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11 January 2013 @ 07:27 pm
At least this DealDash fiasco is finally over.  
In November of last year, I discovered Dealdash.com, a penny auction website that primarily sells electronics, “hot” items and giftcards. First, you buy bid packs – each bid supposedly costs 60 cents, but they're usually discounted to somewhere between 15-20 cents each – and then try to win the various auctions. Each time you place a bid, the final cost of the item is raised by one cent- and folks go at it until there's only one bidder left. It's easy to get caught up in the auctions, because it is possible to get great deals – you hear about bidders winning iPads for only a couple of dollars. If you lose an auction, you can still buy the item, and then your bids are refunded. As long as a bidder was careful, it was possible to come out ahead.

At least, that's what I believed. Early on, I won a lot of giftcard auctions for pretty good prices. For example, I won a $300 Amazon giftcard for $70, plus another $85 in bids. It may not be the crazy awesome steal that DealDash advertises on their Facebook page (“Mother of 7 wins $500 Wal-Mart Giftcard for $5” – that sort of thing) but $155 for a $300 giftcard is like a 50% discount on everything purchased with that card...sounds good to me. Christmas was coming up in a little over a month, and with these giftcards I'd be able to afford better presents for friends and family.

That was the goal, at least. My first batch of gift cards were due to arrive between November 18th and 22nd, which was great – just in time for Black Friday sales!
...except they didn't arrive. November 22nd came and went, and I didn't receive those Amazon.com giftcards. So I e-mailed customer service. Several times. No response.

Well, sh*t, I thought to myself.Have I been scammed? I had received a few of the items I'd won – a $100 Target giftcard, a game for the Wii – but all of the big ticket items (like the $300 Amazon giftcard) were MIA. Finally, I got an answer on December 3rd – the giftcards had been delayed but were now shipped, and I could expect them “in the next few days”.

A week later, they still hadn't arrived. On December 11th, I was assured once again by one of Dealdash's customer service representatives that the giftcards had definitely been shipped. However, by December 15th they still hadn't arrived so it was clear that I would not be able to use them for Christmas shopping – which really sucked, because I actually had a hefty chunk of change tied up in pending Dealdash that I had intended to use for Christmas. On December 17th, yet another e-mail from DealDash promised that all my giftcards would arrive by Christmas, guaranteed.

Ha! Guess what, Dealdash? For something to arrive by Christmas Day, you have to place it in the mail. As the window to file Paypal disputes drew near, I began to dispute on all of my DealDash transactions, which took a big chunk of time. Part of me really wanted to get those giftcards, but it was rapidly becoming clear that nothing had been sent, in spite of DealDash's claims.

They refunded a few of my transactions, but insisted that all the money spent on bids could not be refunded because they were “virtual goods”. I countered that even though the virtual goods had been received, they were sold under false pretenses – for what good is a virtual bid if the items you 'win' don't exist or are never sent? While I was sorting out my own DealDash mess, other complaints were popping up on Facebook and on websites like Ripoff Report – folks won auctions but never received the items won, or the item they won was 'out of stock' so they were offered substitutes of lesser value. And still Dealdash continued to claim in e-mails and on Paypal's dispute page that my items had been shipped.

Although I gave DealDash plenty of opportunities to make good on the auctions, by the beginning of this month I'd had enough and I was preparing to escalate my cases on Paypal. I had screenshots proving that DealDash had promised a shipping window of mid to late November, and all the e-mails in which they claimed items were sent, but had ignored all requests for proof in the form of a confirmation number or package tracking number. I was pretty sure that I had the evidence to prove to Paypal that DealDash had sold and collected money for items they did not have in stock, but consistently lied about the auction status in order to 'run out the clock' on Paypal's dispute window. I sent one last angry message through Paypal telling them that if I didn't receive proof of shipment immediately, I would escalate the claims.

Lo and behold, DealDash suddenly had a FedEx tracking number for all of my auctions. Since they now had proof that the items had shipped, I had to wait until the FedEx package arrived before escalating the claims. I was worried that if I escalated with the envelope en route, Paypal would consider that proof enough that DealDash fulfilled their duty and close the dispute. What if DealDash had simply sent an empty envelope in order to have a valid tracking number? I had seen horror stories of people finally receiving their giftcards, only to find out upon redemption that it was valid for $10 instead of $100.

This afternoon, the giftcards arrived. I've just gone through and tested all of them, and they all have the correct balance. It looks like DealDash FINALLY made good on the sale two months after the auction ended.

It's pretty ridiculous, don't you think? I can understand that sometimes items are out of stock, but giftcards are never completely gone. It would have been so easy for someone on staff to log onto Amazon.com and order the necessary gift cards directly from the company – yet no one did. DealDash f*cked up my Christmas plans and managed to mess up my finances for a while pretty nicely, not to mention all the time I wasted trying to communicate with them or preparing documentary evidence for Paypal and the credit card Powers That Be.

I guess I'm just glad that I finally got everything I was owed. In all, I received over $1000 in gift cards to various stores (Target, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and gas cards) and paid about 70% of the retail value – so I came out ahead, in the end. I thought this would be a great way to save some money, but it really wasn't worth all the hassle.