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I saw a video ad on Facebook for a product that looked interesting and high-quality. (I believe it actually is.) Later, I ordered the product—but I ordered it from a different site than the actual makers of the video, who made their own original product. I only realized this when the cheap, ultra-low-quality product arrived.

I believe I must have ordered the product from another ad which appeared based on my interest in the first, legitimate ad.

I've started the process of requesting a refund from the website I mistakenly used, but something bothered me about this:

  • The product is about $30; I ordered two with a 10% discount, so about $55 plus tax and $6 shipping.
  • The website states that the shipping is not refundable; also I pay the return shipping.
  • For the high-quality product of which this is a ripoff version, $30 is a reasonable price. Actually the real product is $40 for one; I checked.
  • I would estimate the manufacturing costs on the ripoff product are about $0.50.

It irks me to consider paying the shipping fee to send the crap product back to these con artists, so they can just keep sending out this ripoff product to mark after mark (at no cost to them) until someone doesn't bother to navigate their refund process and pay the shipping fee, and just "lumps" the full cost of the purchase.

Is there some other action I can take against them? For instance, could I report them to my credit card company as scammers and get the charge reversed (and hopefully if enough people do this, then the credit card companies will refuse to process their transactions)?

Incidentally, after the product arrived, I checked the website on WHOIS and found it's registered in India. It's also worth mentioning that the product took 6 1/2 weeks to arrive.


Edit: The following quote from their return policy (published on their website) may also be relevant as far as any action that can be taken:

Please make sure you send the item back as a gift as we don't cover custom fees for returns.

Possibly there is a federal agency that would be interested in them inciting customs fraud?

  • Are they offering the exact original product you were looking for (under the original brand, trademarks and so), or just a lookalike with some "innocent typos" in the brand name, similar packaging etc.? – TooTea Mar 20 at 8:06
  • @TooTea innocent typos. Although I do think the link I clicked was shared with the video of the real product, but I can’t find it again to be certain—I can only find the real product and video. – Wildcard Mar 20 at 8:31
  • Did you get a refund, less shipping? – JoeTaxpayer Mar 20 at 11:57
  • @JoeTaxpayer I only emailed them yesterday (before writing this question), so not yet. My expectations are not high, despite their “ironclad guarantee” (they don’t actually specify what is guaranteed), but we’ll find out. – Wildcard Mar 20 at 15:28
  • If you get the refund, there is little to gain from going to the credit card issuer. Going after a company legally for knock-off products is more legal than PF. – JoeTaxpayer Mar 20 at 15:29
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There are three perspectives here: legal, credit card, and credit reporting.

From a contract law perspective, a contract requires a meetings of the minds. If you were mistaken as to a material fact regarding the contract, then that can invalidate the contract, especially if the misunderstanding was deliberately fostered by the other party. You agreed to the terms of "shipping is nonrefundable" and "buyer pays return shipping" on the mistaken belief that this was the original product, so you have strong case that you have no contractual obligation to oblige. In addition, if they are in another country, suing you would be rather difficult. So from a legal perspective, simply refusing to pay for the product or shipping, and keeping it unless they pay for return shipping, is pretty safe.

From a credit card perspective,

MasterCard reason code 4853, Cardholder Dispute--Defective/Not as Described, involves two types of transaction disputes.

Customer Claim: Defective/Not as Described
...
Customer Claim: Counterfeit Goods
A transaction may be disputed under reason code 4853 if the items were described as genuine, but the customer determined the goods were counterfeit.
Items are considered “counterfeit” if they infringe on intellectual property rights and are not produced by an authorized manufacturer of the goods.

Visa
Reason Code 53
The Visa not as described chargeback is similar, yet different, to MasterCard’s version.
Possible scenarios for reason code 53, Not as Described or Defective Merchandise, include the following:
The merchandise or service provided does not match the transaction report.
The descriptive information provided for a card-not-present transaction does not match the merchandise or service received.
The merchandise is damaged or defective.
The merchandise quality is not as described.
The merchandise is identified as a counterfeit by an expert (owner of intellectual property, law enforcement agency or neutral bona fide expert). The terms of sale were misrepresented by merchant.

It depends on the exact facts, but it sounds like this case falls under this category. There are the following requirements for a chargeback:

The items were returned to the merchant or made available for pickup.

Note that it just pays "made available for pickup", not "shipped back at customer expense".

The merchant was contacted by the cardholder but refused to correct merchandise defects or issue a credit. If the cardholder is unable to contact the merchant, the consumer’s attempts and the merchant’s failure to respond must be included in a chargeback filing documentation.

So you do have to wait until after the merchant refuses to issue a refund to file a chargeback.

source: https://chargebacks911.com/knowledge-base/product-not-as-described-chargebacks/

There is still the issue of credit reports. Theoretically, if you refuse to pay, the company could retaliate against you by reporting this a "debt" to credit reporting companies. However, you are allowed to require credit reporting companies to include a rebuttal to such claims, and a successful chargeback would be strong evidence in your favor. In addition, filing a debt with a credit reporting agency is complicated, especially for a foreign company.

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    A Cheese knockoff factory going to the trouble of burning your credit report is rather improbable... Not least, there's no profit in it. They would have no reasonable reason to report their customers to credit bureaus as a matter of routine, so effectively they would only be listing negative marks. Any consumer who got their report would dispute the mark, so the bureaus would soon find this creditor was not a reliable reporter... – Harper Mar 20 at 21:29

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