. A few hours later, I still haven’t received anything. It isn’t even the full amount. It seems like I should get all $13.80.

Anyway, nothing has actually happened. I think they automatically generate that e-mail and then don’t pay. I can escalate the dispute to a claim and PayPal will decide if I should get a refund or not. The best of both worlds is I get my $13.17 and then the flashlight shows up in the mail afterall. I would feel like I owed them payment if I got it after they fully refunded my money, but if they only refund part of it, then I feel like I bought it and it is legally mine.

Meanwhile I have ordered a different 1 AA light from a similar company called KaiDomain (a Uniquefire S10). The lure of this one is that it could be brighter than my Fenix (it has a higher bin LED of R2 instead of Q5, though even higher binned R5’s are now hitting the market) and the modes will still work if I use a 14500 lithium ion battery (the Fenix doesn’t). It also has memory of the last mode. The bad part is that it is a reverse clicky and the light is cool white instead of neutral. But it is also about $14, so maybe worth the possible improvement although it is too new to have reviews posted. I might have it by next Friday.

7 thoughts on “DealExtreme Dispute

  1. You sure can get a lot of neat, cheap stuff from China – but something is pretty bothersome about that.

    I wonder how hard it would be to get all things you purchase exclusively from the USA? Maybe it’s no longer possible.

  2. I think the interesting thing is that this totally cuts out any middlemen. Even when you buy stuff from Walmart that is made in China, you are supporting an American company and US employees. Half the money you pay probably stays in the US. This supports the post office, but that’s about it. Everything goes directly to China. There are some US flashlight companies (Maglite is a US company), but not many. Some people refuse to buy anything but US flashlights, but I’d rather get the flashlight I want and then donate $5 to a US company. Of course I won’t do that either.

    The other thing is that communication and customer service are essentially zero. The website doesn’t even work that well. I don’t know what legal recourse I would have against a Chinese company (probably none, except that PayPal will give me my money back and presumably ban this company if they continue to cause problems). What if they used radioactive steel? I’d never know. I think this is the future of American consumer purchases. At least for some things. Apple is already sending people iPods directly from the factory in China to your house.

  3. I read how little % margin China gets on an iPod. China “assembles” many things but doesn’t make the components. The profit is in the component makers (Korea, Japan) and the marketer (US Apple.) Apple takes about half.

  4. After three days, I still had never received a refund. Still I thought I would give them a week before escalating it to a claim. Then this morning there was a clunk when the mail was dropped into the slot and there was the flashlight. The packaging wasn’t even damaged. DX has a message on their home page saying that deliveries have been delayed because the airlines have reduced the number of flights and there is less air cargo space available. But I wonder if it didn’t come by boat given that it took more than a month to get here.

  5. Today I got a response from DX to my query that I sent on December 1 (response time was supposed to be 24-48 hours). They said:

    “Would you please wait patiently for a few more time and go to your local post office to see if the package arrives?”

    They had a link for an online form where I could respond to their message, so I told them the package had arrived.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *