Bitterwallet takes Shop Direct shenanigans to OFT and Trading Standards

20 July 2010

The wheels of consumer justice may turn painfully slowly, but they do seem to be inching their way round. Of course, they may just grind to a halt and fall off, but we'll take what we can get.

Remember our skirmish with Additions in April? The online catalogue store, part of the Liverpool-based Shop Direct group offered an external hard drive at a ridiculously low price. Unsurprisingly, the world and his wife attempted to purchase one (or many more) and, in a further lack of astonishment, Additions cited a misprice and cancelled all the orders.

Bitterwallet - we buy a Buffalo hard drive from Additions

However, although Additions refunded the cost of the hard drive (which they charged at point of sale), they kept hold of the £3.95 delivery fee they'd also charged per order. As far as we could tell, it wasn't just in the handful of cases that came Bitterwallet's way, but in all the instances reported by customers on Hot UK Deals. So Additions retained the delivery charge for a product that was never dispatched, and appeared to do so on a significant scale.

Bitterwallet - Additions don't refund the £3.95 delivery charge

We waited the 60 day period allowed by the Distance Selling Regulations for Additions to refund the delivery charge, but it never came. It goes without saying Additions had no right to withhold the charge, but such a small amount of money could easily be overlooked by other customers, which begged the question - how much money owed to customers does Shop Direct have?

We asked Shop Direct's press department, who chose not to answer, so we took the complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), who did decide our (and your) complaints were worthy of a reply:

"Under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (the EA02) the OFT, along with other enforcers such as local authority Trading Standards Services (TSS), has powers to seek undertakings and court orders to deal with infringements of a range of consumer protection legislation, including the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, where such a breach harms the collective interests of consumers.

"As the trader is based in the Liverpool area, the OFT is of the view that Liverpool TSS is best placed to monitor the activities of the trader to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation. The OFT has therefore contacted Liverpool TSS to highlight your concerns."

OFT did mention that if the action taken by Trading Standards is considered "informal" ("offering guidance, advice or warning the trader") then it doesn't have to report it, so let's hope a more serious tone is struck. At the very least, we'd hope to cause Shop Direct some mild irritation, like hearing Alan Carr on the radio, or bout of thrush. We'll follow the story to let you know what comes out it.


  • Alexis
    Trading Standards are pretty toothless.
  • Jimbo
    finally - a great story that bitterwallet should be proud of! No more 'funny' pictures or accidental pricing stickers thanks -keep producing work like this!
  • Nick
    Marshal Ward have done the same thing to me. I am waiting for there reply at the moment. It was also £3.95 delivery charge. When I originally questioned the credit on my account I was told it was a system error. I then received a statement in the post and contacted them again and they said I was in credit.
  • Andy
    cool story - when u doing 1 on quidco?
  • Esther82
    Great story, I wonder how many people haven't even noticed they've been ripped off? Would be better if you could spell SHENANIGANS though...
  • Michael
    Good on you guys. I too were caught by their stealing tactics. I had to phone up, e-mail and make a really big complaint just to get my bloody delivery charge back. I hope they burn!
  • Klingelton
    if a fella took money out your back pocket and refused to return it, it would be theft - if a large company do it, it's a failure of process and nothing needs to happen about it. Bloody crooks.
  • um b.
    i had to phone them a few times to get a refund for this. they kept fobbing me off with a different story. i'm not entirely certain if i did get the money back but they had the check to offer me "special offers" at the end of the phone call each time i called them. i told them to fcuk right off in no uncertain terms in each case they are one of the worst companies i've ever dealt with, and the bastards keep spamming me with more offers that no doubt will be cancelled or out of stock in the unlikely event i placed an order
  • The B.
    Write to them twice, if they refuse to refund it, take it to small claims court, okay, it might cost you £30 (no idea how much it now), but trust me it'll cost them and their legal department a lot more.
  • The B.
    Oh, and you get the £30 back plus interest on the amount owed.
  • James M.
    Seconded on the quidco thing.. Funny how the big amount cashbacks always seem to fail to track and then they side with the merchant with no explanation.. Keep up the good work guys!
  • Bazinga
    As above, run more stories like this.
  • Mr G.
    As if Scouseland had Trading Standards! Scallies...
  • dunfyboy
    Good luck but oft & ts are pretty shit at this sort of thing. Got my delivery costs back after loads of emails. Best bet is to stop dealing with these wankers. I've noticed their deals have pretty much dried up on hukd and any that do appear get hit with cold votes pretty quickly.
  • OldMan
    quidco is shit basically. Wonder how long this post will stay knowing who owns HUKD / BW
  • bushbrother
    I have never had issues with Quidco, all the large ones (£30-£50) from gambling sites have tracked and been paid ... or are you lot talking larger?
  • The B.
    Never had a problem either, just had to chase £90 from Vodafone but it seems to be tracking now, so good for me.
  • stinkybeard
    IMO anything related to Redcats Brands (shop direct), Empire etc is a great big turd. Steer well clear of these grade A cnuts.
  • Late
    Nice work BW. Hope to hear a follow up soon :D I went for the HDD mentioned in this report/post, using my account with Marshall Ward - an account I use purely to attempt to buy mispriced stuff and generally piss the company off, btw. I also used a £10 code I found. Yes I'm fully aware of the folly of using such codes with this company. After the order was canceled I found myself £6.05 in credit. Emailed them to complain about the delivery charge and they refunded the £3.95 to my account, leaving me with £10 credit on the account - which has been there a few months now. They could've spotted their ten quid error while they were in there, but it wasn't the biggest of gambles if you're aware their staff collectively have less IQ than .... erm ... someone with a comedically low IQ.
  • Angie
    Traders only have 30 days in which to refund consumers not 60
  • Whisky
    As far as Quidco are concerned More Then are complete robbing bastards who stole my 70 or 80 squids.
  • Stephen
    Officers in both the OFT and local Trading Standards are renowned for accepting those little brown envelopes. Don't hold your breath.
  • jsoap
    Last time I contacted Trading Standards, local to the company I had a problem with, they directed me back to my local branch! Its clear that they are not geared up to respond to individual queries, especially minor ones. The most effective approach is to contact Consumer Direct, who will confirm your rights, and will give you a case reference number, which you can quote in any correspondence to the rogue company. In addittion, Consumer Direct will also pass the details on to the local Trading Standards office, which is also worth mentioning in any correspondence.
  • BBC’s B.
    [...] a new series of Rip Off Britain coming up soon; we’ve told them about your dealings with Additions and ExclusiveEyes and their merry band of websites, but what have YOU got to say? Here’s the [...]
  • Jonny
    Seems quidco, hotuk deals, and bitterwallet are owned but this guy Paul nikkel if things don't go his way he gets his bum chums to slate u on bitterwallet, I Have Been Reading a Blog on his Company as He Avoids Giving His Address Seems a Few Companies Are After Suing Him In The High Court, As they have all Got Together I Am All For Deals But Seems Slagging Off Companies is Really helping Our Cause Not!, I had the Same problem Above And The Company Resolved No Problem Certain Pratts You Are Never Going To Help And More and More Retailers are Hitting Back By Tracking And Naming and Shaming Them Online Lets See if These Persons Like Reading About Whats Others Really Think Even Some Are Contacting Employers if The Blog Was In Works Time I say Goid Luck To Them

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