A company that makes good on its word

Posted May 03, 2009, at 11:29 p.m.

In the 36 years Northeast CONTACT has been operating, we’ve found local businesses more responsive to consumer com-plaints than those located far away. So we’re delighted when a company “from away” makes things right.

That’s what happened in the case of a teacher from Down East Maine who ordered some computer software last August. Ruth (not her real name) mistakenly placed the order twice, then began a diligent effort — which ended just last week — to get her money back.

A week after placing her initial order, Ruth canceled it. The company, Netmop, advertised a full refund for orders canceled within 11 days. Ruth says it took dozens of calls over several months to get one of the charges removed from her credit card. She was still due a refund of the other charge.

It took more phone calls to determine that the company could not issue a credit to her card; instead, it would issue a check and mail it to her. An e-mail from an assistant manager assured Ruth in December that her check should be in the mail “within a week.” In February, after more phone calls, she was still waiting.

That’s when Ruth wrote to us, saying it was not the amount of the charge ($54) but the principle she was fighting for. A caseworker looked over Ruth’s well-documented account of the events and went to work.

Research turned up the name of the president of Netmop LLC, Samuel A. Robinson, whose company is based in Utah. A check of Better Business Bureau records revealed 15 other complaints over the past 36 months. Seven involved billing or collection matters, seven were refund or exchange problems, and one customer had a service problem. The bureau said all complaints had been resolved.

Our caseworker advised Ruth to write to Robinson by certified mail, with a return receipt requested, explaining the prob-lem to him as she had to us. She was urged to be professional but firm and to state that she expected a response within 30 days. Ruth did so, indicating that if she had not heard from him in that time, she would be notifying Maine’s Bureau of Con-sumer Credit Protection.

It took a bit more than 30 days to get her response, since Ruth was away on vacation for part of the time. The way Ruth put it, she couldn’t have been much more impressed.

“He was extremely apologetic and said that he had let his manager … go, not simply because of my case but because of multiple problems he had encountered over the past year. He was very grateful for the professional way in which I had dealt with his employees and the way in which I had handled the problem.

“He asked what he could possibly do to make the situation ‘right.’ He not only offered to refund the $54, but he also wanted to pay for the cost of the letter I sent and phone calls as well. He was ‘good to his word’ and sent me a check for $100.”

This was the first instance our caseworker recalls that a company official repaid costs incurred by a person lodging a com-plaint, as well as the refund requested. Northeast CONTACT applauds both the disciplined effort by “Ruth” and the response of Robinson, who clearly knows the meaning and value of good customer relations.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s membership-funded, nonprofit con-sumer organization. Individual and business memberships are available at modest rates. For assistance with consumer-related issues, in-cluding consumer fraud and identity theft, or for more information, write: Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, or e-mail conta-cexdir@live.com.

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