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Free item or fraud? Consumer Fraud

Discussion in 'Consumer Fraud & Scams' started by Artmaker, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. Artmaker

    Artmaker Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi,
    I'm writing on behalf of my daughter.
    She ordered some expensive (several grand) in solar panels and such. She THOUGHT the company, (which for now I will leave out.) was based in the US. THOUGHT it was a good company. Only when her items didn't show up did she dig into this company and found out they have an F on the BBB.
    Well... fast forward, she actually GOT her refund, then when they tried to deliver she refused the shipment. Told the company she was already refunded.
    This company wrote to her, (I saw the email) telling her to just keep her refund but please accept this delivery, suppose to come tomorrow.

    My suggestion to her was just go ahead and take this shipment, she has tons of room in several out buildings, to just keep this thing in it's original packaging for a time, and go do a happy dance.
    That if this company suddenly decides to either charge her or what ever, she could just say come pick it up.

    So a few questions on this.
    1. Is there any statute of limitations on how long she would have to keep this thing unopened before she could just go ahead and open it without worrying this company would then charge her? (She will be looking for items elsewhere.) OR does she even need to do this? Did she really get free stuff just because it came very late?

    OR
    2. She is afraid this company is actually in China, and/or this is some type of fraud. WHY would they not want several thousands of dollars of goods returned? Yea shipping is probably costly but surely not as much as the loss of said goods. Something is wrong here.

    Any thoughts from people who might know about this sort of thing?
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, she should refuse the items.
     
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  3. Artmaker

    Artmaker Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I would too but.... she already did once, now she's trying to contact the shipper and explain to them she didn't "deny" their first attempt, and explained that she was already given a refund. To that the shipper just repeated, this will be arriving tomorrow.

    I really don't get this. The company in question is horrid with communication. WHY would they want to give away expensive stuff? Or stick it with the shipper??? What kind of fraud, assuming this is a fraud, could this possibly be? Here you take our free stuff? It just doesn't make sense.
    Hence why I'm tossing this on a legal board. I can smell a scam but this one has me scratching my head. Unless they are hoping to come back later and charge her. All I can think of.
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If it's a "scam", then there's a sure-fire way to avoid it: Refuse the shipment. I don't know why you insist with the "buts".
     
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  5. Artmaker

    Artmaker Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The "buts" are just so I understand what the law is on this. If she kept it as instructed by the company what happens?
    But (Not the same but) I would agree with you and told her to just refuse it. Best way to avoid problems later. She got her money back, all she's out is a lot of wasted time.
     
  6. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Why? And what difference does it make?

    In the non-criminal context, a statute of limitations is a law that provides how long, after accrual of a cause of action, a plaintiff has to file suit. The law does not govern things like worrying. Obviously, the seller could charge her at any time. If that means charging her credit card, then she can dispute the charge under the terms of her credit card agreement. If "charging her" simply means sending a bill, she is free to ignore it. If she gets sued, she'll have to defend herself, which could include alleging the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense.

    I'm not sure what "this" refers to, but your daughter is obviously not obligated to accept the shipment.

    According to your post, she hasn't gotten anything.

    If she doesn't intend to make use of the goods, what possible benefit would she derive by doing this. I don't know anyone who wants to store stuff they have no intention of using just for s***s and giggles.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2020
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  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You mean tomorrow, the 15th? Tell her to refuse the delivery. Easy peasy. She's got her money, the items get gone. No worries to speculate on what might happen in the future because nothing will happen in the future.

    Next time she wants to buy something, she should check out the seller before buying.
     
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  8. Artmaker

    Artmaker Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Well I thought I spelled out what I needed to know very clearly. How could you be confused?
    Then I see a sentence like the one I'm quoting. Shees. Nevermind.
     
  9. Artmaker

    Artmaker Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yup, that's the plan. She will refuse it and be done with the whole thing. I was only wondering IF she took it (repeating myself, the company told her to and to keep the refund) how much time would have to pass before.....
    But nevermind. The whole dealing with reversing a CC charge, this is just not worth it. Item will be refused.

    Thanks everyone.
     
  10. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    I'm not confused about anything. Why do you think otherwise?

    And the sentence you quoted had a fairly obvious typo, which I've now corrected.
     
  11. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    She has her refund. Nothing good comes by acceoting shipment. Tell them to return it to the sender so she does not become responsible for it.
     
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  12. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    If she took it without paying for it, that would be breach of contract. The company would have 6 years to sue her.

    It could also be a crime (theft or conversion) which can result in a jail sentence. A few thousand is probably felony level.

    Either way, if anything were going to happen it would probably happen within months, not years. Her defense to either, of course, is that she has it in writing from the company that she can keep the items despite the refund.
     
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  13. Geekette2525

    Geekette2525 New Member

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    Sorry... daughter here... I didn't want to press this, mom was curious. (she also ran out of posts for 24hr, so, thought I'd close some things at least.)

    The concept of conversion has me curious now though.

    The solution as suggested repeatedly is simple, don't accept.

    The only reason I would have is to avoid things ending up in a land fill, possibly to use spare parts... and, honestly, what I find most odd, is that the seller is actually begging me to... But I ordered (solar panels) only for piece of mind, and at this point... it isn't. -- With the way things were going with the seller, I don't trust them any longer, nor to make a good product at this point. I *could* to be clear, make use of them or their components, in other ways, but it wouldn't be worth concern of what might then be brought against me.

    Apologies too, I don't know how that registered in her brain, but I knew what you meant. Your paragraph above was also really helpful, thanks!


    I am curious though now, only really academically at this point (The only way I'd know for sure of course is to test this all in court, with all evidence presented, which isn't worth doing of course -- not on an online forum where I cant expect people to go out of their way to look at all materials for free), but... having just learned what theft by conversion even is, at least indirectly (Still trying to find it in actual US law or understand the Michigan law [my state, not that I'm even sure it would be my state I have to look at, given the seller lists them selves as out of state]):

    Is conversion not precluded by permission?

    I see some reference (trying to understand conversion) to the obtaining of income from what is converted; I could see that even rather easily by the original contract, as you say, being broken, then receiving something for nothing. It seems even not putting a stopper on that would be a means to money laundering (thinking of that in trying to understand why laws protecting against conversion is a thing).

    In this case though, the seller is actually begging me to take the item. I don't trust them at this point, so I don't really want to... But does the threat of conversion charges not preclude their right to mitigate (in their words): "Please accept the parcel. If the pallet returned to us and we have to pay a large return shipping fee. It is safe to be used, please don't worry." -- In fairness, I'm fairly certain the item cost is more than US freight costs, so, I don't trust this unless they're sending it back to China, but if hypothetically the shipping cost more than the item, they would have to eat that cost additionally, if THEY could not 'breach' the original contract to tell the seller to take it anyway.

    To be clear, I *think* what would allow that to happen here, (and really I'm guessing here, cause their communication is broken, usually not even answering, but it poses a good hypothetical), is that they claim to have a US business, when it isn't actually a warehouse (or contactable), they shipped it from China (without notifying me), and it's now stuck with a intermediate US shipping company, that would have no way to return it. -- Their problem perhaps, as I told them I got a refund, after repeated failed communication for a month, and then told them not to ship it when they said they were going to ship it anyway (I'm presuming here they only told me about the intermediate shipping company and not that it was on the way from China).

    What I'm wondering here, is if there was an international shipment some month ago (that they didn't tell me about!), they would obviously be at fault for that, but how could they then NOT be able to tell me to keep it, without it being conversion on my part? Even if it was something to mitigate the effect here of something that was their fault, it seems they should at least be able to correct it in that matter, if they so chose. Are emails not simply then a sufficient addendum of the 'original contract', or is there really no way for them to mitigate such a hypothetical without me then receiving something for 'nothing' being lawfully wrong?

    Only curiosity at this point though. I'm going to be starting my own robotics company soon so... Kinda interested to learn is all. -- Might be on the other side of that question one day soon for all I know.
     
  14. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Well-Known Member

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    i think you got the refund because you didn't have the items. Once they were delivered this company would dispute the refund. They would say you have the solar panels now and must pay for them. Be happy you dodged a bullet with this company.
     
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  15. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I'll clarify my earlier comment by saying that criminal and civil actions may be brought by alleging wrongdoing. That the buyer was given permission to keep the items would almost certainly be a successful defense.

    This is the first we've seen of the seller's consent. That wording works strongly in the buyer's favor.

    With that, I no longer believe that there is any risk involved in accepting delivery and keeping the solar panels.

    Just make sure you keep that communication in your permanent file.
     
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  16. Geekette2525

    Geekette2525 New Member

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    Interesting...

    Unfortunately, it's likely already in the hands of the shipping company, I didn't really have time to consider this better, and not sure how much they'd appreciate constant changing of mind on my part either (only even got that communication from the seller in that clarity the 14th?, with it set to arrive on the 15th -- after some very slow to evolve back and forth -- I'll be keeping all of it and more regardless).

    Thank you for those thoughts though!

    Gave me some research to do now (curious).
     
  17. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If you accept shipment you may find yourself ultimately paying for the product.
    If they intend to give it to you for free you should secure that in writing first.
     
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  18. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I'm quoting this to emphasize that portion. "Writing" does not mean email. An email is certainly helpful, but it has its pitfalls.
     
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  19. Geekette2525

    Geekette2525 New Member

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    Yeah, if I do this at all, I'm definitely going to get it in writing first, with sure clarity that it is without costs. I like the idea of not doing it by email though!

    I'm honestly not sure I want to risk it though. Better hills I could die on. -- I just gotta feel sorry for the shipping company at this point, it isn't my fault, but... They're kinda stuck with the seller, an indecisive, and 800+lb of possibly junk.
     
  20. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Don't waste a tear on UPS, FedEx, the postal service of any nation state, or even LilJoe's Freight Forwarders.

    Why?

    They get paid one way or another.

    On the other hand, you do recall the ever so exquisite GIFT "horsey" those diabolically clever Greek rascals "gave" to the independent city state of Troy, don't you?

    I've found it serves ME best to protect my well being, allowing others to fend for themselves.

    I'm just one, insignificant human being surviving amongst a herd of 7,500,000,000 others.

    You possess one derriere to protect.
    CYA should be in effect and at level 5 at all times.

    There is nothing of significance available for FREE.

    One way or another EVERYTHING has a cost.
     

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