I recently lost $50 in a retail scam. I will survive the economic loss. However, I feel a little embarrassed over this mishap. I have an excellent track record when it comes to buying cds on internet. Until now, that is. This is what happened. I was doing my daily trawling in search of rare and hard-to-find albums. This time I was looking for a rare trashgrass album. Usually not many search results come up, but this particular day I found a new acquaintance in the search results. A website with the trustworthy name "Interstock" allegedly had a copy of the album, find them here (opens in a new window). The price of the item was $15.95 and the shipping cost 19.95 (damn US international shipping rates). I was so exited and eager to get the album, I didn't even ask myself the basic question: how come this general website which sells virtually everything with discount have this very rare cd? It seemed like a legitimate business. You could pay with Paypal, bitcoins or a gift card. However, the Paypal method wasn't working at the time and I was left to choose between bitcoins or gift cards. I bought a gift card on Amazon and paid $50. There was a text field for Paypal refund ($14.10) which I filled in. I got an order confirmation and a tracking number. So far, so good. Standard procedure. The shipping courier, USP Service also seemed trustworthy with their close resemblance to UPS and their DHL-inspired graphic colour profile, find them here (opens in a new window). However, USP doesn't exist (but I didn't not that then). There were more strange details. The item was shipped from Poland, which isn't exactly a centre for rare and hard-to-find cds. The shipping cost from Poland to Sweden is moreover defintely lower than $20. However, I really wanted to believe that the cd would arrive any day soon. Now a tracking inferno started with updates (see table below). The cd travelled back and forth in Poland and after nearly a month later it "arrived" in Sweden. By then, I had accepted the brutal fact that I had been fooled. My Amazon gift card had instantly been cashed in. Of course, there was no refund of $14.10 either. Some things you have to learn the hard way. If I only had googled the website I had found out that the website was located in US, but the real location was hidden, which means high risk and 0% safety according to this anti-scam website, read more here (opens in a new window). Furthermore, there was no way to check up the shipping courier before the order was placed. USP Service are listed on this website, read more here (opens in a new window). The unneccesary traffic inferno (the scam has already taken place) seems only to be intended to delay the realization of this fact.
|Accepted at USP Origin Facility||Szczecin, PL||May 31, 2017, 04:21 pm|
|Processed at USP Origin Sort Facility||Szczecin, PL||June 1, 2017, 04:58 pm|
|Electronic Shipping Info Received||Szczecin, PL||June 3, 2017, 06:59 pm|
|Departed USP Sort Facility||Szczecin, PL||June 4, 2017, 11:45 am|
|Arrived at USP Sort Facility||Wolomin, PL||June 7, 2017, 03:55 pm|
|Processed at USP Sort Facility||Wolomin, PL||June 8, 2017, 10:28 pm|
|Departed USP Sort Facility||Wolomin, PL||June 9, 2017, 07:22 pm|
|Arrived at USP International Service Center||Warsaw, PL||June 11, 2017, 07:50 pm|
|Processed at USP International Service Center||Warsaw, PL||June 12, 2017, 06:33 pm|
|Departed USP International Service Center||Warsaw, PL||June 13, 2017, 04:30 pm|
|Processed Through Sort Facility||Stockholm, SE||June 21, 2017, 12:04 am|
|Arrival at Pick-Up Point||Stockholm, SE||June 23, 2017, 01:54 am|
|Customs Clearance||Stockholm, SE||June 24, 2017, 04:29 pm|
|Arrival at Post Office||Stockholm, SE||June 25, 2017, 02:31 pm|
Reluctantly I admire the brute force of the scam. But it has some flaws. I like to end this depressing blog entry with some constructive criticism that could help to improve the scam. First of all, the Polish Postal Service is slow, but not so slow. Second, anyone with the slightest insights in postal handling realizes that the cd is destined to go directly from Szczecin Sort Facility to the International Service Center. There's really no need to send it to Wolomin Sort Facility first. Third, if an item is subject to custom rules it goes first to Custom Clearance, not to a Pick-Up Point. Fourth, Sweden and Poland are members of EU since 1995 and 2004, respectively. All imports are free of duty. Read and learn more here (opens in a new window). And last but not least. There are no Post Offices in Sweden. They were discontinued already in 2001/2002 and were replaced by a plethora of postal agents (i.e. convenience stores, tobacco stores, food chains and others). Live and learn. I know I will.