Online shopping is great. It's easy, convenient and gives you plenty of opportunities to shop around and compare prices.
Returns and cancellations however, can be a little tricky.
Case in point: One woman in Wisconsin is suing online retailer Accessory Outlet after being charged a $250 fee for canceling an order for a $40 iPhone case.
And it gets worse. Accessory Outlet even threatened the woman after she attempted to cancel the order, saying "You are playing games with the wrong people."
The woman had checked the tracking number provided by the company and had seen that it had not been shipped the way the company said it would ship. She could not trace the package, so she decided to cancel.
It turns out, Accessory Outlet charging a $250 cancellation fee is embedded within the fine print of the terms and conditions the woman agreed to when she made the purchase. Here is a section of the terms:
You agree not to file any complaint, chargeback, claim, dispute, or make any public forum post, review, Better Business Bureau complaint, social media post, or any public statement regarding the order, our website, or any issue regarding your order, for any reason, within this 90 day period, or to threaten to do so within the 90 day period, or it is a breach of the terms of sale, creating liability for damages in the amount of $250, plus any additional fees, damages - both consequential and incidental, calculated on an ongoing basis.
So not only can the woman not return the merchandise, in theory she would also be punished if she tried to correct the problem. That's when the emails and correspondence with the company got even uglier. After the woman refused to pay the fine, Accessory Outlet told her it would use a collections agency to get its money.
“This will put a negative mark on your credit for 7 years and will also result in calls to your home and/or work."
“Further," the company told her, "additional fees for any correspondence with your card insurer will also be billed to you on an hourly basis and a flat rate $50 for the dispute or claim.”
After the woman said she would get a lawyer:
"Contact your lawyer, spend more time and money if you wish. You will be billed and the amount we will bill you for will continue to rise with every email and every second we dedicate to correspondence of any kind pertaining to your breach of the terms of sale. Thank you.”
And there's more:
"There is clear proof it was sent and left NY and we will have proof of delivery. The collections action is separate and based solely on breach of contract and will be done even though you paid for and received the merchandise due to your breach of the terms of sale. Read the agreement or have someone competent do so for you since your emails make it clear you did not read the agreement or do not understand the clauses contained therein. You also obviously do not know how to use the tracking or are ignoring it. Either way you will pay us $250 on top of the order total or have continuous calls to your home, cell, and/or work phones to collect the debt due. You are playing games with the wrong people and have made a very bad mistake given the legally binding contract we have in place. One we have successfully enforced on many individuals the same we will do with you."
The woman received the phone weeks after the order was placed, but when the iPhone case arrived, "it was warped and would not snap closed."
"Accessory Outlet is using unfair terms hidden in fine print, along with threatening emails, to bully a customer into keeping quiet about her bad experience with the company,” Scott Michelman, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case, said in a statement. “But terms that prevent a customer from speaking publicly about her transaction and from contacting her credit card company are unreasonable and unenforceable.”
Stay tuned to what's Happening Now for all the latest on this case as news breaks.