St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 10, 2010 - Scalise Endeavors
, a business in Maplewood, Mo., that sells hiking and camping equipment through the Internet, is under fire from frustrated consumers who say they paid for products they never received.
Other customers told the Better Business Bureau (BBB) they received their orders weeks or months later than promised.
The BBB suggests caution when dealing with the company. Owner William J. Scalise, Jr., lists addresses at 3247 Edgar Rd. and 3250 Walter Ave. Scalise operates his business through the website www.collegebackpacking.com
The company has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.
Michelle Corey, St. Louis BBB president and CEO, said Scalise Endeavors has failed to address a series of consumer complaints, most of them reported to the BBB in the past five months.
“These are people who had every right to expect to get what they ordered, and get it in a timely manner,” Corey said. “Too often, though, it seems this camping and hiking business is telling its own customers to ‘take a hike.’”
The website advertises backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, outerwear and emergency survival items. In-stock items ship within two to six business days and out-of-stock items “typically take an extra five or six business days to arrive,” the site says.
In August, a BBB investigator visited the Walter Avenue address and was told by a receptionist that the company was no longer based there. But in a follow-up e-mail, Scalise said that was not true. He said his father’s company also operates out of the building and “I’m not in the office very frequently.”
Scalise also apologized for his lack of response to customers. “We’ve been making some changes in the last few months, and it has cost us severely,” he said. “We understand that customer service is key to success these days, and we haven’t been living up (to) that standard.” He said the company has been committing additional resources to resolving the complaints and keeping customers happy.
Despite the pledge, seven BBB complaints have been unanswered since August. Scalise has not responded to an Oct. 14 letter from the BBB, noting a pattern of complaints.
A woman from Concord, N.H., said she ordered $186 in merchandise from the website on July 19 and has yet to receive the items. She said she received an e-mail from the company on Oct. 6, promising that her money would be refunded by the next business day. Three weeks later, she still had received nothing. “I wish I lived in St. Louis so I could knock on the door of the business, but I am across the country,” she said in an e-mail to the BBB. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else!”
A man from Kansas City, Mo., said last month that he still had not received a promised refund on a $123 sleeping bag he ordered from the business on May 25. He said he canceled the order on the company’s website when he did not receive the merchandise. “It’s just a shame that people don’t do business like it should be done,” he said.
A consumer from Hickory, N.C., said she ordered a backpack from the business for $103 on Aug. 16 and noticed soon after that the company had debited that amount plus three unidentified charges of $8.05 from her account. She, too, said she has tried to contact the company, but has never received the backpack or a refund. “The customer service has been HORRIBLE with this company,” she said in his complaint. “I have never experienced anything like this with any online purchases.”
The BBB offers the following advice for persons ordering items online:
- Before ordering anything online, make sure you can contact a live person via e-mail or phone. If you have trouble reaching someone before you buy, you likely will have trouble reaching someone later if you have a concern about your order.
- Make sure you can confirm a physical business address. Buyers should be very cautious of any business unwilling to provide an address.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible. That way, if you do not receive your order, you have a better chance of getting your money refunded.
- Research a company by contacting the BBB for a Reliability Report. Go to www.bbb.org or call 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (NE Wisconsin) or 800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).