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ON-LINE SHOPPING IS INCREASINGLY dominating the market today. Believe it or not, every household with broadband connection has experienced transactions and purchases through the internet. Majority of these activities are done using either direct debit or by credit cards. At a glance, it makes things easier and it is less time consuming; however, it is scary due to unscrupulous usages and charges that most of us are not aware of. Until you find out that it is happening to you!
I attempted several on-line purchases and majority of these transactions were with Amazon using my dooyoo vouchers. Some of them were clothing websites, and recently with photo imaging/processing services, VISTAPRINT (VP) in particular.
***What's in it? Vistaprint (VP) offers on-line printing of personal and office stationeries like rubber stamps, letter heads, invitation cards, post cards, business cards, return address stickers, notepads, sticky notes, etc.
According to the website, VP has more than 18 offices worldwide and specialised for customised printing through the internet in places like the UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Spain, France, and the United States. After searching from the web, it seems that this is an American firm, however I could not find a definite contact details about it which is quite unusual for an on-line service. This leads to poor customer relations in dealing with complaints which the company is under fire nowadays despite having a toll-free contact number.
***Why VP is so popular and irresistible? I don't have any idea that this site exists after I received my orders from Amazon. I found a brochure inside the package, having a bold red letters: FREE. Well, as a consumer/buyer I want to avail such offer and being naïve (sometimes), maybe it is true to believe that there is still 'free' in the consumer world! Sorry for myself, there is no such word in the business these days…it always have hidden charges, thus we are paying more than of what we have actually received. And with the worst scenario, we ended up paying for nothing!
The company also provides discounted rates for Amazon customers. Maybe this is the reason why it is so popular and attracts more buyers thru Amazon.
Aside the marketing strategy employed by VP thru Amazon, it is also tempting to take part and have an account with them for having a website that it is user-friendly. Yes, it is easy and free to open an account; unfortunately, you can not delete your profile from the site anymore if you decided to terminate your account.
It requires a valid email address and a password to have access (sign-in and login) to the site. Postal address, bank details and other personal information will follow when you are already set to go for an order.
As I said earlier, it is a user-friendly where the consumer page account has simple functions and links to navigate to various features of the site. For example, each product has its designated link, including my personal account. The account has basic features that contains the history of orders/prints and matching documents for promotional purposes. It has access to the free templates and designs provided by VP, personal account information (password, email, names, and company address), electronic documents, and document proofs for easy editing and re-ordering. There is also a link for managing images/photos and logos for easy uploading and downloading of personalised lay-out. I find it easy and convenient in using these functions which makes your orders meet your requirements in terms of lay-out, fonts, colours, and size.
Honestly, VP offers a set of collections of high-quality design templates particularly for business cards and labels. This is the reason why I was tempted to place my orders without any hesitation. These templates are easy to edit for my own images and graphic design. The quality of the paper is another plus factor that really stands-out for an order.
VP knows very well how to convince people to try their products. Why? They will send regular emails about on-going offers, and mostly you can avail up to 50% discount off of their products. Most of the time, it is totally 'free', except for the postal service.
Other benefits for having an account that everyone could join include: referral and partnership programmes and VP Rewards. How does it work? For every referral transaction, the account holder received an equivalent Vistacash and 25% off for future purchases. The partnership programmes allows purchasers to take part as a business associate to sell VP products on commission basis with free 250 business cards for qualified partners.
Finally, the VP Rewards - the UK premier membership club! This is really tricky because I don't know this club exists because it does not have link in the VP website itself. This rewards membership is the root cause or we say the 'culprit' of VP's scam image. I don't know that my account has been approved to take part on this membership club after I received my credit card billing statement. I did not receive any communication regarding this club and to be charged at £9.95 every month for nothing! According to the site that members can save more money from VP purchases which I don't understand because I don't have access to site, even though I am charged monthly. They don't advised me of my membership ID and other details relating to my membership, because at the first place, it is a scam and they take advantage of my trust by placing orders using my credit card. Anyway, I will discuss this later in my review. Please hang on.
***How to order from VP? I did two orders with different products. My first order was a return address sticky labels worth £2.35. I only paid for the postage and VAT. The original price for the label was £4.99, plus postage and VAT for 140 pieces of stickers. The order arrived 2 days after my on-line confirmation. My second order was a customised postcard for 100 pieces amounted to £27.92 and delivered after 7 days upon order. The original price was 21.99 but since it is customised, they charged extra for the uploading of my personal graphics and photos. An order with an upload (image or graphics) costs additional fee of £3.49 for coloured ones and pdf files for £1.99. The uploaded images or graphics can be used for other products or future orders for no extra cost.
You might be thinking that it is quite expensive for such a post card. For simple calculation, my personalised postcard bearing my own photos and lay-out (both front and back) had cost me 28p (£0.28) which is still cheaper than the postcard available in the stores/gift shops.
All orders are being paid either credit or debit cards. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Switch and Solo are the primary accredited cards by the site. During the confirmation of the orders and payment, every customer are being asked to type in the details of the card, including 3 security code numbers and expirations before the order will be processed; consequently to be delivered by either first class or ordinary postal service.
***Why VP is an on-line scam? My orders' payment was successfully charged to my credit card account. The description showed in my billing statement that the payment will be directed to Vistaprint.co.uk. No doubt about it.
Honestly, I don't checked my transactions regularly because I confident that the charges reflected in my monthly statement are validated and derived from my genuine transactions considering that I only use my credit card for Easyjet bookings, phone bills and Photobox.co.uk printing. Anyway, I was wrong after I discovered two months ago that there is unsolicited transaction reflected in my bill that has been there for almost 5 months after I had my purchase from VP. The irony of the matter is that, the charges were not coming from VP, but from VPRewards.com which later on I found out that there it stands for VistaPrint Rewards.
My only worry after I discovered this unapproved debit transaction from my card is that, how VP was able to track down or manage to do multiple charging which I did not advise them to do it. I did not receive any email or notification letter about this rewards scheme. It only shows that the site has a tracking or monitoring mechanism to allow them to bill every customer continuously without the consent and approval of the customer using a different name as VPRewards.com.
My anger went up when I finally checked my statements that VPRewards had already charged me £9.95 per month for the past 8 months amounting to a total of £79.60! Unknowingly, VistaPrint is draining my savings and I am determined to get this money back the soonest.
I immediately sent emails to VP explaining my problem. They replied telling me that my complaint will be answered in due time and until I havent receive any feedback from, except that the promotional emails flooding over my inbox stopped already. The contact number found in the site is not working either, even they have a toll-free number available only during early morning hours which I did not bother to call them.
I calmed down after I phoned my bank about the transactions and they promised me to settle in due time. The bank knows this kind of internet fraud and I am not the one having experienced this problem, I think a lot of u of there still struggling to deal with it.
I received several forms from the bank advising to file a complaint against the retailer. I filled-up the forms and sent it to them immediately for urgent action. Unfortunately, the charge is still coming in despite my request from the bank to cancel the transaction. I did several follow-up phone calls to ensure that my bank is working on it. I also threatened them to cancel my credit card if the last option to stop these charges.
Well, cancelling the card is not a good solution since it will only stop the charges after two months. In other words, cancellation will only take affect after 2 months after cancellation so it will still accept charges within that period.
Luckily, the bank successfully adjusted the payment by having 2 months payment credited to my account. For almost two months, I did not use my card, and when I decided to purchase from the store, my card was decline, so I have to phoned them. They told me that it is only a standard procedure after having some unsolicited transactions to verify again my identity before my new transactions will be approved. Everything is fine, but when I booked my flight on-line, I found out that my card is only for UK transactions, so again I have to request for authorisation to use my card on-line. So
***What lessons learned from it? Finally, I do acknowledge my mistake for not being cautious of my credit card transactions. It is a lesson for me and for others who did encounter the same experience with VP. On-line purchase is easy but sometimes costly if there are hidden agreements and policy being imposed by the on-line retailers. Prior to my on-line purchase I did not really bother to check with any consumer sites if some members experienced this problem. Well, VP offers very cheap and discounted high-quality on-line printed products, but on the long term, customers are being charged as high than that of the original price.
It is indeed a wake up call for me to be careful for doing on-line purchases and do rigorous search through Dooyoo and other available consumer sites prior to purchase to avoid disappointments. I was confident to have it a go with VP considering that Amazon endorsed it and of course the products are in excellent quality with affordable prices, so there is no reason to ignore them.
THERE ARE COMPLAINTS posted in various websites about these unsolicited charges from VP and a lot of people were desperate to get back their money. I don't know if Amazon is being advised on this problem which I think will affect their reputation considering that it is being advertised through them.