Unusually, I was irritated enough yesterday morning to post about what happened when I paid Fookes Software via Paypal for a licence to use their product, Note Tab Pro. Instead of receiving an email with a registration code, I instead received an email from Plimus, who (it turned out) handle web-sales for Fookes Software, telling me that there was going to be a delay of up to 12 hours whilst their staff reviewed the order “for quality purposes”.
In fact, the registration code arrived about 20 minutes later, but of course I hadn’t known that it was going to do so, and I was so annoyed by Plimus’s “we’ll take control of your money and just hang onto it while we conduct reviews into our internal operating procedures” practice that I emailed Fookes Software to draw it to their attention.
Later in the day, someone from the Fookes Software Helpdesk wrote back to tell me that the delay had occurred because the email address I used for my order was different from my Paypal email address, as a result of which Plimus had carried out a “manual review”. In fact, I don’t believe the email I supplied via the website did differ from my Paypal email address, but even if it had done I don’t consider it appropriate for a vendor (or its agent) to process a transaction–which has the effect of removing money from a person’s bank account via Paypal–and ‘ask questions’ later. I’ve been using Paypal for many years, and I’ve never had this experience before.
Anyway, Fookes Software made it clear in email that they didn’t think there was any sort of problem. There was no sort of acknowledgement that any of this might have been the source of legitimate irritation or concern, and despite the fact that my transaction was with them they suggested that I should take the matter up with Plimus if I was dissatisfied.
The tone of the email from Fookes Software simply added fuel to the fire, and so I wrote back to explain the respects in which their response seemed to be inaccurate and/or to miss the point. They didn’t have the courtesy to respond to the points that I’d made, but later in the day simply forwarded to me an email they’d received from Plimus. The Plimus email didn’t address the points either (I don’t know whether Fookes Software had actually forwarded my email to them or not), but it included the following:
“You seem to have already explained Plimus’s manual review process to [my name].There’s not much else to add, other than maybe to reassure her that if anything happened during the review process to NOT approve her order, the money would have been immediately refunded back to the paypal account.”
Is it just me, or does anyone else think this casual manner of dealing with other people’s money is completely inappropriate? When we provide vendors with our bank details (either directly, or via a third party site like Paypal) I think we’re entitled to expect that the vendor will recognise its legal (and moral) obligation to provide what we’ve paid for without delay. If there’s an internal review to be conducted, then I feel I’m entitled to expect it to be conducted on their time, and not mine. When I go shopping for vegetables, I don’t expect to hand over my money at the till only to find the sales assistant slipping my bag of veggies under the desk and telling me to wait while his/her supervisor conducts a review into the way in which he/she dealt with my order. If supermarkets tried that, customers would be calling in the police!
This online practice is exactly the same, except that ISTM that in one respect it’s worse. If I’ve handed over cash I have only that cash to lose, but when I’ve handed over my bank details to strangers over the internet I have absolutely no idea what the person on the receiving end might attempt to do with them next. If we can’t have faith in online retailers to conduct these sorts of transactions scrupulously, and with complete transparency, then the whole system breaks down.
Fookes Software have made it crystal clear that they consider me to be making a fuss about nothing, and it may be that Plimus feel the same. At least Plimus, though, had the courtesy to contact me in email earlier today in order to explain their practice. They did *not* suggest that there was any issue about my email address (and indeed I’ve spoken to Paypal, who have confirmed that no enquiry was made by Plimus of them in relation to the transaction), and so for the second time I’m left wondering why Fookes Software suggested that in the first place. Instead, Plimus simply explained that they subject a number of orders to random, retrospective checks as part of their standard, automated anti-fraud systems. For the reasons set out above I feel they’ve missed the point, but I do appreciate their having had the courtesy to contact me about this.
In the meantime, I won’t be buying any further products from Fookes Software, and nor will I be buying any products online via Plimus.