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  1.    #1  

    ** Update: E-tail Failures Could Trigger Federal Legal Action 12/29/1999

    It seems Handspring is currently in violation of the FTC Rule:

    "Merchants who violate the Rule can be sued by the FTC for injunctive relief, monetary civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation and consumer redress. When the mails are involved, the Postal Service also has authority to take action for problems such as non-delivery. State law enforcement agencies can take action for violating state consumer protection laws."

    I see these main problems:

    1. Not contacting customers by any means about known problems with orders/CC info.

    2. Making customers call *them* in desperation only to be misled/lied to. (Changing the phone number to a toll number was also done in bad faith to limit honest communication)

    3. Failing to either deliver product as promised (six weeks) or offer cancellation of 9/14 orders.

    4. Intentionally shipping and billing for products not ordered (graphite instead of sold-out colors) without contacting the customer for their consent.

    Here's some text from the below links:

    "The Mail and Telephone Order Merchandise Rule spells out the ground rules for making promises about shipments, notifying consumers about unexpected delays, and refunding consumers’ money. Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Mail and Telephone Order Rule applies to orders placed by phone, fax, or entirely on the Internet, as long as the telephone is used to transmit voice, computer data, or other electronic signals.

    "If you can’t ship when promised, you must send the customer a notice advising him of the delay and his right to cancel...

    ...You can give updated shipping information over the phone if your Internet ad prompts customers to call to place an order. This information may differ from what you said or implied about the shipping time in your ad. The updated phone information supersedes any shipping representation made in your ad, but you still must have a reasonable basis for the update."

    Call 1-877-FTC-HELP for assistance

    I'm interested in an intelligent analysis of the consumer protection laws if anyone in the forum can provide it.

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 10-26-1999).]

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 12-31-1999).]
  2. #2  

    I was if you ordered a visor or did you just join this forum to post messages. You seem very anti-Handspring, which if you ordered is understandable. However, since you only joined the forum on 10/21/99 and have already posted 71 messages (including starting two threads with almost identical messages) you seem a bit questionable to me. I agree with the fact that Handspring has screwed up the sept. 14 orders and that need to make somekind of reparations, I just wonder about your motivations for the amount of posting that you have done. What exactly is your motivation?
  3. #3  
    He's obviously someone who's got WAY too much time on his hands, I'd say.
  4. Toto's Avatar
    5 Posts
    If I recall correctly, the FTC rules quoted apply only in cases where payment has been made and delivery is delayed. As a rule, Handspring doesn't seem to have billed customer's credit cards until they've shipped product (and sometimes not even then). Of course, there have been several instances of multiple authorization holds placed against a single card, but that's another matter.

    The FTC rules quoted simply don't apply here, unless Handspring took your money and failed to ship product for more than 30 days after taking your money; not 30 days after you placed your order.
  5.    #5  

    Companies aren't supposed to charge your card until it actually ships, so I don't think that's correct. The clock starts ticking when the company "receives notice that the customer qualifies for credit." Holding credit card accounts for a promise of future delivery requires them to act responsibly -- especially if the the whole purpose was to lock people into their product, keeping them away from the new cheaper Palm Pilots they knew were coming available.

    Now when you try to get shipment or CC status they just BS you or worse. Try to cancel? Sorry. Try to change to an in stock color because yours was shipped to someone who ordered just yesterday? Back of the line.

    This is what the FTC was created for. Here's more:

    "The evidence you need to demonstrate the reasonableness of your shipment representations varies with circumstances. The following, however, is important:

    Anticipated demand. Is the demand for each advertised item reasonably anticipated?

    Supply. For each advertised item, is there a sufficient inventory on hand or adequate sources of supply to meet the anticipated demand for the product?

    Fulfillment system. For all promotions in the relevant sales seasons, can the fulfillment system handle the cumulative anticipated demand for all products?

    Recordkeeping. Are adequate records kept of the key events (see section headed "Why You Should Keep Records" for a list of key events) in each individual transaction to ensure that items can be shipped within the applicable time, as established by the Rule?"

    Handspring just failed that evidence test.


    Great productive research. You're the one with too much time on *your* hands. Why would I join a forum for a product that didn't exist? I suppose you've been chatting about the Visor since last year when you developed it huh?

    Sorry about the other header, it was not a descriptive title, since I couldn't delete it I posted this one. While you're doing VisorCentral research, why don't you see if you can drum up some rules about excessive posting. Unlike Handspring, I promise I'll take responsiblity.

    Better yet, we would all be better off if you and CityJen did something productive to try to get Handspring to take care of their customers. Nothing yet has worked. And criticizing someone pointing out that we as consumers have rights and can force Handspring to listen, since they refuse to willingly, isn't it.

    My motivation is to get Handspring to wake up and stop acting like Intel. In case you haven't been to their website lately, the CEO is not even close to coming clean about the problems, let alone doing something about them.

    FYI, I was one of the first to order and have been blown off, lied to, and finally ignored by Handspring after I brought up the first two points. And as we all know I'm not alone.

    It's unethical business activity. Period. If you want to be a member of a cult, go join one. This is simply a product made by a company who is ignoring people they have credit card holds on.

    I'm anti-gettingscrewed not anti-Handspring. I happen to love the product too, but to some people that means blind loyalty to a company who got some venture capital simply to make some money off people like you and I, they aren't Gods. If they can't properly run a business they'll fold up shop and license the springboard back to Palm.

    By continuing to ignore this forum and the posts they think we'll just go away. You all can, but I won't. They need to be held accountable for taking early adopters for granted.

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 10-26-1999).]
  6. #6  
    First off one simple click will tell you when some one joined the forum and how many post they have had.

    Second, I agree with you handspring does need to make reparations to its customers, Espcially those who ordered early and got screwed. I was just asking since you were new to the forum if you were one of the early orders. We have had people impersonate other members to try to stir up trouble. I wasn't saying you were one of those. I wanted some background on you. If you got screwed, you have every right to complain.

    Third, at the point that I think I have been screwed, I will take into consideration reporting them to the FTC. At this point, I haven't been. I have emailed Jeff Hawkins, CPO, Donna Dubanski, CEO, and Ed Colligan, Vice-President of Marketing. I have received replies from Mr. Colligan.

    I'm sorry if I sounded like I was accussing you of causing trouble but I just wanted information on your background. If you read my message I said it was understandable if you ordered a visor.

    Quote from myself:
    "You seem very anti-Handspring, which if you ordered is understandable"

    Thank you for researching all the FTC information, I will use it if I don't receive my Visor by November 22 since my card wasn't charged until October 23.

    You may see something different than I do, but the only thing Handspring is guilty of now, is bad communcication and customer service. While I am pissed at Handspring for their "Customer Service", I don't know enough to prove that they did something wrong. At the point that I can prove that did screw me, I will act.

    I am also concerned that Handspring is charging for express shipping, and not shipping express. They seem to be shipping everything by ground. You can see my other post about express shipping. I will seek corrections from Handspring if I have been charged for express shipping and it wasn't shipped express.
  7. #7  
    reganc said:
    By continuing to ignore this forum and the posts they think we'll go away. You all can, but I won't. They need to be held accountable for taking early adopters for granted.
    That's good to hear. When do you plan to file the court papers?

    I can understand getting upset that you weren't the first on the block to have a Visor, but aren't you taking this a bit too far? You're acting like EVERYONE has gotten the shaft, when in fact it seems to be just a small (albeit very vocal) group.

    I'm not trying to make excuses for HS here. Yes, they've screwed up some orders, and they'll likely lose some business over it. But they got mine exactly right. They pinged my credit card the day it shipped, and it arrived a week later just like it was supposed to. No muss, no fuss, and I didn't spend dozens of hours on hold either. I called exactly twice, once to place the order on 9/23 and once on 10/15 to make sure they had all my info right. They did.

    Wait, I take that back. They charged me tax when I live in TX. It's a minor annoyance that I intend to rectify once everyone's stopped clogging the phone lines.
  8.    #8  


    In this case from the FTC info it appears that zero communication about known problems, and pathetic service leading to broken promises is a civil crime.


    The FTC does all the legal work on behalf of the consumer. No court papers are required. Try to comprehend the topic before posting. At this point you should also be fully aware that most people like me are fed up on principle, not because they can't play with their new toy. Glad your having fun with yours.

    What I am most upset about is that Handspring *knew* that orders were fouled up in Sept when their system crashed. A mistake isn't a crime. But after that they made a few internal corporate decisions one of which was to not put all their resources into correcting them and contacting current order holders like me. Instead they decided to concentrate on piling up more orders to "lock in" more buyers like yourself, keeping them away from Palms and the new SprintPCS organizer phone.

    This would have been fine if they had the resources to do both projects. They didn't, and in early October they knew *that* too. This is where they crossed the line -- by not contacting people about problems with credit cards and other order information, and keeping those customers in complete darkness for as long as possible (to this day).

    Then they compounded the offense by shipping clean out of colored Visors to those new Oct customers. They did this for a reason, but not a good one. They did it so that they would *appear* to be on track as a company when they really weren't. That final decision (along with CSR's lying to people) derailed them with their most enthsiastic Sept customers like myself.

    This fiasco will someday be used as a case study in Business Schools.

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 10-26-1999).]
  9. #9  
    While I would agree that there a real problems, I would take greater care before heading a topic as "Handspring in trouble with FTC". That statement is, unless there has been action taken by the FTC, inflamitory, false, and clearly libellus. While you may believe that HS is in violation of some regulation, that does not give you the blanket right to post the allegations as supposed fact. Let me quote from N.Y. TIMES v. SULLIVAN, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed2d 686: "Malice must be proved on a showing that defendant published material either knowing it to be false or recklessly without regard as to whether it is true or false.".
    Unless the FTC has, in fact, started an action against HS, the title of this topic should be changed by the moderators of this forum.

    [This message has been edited by staad (edited 10-26-1999).]
  10.    #10  

    It's a topic header. Those tend to lead to more information as you found out. They aren't self-contained entities. Lighten up Francis. Does it say the FTC has taken any action yet? No. investigation of the trouble *maker* must come first. Of course in Handspring's mind that's us!

    So read my post and you will become more wise to what the header refers to. I'm posting the FTC rules and asking for commentary from consumers, not Handspring lawyers. So quit trying to scare everyone and go back to finding out where my order is and shipping it please.

    And since you know the law so well you must also know that that truth is an absolute defense against libel. Handspring is currently ignoring FTC guidelines, and acting in bad faith. Maybe this "inflammatory" post can change that *before* the FTC cracks down.

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 10-26-1999).]
  11.    #11  

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 10-26-1999).]
  12. #12  
    reganc, are you jimmyg in disguise. Chill out man. Have a poptart and relax! If something's not done after 11/1, then do something about it, but stop with the useless posts. You're eating up my bandwidth.


  13. #13  
    I may be wrong but when Handspring posted the phone #, didn't they say " reserve your Visor ..." as opposed to "... to buy ... one?

    I am just as frustrated at not getting my Visor yet but taking a knife to the goose ... that just sucks!

    Maybe the intent with the militant posts is to make Handspring sit up and take some action but it seems they are already doing all they can. Besides IMHO a company is more likely to go out of its way to please customers that have not gone on a warpath with it. ($0.02)
  14.    #14  

    Handspring's lawyers might try to argue something like that but they'd be laughed out of court. "Your honor, these losers are not even customers in our mind. We never shipped them anything!" I sure hope they weren't just charging us early adopters only for the privilege of reserving our place in line -- a queue tax. But, now that I think about it you may be right -- that's why so many are being double-billed!


    Nah I'm not jimmyg, but I'm trying to do some research for him and get him fired up again and trying to get that job with 20/20 too!

    I keep my sense of humor for some perspective, but seeing how yesterday's posts were stories from several other people that were lied to got me real upset. The problem now we see isn't volume, it's contempt for their best customers.

    I thought I'd brave the flames and post some info for people to ponder. You guys can take it from here. I just hate seeing so many people getting stepped on and feeling helpless.

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 10-27-1999).]
  15. Toto's Avatar
    5 Posts

    Companies aren't supposed to charge your card until it actually ships, so I don't
    think that's correct.

    Of course they can charge your card before they ship, and many companies do so, quite legitimately. It used to be quite a common practice in the software business, before the very FTC regs you're pointing to were written.

    The bottom line is simply this: if a vendor hasn't taken your money, they not really legally bound to deliver anything to you, much less by any deadline. Now, maybe you have good reason to be annoyed with them, but that's a long way from having a valid regulatory violation or civil claim against them.

    I'm waiting for my Visor just as impatiently as anyone else, but for cryin' out loud, I knew when I ordered it that it's wasn't available yet, and having not just fallen off the turnip truck, I also knew that product launches usually run into delays and snags. So I'll wait (impatiently) for the smoke to clear, and for Handspring to get their (obviously awful) problems corrected, and eventually, I'll get my Visor. And if I find I just can't wait anymore, I'll vote with my feet and get a Palm Vx or a TRGPro or some other thing. I just don't see how throwing a cyber-tantrum will help the situation.

    [This message has been edited by Toto (edited 10-26-1999).]
  16. #16  
    Ahh the Internet, one of the few places where a man can set up his soapbox, perform enough research to consider himself "armed and dangerous" and them proceed to shoot himself in the foot because he doesn't truly understand the nuances and details involved. His quest is noble, he just doesn't realize what a nuisance he's making of himself. Though I must admit your comments have made for interesting reading and I find that almost as valuable as hearing the truth.

    Reganc, you're probably ready to blow a fuse right now but only because you think I'm trying to flame you. Not so, in fact, I believe it is your emotion that has clouded what I perceive to be a clear mind. The facts you have stated and the authoritative quotations that you've made seem to support your case entirely. But that's really only because one has to look at it from your perspective in order to see it that way. If one were to look at it from a knowledgeable legal perspective that is versed in the laws surrounding this issue, you'd see it very differently. In fact, you would realize that by and large, Handspring could not be held liable for much of anything other than having BAD customer service and that case would be laughed out of most courts.

    How would I know? I've worked with bank cards for several years, dealt with banking regulations under the OCC (that's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for those who were wondering), and had dealings with the FTC's policies as well since I worked for a merchant who owned the largest proprietary credit card in the US (they did phone, mail and internet orders). I'm not blowing my own horn here, I'm just trying to say that I have experience with these issues.

    Now, let me say that you're right to be pissed at the way in which Handspring has dealt with your problem and that it appears their CSR's have given out some misleading information. But so far from what I've read, so long as they quickly clean up the credit card double/triple billing SNAFUs and refund the overcharges for tax, you've got nothing to hold against them.

    Let me give you one example. Here's what the FTC has to say about the 30 Day rule:
    "If, after taking the customer's order, you learn that you cannot ship within the time you stated or within 30 days, you must seek the customer's consent to the delayed shipment. If you cannot obtain the customer's consent to the delay—either because it is not a situation in which you are permitted to treat the customer's silence as consent and the customer has not expressly consented to the delay, or because the customer has expressly refused to consent—you must, without being asked, promptly refund all the money the customer paid you for the unshipped merchandise."

    How many true orders has Handspring taken and not delivered? Very few from what I've heard, in fact, maybe none. You see the rule states: "The 'clock' on your obligation to ship or take other action under the Rule begins as soon as you receive a "properly completed" order. An order is properly completed when you receive the correct full or partial (in whatever form you accept) payment, accompanied by all the information you need to fill the order. Payment may be by cash, check, money order, the customer's authorization to charge an existing account (including one you have created for the customer), the customer's application to you for credit to pay for the order, or any substitute for these transactions that you accept."

    30 days does not start until they bill your card or put a hold on it for the amount. Well, when did they start billing people's cards? Hmmm, I could be wrong, but probably not before the 1st of October. That means that they still have time on the clock to notify you of any delay, or simply drop the order from their record books and not bill you. As long as they haven't billed you, you've got no rights under the FTC. Have they billed you yet Reganc? When you talked with them, have they indicated that there would be a delay? They did state publicly that the earthquake in Taiwan would impact their ship dates. Plus, they have said that they would ship product approximately 4-6 weeks after taking the order. But the FTC doesn't kick in until the bill your card which could mean the middle of November at the earliest.

    Finally, has anyone thought that maybe due to their system failure, Handspring simply decided not to ship to those folks whose records they lost? (I know, of course they can't ship if they don't have your info--but they're also not legally required to fix it if they don't bill you.) That may be why some people who ordered back in September, aren't receiving their merchandise. It's bad business, but it's certainly not illegal. My recommendation, if you haven't been billed, call back and order it again or at least make sure that they have your order. (But only do it once!) BTW, I suspect that there is a relationship between the number of times a customer called in over the last month and the likelihood that their order is screwed up. Handspring is not required by law to notify you that they cancelled your order if they never billed you for the product.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents on this issue. You have no legal grounds from what I can see Reganc, and unless you can find someone who was charged more than 30 days ago and failed to receive their device, there's no merit for FTC intervention. Thanks again for pushing the threads, they've been an enjoyable read.

    [This message has been edited by Jackal (edited 10-26-1999).]
  17. #17  
    Not totally off the subject, but...

    I finally got through to a CSR this morning, who told me (I know! I know!) that they had a team who's only job was to fix the credit card problems; target date for everything being fixed is "within a week". Another perplexing statement was that we were NOT supposed to be billed by Direct Marketing, but by Handspring, Inc. She didn't say it like "um.. well I think..."; she said, "No, Direct Marketing should definately NOT be the company that shows up on your CC statement." Anyone who has rec'd theirs, what does your CC statement say (you can call and find out)?
  18. #18  
    Mine says Handspring
    Cut from my statement: SLC*HANDSPRING INC - 888-565-9393 CA
  19.    #19  

    When a company takes orders and makes a promise to deliver at at point in time and runs into problems, they are at a minimum *required* to contact the customer and notify them that their product is now delayed.

    Handspring is currently telling some people, when those people call Handspring, that if your color visor (promised in Oct) hasn't shipped yet it will be sent sometime in November.

    Whether or not you contact them, they are also automatically changing some color Visor orders to Graphite to avoid Palm/WinCE defections. This folks is illegal if you weren't informed and given a chance to cancel.


    It seems you fancy yourself as an expert (which I never claimed to be) so I suppose you should understand those same "nuances" of which you speak.

    No one is claiming that not being able to deliver within 30 days and pathetic customer service is illegal. There is much more to the FTC rules than just what I clipped. Nice strawman you knocked down though.

    If you read more real world cases, a pattern and practice of failing to notify customers of problems encountered, misleading and deceiving customers, and changing orders without consent is *exactly* what the FTC gets concerned with. Even a big error isn't a problem when dealt with up front, but making subsequent corporate decisions to operate in bad faith is.

    We're all so lucky that you got out of the "credit card business" (from your post it appears you once had a call center job taking CC orders). Great. Now get back to fielding those calls for Handspring, and verify my CC info one more time please!

    [This message has been edited by reganc (edited 10-27-1999).]
  20. #20  

    Your ad hominem remarks are ill thought and misplaced. Jackal is correct. Just because you don't happen to like the state of law doesn't give you license to create your own interpretation. That's the domain of the high courts - but that's another story...

    You have no case. Adieu.

    p.s. - for the benefit of reg.:
    Ad hominem - To the person. A term used in logic with reference to a personal argument. (Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, West Group, St. Paul, Minn.)

    [This message has been edited by staad (edited 10-26-1999).]
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