During the expansion of my games room, I had decided that I wanted to get a Neo Geo system.
I’d actually wanted a Neo Geo for a long time but had been put off by the crazy prices of the games, with some going for over £1,000 each! When I learned that an Everdrive-like cartridge had recently been made available for the system though, I decided it was time to jump in.
I purchased the NeoSD for the AES from Terraonion on the 11th of January which was a Friday. I then continued to browse forums and discussion groups for information on what else I should pick up… the eventual result of which was that I actually decided to get an MVS instead.
I contacted Terraonion the next day – on the Saturday – to ask them to please cancel the order. I didn’t actually tell them this as I saw no need to, but my plan was that once the order was cancelled I would place another order for the MVS version of their cartridge.
I heard nothing back from Terraonion all day Saturday, and I heard nothing on Sunday either.
On Monday the 14th, I received a rather snotty email from Terraonion telling me that it was not possible to cancel an order once it had been made, and that I would have known that had I read their terms and conditions:
As per our terms and conditions, once an order is submitted it cannot be cancelled and refunded. When you placed your order there was a checkmark box and link to the terms that you agreed to. If you had any questions about those you should have emailed us after reading them and prior to submitting your order.Todd, Terraonion
In addition, I was notified that my order was dispatched.
It seemed that Terraonion chose to ship an order that the buyer had cancelled two days prior even though he clearly didn’t want it, rather than cancel the order and issue a refund.
I guess they banked on me deciding not to return the item and keeping it (maybe I’d love it too much or think return shipping was too expensive?) so that they could keep my money.
So Terraonion had terms and conditions that prevented the cancellation of orders and their refunds? I had to see this. And sure enough, this is what they said:
365 Days Warranty
If a product you purchased from us ceases operation within 365-days of the shipping date, then the defective product can be sent back to us for replacement.
The customer is responsible for the shipping costs to get the product back to us. TERRAONION will only cover shipping costs to ship a replacement product to the customer.
Refunds will not be given for items once the order has been processed.
Items purchased from Terraonion’s web shop are not eligible for return.
If your package will be lost by the post service we will neither compensate its price nor send a new package.Terraonion’s illegal and unenforceable “terms and conditions”
The biggest problem with those terms is that they are illegal and completely unenforceable, since they are contrary to European consumer law.
The Consumer Contracts Regulations are British regulations that came into force on 13 June 2014. They implement the European Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU) which gives the consumer powerful rights when shopping online. From the regulations:
Your right to cancel
Your right to cancel an order for goods starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive your goods.
If your order consists of multiple goods, the 14 day period runs from when you get the last of the batch.
This 14 day period is the time you have to decide whether to cancel, you then have a further 14 days to actually send the goods back.
Refunding the cost of delivery
The trader has to refund the basic delivery cost of getting the goods to you in the first place, so if you opted for enhanced service e.g. guaranteed next day, it only has to refund the basic cost.Consumer Contracts Regulations
Key here was, “your right to cancel an order for goods starts the moment you place your order“.
The terms that Terraonion specified for the eligibility of returns and refunds also violated European consumer laws, as did their terms for items that failed to arrive at all.
The bottom line though was that this company seemed to be operated by charlatans.
I informed Terraonion that their plan to force me to keep an item I clearly didn’t want wasn’t going to work because I would simply refuse to accept the delivery. The item would be returned to them by the courier and they would end up having to refund me anyway.
Also, because of the way they had handled this cancellation request, I told Terraonion about my original plan but that I had now decided not to purchase the MVS version of the card from them and would instead get it used from eBay so as not to support a business with such practices.
On Tuesday the 15th, UPS turned up at my door with the package. As promised, I refused delivery. The UPS guy confirmed that it would be sent back to the merchant.
Refusing delivery means the item was never in my possession, which means it was never my responsibility.
By Tuesday the 22nd, I still hadn’t received my refund so I emailed Terraonion for an update. They replied with a short note to say that it had not yet arrived. Given that it had arrived at my home in 24 hours, I wasn’t sure I believed that it hadn’t arrived back at theirs in 7 days so I responded.
In my response I asked why it was taking so long to get back to them and why I was being made to wait so long for my refund given that the item never actually came into my possession. I pointed out that this was not a return where they had to inspect the contents of the package – it was being returned to them by their trusted courier as an unopened package that had been refused by the recipient and to which they had tracking information.
Terraonion did not respond.
The next day, Wednesday the 23rd, I emailed them again and told them that I was going to give them until the end of the week to issue the refund and that if they did not, I would initiate chargeback proceedings through my credit card.
The chargeback facility is a service provided by credit card companies to ensure that buyers are never left out of pocket by rogue sellers. Whether purchased items don’t match the seller’s description or if they don’t even arrive at all, chargebacks allow the buyer to reclaim their money. There are fees associated with this though which the seller is liable for, and being subjected to a chargeback means a cost for the seller of anything between 1-2x the cost of the item itself. On a £400+ item, that’s not an insignificant cost. As such, a chargeback wasn’t something I took lightly since it was never my intention to inflict such charges on the company, but I’d be damned if I was just going to let them ignore me and keep my money.
Unbelievably, two further days passed without response from Terraonion and Friday the 25th arrived. It was like they wanted to incur chargeback fees!
I was left with no choice but to file a chargeback claim against the company.
Avoid these guys. If you want one of their cards, buy them used from eBay where not only are they cheaper but you’re also more likely to be dealing with a genuine, friendly seller.
I posted the above to the Terraonion support forums (complete with a link back to here) at the same time this post went live on the 27th of January. By the next day, the post had been removed (thankfully not before the it been viewed many times) – and without any kind of response from Terraonion. They didn’t message me on the forums, they didn’t post a comment on here and they didn’t reply to my last email.
Having deleted the post, it was clear that the forum administrator at least had seen it and was fully aware of the situation, yet they had not taken any steps to rectify it and the last communication I received from the company was that email on the 22nd.
I re-posted the deleted post to their forum. I thought it would be interesting to see if they continued to censor me or if they would decide to deal with this situation in the manner in which they should have in the beginning and issue my refund.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given their behaviour to date, they deleted the 2nd post too. And this time they also deleted my account, preventing me from posting it again.
Think VERY carefully before handing over any money to these guys. You have been warned.
Update 29/01/2019 #1
Shortly after Terraonion closed down my forum account, I emailed them to tell them the same post would now be getting submitted to 3rd party review sites – which of course were outside of their censorship control.
Shortly after that, Terraonion actually wrote to me and told me the reason they hadn’t replied to my emails was because I had issued them with a chargeback. This didn’t make any sense since the emails that they failed to reply to were from the 22nd and 23rd and the chargback wasn’t initiated until the 25th.
Regardless, Terraonion also said that they would refund me. I was initially pleased that they had finally come to their senses but I later discovered that the refund was only for the card itself and they had deducted the €36.30 shipping charge.
So… not only they were still expecting me to pay for their mistake here, but they were also willing to break European consumer law, specifically “the trader has to refund the basic delivery cost of getting the goods to you in the first place“.
I told them that this was unacceptable but they didn’t seem to get it. I even explained to them in an almost paint-by-numbers fashion how it is not the customer’s fault if a company’s processes are so broken that it can lead to them dispatching items that were cancelled 2 days prior.
Unbelievably, the next batch of emails that I received from Terraonion were about notification emails that they had received from the review sites. Terraonion were annoyed that they were receiving such emails and demanded that I stop – even though it obviously wasn’t me sending these emails.
I am not going to tell you anything about what you do with your opinions, but i [sic] don´t want you to give our support email account to other companies our [sic] putting our email on any spam list. Cause [sic] this is a support email to answer back customers and i [sic] don´t want emails that are not from our customers here. Neither i [sic] want our email in any spam mailing list.Anonymous Coward
So far we have got two spam emails cause [sic] you decided to give our email to 3rd party companies.
Please, stop that. I don´t want to receiver [sic] any other emails on this account cause [sic] you decided to provide 3rd companies our email and they have decided to spam us or share our email with other companies.
I am seriously asking you to please stop this.
Well, truth be told… none if it would have even started if Terraonion had handled this issue in a competent not to mention legal manner. And they were spoilt for choice when it came to opportunities:
1) They could have simply not dispatched an order that had been cancelled 2 days prior.
2) For the sake of argument had that genuinely not been possible, they could have advised me to refuse delivery instead of suggesting that the order “could not” be cancelled while referring to some T&Cs that were illegal and unenforceable.
3) After that initial faux-pas, they could have issued my refund as soon as it was confirmed that the package had been refused, since this meant the item was then on its way back via the same insured courier that brought it here.
There was no need to wait for it to arrive in order to be inspected beforehand because by definition the package hadn’t even been opened. And if it had somehow been damaged by the courier during transit then that would have been a matter for the courier to deal with, not myself.
4) They could have decided not to ignore emails sent on the 22nd and 23rd.
5) They could have replied to me on their support forum instead of deleting my posts and deleting my account.
6) When they finally decided to issue a refund, they could have refunded the whole amount instead of trying to break European consumer law by deducting shipping costs for an item that I cancelled 2 days before it was shipped.
How many opportunities did Terraonion require?
Did Terraonion really think that complaining about the consequences of terrible service was going to be met with any kind of remorse or sympathy?
In another email, Terraonion cited Spanish law (which unsurprisingly does not apply here in the UK) and claimed that it was illegal for me to supply these review sites with their contact details.
Under spanish law you are not authorized to insert our email address in any 3rd company database without our persmision [sic] (that you don’t have).Anonymous Coward
At this point I had to consider which planet these guys really came from.
I also found it quite peculiar how a company could cite irrelevant Spanish law on one hand and yet completely disregard applicable European consumer law on the other in relation to their terms and conditions.
Incidentally, I only provided one of the sites with an email address as it was required for the review to go live. The other sites must have gotten it from somewhere else: maybe this article or maybe elsewhere. But that’s not really the point.
The point is that when a company ignores me, unfairly withholds my money, deletes my account on their forums to prevent me from highlighting the issues I’m having and then expects me to pay shipping for an item that they shipped 2 days after I cancelled the order, I’m afraid I really couldn’t give a shit if they get emails that they don’t want.
I continued to post online reviews of Terraonion and their abysmal customer service.
I also left the chargeback claim in place so that the shipping charges could be recovered.
Update 29/01/2019 #2
It was painfully clear that whoever was replying to my emails didn’t have a clue what they were doing and that their efforts were compounding the original problem into something far greater than it had any right to be.
I really didn’t want the case to continue to escalate like this so I re-registered on their forum with the same details as before and reached out to the nameless administrator, hoping that he/she would be able to better handle the situation.
To my astonishment, it seemed that this administrator was even more clueless, as not only did he/she present fiction as fact but even went so far as to suggest that I might have a mental illness for not being willing to pay nearly €40 shipping for a package that should never have been shipped:
You said that it was ok for you if we would refund you all except the shipping costs, so we did.Anonymous Coward
Please, stop sending us emails. We fixed your issue and we can´t spend more time with you.
BTW : it wasn´t Todd who answered you and honestly from here looking how you are acting it seems like you have some mental issue there.
Please, leave us alone. We already lost a lot with you : money, time and strenght [sic]. Get something better to do than chase and threat [sic] people, i [sic] bet you can find something better for sure
The author didn’t even have the courage to sign the email.
I had obviously not stated at any time that I was willing to be refunded just the price of the card. That was a total fabrication.
As for the suggestion that I must be mentally ill for wanting all of my money back… well, that was a new one.
I didn’t know what to make of the claim that Todd wasn’t the one replying to me. Did that refer only to the emails with no name attached or did it also refer to the ones signed, “Todd”? Since I hadn’t referred to the author of any of the anonymous emails as “Todd” in any of my replies, this was a very strange statement to make.
Terraonion also deleted my account on the forums for a second time, but this time went a step further and also banned my email address and IP address.
Of course, someone who owns their own domains and who knows what VPNs are can create new email aliases in seconds and appear as though they are located anywhere in the world, so such a move was futile. I re-registered and made them aware of the futility of their efforts. I also responded to the email to reiterate that it really didn’t have to come to this but that my hand had now been forced into doing more to expose their behaviour.
Within minutes and before I even had the time to carry out the next phase, I received another email.
Please check your credit card as you have been refunded in full.Todd
I would also appreciate it if you updated your blog to remove my personal name and links to things like my Twitter as you have attributed to me things I never said. i.e I haven’t sent you a single email today. Those were sent by the TO owner. Which you should have been able to tell by the broken English.
I asked him to refund your shipping and he has. So this issue should be truly resolved.
So, first Todd had convinced Terraonion’s owner to do as required under European consumer law – which was nice of him.
Secondly though, he also claimed that an unspecified number of emails that included today’s were in fact sent by him/her – who I assume was the same forum administrator that I had contacted earlier and asked to step in and put an end to this mess.
If true, what manner of bullshit method is this to run a company? It was no wonder that things were such a mess over there because this wasn’t just a case of some customer service representative being out of their depth, but the company owner themselves having no idea how to run a business!
Since email signatures can obviously be faked and as such there was really no way to tell for sure who had written what, I decided to err on the side of caution and to do as “Todd” asked and I removed his details from the article.
So I finally had my money back, almost 3 weeks later.
This was quite an ordeal. What started off as a genuine change of mind and a simple request to cancel an order so that I could order a different item instead turned into a 2.5-week exercise in bullshit avoidance, the completely unnecessary turning of screws and the determination to never buy anything from these clowns ever again.
I could only hope that Terraonion learned from this and that they handled the next advance request they received for a cancellation in a much more competent and professional manner.