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Caveat Emptor - Aburt and the $5 Epic Fail Site

May 27, 2011   [permalink]

I'm not going to name the site. I don't want anyone to be tempted to visit and lose $5 either. Granted, it's only $5, but it's the principle of the matter -- if you don't deliver the goods at least you refund the money -- so hopefully I can save you the money and the headache.

So you'll recognize the site I'm talking about should you ever come across it, the name of the site begins with "five" and ironically ends with a word that's a synonym for "error" or "failure." The idea of the site is they do small tasks for people for $5. If you know which site I'm talking about, don't name it. We don't want people getting taken.

Anyway, someone respectable mentioned this site, and I thought that sounded pretty cool. I signed up and contacted a guy in Singapore about doing a small job. His rating for jobs performed was "100% positive." Okay, worth a try.

Fail!

He said sure, we discussed what I needed, he said okay. Then days passed... nothing. His ETA date passed. Nothing. Then he canceled the order saying he didn't have time to do the work any more. Well, that was a disappointing waste of time. I don't like having my time wasted; I needed the job done, and missing the deadline on it was inconvenient. Grumble. Well, I think, at least I can get my money back and give him a negative rating, right? If you don't do the work, no keepie the money.

Um, well... first I discovered there's no way to give him a negative feedback rating. So he stays at "100% positive" even though he welches on people. Parties who've had their order cancelled one them aren't allowed to give ratings. That's a pretty dishonest site policy.

But the story doesn't end there. This hokey site won't refund the $5. I expected the money to be returned to my Paypal account when the guy cancelled the order. It wasn't. I asked. They said, oh, our terms of service state that any refunded money goes into your "shopping balance" to use on other things on the site. Pffft. I have no intention of buying anything else from these jokers. I said so. They said, too bad.

I can understand giving store credit if you don't have a receipt, or it's like six months later you're returning something, but there's no excuse in a case like this, where they've cancelled on you. That's basically called "stealing."

I went to Paypal to dispute the transaction. Hey, $5 is $5, and one of my pet peeves is I don't like getting ripped off.

Within two minutes of my hitting the "Send" button on the Paypal dispute site, the ripoff site staff replied with a nasty note saying I should cancel the dispute or they would deactivate my account. Which they immediately did. Boom. "This account is no longer active or was blocked." They don't have time to get your money back, but they have time to immediately shut off your account and send nasty emails. And they obviously don't take consumer disputes well. Nice guys.

So, unless Paypal is able to yank it back, that $5 is lost entirely now. (A deactivated account makes it kinda hard to use that suspect "shopping balance," even if I had the interest.)

One takeaway here is that when a site has a word that means failure in its name, they just might mean it literally. :)

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