On July 23, 2008, I submitted an online order to Madden Bros. (www.maddenbros.com) for five cubic yards of mulch. I received an email the next day noting that they no longer carried the type of mulch I had ordered; however, I did not notice the email until Saturday, when I saw that no mulch had been delivered. I checked my credit card activity to make sure I had not been charged for the mulch, and, much to my surprise, there was a charge for $234.33 and no refund. I called asking for a refund, but the person did not know how to issue a refund for an online order. She said she would call back, after talking to her manager. I never received a call back, so I called again and found that my refund would be disbursed by a check to be mailed to me. I found this to be very odd for an online order. I asked to speak to the manager, but he never called. I asked for an emailed form letter explaining the nature of the refund so I could have some assurance that it would take place, but the only responses I received were terse, barely decipherable, and definitely not suitable for official documentation (in fact, the first response was simply online on a previous email I as sent, so you could not tell who had written what).
The next week I received a call from them letting me know that the check would be mailed today. I again explained my concerns with this process, noting how simple PayPal's refund process is (even sent them links afterwords - https://www.paypal.com/uk/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=xpt/cps/bizui/SendRefund-outside), and how extremely unconventional and disconcerting this was when compared to normal e-commerce practices. They were very defensive- this is their practice, the owner ordered it, and they've been around for 40 years, so it must be right. They weren't even very apologetic for the fact that I was charged and never automatically refunded for product that never shipped, noting,"that's how PayPal works."
I did receive my refund, but I could never attempt to purchase from them again. Not refunding my money as soon as they knew the order could not be fulfilled was distressing enough, but they also didn't seem to respect the fact that they were tying up other folks' money like this. I always change this, but the default behavior of PayPal is to draw from your checking account. Therefore, for most folks, they would be holding your liquid funds for however long it took for you or them to notice the problem, plus the time to mail the check, plus how long it takes to clear. And don't forget- funds are often available before a check has truly cleared, so the bank could still take that money away again. As it was, given their behavior, I could not be 100% confident that I would see my money again, and I couldn't afford ten cubic yards of mulch, so I had to wait over a week before I could order from someone else. What a pain! If I had had that documentation I had requested, I would have been a little more confident, but they couldn't even deliver on that. That's Business 101-come to think of it, high schools and colleges teach formal letter- writing to *everybody*.
I should mention that I had troubles with their website a month or do prior, as well. Clicking on the PayPal link took me through the entire payment process, only to error out when attempting to return to the Madden Bros. site, except the error message is barely visible, and I did not notice it. I had to call them because I had no idea if I had actually ordered anything. Like this last time, the person who picked up the phone couldn't see anything coming through the website- the manager I'd the only on who has the keys. This stuff should be easy, but through their vice-grip on the website, management seems intent on making things difficult.
Based on this experience, I cannot recommend Madden Bros. The mismanagement of web orders does not give much confidence in them overall. You can't treat online customers like second-class citizens. Besides, Mr. Yard (http://www.mryardoh.com) got me what I needed for far less money and hassle. If you are going to work with them, I would definitely recommend that you stay far, far away from their website.