Failure to Honor VOIP Phone Warranty

My partner in my previous consulting firm ordered a WIFI VOIP (voice over IP) phone to take with him when he and his wife toured Europe. Our office had a VOIP system, and using this phone he’d be able to connect to our office over the internet and make international calls without paying cell network fees. He ordered the phone from an online retailer and it came in shortly thereafter. He got it configured and off he went on vacation.

A few days into the trip, the phone battery died. It wouldn’t accept any charge and ceased to function. He returned to the States with a phone that was not only useless, it had failed him during a time where he needed it most. We called the online retailer and explained the problem. Our goal was to receive a replacement for the phone. They refused on the grounds that the phone was only¬†under warranty¬†for 30 days, and it had been 32 days since his purchase. Shocked that they would make such a claim after their product failed on an international trip, we spoke with a manager. He informed us that we’d have to contact the manufacturer and it was no longer his responsibility.

We offered one last chance for him to make it right. “Look”, I said. “We’re not going to go through a bunch of red tape to return the phone. It was purchased from you, you can deal with the manufacturer. If you won’t exchange it, we’ll call the credit card company and have them cancel the charge. Make it right, and there won’t be a problem.” Clearly agitated, he raised his voice and vigorously informed us that “credit cards don’t work that way” and we were stuck with it.

American Express had removed the charge from our account within 48 hours. The manufacturer sent us a new phone and apologized profusely for the hassle. The store was out $200, a phone, and a customer. Today, they are out of business. I wonder why…