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I ordered a G4 the day before retailers were going to change their pricing b/c Mac announced a shortage. I think that was over 2 months ago now. I got it through a retailer I found on Yahoo. Well, as of today, the computer is still backordered, but I have already been charged on my credit card. I called and complained and was told they would "look into it" and return my call within 24 hours. I also called my credit card company and told them about the situation; they are sending forms. Is this illegal? I personally think that I don't have to pay for something until the day it has been shipped, especially since I'm not sure I'm going to get the same configs I ordered at the price I was charged.
Another question that's brewing now is how is a site's privacy track-record a reflection of their trustworthiness? I have this browser add-on from enonymous.com on my work PC. It rates Yahoo pretty low on privacy. But I have not had any problems with purchases I've made through them before, and I generally think they are reliable and trustworthy.
So let me summarize my many questions here,
Is charging a credit card before shipping the item illegal?
If so, who holds responsibility most, my CC company, Yahoo, or the Yahoo partner retailer?
How is a site's privacy rating indicative of its business practices?
Also, is there a place to go to see public opinion of a site before I buy from it?

Thanks for bearing with my long post.

JIM
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Most merchants don't charge your credit card until merchandise is shipped. There are some exceptions: I recall ordering an update book describing college alumni which wouldn't be shipped for 3 months but charged right away. Whether illegal or not I think depends on the state. Certainly, however, not nice.
You can contest the charge by writing to the credit card company, and also complain to the merchant. You are likely to get the charge reversed until the merchandise is actually shipped.
Good luck and keep Foolin'! Chris
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I also called my credit card company and told them about the situation; they are sending forms. Is this illegal?

Hi Jim!

I'm sure what is happening is that the credit card company is putting a hold on that charge while it is in dispute. While that is happening, you do not have to pay the charge.

The forms are simply documentation of your claim, verifying that what you told them is true. Very legal and proper.

Hope this helps!

Tony
...but I still am...

Off2Aruba
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I personally think that I don't have to pay for something until the day it has been shipped, especially since I'm not sure I'm going to get the same configs I ordered at the price I was charged.
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I think this really depends on the particular companie's policies. I'd say most of them agree with you, though. The only exception I know of is if the customer chooses to have delivery held. In that case, you probably will be charged up front, as the item is still technically being pulled from stock, as opposed to backordered, and not actually there.
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Jim

1. Don't know if it is illegal per say. Definitely shady.
2. The retailer is responsible, but you probably have a better chance of letting your credit card company dispute it instead of doing it yourself.
3. Not very. I looked at Enonymous. The site lists the top 50 most popular websites. Most have low privacy ratings, but they must get repeat customers.
4. If it stays in business, if it is an established brand. You can always post in a consumer forum or newsgroup to get feedback from people who have used the site.

art
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On a related not, I've found that purchasing retail PC's (especially Apple products) is not the "Foolish" thing to do.

When I needed a new computer, I read up on the internet everything I could about building my own. I read "How-to" articles, and printed them out for future reference. I then used www.pricewatch.com to search for the nation's lowest prices and ordered my parts from places that shipped for low or no cost. I also bought the trailing curve of technology: E.g., processor, video card, hard disk, and CD-ROM that were "cutting edge" some six or eight months ago, but are now priced cheaply in light of more recent (and expensive) releases.

When everything arrived, I put it all together (never had done it before). It took about half a day one weekend to get it all configured and load all my software, but in the end, I would up with a 450 mhz system that performs great, and is exactly what I wanted. And, unlike the prefabbed systems from Dell, Compaq, Micron, or Apple, my system is fully upgradeable and has lots of room to expand.

The total cost... $350, and I used my old moniter.

(BTW: Watch out for the offers that are appearing in computer stores now where they say you get a $400 off certificate. You are required to sign up for a modem service for several YEARS... a decidedly silly thing to do).

At any rate, Jim, I suggest that unless you are a graphic artist need the cutting edge G4 power, you should cancel that order all together and build your own system. If you're dying to have an Apple system, go with the trailing edge of technology: the G3... which is still a very nice system. You'll save a great deal of money. Regards.
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When I needed a new computer, I read up on the internet everything I could about building my own.
...
And, unlike the prefabbed systems from Dell, Compaq, Micron, or Apple, my system is fully upgradeable and has lots of room to expand.
...
The total cost... $350, and I used my old moniter.


The true advantage to building a PC out of generic components isn't the initial cost. It's the longer usable life of the result. Most off-the-shelf desktop systems are built with integrated this, and proprietary that, and poorly-supported the-other-thing.

Discrete generic components can be swapped individually, as needed.

The full-tower 66MHz 80486 with 8M RAM that I had assembled for me six years ago is now a 233 MHz K6 with 256M RAM. In the mean time, I have swapped every individual component except the case and the floppy drives.

The initial cost wasn't much less than an off-the-shelf box.

My total cost to date is far less than if I had upgraded to a new machine every two years, as I would have had to had I purchased one of these integrated machines.

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Is charging a credit card before shipping the item illegal?
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I do not think charging before delivery is illegal. In some cases, they may have required that you didn't just order the product, but had to pay for it by a certain date in order to qualify for the lower price...even if it was on backorder for two or three months. Still, most companies agree with you. BUT, if you'd sent in a check, I guarantee that they wouldn't have "held" your check until the ship date--it would've been cashed (mostly because the ordering and payment (accounting) department are not the same as fulfillment.)

Consider that if you fight this charge (assuming you still really, really want the product), you may no longer qualify for the lower price. Better go read the fine print on these details, or contact the retailer site for details.

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If so, who holds responsibility most, my CC company, Yahoo, or the Yahoo partner retailer?

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Interesting question. If you bought the same thing at Best Buy, based on an ad in the newspaper, who would be responsible? Hint: Yahoo=ad, Best Buy=retailer, CCC=CCC. Yahoo is simply the messenger, and the CCC is not responsible for purchases you make. However, if you use a reputable CCC, they will advocate for you in terms of fighting to get that charge off your card (actually, all of them are supposed to do it. Some give you less hassles in the process.) Meanwhile, Best Buy (or whomever) would normally give you a reincheck, and you'd only be required to pay upon delivery/receipt of the product.

Go get 'em, Fool.
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