We have a lot of neighboring students, who shop on-line. However, the parcels are mostly delivered at a time, that the neighbors are still sleeping. So we have often parcels of internet shops here, like from Bol.com.
Imagine you buy a TV via Bol.com. The TV is offered through a partner company, you transfer the money and a device is delivered to your home. But if something turns out wrong and problems arise, where can you go? It happened to Jos van Wakeren. The 79-year-old bought a TV via Bol.com in December. A Samsung, he knew exactly which one he wanted. “Good reviews, beautiful device.” But he was sold out everywhere. “Suddenly I think: Bol.com! Well, that’s where the device is. Just looking at the reviews, they were only good. What can happen to me?” Thought Van Wakeren. When he saw that sales were going through TV Store, a partner company that sells via Bol.com, Van Wakeren didn’t think much of it. “I care, I have what I need.”
When the TV was delivered, everything seemed fine. But it soon became apparent that the device came with an instruction booklet with only Eastern European languages. After a call to Samsung, which told him that the TV was intended for the Eastern European market, he decided to return the TV. That was quite a hassle with such a large TV, but in the end it worked. Then it went wrong: “Suddenly I received an email. The return was not accepted.” Indeed, research had shown that the TV had been on for 22 hours, and TV Store – also known as TV Plaza, TV Online and El-Vidas – will only accept returns if the unit has been viewed for less than 6 hours. If you click through to the additional terms on the Bol.com site you can find that additional terms, but you have to search for them. Van Wakeren called Bol.com, who eventually emailed back that there was nothing to do. It was in the terms. “I almost fell apart,” said the 79-year-old. “I couldn’t sleep at night. Just before Christmas. It was really bad.”
Van Wakeren is not the only one who happened to something similar. In the past few months, the Kieskeurig.nl complaints forum received a few dozen complaints about this seller and whatever the problem, almost everyone says that Bol.com took its hands off it. Edwin Wansleeben, owner of El-Vidas and the affiliated brands, emphasizes that the negative reviews only show one side of the story and says that about 3 to 4 percent of orders are returned. In addition, the company has an excellent satisfaction score on Bol.com. But he does acknowledge that things are going wrong. For example, there are people who are angry because they receive a message after return that the return has not been accepted. For example, because the product is damaged, according to the webshop. The customers say they don’t know anything, but Wansleeben also says that they are faced with an impossible task. The return shipment goes with return labels from Bol.com, so he cannot check whether something has gone wrong or has been damaged during transport, and if something breaks, ‘we cannot accept the return in advance,’ says Wansleeben. According to the seller, the process that follows can still be ‘optimized’. He admits that it does not give the best impression if people immediately receive a message that the return has not been accepted, without further information. Meanwhile, the company is said to have changed that way of working, and the customer is first contacted to explain what is going on. However, he adds, due to the way the return process is organized at Bol.com, the customer and Bol are responsible for the return process. “That is very annoying for the customer.” Last Monday, Wansleeben was still talking to Bol.com, precisely to talk about how these types of problems can be better tackled, says the entrepreneur.
According to Bol.com, the company is trying to help partners to keep customers happy, and to monitor whether sellers are performing well. This includes looking at the number of returns, customer inquiries and timely delivery. And the Wansleeben companies score well in those areas, says Bol. But, according to the largest online store in the Netherlands, they have started a conversation to find out where the problems – which also have not escaped Bol.com – come from. “The problem would be to communicate to customers about the type of item they are purchasing, or the way of communicating to customers at all.” Bol also says ‘to do everything possible’ to resolve the complaints that are going on as well and as quickly as possible.
According to the Consumers’ Association, this should not be all that difficult and Bol.com should simply take its responsibility. “They are the party you order and pay for. They are therefore the ones who have to solve this and they are not allowed to refer you,” said spokesman Gerard Spierenburg. In other words: if you as a customer have a problem with your product ordered via Bol.com, you should be able to obtain your rights from Bol.com and not from a seller you do not know.
The Consumers’ Association also makes mincemeat of the extra rules that Wansleeben sets for returns. You can return a product within 14 days without giving any reason, as long as it is undamaged, according to Spierenburg. “Mister could even leave that TV on non-stop for 14 days and then send it back.”
Meanwhile, the seller says that he personally called all complaining customers on Kieskeurig.nl to find a solution. In at least five cases, his company had indeed made mistakes, he says. Those customers would have been compensated for this.
That does not apply to Mr Van Wakeren. He has not yet got his money back, but he says he will not let it go. Incidentally, he does have the TV that was not to his liking back in his house, because his return just came back.