CellHut Can't Understand That You Didn't Order The iPhone, Thieves Did

UPDATE: CellHut disagrees with this version of the events, writing, “Mr. Laurence has played this dirty game to cheat small businesses and to get away from a sudden price drop on the iPhone, which are sold as final sale at Cellhut.com.” They threaten various legal hijinx.

Last Friday, I arrived home from work to discover a mysterious package waiting for me. Upon opening it, I found… trash bags. Lots of them. Puzzled, I rifled through the box and discovered, to my amazement, that they had been used as packing material for a brand new 4 Gb Apple iPhone!

At first I assumed that it was a gift from a particularly generous friend. As much as I would love to own an iPhone, I am not generally an early adopter and had no immediate plans to buy one.

Further exploration of the box revealed an invoice from a company I had never heard of called Cellhut.com. To my shock, the phone had been charged to my Chase Visa card to the sum of $663!

The credit card was one I rarely used, usually only for places that didn’t accept American Express. I had used it exactly twice at restaurants the previous weekend while on vacation in Montauk, Long Island. Someone had obviously gotten hold of my credit card number.

I immediately called Chase’s Credit Card department. They told me that the charge was pending, and I would have to wait for it to clear before they could do anything.

Next I called Cellhut.com (also located in Long Island… hmmmm) but was unable to get through to their voice mail. No help there.

A visit to their web site revealed this:CellHut%20Is%20Weird.jpgNotice the “interesting” pricing scheme?

I am a Mac geek. I use a Mac exclusively in my job as a web developer. I’m the guy people call when they have a Mac-specific problem. More importantly to this story, I set up and maintain the custom online Apple Store for the college where I work.

I knew bloody well that the 4 Gb iPhone was retailing at $499, not $849. That is, it was until Steve Jobs killed it off a few days earlier that week. And just about every man and his dog heard the howls of outrage around the country from early adopters as the price of the 8 Gb phone dropped to $399. In addition, they are bizarrely charging $100 less for the 8 Gb model!

The next kicker is the line “All iPhone sales are final **No Returns**”.

I then contacted Chase again and explained the situation. This time, they were far more helpful. I was able to cancel the card immediately. Fortunately, the transaction was still pending, and I was able to stop that as well. A representative from their Fraud Department told me that I would not be responsible for the charge, and that I should return the phone to the company.

Repeated phone calls to Cellhut.com over the weekend went nowhere, so I tried to get an RMA number from their web site. The site claims that there is a 15% restocking fee for returning nondefective products. I emailed their customer service, explaining the situation, and that I was planning to return the phone, but I did not expect to be invoiced for any “restocking fees”.

A few days later, I got a call from a representative from Cellhut.com, who claimed that the order had been placed over the phone on Sept 6th and verified by Chase. I told him that I had not made the call, that no one had called me to verify any charges and that my cell phone records show this. He said he would talk to his supervisor and email me an RMA. I had to give him my email address, as the one used for the order was fake.

A few minutes later, I received this:

Subject: CellHut.com RMA # 5731

Dear Brad Lyons,

This email is in reference to your last purchase from CellHUT.com on Thursday, September 06, 2007 EST.

We are sorry to hear that the product you ordered is not functioning properly. Sorry for inconvenience. Your RMA number is 5731.
Please send the item back to us at the following address:

CELLHUT.COM
RMA # 5731
275 7th Ave (Street Level)
New York, NY 10001

Please send your order in its original packaging with the copy of the invoice and indicate the reason for return on the invoice. We recommend you to use service of UPS or FedEx, so that you have tracking number for the package. Please insure the package, because we will not be responsible for the loss or damage of the package.

We must receive the item within 3-4 business days to process your RMA. The RMA will be processed within 24-48 hours after we have received the item.

Problem solved, right!?

Not quite. Only a few minutes after the first email came this gem:

Subject: CellHut.com RMA # 5731

Dear Brad Lyons,

This email is in reference to your last purchase from CellHUT.com on Thursday, September 06, 2007 EST.
RMA# 5731

We are sorry to inform you that your RMA request is declined as it does not meet the Terms and Conditions of CellHut for an RMA to be issued.

Mmmmmmm-kay.

By now I was sick of this entire business, so I wrote them back:

I sincerely hope that this email is in error.

Let me reiterate. I did not order this phone. I do not want this phone. It was apparently ordered with a stolen credit card number.

I have already contacted the fraud department of my credit card company and canceled both payment and the card.

To date, I have carefully documented every detail of my dealing with your company. If you do not accept return of this product, with no so-called “restocking fee”, I will file reports with the fraud department of my credit card company, the Better Business Bureau and the Office of the Attorney General.

In addition, I will contact the popular Consumerist.com web site and make sure every detail of your company’s practices are made publicly available to the entire Internet.

I await your response.

Sincerely,

Brad Lyons

Yeah, that’ll learn ‘em!

The next day, I returned the phone as per the instructions in the first email. Happy to be done with the whole ordeal, I sat down at my keyboard to find this sitting in my inbox:

Dear customer,
Before shiped any order we verify order by bank and customer, our rep talk to you about this order and you agree and also your credit card verify charge then we process this order and shiped.ok why sombody process a order with your stolen credit card and has shiping address to your home i really dont understand this. now you telling us you will go to BBB and fraud dept. there is no refund on this and no return on this.
thanks
alikhan

My response:

I did not verify any order. I had never even heard of Cellhut.com until the phone arrived in the mail. I certainly did not speak to any representative. Again, the order was made illegally with a stolen credit card number. I have explained this already over the phone.

I have no idea why the phone was sent to my address. That motive is known only to the criminal who placed the order.

I have returned the phone as per the original RMA #5731 that was emailed to me. The tracking number is xxxx xxx via DHL.

That was yesterday. Today I received an email informing me that they have already shipped me another iPhone!

I can’t understand their behavior — the card they had on record no longer exists, so I don’t know how they plan to charge me. Can they bill me for a phone I don’t want and didn’t order? Has anyone else received an unordered iPhone from this company?

If the card has been canceled, they shouldn’t be able to charge you for any additional merchandise. Just to be safe, call Chase and confirm that the card is in fact canceled, and that no new charges are pending.

Call your Department of Consumer Affairs and explain the situation; state law governs whether or not you can keep the iPhone on the way as a gift for your troubles.
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Jesse in Japan says:

    The way I see it, you’ve fulfilled all of your legal obligations in this matter by returning (and documenting your return) of the original iPhone. If they do send you another one, it’s yours.

    So, hey, free iPhone!

  2. Snakeophelia says:

    I agree with Jesse. I say if you get another phone in the mail, it’s yours. Not your fault if they’re trying to bill a non-existent card after you told them not to.

  3. Snakeophelia says:

    And as for the phone being sent to your house, that sounds like a CS bungle on top of the fraud. After all, the fraudster was pretending to be you on the phone, and Chase would have had your correct home address on file. I’m assuming the fraudster asked them to send the iPhone to a different address and the CSR just screwed it up and sent the phone to the address Chase verified.

  4. SoCalGNX says:

    We used a seldom used credit card at the Harvest Buffet in Moreno Valley, CA one night. Later that night, someone in Spain ordered more than $1000 worth of books using it and some one in the UK tried to buy plane tickets. Use cash only at restaurants.

  5. SkyeBlue says:

    They must have the original address the thief wanted them to send the phone to, are you going to try and get to the bottom of who stole your credit card number in the first place so you can file charges?

  6. maxmax says:

    To me it looks like Cellhut is the perp here. Why else would they be charging double the normal costs for a now discontinued iPhone?

    I would call the cops in Long Island and give them a heads up. Who knows what other complaints they might have on file with this company?

  7. calvinneal says:

    1. Iphones are sold only through Apple and Att Stores. 2. The thief had it sent to your address. Contact ATT and Apple. You attempted to do the right thing here. If they will not cooperate. keep the phone. You are under no obligation to return their property.

  8. Genocyde says:

    Glad to see a goon get some help with good ol’ Consumerist. Hopefully it all works out for you in the end!

  9. WV.Hillbilly says:

    It’s unordered merchandise.
    You are under no obligation to return it.
    Here’s what the FTC says:
    [www.ftc.gov]

  10. Bryan Price says:

    I’m reminded of the time that I canceled my wife’s AOL. We also had fraudulent charges against the card – somebody was refilling their pay-per minute cellphone with it, so we canceled the card. AOL three months later (even though we hadn’t signed on once!) started charging our new card!

    Somehow we got it canceled it for good, and I asked the credit union why AOL was allowed to switch to our new card WITHOUG US TELLING THEM ABOUT IT. Never did get an answer from them about that.

    Comments are broke. I have to login at the top of the page to really login. Otherwise I just hit submit and nothing happens.

  11. humphrmi says:

    alikhan may not understand this but you’ve done what you’re supposed to do, and I would strongly agree with others here that you spend no more of your valuable time on it. If you cancel the card, they can’t charge you any further. If you return the phone and they refuse it, it’s yours. Don’t waste your time on clueless resellers who enable fraud by their stupidity.

  12. TedOnion says:

    If you receive another package, refuse delivery. (If USPS leaves it, take it to the post office unopened and tell them you refuse delivery.) They will return it to the sender and you will be clear of it.

    I don’t think that you are entitled to keep the package you already received because it was “ordered” albeit fraudulently. In any case, the company that sent it is responsible for shipping it back.

  13. letoofdune says:

    This sounds like a magical mystery tour of stupidity on behalf of CellHut. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe a company exists with people this dense – I mean, outwardly so.

  14. tadowguy says:

    A representative from their Fraud Department told me that I would not be responsible for the charge,

    You’re never responsible for any credit card fraud charges, except for some small fee, like maybe $50. So, don’t worry about it. Keep the phone, have the CC company backcharge the company, and ask them what to do with the phone.

  15. Antediluvian says:

    @WV.Hillbilly:
    I was thinking the same thing (“unordered merchandise = free gift”) but then got to wondering: are there any caveats because this was probably shipped FedEx or UPS or courier, not USPS. Some laws only apply to items shipped via the US Postal Service. The FTC page mentions the mail but I have to assume the “um=fg” equation (above) would apply to items delivered via ANY method. Otherwise the law would be way too easy to circumvent.

    I think there are two, maybe 3 possibilities here:
    1. Cellhut.com is the VICTIM of some weird credit card fraud scheme
    2. Cellhut.com is the PERPETRATOR of some weird credit card fraud scheme
    3. Cellhut.com is the victim of some weird PRANK.

    [My first guess was #2, but now I'm thinking #1 gone awry -- perp messed up the shipping address]

    I think it was great being nice — that’s the way to do it. However, at this point it’s time to start easing away from nice. You’re trying to DO THIS (questionable) COMPANY A FAVOR by returning their unordered merchandise.

    Like the FTC page says, give ‘em a deadline to pick up their merchandise or you reserve the right to dispose of it as you see fit.

    Which could be eBaying it (okay) or activating it (best, you’ll have an iPhone) or giving to a friend (2nd best, they’ll owe you big-time).

    Best of luck! I want to hear how this turns out.

  16. WV.Hillbilly says:

    @Antediluvian:
    I think the delivery method is unimportant.

    I think the operative item is the first one:
    Q. Am I obligated to return or pay for merchandise I never ordered?

    A. No. If you receive merchandise that you didn’t order, you have a legal right to keep it as a free gift.

  17. djanes1 says:

    Something similar happened to me. I returned from vacation to find a weight loss patch waiting for me in the mail. Inspection of my credit card bill also showed charges to girls gone wild, and in a week those videos showed up in my mailbox as well. Girls gone wild said my roomate probably ordered them. My roomate does not have a use for either of those products. In this situation, do not waste time and energy dealing with the company. Simply return the products and let your credit card company handle it. And yes, unfortunately for anyone wearing a tight fitting American Apparel shirt right now, free iPhones will not be magically appearing on your doorstep.

  18. Fry says:

    @Bryan Price: Okay, so it’s not just me going crazy. Thought maybe the folks at Kotaku banned me.

    I say he gets to keep the phone. Especially if they insist on sending one to him that they can’t charge him for after he repeatedly told them he didn’t order, nor wants, the phone.

  19. Gloria says:

    The bizarre pricing scheme at Cell Hut is the clue that leads me to think they’re the perpetrators. What on earth?

  20. bnmathm says:

    Perhaps it’s affiliate fraud? Someone getting a commission on fraudulent orders they placed themselves..? I don’t know how this would work on a phone order, unless it was initiated on the web, but it’s the only scenario that makes sense to me. As stupid as the management of cellhut seems, I don’t think even they would be stupid enough to run this scam themselves.. From their affiliates page: “..Perform and get paid for every sale and lead you generate…”

  21. Phuturephunk says:

    Ahhh yes, another one of the Big Apple’s shady ass camera/phone dealers strikes again. As others have said, that second phone they’re sending out to you is yours, you already sent back the one that was charged. Let them eat the fuckup, and make no mistake: they fucking deserve it.

    I could continue with a racist, slightly anti-semitic rant about arabs, the Russian Mob and shady haredi jews, but I’ll cut it short (I’m Jewish btw). Just know that most of these sites are run by one of the three groups above and they will go to no end to fuck you over, whether you ordered legitimately or not. The key strategy in what they do is making it so frustrating that hopefully you walk away and don’t deal with the aggravation. Luckily, you followed it through.

    Seriously, if you’re in the market for a phone or a camera and the business registration tracks back to 212 or 718..run the fuck away. The only exceptions are J&R or B&H.

  22. sceptic says:

    I was so baffled as to the bizarre prices, so i went ahead and checked cellhut.com website. And guess what i found a different set of prices. Acording to their website the 8gb iphone retails for $999 and is on sale for $799; and the 4gb iphone retails for $749 and is on sale $549. Despite the fact the prices are outrageously high the unit with more memory is priced more than the smaller unit. At least the pricing scheme makes sense more memory higher price. However these were not the prices that wee indicated in the article which leads me to believe one of two things; number one the prices were modified in the interest of journalism or number two cellhut.com pricing scheme is screwed up beyond belief, eg. they raise the price of the 8gb phone 300 dollars over night despite the fact the price has just been cut 100 dollars.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Contact the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. Cell Hut.com lists their address as on in Glen Cove. They seem to flout many laws and perhaps are involved in some sort of fraud themselves. It is not apparent who benefitted from the fraud, but it does seem that CellHut.com is trying to strong arm you in the very least.

    Thanks for the heads up on CellHut.Com–I hope they go out of business very soon.

  24. sceptic says:

    For those of you doubt, check the link. [www.cellhut.com]

  25. Major-General says:

    @Phuturephunk: Sounds like you got burned with Crazy Eddie’s.

  26. StCredZero says:

    I had just had over $5000 of charges attempted with a Southwest Airlines Chase Visa a few weeks ago. The attempt was made “in-person” in Louisiana, even though I was and am still in possession of the card and live in Houston, Texas. The same day, a coworker had someone attempt to order some expensive items on his Chase card. And a friend of his had something like that happen as well.

    Is there a problem with Chase Visa? Was there some sort of security breach?

  27. TPK says:

    Interesting situation, but I don’t understand why you did so much “asking” and not more “telling”. As in, something like:

    Dear Sir or Madam,
    This is to inform you that someone has stolen an iPhone from you with the fraudulent use of a credit card, and somehow shipped the unit to my address. As a token of my good will, I am happy to return this stolen item to you, if you would please provide me with a convenient method to do so. Etc, etc, etc.

    As long as your credit card company is in your corner and has really canceled the card, there is no need to play silly games with these folks. Either they want their phone back, or they don’t. At this point I think you are well above and beyond in paying for the shipping back to them!

  28. spinachdip says:

    @Antediluvian: The fact that they’re selling iPhones and they’re neither Apple nor AT&T leads me to believe the merchant is the fraudster.

    @Phuturephunk: B&H and Adorama are the only Orthodox Jews I do business with in New York (at least when it comes to electronics, anyway). Their bus operators are good people, however.

  29. timmus says:

    The issue is NOT with CellHut not understanding the problem, it’s with them being a bunch of dickheads who should be blacklisted by Visa.

    At ResellerRatings.com there is a whole laundry list of complaints on this company:
    [www.resellerratings.com] (www.resellerratings.com/store/CellHut_acellhut)

    As with the famous Brooklyn camera store thieves I would like to know what merchant banks are allowing this company to continue charging cards. I know if I ran my business this way I’d lose my merchant account and be blacklisted.

  30. lestat730 says:

    This is interesting…

    [www.cellhut.com]

    that goes to cellhuts fraud prevention page… lol

  31. alhypo says:

    I’m thinking CellHunt is in on this somehow. It is also possible the thief had it sent to your address with the intent of intercepting it off your doorstep. With tracking info he should have been able to predict roughly when it would arrive. He was either spooked away for some reason or missed the drop-off. Either way, it would have been stupid for him to send it to his own address, and since he missed the package, his only loss in the time invested in placing fraudulent orders.

  32. ddrager says:

    A similar thing happened to me. I received a package from Circuit City – was this some sort of gift from a friend? I checked my accounts online, and sure enough there was a charge on one of my credit card accounts from circuit city for some $800. I first called the credit card company. They told me to refuse the package so I did and sent it back to them. The I called circuit city and let them know what was going on. At first they tried to claim I had placed the order but when they saw the “fake” email address that was provided they realized it was a fraudulent order.

    My question – are these guys so dumb that they send the package to the credit card address instead of their own address? Or is there something else they are trying to do? What did they get out of it – besides confirming that the card works?

  33. MonsieurBon says:

    I have bought from Cellhut before. They have decent prices on unlocked, hard-to-find phones that aren’t available from most U.S. carriers.
    It sounds like fraud, and I wouldn’t have sent the phone back.

  34. Jordan Lund says:

    Something about this story smells… I can’t quite put my finger on it…

    I remember when the iPhone came out other retailers were pissed that Apple wasn’t giving them the opportunity to sell them. It was only available through Apple stores or AT&T stores… so how did CellHut get them to sell?

    Sure enough, they have them listed on their website… There’s got to be some sort of scam here.

  35. spinachdip says:

    @Jordan Lund: Also, it seems especially fishy that their “retail price” is $949.99 for the 8GB model and $849.99 for the 4GB. Even more weird is that the 4GB costs $100 more than the 8GB.

  36. Joafu says:

    This sounds like a fraud from Cellhut.com itself; perhaps someone affiliated with the website got your credit card number and bought a phone with your card above retail price to get a return on iPhones they had purchased elsewhere.

  37. spinachdip says:

    @spinachdip: I should really read the post that I’m responding too. Heh.

  38. hubris says:

    They’re selling “unlocked” iPhones, expecting people to pay a premium for that unlocking (quite a hell of a premium at that). As for why the 4GB is more expensive than the 8, I’m assuming it’s *because* they are no longer available, and so could be seen as rare. Bullshit, but that’s how some people think (I can’t get them on any other website, but *this* website has them…awesome!). And it’s the easiest thing in the world to bulk buy from Apple/AT&T and then resell them in your store. Especially when you’re charging such an insane premium.

  39. spinachdip says:

    @omerhi: The thing is, if you go to that site and search for iPhone, you’ll get four results, AT&T versions and “unlocked” versions, and they all carry the stupid crazy premium.

  40. Nick says:

    Seriously–why are you trying so hard to return the phone? All you have to do is make a good faith effort to return the phone to them. If they don’t want it, you are within your rights to keep it. The idiots at the store didn’t realize your CC reversed the charge, and they they were out a new iPhone.

    It is nice that so many people attempt to be nice and try to directly deal with scummy companies like Cellhut, but your credit card protections are there for a reason (after all, you pay for them via interest and fees). Don’t go out of your way to be nice to these people–you owe them nothing.

  41. cypherpunks says:

    State law does not govern this. Postal regulations govern this. There was a standard scam way back when where a company would shit you a product you did not order, and bill you for it. Under postal regulations created as a result, if you receive something you did not order, it is yours to keep.

  42. Phuturephunk says:

    @Major-General:

    Ha! Nah, almost did. One time when I was, gosh it had to be like 10 years old they attempted to charge me 20 bucks for a single blank tape (didn’t give me my change). I told em to give me my money, but they wouldn’t. My dad was on the force at the time and he had a talk with them ;).

    Shady bastards! It pains me that Antar is probably retired in Israel somewhere.

  43. ry81984 says:

    Any unsolicited by mail is yours to keep.

    I would have just filed the chargeback for fraud with my bank and kept the iphone. I would have never contacted the company, the bank will.

    That company should do a better job with their security next time if they do not want to keep giving away free electronics.

  44. ry81984 says:

    @omerhi:
    4gb more expensive than 8gb because it is rare???

    Thats like saying I will sell you a 386 DX Intel 33mhz processor for $1000 because it is rare.

  45. Sudonum says:

    @Bryan Price:
    I have been having this problem since sometime Friday. Never noticed the login at the top of the screen. Thanks

  46. smqt says:

    I think you should NOT keep any of the phones you were sent. That’s just unethical.

    You understand that they were not “unordered merchandise” but received by you because of fraudulent action and/or a misunderstanding. You also understand that keeping them may damage cellhut.

    If cellhut won’t take them back, bring them to the police and ask to have them if they are not claimed.

    Someone being a fraud and/or cellhut hiring dumb employers doesn’t justify abusing that situation.

  47. smqt says:

    And yes, I agree that cellhut sound like shady morons, but that would still not justify keeping it.

  48. Jordan Lund says:

    I did some digging and I think this should be reported to Apple’s authorized agent program. agents@apple.com

    I’m sure they’ll want to know that someone is selling iPhones (and unlocked iPhones at that!) without authorization.

  49. spinachdip says:

    @smqt: Unordered merchandise, is by law, a gift. It would be rude to return such a generous gift.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Chances are its some whos been opening your mail and or friend or relative who committed the fraud. They would have alot of info.

    1. cellhut verifies CVV2 (3 dig code on back) It is printed nowhere and is card specific. Credit card company employees do know the #, they can only verify it themselves.

    So whoever did it saw the card. (or a phishing scheme of course)

    and knows you address.

    and is willing to go to your house to get it. the perpatrator could always just have it sent to their house anyway without it being likely that they get caught.

    chase isnt going to do anything but write it off, unless they think you are lying and stick you with the charge.

  51. wsycng says:

    Now, as far as the law is concerned, you do not need to return anything that you did not order, else, what’s there to stop unethical businesses from mailing you products that they can’t sell and charging you for them?

  52. PDQ2 says:

    I’d refuse delivery of the second phone. If AT&T and Apple Stores are the only ones selling this phone than one could surmise that Cellhut is shipping stolen merchandise.

    I’d also notify Apple and AT&T in case there are any shipments of product with serial numbers that align with what Cellhut is selling.

  53. Antediluvian says:

    @spinachdip: I’m firmly in the make an honest effort to contact the company and offer them their merchandise back BUT if they don’t get their heads out of their asses, THEN it’s a souvenir of your ordeal.

    My concern is that only using the theory of “unsolicited merchandise received is mine to keep,” what is to prevent two people in cahoots from “stealing” each other’s card info and ordering each other a bunch of stuff? Obviously there’s one’s ethics, and it’s fraud, but from the merchant’s perspective, it’s trouble.

    The laws, as I see them, were designed to prevent unscrupulous merchants from taking advantage of consumers; taken to an extreme, it could be used by unscrupulous consumers to take advantage of merchants.

    I think ethically the author of this inquiry did the right thing. Also, the FTC site linked to by wv.hillbilly above
    [www.ftc.gov]
    discusses “honest shipping mistake[s]” and what to do. I think this situation is reasonably similar.

  54. Antediluvian says:

    To the posts about Cellhut selling stolen iPhones not being an authorized iPhone dealer: I’ve been assuming they bought them retail and are reselling them (hence the HUGE markup). I think this probably violates any agreements they had w/ AT&T to resell their phones & service, but I doubt a little thing like that would stop Cellhut.

    I think it’s probably legal to do this (in as much as it’s legal to sell them on eBay), but it might mess up your warranty. Especially if you unlock. :-)

  55. etinterrapax says:

    I suspect some sort of stolen-goods-laundering scheme. Think about it: you have no way of knowing who is at the address they give you to “return” the phone you didn’t order. They may be gambling that people won’t take it up with the card company if they return the phone and have the assurance that all is well. So you send the phone off in good faith and by the time you do it, they’re in the wind and you have no proof of anything anymore. I suggest refusing any further deliveries from them, and having your credit card number changed and a fraud alert placed on the account. Reporting the company to ATT and Apple wouldn’t hurt, either.

  56. Jean Naimard says:

    Here’s a complete explanation of the scam:

    [redtape.msnbc.com]

  57. spinachdip says:

    @Antediluvian: Despite my assholish response, I do agree with you. If you receive unordered merchandise, in error or through fraud, you should make an honest effort to return the merchandise.

    I’d ask them to do what computer companies do, to send me a box, packing material and shipping label, so all I have to do is call UPS or DHL to come to my door. Failing that, I’d get a written promise to refund my shipping cost.

    Otherwise, the reasonable assumption is that they just don’t want the merchandise bad enough.

  58. weg1978 says:

    “Dear customer,
    Before shiped any order we verify order by bank and customer, our rep talk to you about this order and you agree and also your credit card verify charge then we process this order and shiped.ok why sombody process a order with your stolen credit card and has shiping address to your home i really dont understand this. now you telling us you will go to BBB and fraud dept. there is no refund on this and no return on this.
    thanks
    alikhan”

    Sounds like ‘cellhut’ is an apt name.

  59. trekkie says:

    I had the same weird thing happen a year or two ago. Someone ordered a laptop with my credit card. The thing was, I’d not used the credit card in maybe a year, and it was HP that was the vendor.

    We sent it back, and I called the card company and had it changed. But was trying to figure out why someone would order me a laptop.

  60. Furryscott says:

    I’m wondering if the “bungled CS iPhone” being shipped to you right now is one that’s been paid for by SOMEONE ELSE’S CC?

  61. CapitalC says:

    You can return it to me! Email me and I’ll send you my address. ;)

  62. mantari says:

    I wonder if this story is related. [redtape.msnbc.com]

    I would be interested to know if he missed a call from CellHut. Or if CellHut ever tried proactively contacting him around the time of the delivery.

  63. superbmtsub says:

    If CellHut or alikhan can’t grasp the fact that this was a scam, they’re not entitled to run a business. I’d keep the 2nd iPhone because everything that had to be done was done.

  64. Ickypoopy says:

    You may want to check out this:
    [redtape.msnbc.com]

  65. Jesse in Japan says:

    Just how much did Mr. Lyons spend sending the iPhone back to these people through DHL? CellHut has been provided with all of the information that they need to know that they should not send another iPhone. If they do go ahead and send another one, which I highly doubt, I see no reason why Mr. Lyons shouldn’t keep it.

  66. EtherealStrife says:

    After the hell you’ve been through, I’d say keep the damned thing. In the past I’ve had stuff like this happen and just refused the box (UPS and USPS both take it back without a hiccup, haven’t tried it with fedex yet), but you went above and beyond to please these pricks. The FTC page seems to be 100% behind your keeping it as a gift.

  67. Dick.Blake says:

    I had something similar happen to me back in April. Went out to eat and paid using a credit card which I haven’t even pulled out of my desk drawer in over eight months.

    I check my statement online a couple of weeks later and I have three purchases from three different online retailers, all under 20 bucks.

    I immediately called the credit card company and disputed, and they were reversed. Within the week, the merchandise I “bought” arrived in the mail. I could not understand why someone would use my credit card number to buy stuff and have it shipped to me.

    When I called to get RMAs, all three of these purchases were enrollments in a club of sorts… where my card would be auto-billed each month and they’d send more product. (Think Proactiv)

    CSR did some research and a REALLY phony email was given during purchase and all of these were done to fulfill one of those “Enroll in Netflix, Columbia House, Coffee of the Month Club and 17 Magazine Subscriptions and We’ll Send you a FREE iPod!!!!!” deals.

    Canceled the card, sent the merch back, no problems yet.

  68. GearheadGeek says:

    Interesting that “Cellhut” still shows iPhones for sale, 4gb iPhones for the low low price of $599 each, but of course they’re billed as “unlocked.”

    Maybe they’re making money off lazy people, since as far as I know you can’t buy iPhones online from AT&T or Apple.

  69. FLConsumer says:

    At least the address given in the e-mails matches the domain info:
    Registrant:
    Cellular Hut
    275 7th Avenue
    New York, NY 10001
    US

    Domain Name: CELLHUT.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    Bhasin, Bawa mailto:info@cellhut.com
    Cellhut.com
    275 7TH AVE
    NEW YORK, NY 10001-6708
    US
    (212) 989-888 fax: (212) 675-8017

  70. give the people air says:

    Even if cellhut isn’t in on the scam, they still sound incredibly sketchy. Alikhan’s terrible grasp of the english language is a red flag to me.

  71. Antediluvian says:

    @GearheadGeek: You can’t buy unlocked iphones from Apple or AT&T, but you’ve been able to buy iPhones from Apple online since June 29.

    @Dick.Blake: That’s an interesting twist to the scam (using stolen cards to enroll in “pyramid” programs. I’d also think it would make it a lot easier to track the offender down.

  72. Sasquatch says:

    Just to be on the safe side of things, you may want to make sure they didn’t set up an AT&T account for you while ordering this thing (if you don’t alresdy have one). I find it unlikely that they would sell and ship this thing unactivated. Check with AT&T and make sure an account wasn’t set up in your name under your SSN. You’ve already been the victim of one kind of fraud. It’s not inconceivable that someone also opened a AT&T/Cingular account under your name.

  73. topgun says:

    @cypherpunks:
    I hope no company ever shits me a product. Funny typo.
    Actually i just thought I’d plug LetsTalk.com . I and several people I know have been more than satisfied with the service and products from them.

  74. babaki says:

    I wouldnt get so worked up about it. You already canceled the card, and the charges were reversed. If they dont want the phone back, keep it. Free iphone! Or better yet, you can ship it to me, i could find some use for it!

  75. nursetim says:

    I bought a Sirius Stiletto oneBay last spring, received it on a Friday, no problems. The next Friday, I come home from work and there is a package from the same retailer I bought the radio from. Open the box, and it’s another Stiletto, exact same one. My wife tells me to keep it, but I called the guy to let him know. He puts me on hold, comes back a minute later to tell me he had no idea what happened. He appreciated me calling him, e-mailed me a return label, and since I left it in the box with all the packaging, I sent it on its way. I figured that since I would expect a company to make it right if they made a mistake, it would be good karma to do the same. OP should keep the phone, since CellHut sounds like it’s not on the level.

  76. I also think Cellhut.com is in on the scam. Alikhan’s e-mail reads like it was sent by a 419 scammer.

    But for me the kicker is this: Today I received an email informing me that they have already shipped me another iPhone!

    In what universe does it make sense to send another phone? It’s not like they got paid for the first one.

  77. ksnicholas says:

    The person who ordered the phone and had it delivered to your home may have been trying a call tag scam. Basically, the scammer orders something with a stolen card and has it sent to either the cardholder’s address, or an innocent person’s address. After it is delivered, they call pretending to be the company that sent it and say it was delivered on accident, and they will have the shipping company come and pick it up. A different shipping company than the one that delivered it comes and picks it up, and it goes to the criminal instead of back to the company.

  78. Gamby says:

    From the way it sounds cellhut may have stolen your credit card to do a few things and seem semi legit. First it sounds like they used your credit card to buy a product from their “company” at a higher than normal price. Then they ship you the product only to have it returned to them. Either way they win because they get the difference in actual cost of the iphone and what they charged and if you send the iphone back they get that too.

  79. Buran says:

    Eh, just keep it and file a chargeback on any charges. If they complain you stole it you have proof that you tried. Oh, and refuse to pay the charges to ship it back. Why should you pay for something you didn’t order?

  80. Caroofikus says:

    This could be agood thing (at least in Wyoming). Technically, you have completed the first transaction, albeit fraudulent, and that is done with. However, they have sent you a second phone. In Wyoming, this is considered a gift since you did not order it, and as such you are legally able to keep it, free of charge.

  81. Craysh says:

    @ANTEDILUVIAN
    @anyone who thinks that the second phone should not be a gift.

    This person sent back the phone that he was fraudulently charged for. They’re sending him a second phone against his wishes. This means that they’re sending him an unsolicited item in the mail, which means that he can (according to the FTC) take said item as a gift.

    Let me reiterate: The SECOND phone is the one that is unsolicited. The first phone was fraudulent and he made a good effort to inform these idiots about that fact. It’s not his fault that they screwed it up and he definitely deserves at LEAST a free iPhone for his troubles.

  82. jamesdenver says:

    I agree re: gift. Even if the box sits and collects dust at the door next to your umbrellas, why should you have to spend more of YOUR TIME dealing with it?

    You already took the time doing what you were supposed to do. F-em.

  83. reflous says:

    you’re luck you’re in New York… The Attorney General will fix this quickly. They have a form you fill out to file a complaint, and presto — your problems disappear. The AG in NY has the power to revoke business licenses, so companies tend to listen to them.

  84. Secularsage says:

    From the ResellerRatings.com entry:

    7/17/07 11:50 AM
    WORST ONLINE EXPERIENCE….. EVER!

    If I knew trying to return an item would be this difficult, I would have been MORE then happy to spend an extra $100 some place else.

    After submitting an rma request to: “return@cellhut.com”, a rep by the name of ALI (ali@cellhut.com) after 2-3 days later… replied to my request and stated:

    Dear customer,
    plz make rma request at return@cellhut.com

    I could have just sworn that I JUST DID THAT?! The least “ALI” could have done for me was point that request in the right direction… OH WAIT… it WAS in the right direction!

  85. kc2idf says:

    @Bryan Price:

    Comments are broke. I have to login at the top of the page to really login. Otherwise I just hit submit and nothing happens.

    Thanks for posting that. I never noticed the login boxes at the top, and I’d been under the incorrect assumption that my account had been plonked.