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Jewish Journal

The Israeli.com and me

by Dennis Prager

June 19, 2013 | 12:01 pm

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager

For the amusement of readers and to publicize what is probably the most absurd treatment by a retailer I have ever encountered — I am publishing the e-mail dialogue (to the extent that “dialogue” is the apt term) with an Israeli Web site from which I recently purchased a tallit. 

When possible, I prefer to support local businesses, but given my height (6 feet, 4 inches), I needed the largest tallit made. I assumed that an Internet site in Israel would offer the widest choice of tallitot.

On May 3, I ordered a silver and red tallit from ---.com. Although quite tempted, I refrain from publishing the actual of the name of the company. 

On May 4, I received the confirmation:

Thank you for your interest in ---.com products. Your order has been received and will be processed once payment has been confirmed. Order Details; Order ID: 77; Date Added: 04/05/2013; Color Wool Talis; Size: 60”x80”; Color: Red - Silver 1 $138.98; Regular Shipping: $10; Total: $148.98

A little more than two weeks later, I received a lovely tallit. Unfortunately, it was red and gold, not red and silver. 

So, on May 22, I informed the company of its mistake.

Re: Invoice ID: 77, I ordered red and silver, but the tallit I received is red and gold. How do I go about exchanging it for the correct one? Thank you.

In America, one would typically receive a response such as this:

“Please accept our apologies for sending the wrong tallit. Please use the attached pre-paid postage/FedEx/UPS label to return it to us, and upon receipt of the unworn tallit, we will immediately ship the one you ordered or issue a full refund of your money.”

That was not the response I received.

Indeed, as of June 15, I still have the wrong tallit. The only thing to which I can compare my ongoing dialogue with this company is the famous Monty Python dead parrot skit. In this skit, a man tried to return a parrot that had died on arrival at his home to the pet store where he had purchased the bird, but the store owner kept trying to convince the man that the parrot was not, in fact, dead.

Here, then, is the e-mail exchange — thus far:

A little more than four days later, I received this response:

Sun, May 26, 2013, at 7:40 a.m. Subject: Question from ---.com To: Prager Dennis 

Please send me picture of the tallit.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me anytime,

With kind regards

Refael  Y---

Sales Department

Expecting to receive a Returned Merchandise Authorization number or some other instruction on how to return the tallit, I found this response strange. Did they think I was lying? Or that I was color blind? But, I did what they requested and sent a photo taken with a superb full-frame camera.

Dennis Prager, Thu, May 30, 2013, at 6:43 p.m. To: ---.com

Here is a photo of the wrong colored tallit you sent me.

Dennis Prager

Once they had the photo, I was certain they would offer an apology or at least offer to send a new tallit. So, it was ---.com’s next response that made me realize that I was entering Monty Python territory:

sales@---.com Sun, Jun 2, 2013, at 11:04 a.m.

To: Dennis Prager 

Hello

Please send me the order number

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me anytime,

With kind regards

Refael Y---

---.com Sales Department

The truth is that I did have “further questions.” For example, how did they manage to stay in business? And did they think their business practices were fitting for religious Jews? But I preferred to let my new pen pal, Mr. Y., know, as gently as I could, that we had reached a certain level of absurdity, given that the order number was listed in the subject line on the very first piece of correspondence and appeared in the body of the email he replied to.

Dennis Prager Sun, Jun 2, 2013, at 3:24 p.m.

Dear Mr. Y---:

First, your company sent me the wrong tallit.

Then, after waiting a week for a reply, I was told that I had to take a picture of the wrong tallit.

And now you need me to tell you what the order number is. You don’t know?

Would you like the name of the mailman who delivered the tallit?

As you can see, it has been, shall we say, an odd experience dealing with ---.com. 

Here is the order number: Order ID: 77

I received a response immediately, and, the grammar, punctuation, spelling and general incoherence notwithstanding, it gave me reason for some optimism:

sales@---.com> Mon, Jun 3, 2013 at 12:27 AM To: Dennis Prager 

I am sorry you are right do you want to keep its and get credit for the site or some refund or replace it

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me anytime,

With kind regards

Refael Y., ---.com Sales Department, sales@---.com

On further reflection, however, the e-mail was mystifying. Why would I choose to keep the wrong tallit? Hadn’t I made clear in my very first e-mail that all I wanted was the tallit I had originally ordered? And now that he had the order number and a photo of the wrong tallit, why was he not telling me how to return it? 

So, I wrote back:

Dennis Prager Mon, Jun 3, 2013, at 1:05 a.m. To: sales@---.com>

Dear Sir:

Weeks ago all I asked was to be sent the correct tallit while I return the wrong one.

Dennis Prager

Having made my wish clear — yet again — I finally received a 160-word directive on what to do:

sales@---.com> Mon, Jun 3, 2013, at 4:39 a.m. To: Dennis Prager 

Please follow our return instructions when returning your order.

1. Please write on the package “return merchandise”.

2. Please return the package to: ---.com, Yavne, 81510 Israel

3. Please ship the item by standard mail (USPS) as items arriving with other services are more likely to get stuck in customs. Please note that we won’t cover any costs for custom clearance for items not arriving by standard mail.

4. We can offer you a credit for our website or refund of up to $15 by Paypal for shipping costs of returning broken items or in cases you have to return an item as a result of a mistake on our side. However, please note we can only offer you that credit or refund if the item is sent by standard mail (USPS).

5. Please keep a tracking number for the returned package.

We will handle your return request, refund or exchange, as soon as we receive the returned item.

Thank you for your cooperation

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me anytime,

With kind regards

Refael  Y.

---.com Sales Department

So my wife went to the post office to follow their instructions. However, their instructions were not doable. One cannot mail an item the size and weight of this tallit to Israel — even in the cheapest way suggested — and get a tracking number for $15. 

At this point, I was beginning to suspect there was a method to ---.com’s madness. At best, they were simply trying to wear me down, hoping that I had better things to do with my time than to keep responding to their non-response responses. At worst, they were being dishonest, peppering me with requests and questions and now giving me impossible directions for returning their tallit. 

They were right about my having better things to do with my time. But by now curiosity as to how this whole thing would be resolved, if ever, had taken over. 

So, I wrote to them about what transpired at the post office. 

Dennis Prager, Fri, Jun 7, 2013, at 12:26 a.m. To: sales@---.com

My wife went to the post office to mail the tallit and was told that the cheapest possible way to send the tallit (first-class postage is the least expensive option) would cost $27. and that is without any tracking, meaning that if the tallit got lost, I would be out the cost of the tallit and the $27 shipping. 

With tracking it would cost $40. You have stated you will cover only $15 of the return shipping cost. 

Please explain why I should have to pay the difference, given that I made no mistake, and your company did, sending the wrong item. It is unheard of for a company to penalize the customer for a mistake the company made.

Moreover I am not even asking for a refund. All I want is the tallit I ordered.

Dennis Prager 

You would think that by this point the company would be embarrassed. You would be wrong.

Here is Mr. Y’s response:

sales@---.com> Sun, Jun 9, 2013, at 9:51 a.m. To: Dennis Prager 

Hello

I will check it

If you have any other questions please let me know. 

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Sincerely, 

Rafi Y.

The e-mail concluded with this hilarious new message:

Thank you for choosing ---.com! 

Needless to say, I didn’t respond, since I was assured that Mr. Y. “will check it.”

And so he did, with this terse response two and half days later:

sales@---.com> Tue, Jun 11, 2013, at 11:50 p.m. To: Dennis Prager 

Please send in 27$

If you have any other questions please let me know. 

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Sincerely, 

Rafi Y.

Thank you for choosing ---.com! 

And that is where it now stands. I don’t even know what “Please send in 27$” means. 

I can only say that the purpose of the tallit — to remind the Jew to keep God’s laws — seems to be lost on a company that sells them.


Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host (AM 870 in Los Angeles) and founder of PragerUniversity.com. His latest book is the New York Times best-seller “Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph” (HarperCollins, 2012).

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