MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Tennessee company received an F rating from the Better Business Bureau after multiple customer complaints. When asked about the 'F' rating, the company provided WMC Action News 5 with a statement laced with profanity, much like customers described in their complaints to BBB.
According to BBB, Original SOE Gear, an online tactical gear company based in Camden, Tennessee, received 13 complaints in the last three years. Nine of those complaints came in the last 12 months, and Original SOE Gear did not respond to nine of the 13 complaints.
Despite the large number of issues, the company's website says, "We are proud to say that we have never had an unsatisfied customer."
However, customers from all over the country said they either did not receive items they paid for or had to wait an unreasonable amount of time for those items.
SOE Gear provides time-to-ship estimates to customers and some specifically stated that shipping times were unknown and have no ETA. However, WMC Action News 5's Chief Consumer Investigator Andy Wise said that does not absolve the company from a Federal Trade Commission rule.
"FTC's mail order rule, a federal rule, sets a general standard of 30 days for delivery, so a retailer cannot point-blank say shipping times are '...unknown and have no ETA.' That warning does not absolve retailers from the responsibility for timely, professional deliveries. In fact, under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, withholding purchased merchandise for an undetermined amount of time amounts to what the law calls "unjust enrichment," which is the civil equivalent of theft," Wise said.
WMC Action News 5 reached out to SOE Gear for a comment to the BBB's decision to give the company an 'F' rating.
In a second email received by WMC Action News 5, Willis continued to defend his business.
Several customers who asked for a refund after waiting extensive periods of time for their purchases said they received responses laden with profanity. Customers also said the business's owner created YouTube videos mocking those that complained in an attempt to intimidate them.
BBB offers these tips for shopping online:
- Prior to placing an order, check out the company at bbb.org. You can read reviews and complaints filed through BBB on the company’s BBB Business Profile. If others have had problems getting products delivered or receiving refunds, you may too.
- Remember that a nice looking website doesn't necessarily mean the company is reputable. Look for a physical address, then Google it and see what’s there. Look for a phone number, then call it prior to ordering to see if you can speak to a company representative. Be wary of websites that only communicate through email or online chat.
- Ask when the item will ship and know how the company will contact you in case of a delay. FTC rules require companies to tell you when a shipment will be delayed and give you an opportunity to cancel the order and get a refund.
- Pay with a credit card, not a debit card. You have more protections with a credit card if your order never arrives.
- Print out and keep confirmation of the order with the promised shipping date, any other documentation of your order, and any correspondence with the company.
- Know what the return policy is. Are there special steps you must take before packing the item and sending it back?
- Don't get your item at all? File a complaint at bbb.org and ftc.gov and start a dispute with your credit card company.