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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Vendor and Order Problems and Solutions | Common Vendor and Order Problems ]

Overcharging For Items Or Shipping and Handling

Few people in this world can afford to buy something without knowing what it costs. Certainly not me. :^) Of course you will always find out exactly what each item costs before you finalize your order and also what shipping and handling will amount to, if appropriate. Usually that will be precisely what you are charged, but occasionally you may run into difficulties with an overcharge on an order.

There are two ways that this can occur. You may find that at the time you go to the checkout of a retail store, or when you go to the checkout page on a web site, that the price shown for an item is not what it was supposed to be. Alternately, you may discover the overcharge after the order has been filled. Usually this occurs when your credit card bill arrives and you find that the charge is higher than you expected, or you find an incorrect invoice in the package with the product.

Most overcharges occur not due to malice but rather incompetence. Mistakes happen, and it's possible that the price was just printed incorrectly on the shelf where the item is displayed, or on the web site. Prices change frequently in the computer industry. In particular, magazine ads and other print media should not be relied upon for accurate pricing. Don't immediately suspect "foul play".

At the same time, while overcharging may be forgivable, it's still not acceptable. A reputable company will immediately rectify the situation; if they aren't willing to do so you should suspect intentional price games. If you discover the price difference at the checkout, insist that the company give you the correct price. If they refuse and you feel that they are trying to manipulate you, walk.

Note: Most companies will refuse to honor a price that is accidentally advertised far below the value of the item. If a 19" monitor costs $399 and an ad flyer accidentally prints the price at $39, don't expect the company to stand by this; they'd lose their shirts. But if they advertise it for $349 and it's $399 in the store, they should honor the $349 price, which is one that any reasonable consumer would readily accept for a monitor. As with most things, apply a test of reasonableness: did you honestly expect to get a 19" monitor for $39?

If you only find out about the overcharge after the order has been processed, you need to contact the company and get them to resolve the issue. Again, most companies will be quite cooperative when this occurs. Unfortunately, there are some sleazy mail order companies that lie about the prices of items at order time, knowing that you won't find out about it until weeks after the order has been placed. They hope you'll be too busy to notice or to bother correcting the situation. If this occurs to you, try to contact the company to resolve the situation. However, you may have no choice but to dispute the charge with your credit card company; see here. With these sorts of companies your best protection is avoiding them through careful vendor research.

Next: Order Not Shipped On Time

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