The Better Business Bureau (BBB) cannot get a response from 1st Place Hobbies. 1st Place Hobbies billed my credit card first and 1st Place Hobbies did not ship my order and 1st Place Hobbies does not respond to emails, phone calls or letters.
While a business with poor customer service does not deserve repeat business, I can't escape the feeling that people are making unsupported aspersions against this company. I have no first hand knowledge of any of these cases, and know only what I've found here and on the BBB web site, plus my own knowledge of the banking industry.
First and foremost: I can't stress this enough. Charging your credit card and not shipping you something is ILLEGAL. That means against the law. That means people pay fines or go to jail. That means that business owners, even lousy ones, generally don't do it. But again, I stress, everyone needs to understand how a credit card works. When you give a merchant your card, and he swipes it on his reader, that does NOT generate an actual charge to your account. What it does is create a "hold" or a "freeze" on funds, to protect the merchant in case you intend to run up a whole bunch of charges and skip town. The hold shows up on your statement, and may LOOK like a charge, but if your bank doesn't receive the actual sales document from the merchant's bank within a reasonable time (varies by bank, but 4 business days is common), then it clears automatically and frees up the funds. If I look at my account on line, transactions in this status are marked "PreAuth"; when the charge actually hits, it gets a 15 digit transaction number instead. If you EVER have someone charge your card and not send you something, call your credit card company and report it. You are liable for a maximum of $50 of fraudulent transactions, but most banks will give you a full refund if you report the fraud within one billing cycle. If, as alleged by at least two people on this thread, First Place Hobbies has a history of illegal activity, then I'm surprised he is still in business. One big bank chasing a fraudulent charge would be enough to shut him down.
So, having got that out of the way, I'm confused about your assertion about the BBB. Did you call them and discuss 1st Place Hobbies with them? Because their web site sure doesn't show any such thing. It does, however, show this:
Type of Entity
Primary Contact: Mr. Joseph Liekner (Owner)
Number of Employees
Is it possible that Mr. Liekner decided to have a vacation and closed his shop for a couple weeks? A lot of small business owners do just that, and this guy is SMALL. If you suddenly can't leave a message, it may be that his voice mail is full.
More importantly, though, while the business is rated a D-, the reason for rating it that low is:
Reason for Rating
BBB rating is based on 16 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.
Factors that lowered First Place Hobbies' rating include:
- Failure to respond to one complaint filed against business.
Factors that raised First Place Hobbies' rating include:
- Length of time business has been operating.
- Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size.
- BBB has sufficient background information on this business.
That doesn't sound to me like they can't get in touch with the company... just that 1st Place didn't bother to respond to the ONE complaint submitted in the company's entire ten years in business (and not responding to the BBB isn't illegal).
And one final note: what is the tone of your communications with the company? Are you starting out polite and friendly? If not, you may have discovered the reason for the unresponsiveness. No one likes to be called a scumbag (even scumbags bristle at the term). You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.