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Losing Money to i-Brix because of a PayPal Loophole

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Who doesn’t love LEGO and related innovation industries! But there are limits to our financial protections when trying to buy cool products. You can’t trust everyone. In 2019 I lost $250 CAD to i-Brix (Innovative Brix Ideas, LLC @i-Brix). This is my story.

And it is not a lonely story from the naked marketplace. Police in Canada (specifically the OPP) project that 95% of fraud does not get reported! By sharing my i-Brix story I hope to educate others the way things are when using PayPal so fewer people get burned.

i-Brix says on their web site:

Quote

“You can now place an order for our i-Brix systems on our website. Visit the ‘Shop’ section at the top of the page to make a purchase. Please expect approx. 6-8 months for delivery after placing your order.”

That’s some cool tech. I was keen and ordered a couple sets. I saw them reviewed and praised by reputable folks. It sounded good. There are all kinds of places to use inductive lighting in our LEGO City. We couldn’t wait for them to arrive.

Life presses on. You blow past the 6 month waiting period and one day wonder: When were they supposed to arrive? You find your PayPal receipt. Excited again, you contact i-Brix for news, an update, an ETA, just a tiny morsel of information and encouragement. Err, you get nothing. You email again. Nothing. You fill out the contact form. Nothing. Not one reply. Months and months go by. You get sick of corresponding with a brick wall and fear you have been scammed. You ask i-Brix for a refund. Nothing. So you look into the matter more seriously and you discover the game.

It turns out, that as you waited patiently and in good faith for the 6-month delivery date to come, you slipped past the hard deadline of the purchase protection period offered by PayPal. They would support a claim against i-Brix within 180 days after purchase, but not after.

No worries, you think, my credit card company will take action for me. You call them. Once you battle through the call answer brambles and nonsense, you reach a person. You tell your story and to your surprise learn that the credit card company has only a 110 days actionable protection period. But wait there’s a glimmer of hope still: they will consider action if the merchant failed to meet a delivery deadline that exceeded the 110 day period.

No worries, you think: i-Brix said plain as day on their web site that there is a 6-8 month waiting period. But wait a minute: Nothing is promised to you personally. You read again every word on the receipt. There is absolutely nothing to do with delivery dates in writing. Nothing is in writing to you in the i-Brix email replies. Oh ya, they never replied to any of your queries. At that point you feel certain you have just been scammed.

Here’s the loophole that helps make this scam possible. PayPal does not give a thought to your possible financial protection beyond their purchase protection period. In one agent’s words the delivery date is “totally taken care of by the merchant.” They offer 180 days, that’s it. And when I told them about the consequences of their policy of not requiring merchants to put their delivery terms and dates in writing on their sales receipts, PayPal customer service said:

Quote

“Please feel free to contact us back for further concerns. It is my pleasure to assist you. Thank you for choosing PayPal.”

Good grief.

I’ve wasted many hours corresponding with PayPal, a different agent every time, but the same automatic replies: 180 days; a pleasure to assist you; and thank you for choosing PayPal. They won’t even acknowledge their hands off policy can be used as a loophole. I reckon they don’t want to increase the burdens on merchants; they might not use PayPal.

When push comes to shove, and there are no i-Brix starter kits in your mailbox almost a year after ordering them, you are simply out of pocket. The kicker is that I lost the game as soon as I believed i-Brix would follow through on a delivery period beyond 180 days.

Thank you i-Brix.

If you want to support innovation tech, then okay, “buy” as many i-Brix starter kits that you want. But if you want to purchase a product from the company (and have some measure of purchase protection), then never commit to a purchase that does not oblige the merchant to a delivery date in writing, preferably within the protection period of your credit card company.

If you use PayPal, realize that you have some protection for 180 days. But they won’t give you the time of day after that. They will thank you for using PayPal though. But they won’t consider a simply policy change that could give purchasers recourse against merchants that project delivery dates past PayPal’s 180 day protection period.

Thank you PayPal.

At best, anyone using PayPal to purchase from a company promising delivery of a product outside of the protection period of PayPal (or your credit card company) is just walking a financial high wire without a net. More likely, however, you are being scammed.

I’d love to be proven wrong, but I won’t hold my breath.

Caveat emptor / Buyer beware!

 

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Yeah, sure, but what's actually your point? Not meaning to be insensitive, but the mere mention of 6 to 8 month delivery times would ring a ton of alarms and make me consider if I even wanted to pay a fraction in the advance...

Mylenium

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i-Brix failed his kickstarter campaign, set the bar way too high. I advised him about that. Also he should have made this technology open source instead he is thinking in patents for such a niche product. It is a cool idea however.

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It's better to charge when items are posted, rather than charge upfront. They could always add people to a waiting list and let you know nearer the time if demand really is that high.

 

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On 1/12/2020 at 3:36 AM, JopieK said:

i-Brix failed his kickstarter campaign, set the bar way too high. I advised him about that. Also he should have made this technology open source instead he is thinking in patents for such a niche product. It is a cool idea however.

He failed the first one, the second time it was funded. He claims he's sent out 30 kits but only 1 person has ever backed that up (a reviewer that probably got a hand built prototype kit).  He constantly posts on KS that he is building and shipping but there's never been any proof of this. It's angering, but that's the risk a person takes on Kickstarter and it's in the ToS there.  Anyone buying the set off the guy's website is failing to do their own research and is setting themselves up to be scammed.

I know quite a few people that backed the KS and they're angry of course, but have basically written it off as a loss because that's what an investment is and backing a KS campaign is an investment, a risk. I've been waiting...I think it's going on 3 years now...it's just not happening.

I have to say that joining Eurobricks just to post this thread is dubious at best.

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What does one say to people who take an ad hominum line?

What about those who even agree with the message, but can't refrain from trying to slag the messenger?

I know: SMH.

Tja; there are all kinds of bricks in the LEGO box, even those that failed Informal Logic 101. The joys of social media.

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