Screen savers: the burn of shopping online

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Neil Breen on retail’s wild west

Like the rest of the world, I have been sucked into internet shopping.

I have dabbled in the past — once I bought a sand wedge because I thought it was a good idea. Another time I bought, ridiculously, a pair of $500 Italian boots from the US.

The sand wedge did turn out to be a good idea. I still have it and use it, often, because I'm in the sand a lot.

The boots were a palaver. The first pair that arrived were the wrong size. Amazingly, second time around and another $120 worth of shipping costs later, they fit.

I don't have them any more. They disappeared from the house amid blank stares from the kids soon after our new puppy arrived in 2017. They were good boots too.

This year, my internet shopping has increased. But I have learnt it's an unregulated wild west out there. There seems to be nobody in charge.

The other day eBay emailed me with a "free $10 off your next purchase" offer. I thought that seemed too good to refuse so I found a bag of 50 "good condition" used Titleist Pro VI golf balls for $24, including shipping, from some joint in WA. Good deal, even if only half of them were OK.

They never arrived. I was badgered by emails from Australia Post.

"You golf balls are on the way,” the first email said, complete with a tracking number. Then it was "your golf balls are at the depot”. Finally "your golf balls have arrived". You beauty. 

But they hadn't. No golf balls, no card from the post office, nothing.

The next email from Australia Post asked me to fill in a survey about my satisfaction with the delivery of my 50 Pro VIs. Let's just say I didn't give them the answers they wanted.

I contacted eBay who sent me to Australia Post. I had to fill in a missing postage thingo. Punish.

It became clear the onus was completely on me to find the golf balls. It wasn't worth the trouble.

After a short hiatus from the caper, I have dived back in, spurred on by our five-year-old's obsession with Beyblades, a spinning top toy he discovered at school.

We chose a pack of four Metal Fusion Beyblades from some outlet on the promise of three-to-10 day delivery. The five-year-old ran home from school day after day. No Beyblades. On the 10th day I emailed.

Amazingly, a nice lady emailed back and said her child had been sick and she wasn't able to process my order promptly.

In the end, they turned up on the 13th day. Five-year-old beside himself.

The problem is our son now is obsessed with finding new Beyblades on the internet. He has found some that are available only through Walmart in the US. I told him we couldn't get them.

One morning he woke me up at 5.15am and said: "Can I have the day off school, Dad?"

“Why?"

"Because you could take me to America to go to Walmart to get Beyblades."

Expensive caper this internet shopping.