Edmonton

$911 shipping charge on grandson's Christmas gift flabbergasts grandmother

Alberta grandmother Margaret Barry is still frustrated after discovering Sears charged her $911 to ship a $250 item to her home.

Phone calls to overseas customer-service centres produce no solution, she says

Margaret Barry had ordered a $250 go-kart for her grandson Benjamin and was floored when the shipping fee turned out to be $911. (Margaret Barry)

Alberta grandmother Margaret Barry is still frustrated after discovering Sears charged her $911 to ship a $250 item to her home.

Barry, who lives near Boyle, a small town about 150 km northeast of Edmonton, was going all out on Christmas this year ordering online a $250 go-kart for her three-year-old grandson Benjamin.

"It looks like a dune buggy," she said. "It's got a metal cage on it, but you sit on it and you pedal it."

There's no logic to it. There's no common sense to it- Margaret Barry

She ordered the gift from the Sears website just as she has ordered others in the past. 

And just as before, she expected her item to be shipped with no cost to the Sears depot in town.

This order would turn out out to be anything but ordinary.

The next morning when Barry read the confirmation email, she was stunned.

"It had $249.99 plus $911 shipping for a total of $1219.04."

"To be honest I was sick to my stomach when I saw it, and I got even sicker as they day progressed with not getting any help from anyone," Barry said.

Barry, 56, knew what had happened. The online order form defaults to home delivery and Barry admits, for whatever reason, she failed to reselect free delivery to a depot.

Nothing in her order raised a red flag, she said.  When she went through the online checkout, nothing indicated a shipping charge would apply.

"The only thing that comes up on that screen is $249.99 plus GST," she said. "There's no total, shipping charge. There's nothing."

CBC mimicked the online order using Barry's address and again nothing indicated a shipping cost for home delivery.

But mistakes are made, Barry thought. Nothing a phone call or email can't fix.

Told order could not be cancelled

She called Sears's customer service representatives, but was surprised when she was told her order had been processed and couldn't be cancelled or changed.

She sent several emails and placed at least half a dozen phone calls, which she said were directed to overseas customer-service centres that offered no help.

"I got the same response from absolutely everyone," she said. " 'There's nothing to be done,' or 'Sorry, that's not possible.' "

Barry said they refused to give her a number in Canada to call, so she started calling actual stores, which proved to be no help as well.

"Now I'm just incredibly frustrated and I honestly can't believe it. There's no logic to it. There's no common sense to it."

She then turned to CBC for help.

After an inquiry, Sears responded by email to Barry saying it had made a mistake.

The email said Barry was charged $911 because there is no service for home delivery available for her location.

"Generally, if that happens, we automatically cancelled the order to avoid the charge on your account," the email said.

"We also advise our customers to have the order (shipped to) the store near their area as an option."

Sears said Barry's credit card will not be charged the $911 shipping fee.

@SStevensonCBC

​scott.stevenson@cbc.ca

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