Dozens of angry shoppers who ordered goods from website 'Social Discount Network' say they've been left in the dark after items failed to materialise and queries have been ignored. But you may be able to get your money back.
Social Discount Network offered big discounts on branded goods such as electricals, clothing and home items, though we've heard reports from shoppers who ordered from the site – some as far back as July – that they've yet to receive items.
And frustated users say emails haven't been answered; in particular two shoppers say the firm messaged them to say this is due to "technical issues with its servers", but no phone numbers are listed on the site for customers to find out what's going on.
Further, shoppers say they were unable to log-in to online accounts to track orders, so they took to Social Discount Network's Facebook to query the issue. They say these were responded to until last week, when the page disappeared.
The firm's website also last week seemed to close and users report it's set up a new site, which displays the message: "Social Discount Network. Opening Soon. This Site Is Currently Down For Maintenance." And the URL has changed from www.socialdiscountnetwork.co.uk to www.social-discount-network.com.
There are options to enter your email address to find out when the website will open and to "enter the store" using a password. We put in an email address on Monday to see if we would receive anything, but haven't yet.
However we'd encourage you NOT to enter your email address or password just in case. If you have, you should consider changing your passwords now if you use the email address or password for other accounts.
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How can I get my money back?
MoneySavingExpert.com has attempted to contact Social Discount Network five times over the last week to no avail. However, two readers say they received emails from the firm saying it's unable to fulfil orders and that they should contact their payment providers to get a refund.
Regardless of whether you've had an email from the site, here's what you should do if you:
- Paid more than £100 per item via credit card: Here, purchases are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means in most scenarios you can contact your credit card provider and ask for a refund.
- Paid via debit card, or paid less than £100 per item via credit card: Here, you may be able to get a refund from your card provider via Chargeback – though this only applies within the first 120 days of buying the goods. Also, unlike Section 75, Chargeback is a service guarantee, not a legal requirement.
- Paid via PayPal: You can open a dispute in the Resolution Centre of your PayPal account within 180 days of buying goods if you didn't receive them, or if they're significantly different to the description given. You'll need to log-in to your PayPal account and select 'More about your account' for this option. PayPal says users must complain to the company in question first, but if it doesn't respond or you're unhappy with the result, you can raise a complaint directly with it.
'Report suspicious websites'
Mike Andrews, national coordinator for the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, says: "More and more of us are shopping online than ever before, which is also leading to a rise in the number of online sellers. It is becoming easier than ever for people to sell products online and anyone anywhere can set themselves up as an online business.
"As people increasingly order goods from companies they know nothing about we urge consumers to research the seller or product thoroughly – including their offline contact details such as a postal address or phone number – before hitting the 'buy' button.
"Where people have fallen victim to online fraud, we advise you contact your bank who can check if you are eligible for a refund. I would also urge people to report any suspicious websites to Citizens Advice via the consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 – complaints from consumers are crucial in helping enforcement teams clamp down on the criminals behind these scams."
Angry and confused shoppers
Here's a selection of some of the gripes we've seen from affected Social Discount Network customers:
- Donna emailed on Monday, having not received an item she paid £39 for: "I have ordered from Social Discount Network over 10 times before and this time I ordered for my dad. On my login page it said it still hadn't been dispatched so I emailed and was given a new delivery date but it came and passed. I went to log-in to my account to track delivery but the website had changed and I was unable to log-in. No emails are being replied to. This is a lot of money to lose especially coming up to Christmas."
- Joanne emailed on Sunday: "I have been waiting for my items for well over four weeks and it has told me I will not be receiving them, but it has set up a new website selling the same things half price. I have still not received refunds for the items ordered."
— Louise Read (@louread1) October 19, 2015