Wednesday, July 28, 2010

With a Pal Like That...

We had been thinking for some time about buying Rosetta Stone so our geniuously brilliant progeny could unleash even greater levels of brilliance by learning a second language.

They're like sponges at that age. Give them anything and they absorb it, remember it, and use it against you like an intellectual smart-bomb when the time is right. You won't know what hit you when they use their brilliance against you but you will know to take credit for aiding the development of their devious minds.

Me? I'm barely lingual, so forget about bilingual. I remember just enough Spanish from my four years of mandatory classes in junior high and high school to get my butt kicked. I even took one semester of German in college, but I also took a semester of pottery and you don't see me cranking out hand-thrown vases on a regular basis, so don't think I remember any German either.

Searching around on Ebay the other day, my Lovely Wife found a deeply discounted Rosetta Stone package offering Levels 1-5 of their German language software for only $129.99. Since we have family in Germany -- my Mother was born there -- we figured this was perfect and exceptionally priced.

Being a salesman by trade, I should have known that you get what you pay for. Even so, we forged ahead. We placed the order through eBay and made our payment through PayPal.

In the mail on Monday arrives a small envelope from an address in New York. Opening it reveals a generic computer disc and a poorly typed note explaining it is our Rosetta Stone German Levels 1-5 package. Immediately the word "piracy" starts flashing in front of me like a poorly edited montage from an old black and white movie.

Curious to see if the disc even contains anything, we popped it into our iMac only to find that, while the disc does contain some working parts, the last two levels don't do anything.

Since we have an email address for the seller, my Lovely Wife sends him/her an email explaining the situation. Long story short, the seller, whose name we don't know and whose emails for some reason are laced with Asian lettering, offers the following solution exactly as typed here: "I think I can't fix this problem right now. is that ok I return you $40 to resolve this?"

Um... We're screwed.

I really don't want $40 back at this point. I want my $129.99 back and I want to report this guy for selling pirated software and trying to pass it off as the real thing. At worst, I expected the bait and switch to involve us receiving a used Rosetta Stone package in place of the new one we were promised. I had no intention of buying a 30-cent disc with unlicensed software burned onto it under the direction of a money-laundering Chinese techno-pirate by some rebelious teenage geek in New York.

My bright idea to resolve our problem is to contact PayPal and lodge a formal complaint. Even though the process might not be quick and easy, surely they will want to know that someone is selling fraudulent goods and using their service to launder the money. Right?

Within minutes of submitting the complaint we receive this from PayPal:

"Our investigation into your claim is complete. As stated in our User Agreement, the claims process only applies to the shipment of goods. It does not apply to complaints about the attributes or quality of goods received. Therefore, we are unable to reverse this transcaction or issue a refund."

So, it seems that if you were to use PayPal to buy, oh I don't know, let's say a desk, and you instead received a rotten turnip, PayPal isn't interested because the seller did, after all, send you something.

To be fair, their email did go on to say that PayPal "does not tolerate fraud or illegal activities." Not that they'll do anything about it.

And it seems to me they aren't the ones having to tolerate it anyway, since their policies apparently shift the need to tolerate the problem directly on to users like you and me.

I'm pretty sure that we will, at some point, purchase Rosetta Stone properly -- at least once we save up and take out a second mortgage -- but you can be darned sure we won't be using PayPal to make any future purchases.

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