Grey – The Definition of Scam (and how the levamentum project scammed me)
Continuing on after my definition of slander post I thought I would talk about the definition of scam, the inspiration for this came not from the queer community but from this video from the minecraft community. To summarize it’s about a minecraft convention where the organisers were accused of scamming people, akin to many stories about fandom/communities being taken advantage of through the organisation of conventions that are not worth the paper the tickets are printed on. The one I linked to earlier in the paragraph promised giveaways of minecraft lego and PS4s and instead they gave away pens and the convention was ended after 2 hours. The definition of scam is something that comes up in many of these conversations as people debate if a failed event is a scam or if there has to be some sort of malicious intent that is clear from the start. It has personally affected me when I tried to purchase packers and a STP from levamentum and they… lets start with “failed to deliver”
To begin I’m going to talk about what happened with levementum, this will be an extended and more emotive version of what I submitted to the IC3.
On the 16th of March (12:18:43 AEDT I received the receipt for paypal) I purchased 2 budget packers and a sailor STP. After 10 weeks I had received no correspondence. To compare most sites send an automated email once the item is sent or if there have been any delays. I checked on their order tracker to see the status of my package ever couple of weeks, at week 10 it was pre-shipment. Considering ever online seller I had dealt with had shipped the item within a week I was confused to say the least, but their site did say it could be 4 to 8 weeks to ship and the business did seem to be run by a young transman (hence the great prices, I assumed) and I was willing to cut them some slack. but at week 10 I emailed them
(to save me from interrupting the post with dates and times for each email, they are as follows: Me, Thursday, 29 May 2014 at 09:57 AEDT They replied Friday, 30 May 2014 at 05:33 CEST I sent another email Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 11:29 AM AEDT then Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 7:24 PM AEST and most recently Sun, Jul 6, 2014 at 4:53 PM AEDT)
“and as it has now been 10 weeks with no contact from you apart from my conformation [sic] email, my item being marked as “pre-shipment” (I don’t know what this means) and a post on your website that explained about the disasters occurring in S[an] D[iego] with seemingly no date to indicate when it was posted and that it will affect the next shipment, am I [sic] a part of this “next shipment” my order was well before May 1st so I have no clue.”
Plus some more about my disappointment and how distressed this has made me, for context I was fulltime at tafe doing beauty, trying to pass as male, and I was terrified of going to the bathroom so much so that I would hold on for the whole school day, sometimes resorting to the disgusting exeloo (automated, single cubicle, gender neutral toilet) that one looks nice and clean, but this one I went to was gross, one time someone had just peed all over the seat and it normally reeked of stale urine. So a device to help me stand to pee and give me extra confidence is something I desperately needed. There was once… I’m just gonna say accident (and let you fill in the blank cause I still can’t admit to it in plain speak) just before I got home. So I was in a really sucky place. Let alone any dysphoria, and this is just my story I know I’m not the only one levamentum delayed like this.
The reply from levamentum was prompt:
first off i would like to note that it does say in our FAQ that orders take may take 4-8 weeks before may 1st. though yours has taken longer this had some extenuating circumstances that were noted on our website. Also, pre-shipment, means that your order is set to go in our next shipment.”
Okay, so off the bat I feel like I’m being treated like an idiot, The reason I emailed at week 10 is because I read the FAQs and I intentionally noted the fires in San Diego. Something that levamentum should of sent an email to for all people with pending orders rather than just posted on their website.
So the email continues talking about distributor issues that were completely fair enough.
“The reason we did not give an ETA for out of stock items is because we could never find out ourselves when they would come in. We would always get run around answers as to why it would take 2-3 MONTHS for items to come in that we ordered, there that is the best which we coud [sic] pass on to our customers.”
But why was this not written on the pages for items that were out of stock, so customers could make an informed decision on what items they wanted to purchase. The budget packers were out of stock on my order, and I most likely would of omitted them from my order if I knew it could delay my order by months.
They then talked about the change of supplier and how they were recovering from the fires and everything was effectively resolved. Finishing with:
“We have our next shipment to occur by monday [2nd June] at the absolute latest. We do apologize for the extended time your order has taken and thank you for the patience that you have had. We assure you that the steps we have taken since may 1st have resolved MANY of the issues which we had prior this time. Hope that helps! -Alex Quitmeyer TLP Team”
I replied week 12, as my order was still markered pre-shipment. I preambled this with the date they promised to ship the items and how I was getting quite disgruntled.
“I can’t see how this is the fault of your suppliers, and even with the horrid natural disaster I cannot see why my order would take more than a week to get shipped once it has been prepared unless you mislead me about the next shipment date. Particularly when I did complain and you were able to reply so promptly and considerately.”
I followed this, explaining how I have recommended levamentum based on price and their positive attitude and will not do so in future.
they did not reply.
So I sent another email, for the first time asking for a refund from levamentum.
“I’m going to keep this short, as I am not even sure if my emails are being read at this point. It has now been 4 months and my order is still pre shipment, I received no reply to my email on the 13th of June. Your service has been atrocious and I would like a full refund. This has been literally the worst service I have ever recived [sic] from an online retailer.”
After again no reply I sent another email but this time not in reply to the original emails.
“I have been repeatedly emailing you in reply to the email you sent (in response to one I sent) on the 30th of May. (over one month ago).I shall politely assume that these emails failed to reach you rather than have been actively ignored. So I shall paraphrase them.
You stated that “We have our next shipment to occur by monday [2nd June] at the absolute latest.” so 2 weeks (Jun 13) after I received your email I sent you another to state that my order had not yet been marked as sent. And I voiced my distrust in you and levamentum and how I feel actively mislead. After no reply, I sent another email 3 days ago (Jul 3) Reiterating that my order has still not been marked as shipped, that your service has been atrocious and that I request a full refund and that this has been literally the worst service I have ever received from a retailer.
When people ask my opinion on Levamentum, I now actively advise them to avoid spending money with you. Due to poor communication, poor service, disrespecting customers, misleading statements and generally being unhelpful to those who are most in need of help.And I dont not seem to be the only person upset”
I then provided 2 links. Here (I have saved this website so feel free to email or comment if this link breaks and I will email you a copy) and here there are also many other posts on susans speaking out against levamentum, that I really should’ve read before I bought the items.
now after almost 2 weeks since that last email http://www.thelevamentumproject.com has is now “Site Offline This website has been disabled for technical reasons. Please contact the site administrator for more information.” and now as of writing (24 Aug) the site is completely unavailable and the domain is set to expire in a bit under 2 weeks. Alex Quitmeyer (and possibly Leilani Hamme) have taken my money with the promise of delivering goods, and are now not communicating, their website is offline and I have not been even offered a refund after asking repeatedly. I cannot dispute with paypal as I was unaware that I was being victimised until well over 45 days after payment. also don’t have a credit card so I can’t dispute that way.
Mr. Quitmeyer himself also wrote here about other people accusing him of fraud. (also I have realised in the writing of this I haven’t attempted to email email@example.com something I shall do promptly and update this post if I receive, or don’t receive a reply)
The net result so far of dealing with levamentum has been a loss of USD$63.00 and I am too scared to buy from any other packer seller, particularly as most of them cost much more than levamentum.
But back to my original point, what is a scam and how does it differ from a mistake. If you take someone’s money with the promise of delivering something and then not only don’t deliver the something, but as soon as you realize you can’t deliver the something you hide this fact and you don’t refund the money, that is fraudulent, that is a scam. I think that honestly levementum tried to punch above their weight. I don’t think they intended to hurt people, but their lack of transparency has cause deep hurt to anyone in the trans* community who has been failed by them. They have tried to push the responsibility back on us, we have to contact them if we want our money, we have to look at their site if we want to know why our orders take months and as a result they have taken our money and currently have given us no recourse to get it back.
So hey, if you have a sec, here’s their tumblr heres their email heres their email firstname.lastname@example.org this is my email email@example.com feel free to send a complaint. If you don’t wanna, its all good. But if you do I will be thankful 🙂