Rebecca L. Eisenberg
October 20, 1997
case number: 13
amount in dispute: $335.51
client: MACadam Computers
Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
Southern Region Operations Center
777 American Expressway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33337
To whom it may concern:
This letter is written regarding the disputed charge on my American Express Account, Account number, in the amount of $335.51. I write with a great deal of frustration and anger, and bemoan the fact that MACadam Computer, Inc., 1062 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, is behaving in a dishonest, unethical and disreputable manner. I do not owe any money to American Express for any charge I made at MACadam Computer, Inc., for the reasons explained below.
As means of background, I am a computer professional, a former Manager of Information Systems, System Administrator, Computer Consultant, professional Macintosh technician, and software reviewer. I have written for such publications as MacAddict, Wired, The Net Magazine, The Web Magazine, and NeTProfessional: Macintosh Solutions for Internet Professionals. I have been using Apple computers, both professionally and recreationally, since 1983. I know and understand the technology, and if I say that a product is flawed, it is flawed. For the record, I am also an attorney licensed to practice in California, subject to the California Rules of Professional Ethics, and I write this letter pursuant to those rules.
Last spring, I purchased a scanner from MACadam Computer, Inc.. I spent three weeks attempting to use it with my Power Macintosh 8500/132, running system 7.6.1 (at that time; now it runs macos system 8.0). The scanner software and hardware were incompatible with my system, and despite my numerous efforts, from reinstalling the scanner software to reinstalling my system software, I ultimately decided that its performance was inadequate for my needs, and decided to return the machine to MACadam Computer, Inc.. I had been told that the store policy was 30 day return if the equipment was faulty, and a 20 percent reshelving fee if the equipment merely was not desired. I attempted to return the machine well before the 30 days was passed. I would not have purchased the machine had this not been the store's return policy.
When I entered the store, and explained that I wanted to return the scanner, the store's owner, Tom Santos, greeted me rudely, and told me that the problem must be due to user error, and not to due to the equipment. He connected the scanner to a Macintosh in his store, which was _not_ the same kind of computer I was running at home, and showed me how it worked on _his_ computer.
I explained that it did not work on my computer, and that I wanted to return it; that I would be willing to pay the reshelving fee if necessary. He told me that I was being "rude," and I was clearly incompetent. Santos spoke to me in a loud tone, and humiliated me in front of the other people in the store. As hard as I tried to convince him to let me return the scanner, he merely insisted that I must be doing something wrong. I explained to him that I was a computer professional, and listed my credentials mentioned above, but that only further enraged him. He was highly enraged and dysfunctional, and started screaming at me.
Santos told me that if I wanted the scanner fixed, I needed to bring in my PowerMac to MACadam Computer, Inc., and that he would charge me $150/hour to make the scanner work on my machine. I told him that I had already decided to return the scanner; that the scanner did not suit my needs, but he told me that "he did not like my attitude" and that he "didn't want to see me in his store again."
I approached the store manager and asked him to allow me to return the scanner, but the manager told me that he reported to his boss, the owner, and that what the owner said goes. He suggested that I call the store later that evening.
I returned home with the scanner, and called the store about an hour later. The owner would not speak with me. I called the next day, and asked the Tom Santos to call me back. Santos did not call me back.
The following week, I asked a friend of mine to call MACadam Computer, Inc. anonymously and ask about the return policy. He was told that the policy was 30 days, with a 20 percent reshelving fee for "changed minds." I was not given the benefit of the store's return policy, as hard as I tried.
The following week, MACadam Computer, Inc. introduced a new product that rendered the scanner I had purchased outdated, and greatly reduced the value of the scanner I bought. Currently it is possible to buy the scanner I purchased for $99, even though I paid over $300 for it at the time I purchased it. Clearly, MACadam Computer, Inc. was far more interested in moving inventory than it was in treating its customers equitably. Unfortunately, it is making a grave mistake with me, as I am willing to enforce my claim to the letter of the law.
MACadam Computer, Inc. is lying and misstating the facts of the case. In the first letter they submitted to American Express, dated July 9, 1997, signed by Gregory P. Mohr, General Manager, they merely stated, without explanation, that the "product works." Nonetheless, even while making this statement, they also misrepresented the product I had purchased -- calling it a "Passport VX" instead of a "Paperport." They stated that "the client has been given long periods of explanations in attempt to help her get the product working." That is a lie. I decided that the product did not suit my needs; I attempted to return it and sacrifice the reshelving fee if necessary, but I was given no such option. And, they know damn well that no such explanations were "given" -- nor were they _necessary_. As a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, I am intelligent enough to know when a product works or not. The behavior of MACadam is appalling and shameful. They chose not to take back the product because they knew that they were receiving a updated model the next week -- or they chose not to take it back merely because they did not "like me." Neither excuse is acceptable.
The second letter from MACadam Computer, Inc., dated September 4, 1997, states an identical untruth: that the "customer is having problems herself with the machine." In addition, that letter also misrepresents the store's return policy.
I know from conversations with colleagues that MACadam Computer, Inc. has pulled similar dishonest acts on other computer customers. Its contract with American Express should be terminated, and my money refunded in full. The time I have spent dealing with this, as well as the emotional strife that this matter has caused me, alone merits sanctions. I cannot state strongly enough that MACadam Computer, Inc. is unprofessionally run and managed, and is behaving dishonestly and unethically in this case.
I am hoping that MACadam Computer, Inc. will acknowledge its liability in this matter, allow me to return the merchandise, and remove the charge from my credit card statement. Otherwise, I will have no choice other than to take further action. I have no intention to see this matter rest until my money is refunded in full.
Please note that I am cc'ing this letter to the owner of MACadam Computer, Inc., as well as placing a copy of it on my web page, at http://www.bossanova.com/rebeca/.
I am hoping that American Express will cooperate with me in this matter, and force stores like MACadam Computer, Inc. to stick to their ethical and legal responsibilities.
I appreciate your attention to this matter.
Rebecca L. Eisenberg
cc: Kristin Heart, Esq.
Better Business Bureau
Back to October 26, 1997, ReadMe
To Tom Santos's Pathetic Reply
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Copyright 1997 Rebecca L. Eisenberg firstname.lastname@example.org