Now that all is said and done I'm not afraid to identify the seller in question. It's Farawaycreations.com. They do various props and costumes for Star Wars cosplay.
They are not a scam, which I was 95% sure of even when I made my last post. They are, however, absurdly slow and extremely bad at communicating with their customers.
Recapping from my last post, I was told on Oct 27 that my order was complete and would be put into shipping; two weeks later I had not received it. They told me it had not shipped yet, and that it might be another 2-4 weeks before it did.
I sent three different emails over the course of a week asking what the delay was. My first email was ignored, the second got a copy-pasted form-letter about how they are a small company and please be patient. My third letter advised them that I was going to dispute the charges if they didn't ship within the next three days. That one was ignored too.
So three days later when I had gotten no reply or shipping notification,I sent an email (from a new email address, since they were ignoring the one I had been using) telling them to cancel my order and issue a refund. Then I attempted to dispute the original charges.
As I noted in my first post, I was over the cut-off date for being able to dispute on paypal. I tried anyway, it was a no-go. My bank also only allows disputes for 120 days after a payment, which I was over that limit as well. However, they did allow me to file a dispute. What, if anything, would or could have come of that I don't know.
On the forums for the club where I had found this vendor, I found a thread where other people were complaining about how slow Farawaycreations is. The thread was several months old and not currently active. I revived it by posting a public warning for people to not use this vendor, and gave a brief summary of my troubles.
I then got an email from the vendor refusing to give me a refund. But, for the first time, this reply actually had a detailed and reasonable explanation of why. It was actually one of the nicer emails I got from them at all. But it did refuse to refund me, then offered a second option, to "sell my place in their queue." That is, if I could find someone else who wanted my order, then that person could pay me and then my order would ship to them instead.
I have never heard of this before, but someone else complained about it in the forum, without my mentioning it. So either this vendor is known for this particular tactic, or else other vendors do the same? Like I said, it was a new one on me, and I felt rather insulted by it. I mean, I want a refund because I don't want to work with this vendor, so why is it suddenly my responsibility to dupe someone else into being their customer?
I replied letting them know I had started the dispute with my bank. They didn't answer that.
Meanwhile, other people are carrying on the conversation I started in the forums. One person defended the company, and a couple more shared in my complaint of vendors who take way too long to do a job.
Then the main guy who started Farawaycreations found the thread and started responding. This is not the guy I have been emailing.
He made several long posts, and was generally angry, and tried to save face for his business. Then he specifically told me that I had not been lied to, and that his helper had just finished my binoculars today. Okay, point the first- if I was told my order was complete on Oct 27, but his helper only finished my order today, then how have I not been lied to? Point the second-I didn't order anything even remotely like binoculars.
Long story short, it turns out that someone else who has my same first and last name also ordered something around the same time I did. Supposedly my order was finished, but was put on hold in the shipping queue because they thought both of us were the same person, and wanted to wait till the second order was done so it could all ship together. It was not until the other order--which included those binoculars--was ready to ship that they pulled our addresses and realized we were two different people in two different states.
The man who started the company insists that this is the source of all the problems. And truthfully, that's an understandable mistake, except....
Except that I sent those three emails asking why my order was delayed. If anyone had said, "we're waiting for your second order to finish so it can all ship together." Then I could have pointed out that I had no second order. The whole mistake could have been discovered four weeks ago. My order could have shipped immediately instead of waiting on this other person's order. But it wasn't, because nobody could be bothered to just answer my damn question.
I finally received my order yesterday, Nov 25. Just to recap, I paid on July 7. I was quoted 8-10 weeks turnaround, but from payment to receiving, it actually took 21 weeks. Also, the tracking number for the shipping actually got emailed to me today, the day after I received the package.
I'm just done. Seriously folks, don't use this vendor. He's not a scammer but he's not worth the hassle.