Overstock.com Took My $450, Sent An $18 Part Instead Of An XBOX

Reader David tried to buy an XBOX from Overstock.com, but they sent him an $18 part instead. Now they’ve got his money and are holding it hostage until he sends the part back. One problem: They haven’t sent him a shipping label.

Here is an account of the horror I went through with Overstock.com. I post this in hopes of helping others avoid their company, and their atrocious customer service. I apologize for the length/grammar, but I’m kind of writing this in a hurry.

I bought a 360 on launch day. On December 27th my newest 360 red ring of deathed (this was my 4th) and I was sick of dealing with it, so I decided to send it in for repair, and sell it when it got back to help recoup the cost of buying an elite system.

Ordered an XBOX 360 elite (order #[redacted]) on December 28th 2007 for $449.95 plus $2.95 shipping. I ordered through a website called fatwallet.com because they had a deal that ordering through them got you a 4.0% cash back rebate on orders through overstock.com

on 1/7/08 my wife got a box from UPS and called me to tell me that it was too small to have an XBOX in it. I called ups concerning my xbox package thinking that this was some other item, and they told me it was delivered. I called my wife back, and she told me the tracking number on the package, and it was the tracking number for the XBOX. I had her open it, and inside she found a “Nyko Xbox 360 Intercooler” worth $18.50 from overstock.com. The packing list stated “XBOX 360 elite system – $449.95”, but the box was far far too small to fit that item, and again, only an intercooler was in the box.

I called overstock.com and told them what had happened. The associate was apologetic, and said he would put me in touch with parts to get my XBOX sent out right away. I talked to a lady in parts, and after some discussion she agreed to overnight me an XBOX 360 elite system Tuesday, and I should get it on Wednesday. She also said that my 4.0% rebate would probably not work anymore, so she would credit my Visa back $20 for the inconvenience.

Tuesday around noon I notice that a second order number is on my account for an elite 360 from the night before, but that it is all ready canceled. I open the live chat and inquire when my 360 will be shipping. The associate apologizes and says it will not ship for a few days, and that it will ship standard shipping when it does ship. They also say I was credited $20 in in-store credit for the inconvenience. I check my account, and I see no extra $20, just the one for the rebate mistake. I tell him thats unacceptable and that I will call in.

I talk to a rep, and he says theres nothing he can do, and thats the way it will be, and the people from the night before never wrote any notes about overnighting or shipping out next day. I say I want them to just cancel my order then, because I wanted the XBOX for this week to play with my little brother visiting from mass (I live in FL). He says he cant give me a refund until I return the intercooler they sent me. I say thats not fair to hold my $450 hostage over a $20 item, and he says theres nothing he can do. I ask for a manager, and he reluctantly transfers me after telling me the manager wont be able to help me.

The manager was extremely rude, He asked me if I would mind being put on hold, in the middle of a sentence, and I said “yes I would mind, I’m talking” and he put me on hold anyway. I then start yelling at him when he came back on for cutting me off, and he hangs up on me.

I call back, get a different manager, whom again cannot help me, but is much more customer friendly about it. In the end I just have to wait for them to finally send me a return label, then for them to issue a refund about a week after they get the wrong product back.

I filed a complaint with the BBB, and ordered a new XBOX 360 elite from Amazon, which will probably be getting my business from now on. This whole thing has been such a nightmare. I still have not gotten a return label for the intercooler, and overstock wont help me. I beg for any help you can give in this matter.

Well, we recently learned that you’re not going to be able to sue Overstock to recover your $450, but you do still have some options available to you.

One of them is a chargeback. Call your credit card company and tell them the whole story. They might be able to recover your money for you. Before you do that, however, you might want to try an EECB. One of readers had the exact same problem getting a shipping label from Overstock, and was able to contact their CEO and get it resolved. For more information about how to learn to launch your own EECB, click here.

PREVIOUSLY: EECB Scores Direct Hit On Overstock’s CEO


Edit Your Comment

  1. qwickone says:

    I have to agree with Meg on the CHARGEBACK!!

  2. ianmac47 says:

    Luckily, he’s sure to get a fair result with Overstock’s arbitration clause.

  3. Chairman-Meow says:

    Ok kids….here we go….!

    Gimme a C!
    Gimme a H!
    Gimme a A!
    Gimme a R!
    Gimme a G!
    Gimme a E!
    Gimme a B!
    Gimme a A!
    Gimme a C!
    Gimme a K!

  4. Geekybiker says:

    Yup, as soon as they said they were holding my money hostage I would call my CC and initiate a chargeback. I find that companies suddenly find they can co-operate when they receive the chargeback notice.

  5. LionelEHutz says:

    Hey, he could always go through their binding arbitration that he agreed to when buying that “X-Box”.

  6. evslin says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I have four different consoles fail on me like that it’s time to find a new console to play.

  7. Trauma_Hound says:

    Chargeback baby. Keep the intercooler.

  8. Trauma_Hound says:

    @evslin: Why I bought a PS3.

  9. Geekybiker says:

    Its not so much a problem with the console in general anymore. They’ve fixed the issue. Trouble is that the poor folks who had an issue get a refurb back. These consoles are ones that already have issues and are much more likely to fail again. So you get people on their 3rd or 4th console.

  10. Balisong says:

    All else aside, why did you yell at the manager for putting you on hold? Most places require that a phone be answered within a certain number of rings, so he probably had to put you on hold. It was pretty rude of you to say “No don’t put me on hold.” I can’t even imagine what I would have done if someone had ever in my career responded “No” when I asked to put them on hold. If that was your only instance of how rude he was being I doubt whether he was rude at all. As he’s a manager, he definately had no right to hang up on you, but you yelling at him only gave him an excuse to do so.

    You attract more flies etc etc…

    *waits for the blaming-the-victim posts*

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    @Trauma_Hound: Hrm… I wonder if you can legally do both if you consider the intercooler as unsolicited.

  12. MelL says:

    @Balisong: Well, if you don’t want the possibility of a ‘no’ response, don’t phrase it in the form of a question. Simply inform the customer that they will be put on hold for a moment. And also do it after they are finished speaking. There’s nothing wrong with letting the customer finish the sentence as long as f-bombs aren’t being dropped left and right. :)

  13. Xerloq says:

    @Balisong: Usually you’re put on hold because the rep has to go somewhere, or won’t be able to interact with you. What if they only have one phone, and need to make a call to resolve your issue?

    Last time someone told me to not put them on hold, I said “Ok, but I need to leave to confer with someone to resolve your issue, so I’m going to have to put the handset down.” Usually when someone says this it’s because they’re either being unreasonable to begin with or they’re reasonably afraid they’ll be on hold forever. I think the OP feared the latter, and I agree with him.

  14. trujunglist says:


    I couldn’t disagree more. Cutting someone off in the middle of them trying to explain and resolve a situation over a good deal of money means that you should focus on that person. If it is clearly a serious issue to someone else, interrupting them is basically the same as saying I don’t give a fuck, I’m going to take care of something else.
    I doubt I could be talking to a project manager about a critical issue, see my phone ring (which could be anyone; solicitation, another pm, some friend I know), ask them if I can put them on hold in the middle of them trying to resolve an important issue (but actually be TELLING them I’m putting them on hold because there’s no choice), and still have their business when all was said and done.
    I really doubt they have to pick up the phone after a certain amount of rings. If he was able to get a different manager the second time, that means there’s more than one, and that it was probably a personal phone call rather than a call routed to him from a lower tier. Otherwise, he would’ve just kicked it to someone else. Sorry, your gf asking you to pick up ice cream on the way home is not more important than $450. Terrible service.

  15. smelendez says:

    I never understand when companies do this. Think about it this way: You ordered something. They didn’t send it. Incidentally, they sent you an unsolicited item.

  16. pegr says:

    They did not send an unsolicited item. They sent the item in error. They can reasonably expect the item back, but have royally screwed up by failing to ship the original one.

    You should be able to charge it back because they failed to ship the correct item. What they do about the item shipped in error is their problem…

  17. sickofthis says:

    Here’s what the FTC says about “unordered merchandise”:

    Q. What should I do if the unordered merchandise I received was the result of an honest shipping error?

    A. Write the seller and offer to return the merchandise, provided the seller pays for postage and handling. Give the seller a specific and reasonable amount of time (say 30 days) to pick up the merchandise or arrange to have it returned at no expense to you. Tell the seller that you reserve the right to keep the merchandise or dispose of it after the specified time has passed.

  18. bostonmike says:

    I’ve been told by American Express that they believe it’s the customer’s responsibility to return the item (and pay for the return shipping if the company won’t) when they receive the wrong item. Then they’ll do a chargeback, but they don’t look at sending the wrong item in response to an order as an unsolicited item — they look at it as a mistake. Personally, I think it’s reasonable to require that the item be returned, but the company that made the mistake should absolutely pay for the return shipping. A company that doesn’t take responsibility for their mistakes doesn’t get my business any longer.

  19. warf0x0r says:

    1. Chargeback
    2. Stop buying 360s

    M$ has produced the best console to develop for, cause its just a PC, and the worst console to game with because it sucks.

  20. jtrouch says:


  21. bobpence says:

    Overstock resent a small order I had that FedEx Ground failed to deliver, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have experienced scam non-deliveries of $450 consoles. (I order a console, receive it, call in to say I got something else, get another one, sell it on eBay, then play with my free console. It happens.)

    From that perspective, it may have helped to point out the size and weight of the shipping box, which they may be able to verify in their records. Given proof in their own records that they could NOT have sent the correct item may have resulted in a better experience.

  22. dragonpup says:

    As many others have said, call your credit card company ASAP and chargeback.

  23. macinjosh says:

    I’m gonna feed the troll..

    It’s not like they randomly sent him some $18 item and he’s citing Finders vs. Losers.

    They have his $450 and haven’t sent the equivalent item. They should just send the XBox to him and ask him to send the intercooler thing if he feels like it.

  24. t-r0y says:

    Chargeback FTW. They may be able to send another charge through for $18 (until the part is returned), but keeping $450 for a $18 part is wrong!

  25. ShadowFalls says:


    You forget these are consoles that are getting the Red Rings of Death. Microsoft keeps recycling all these consoles and they keep happening. Best off getting a new one and selling the one they replace the returned unit with. You would think Microsoft would just start sending people new units and get rid of the old ones.

    In the case of this topic here, I agree with the charge back. You bought an item, they didn’t send you the item you bought and won’t give you the item back till you send them back the thing they shouldn’t have sent you to begin with. I mean wow, you should just get it for free just for your troubles…

  26. hn333 says:

    Why order a Xbox? Every store sells them.

  27. mandarin says:

    Overstock’s CEO is insane.

  28. Balisong says:

    @mell: Thing is though when someone says “Can I put you on hold?” they’re really saying “I’m going to put you on hold now.” It’s just a matter of saying it politely with an understood message…least that’s how I always looked at it. I still think it’s pretty rude to say no to being put on hold.

    @trujunglist: I see what you’re saying…but I still say it was out-of-line for this person to start yelling at the manager. Even if the manager cut you off to put you on hold, why fret about it and start yelling? You called about an order getting mixed up, not to argue about their phone skills. If it bothers you, go higher and write a letter about it, don’t yell at people, it gets you nowhere.

  29. TechnoDestructo says:


    This blog post

    Linked to in the comments for this consumerist post

    Explains what is wrong with that rationalization.

    Why should anyone give a shit what their internal procedures are?

  30. Balisong says:

    Oh and two Overstock posts in one day! Guess where I’m not shopping now :

  31. Balisong says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Huh? What does the Countrywide evidence case have to do with phones? Did I miss something?

  32. evslin says:

    @ShadowFalls: All the more reason not to get another one, if the solution to fix a broken one is to replace it with another broken (I’m sorry, I meant “refurbished”) one.

  33. Buran says:

    @Balisong: Except, he asked a yes/no question, got a no, and did yes anyway. Deserved what he got.

  34. junkmail says:

    @tmccartney: Good to know, thanks.

  35. parad0x360 says:

    @warf0x0r: I love my 360, best console to game with, easiest console to game with and yea the overheating did suck big time but they fixed it plain and simple.

    As for overstock.com, I have purchased two things from them and never had any issues. I never had to return anything but I would shop there again but never for Electronics.

  36. chiieddy says:

    Chargeback was the first thing that crossed my mind when I read the article title. Why do people have such trouble thinking of doing this when in these situations?

  37. crazypants says:

    Yeah but with chargebacks, does the company have any recourse to send the debt to an outside collection agency if the chargeback is successfull?

    Check out this link to see what I mean:


    I’ve asked this question before but no one has really been able to provide any clear cut information as to wether or not this is legal. It sure would be nice to have someone post the applicable statutes or laws pertaining to chargebacks/collection agencies though, as everyone always advocates doing chargebacks but in prickly situations such as these, but no one ever mentions the hidden danger of it marring your credit report.

    Any insight would be super duper appreciated!

  38. Sudonum says:

    IANAL, I can’t link to any direct evidence for you one way or the other. I can describe to you the procedures that the CC companies have followed every time I’ve initiated a chargeback.

    In AMEX’s case they will issue an immediate credit and start an inquiry with the merchant. I had a charge bak I initiated against Amazon that AMEX credited but then after investigating with Amazon, rescinded the credit. I went back to Amazon and fought and they finally agreed and gave me the credit plus a $200 gift certificate for my trouble. Most of the time, if you’re right in challenging the charge, you’ll get a notice from AMEX that they have closed the inquiry and the credit will stand.

    The only chargeback I initiated with a VISA/MC issuing bank went a little differently. I had to provide proof that I never received the item and that I had tried to resolve it with the merchant before hand. In that case UPS verified that they had lost the package and that was pretty much the end of the case. But it still took several weeks for the CC company to get back to me and tell me that they we’re upholding the chargeback and crediting the account.

    As I type this, I don’t think there are any statutes that would cover this. It is probably covered under the Merchant Agreement between the Card Issuer and the Merchant. And if a bank issues agrees with you and issues the creit chargeback then the merchant has to abide by it.

  39. crazypants says:

    @Sudonum: I appreciate your thoughts on the matter – I read somewhere re: the visa/MC merchant agreement too, but my understanding of that was that it merely prevented the offending company from re-charging your visa card after the chargeback has successfully been processed.

    I really hate to think that a company could do this and have it be legal – it certainly seems highly unethical.

    But yeah, if anyone has any further insight please let us know, as I think it’s pretty important to let everyone know that initiating a chargeback, even one thats ruled in your favor, might not be the end of the issue. (ie it might open a whole new can of worms with the whole outside collection agency thing…)

  40. Sudonum says:

    I checked that link you sent and I wonder what the whole story is. IE why the card issuer would uphold the chargeback, but Orbitz won’t let go of it.

  41. ldavis480 says:

    I think it’s amusing that Overstock.com wants everyone to agree to binding arbitration yet run to their attorney and threaten lawsuits when they feel they’ve been wronged.

    The one incident that comes to my mind deals with something that happened last year. Overstock.com was involved in sending spam and ended up being listed on an anti-spam blacklist hosted in Australia, named SORBS. The SORBS maintainers, rather than being asked in good faith to resolve the spam issues were sent legal cease and decist letters on behalf of Overstock’s lawyers.

    Amusing read on SORBS wiki:


  42. MARTHA__JONES says:

    I would contact their CEO, one of my family members has done this with very positive results. If you get no answer that way, then I would call your credit card company and explain that overstock took your money and did not provide the goods you paid for.


  44. b612markt says:

    I recently had a truly disgusting experience with Overstock and their horrific “shipping label” procedure for returns. It was abominable. It really makes me think twice, or even three times before shopping with them again.

  45. cerbie says:

    Hate to be all blame the victim, but, a store with 3.2/10 lifetime and 2.31 6 month rating at RR does not deserve anyone’s business.

  46. shades_of_blue says:

    sounds like something buy.com would do, there are lots of horror stories about site…

  47. accept says:

    Overstock is a joke. I suggest you talk to a attorney if this problem is not solved.

  48. elektrik says:

    This doesn’t really apply to this, but it is about Overstock.com. I just couldn’t find anywhere else to post it.

    I recently bought a featherbed from Overstock.com then when I opened it I realized it was made of duck feathers…not really what I was wanting, which the website failed to mention the material used in the item. So I returned it to get a refund to purchase the featherbed that I wanted with goose feathers. I was only given back half of the refund, because they said they found a hair on the featherbed. One single hair and they keep $30 because they say they can’t restock it now. However, they’ll probably pick the hair off and repack it and sell it. So if you buy from Overstock.com, be sure that you’re buying what you want, because if you open the package and a hair falls in…you’re screwed. Not to mention they can’t be sure whether the hair came from the factory when it was packed or not. However, I did get them to give me an additional $15 back after complaining to them.