In a recent issue of Conde Nast Traveler, the Ombudsman was asked to help a lady who had made a purchase in a foreign country that went awry. The shopkeeper pulled a switch on her what arrived in the mail was not the same article she purchased. The Ombudsman tried to help, but couldn’t do anything. I will explain why in a minute.
Often while traveling we see something we just cannot do without, but it’s just too big or cumbersome to carry home. Ah, the merchant says, no problem. We will ship it for you. Hmmm, should we or shouldn’t we? Can we trust that the article sent will be the same one we are looking at in the shop, and will it arrive safely?
Sometimes it boils down to a gut feeling, but here are a few things I would like you to consider before making the leap of faith. First, is the shop in a reputable environment? Second, do you know others who have done this before at this shop? Third, is the shipping cost exorbitant?
Here’s an example. I had a vase shipped from a ceramics outlet near the villa I take my groups to every year [reputable environment]. One year one of my ladies took the risk, and everything worked out great, so I felt safe buying the lovely (and large) hand-painted ceramic vase [I know someone else for whom it worked out]. Because the outlet store price was so reasonable, the 40% shipping charge made it worthwhile. Many similar vases I saw elsewhere in the retail stores were priced higher than mine with shipping, even before they added their shipping cost [shipping cost was reasonable].
Here are some tips that Conde Nast provided. First, take a time-stamped photo of the article. Second, do NOT pay cash. Third, do NOT pay with your debit card (which is what the lady requesting their help had done). Fourth, DO pay with your credit card, they will help if you must dispute the charge.
While at the store, check the invoice for all pertinent information, including the name of a manager, with a phone number and email address, a detailed description of the item, when the shipment will leave the country and when it is expected to arrive at your home. If your purchase doesn’t arrive on time, contact your credit card company promptly.