The Trials and Tribulations of Buying a Smartphone Online

This is about what happened to me when I tried to buy a new smartphone online in November 2020.

Update December 2020

In fact, I didn’t cancel my Amazon account and ended up buying a much cheaper and better midrange phone from Amazon: the RealMe x50 5g, which is only £279 compared to £349 for the Pixel 4a. The RealMe has a better CPU and specs:

Snapdragon 765G 5G
120Hz Ultra Smooth Display
30W Dart Charge

This phone is now reduced by a further £20 to £259 direct from RealMe, as a Special Christmas Offer until 23rd December.  The Jungle Green colour looks pretty cool, so I chose that colour.

See: https://buy.realme.com/uk/goods/153

This was after I tried to order a OnePlus Nord smartphone (12GB, 256GB) from a compaany called OnBuy.com – which proved to be a disaster. OnBuy, based in Dorset, England, claim to be a new rival to Amazon.  Unlike Amazon, they sell nothing directly as the retailer, but follow the Amazon Seller model, using mainly Chinese companies to fulfil orders, with whom the customer deals direct.  I tried to order the phone from an outfit called Tech Product Pro. I placed the order in good faith on 19th November. After 15 DAYS the OnePlus Nord smartphone had STILL not been despatched, that is by 5th December. The estimated delivery was 1-3 December.  In the meantime, the company Tech Product Pro put up all their prices by £1000 for the SAME items, which was very suspicious.

Tech Product Pro then changed its name to “Star Success Enterprise Limited” – which was even more suspicious.  On 5th December this company finally offered me a phone in Grey colour, a different colour from the Blue I had ordered, and indicated that it could take up to ANOTHER 12 BUSINESS DAYS TO DELIVER.  I declined this offer – I did not want a phone in a different colour.  Considering I put in my original order on 19th November, I also would not be happy to wait ANOTHER 12 BUSINESS DAYS – and I didn’t believe that given the lamentable performance of this company so far, there was any likelihood that they would fulfil the order even in this time.

I twice messaged this company requesting a refund, with no response.  I  began a claim case with PayPal, which could take 20 days before anything happened – so it would be Christmas by that time, and I would still  be WITHOUT a new phone for Christmas and also WITHOUT a refund.

This was an abysmal situation.  I urged OnBuy to put pressure on Tech Product Pro / Star Success Enterprise Limited to issue my refund as soon as possible and not to fob me off with saying I had to wait until I get a reply from this very dubious company, as they are obviously operating a scam, offering for sale phones which they do not have in stock, then not making any attempt to despatch the item for as long as they could, then offering another phone in a colour which was NOT the colour the customer ordered, and expecting the customer to wait up to another 12 Business Days for a phone which again, they probably do not have in stock, then ignoring the customer’s request for a refund.

Not very good business practice was it?  OnBuy and Tech Product Pro “appear” to get good reviews (many of which I am now beginning to suspect are bogus).

I pointed out to OnBuy that if I did not get a refund VERY SOON for the phone which I HAD NOT received, I could assure them that I would be writing reviews of both OnBuy and Tech Product Pro / Star Success Enterprise Limited which would be FAR FROM FAVOURABLE, to warn as many people as possible about OnBuy and your suppliers.

Miraculously, I got my ful refund the same week!

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Back to what happened with the Pixel 4a – after doing a good deal of research into mid-range smartphones, I decided to buy the Pixel 4a smartphone from Amazon.co.uk.  It looked like a very good phone and was exactly what I wanted.  However, I felt very disappointed and annoyed to discover that Amazon had dropped the price of the phone from £349 (the day before, when I ordered it) to £319 on the day it was delivered, just one day later!  I had barely taken the phone out of the box!

I have had no option but to return the Pixel 4a for a refund because Amazon refused to reimburse me for the £30 price difference from one day to the next. This is an incomprehensible attitude of Amazon, who would rather make NO SALE than give good customer service regarding matching their own price match!

So just to be clear – I paid £349 for the phone from Amazon.co.uk and the very next day, just after I took delivery, the exact same Pixel 4A phone dropped in price to £319 from the exact same Amazon.co.uk. 

I actually wanted to keep the phone and tried to contact Amazon to see if they would use a bit of common sense for good customer relations and consider reimbursing me for the £30 price difference, but unbelievably, Amazon would rather I return the phone for a full refund (minus the £3.99 return shipping costs, which I had to pay, of course).

This was what I was informed by a very unhelpful so-called ‘Customer Support’ lady who was apparently in a call centre in India, and just read from a script, saying “computer says no!”  I urged her to put me through to a  supervisor or manager who might be more amenable and understanding – but no dice. 
She hung up on me.

So Amazon apparently prefer to make NO SALE rather than keep a very long-standing customer happy by showing a bit of decency and understanding towards customers.  I have spent £1000s with Amazon as an Amazon Prime customer over the years, but this issue is a matter of principle for me. 

Amazon forced me to return a perfectly good phone that I wanted to keep over just a £30 refund and lost a sale of £319!

I have also been extremely disappointed with the dreadful experience I had on the one and only occasion I tried to sell an item via Amazon Seller, but that is a different story. 

The way I feel at the moment, I am thinking of cancelling my
annual renewal of my Amazon Prime account and NEVER buying anything from Amazon again.

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