Meet 'The Imaginary Refund Policy' From Hammacher Schlemmer

It turns out Hammacher Schlemmer doesn’t want their goofy products any more than you do. Tanya in Canada has been trying for a month to get a refund on a product she felt didn’t live up to its promise, but the company won’t even acknowledge whether they’ve received it. Update: Hammacher Schlemmer has responded, and issued the refund.

I purchased a “headache relieving wrap” from Hammacher Schlemmer. When it arrived I discovered that it was pictured backwards in the catalogue and that the picture therefore concealed a large uncomfortable plastic D-ring incorporated into the closure.

It arrived with a (not prepaid) shipping label to use for returns. The address on this label, for a broker who handles their cross-border shipping, apparently, was slightly different from the one listed on the website. I emailed the same day, October 31, to inquire which address was correct and whether they required a traceable method when shipping returns. No reply.

I sent the same question through their website a few days later. No reply. I sent the item with the label provided and signature required on delivery. I then emailed again on November 8th indicating I was unhappy to have received no reply and asking how long I could expect it to take to process my refund. They replied indicating 7-10 business days.

On November 10th I received delivery confirmation from Canada Post and logged online to view it only to find that in the signature box, someone had written “refused to sign”. On November 12th I sent the PDF along with the entire previous chain of emails asking if they could confirm my return was being processed. I received a reply requesting my order number (which was included in the previous email) and stating that “they could not locate my order with the information provided”. I replied indicating that the order number and other information had been in the previous email but cut-and-pasted it at the top for their convenience. No reply.

I phoned and talked to someone at their 1-800 number who said that they “must have” gotten it, although it wasn’t in the system. I asked if they would be willing to refund the charge I had paid for requesting a signature in view of the fact that I had written asking their shipping preferences before I sent it and that their broker refusing to sign was ludicrous as this was a way of ensuring that the package could be tracked. She stated they would be unable to begin to process a refund until the item showed up in the system but she would “put a note in my file”.

I emailed again on November 18th quoting the previous emails, recapping the entire story, and requesting a refund of the signature charge as well as confirmation that they had received the package. No reply.

Do you have any EECB contact information for Hammacher Schlemmer? I will already have to lose all the substantial shipping charges (2/3 the cost of the original item) for having this delivered in the first place, which I accept is a risk from ordering from this kind of outfit. However, when you make your business in dealing with luxury goods, and when you have such steep shipping charges for having a broker who specializes in cross-border deliveries, is it too much to expect to receive responses to inquiries or have someone sign for a return package when a signature is required?

It is not too much to expect, Tanya. It is the minimum the company could do if they wanted to ensure customer satisfaction, and possibly repeat business.

Here’s Hammacher Schlemmer’s contact info according to Google Finance:

Hammacher Schlemmer & Co., Inc.
9307 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Niles, IL 60714
+1-847-581-8600 (Phone)
847-581-8616 (Fax)

Richard (Rich) Tinberg, CEO
Donald Q. (Don) Rogers, VP Operations
Barry Orr, Senior Accounting Director

My advice, however, is that you should consider a chargeback if you paid by credit card.

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