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The Purchaser Writes:
I have been ordering stationery, etc., from Viking Direct since 1993 and getting next-day, or even same-day, delivery without problems. But the wheels came off the relationship when I tried to order some flash pen drives from a new catalogue on 18th February, 2008.

Monday, 18th February 2008
I placed the order in the afternoon, expecting next-day delivery.

Tuesday, 19th February 2008
When I realized that it was getting too late for the drives to be delivered, I phoned Viking's Customer Services department. I was told that the drives would not be in stock until March and they had no other 2GB drives available. So I cancelled the order.

Monday, 17th March 2008
My credit card statement arrived. It showed that Viking Direct had made two charges to it on February 19th even though I had received nothing from them. I sent a fax to Viking, asking for a refund of the £94; which failed to provoke a response.

Thursday, 20th March 2008
I checked my credit card account on-line and found that Viking had not made a refund. So I phoned them.
   There was an option 2 on the menu to speak to someone in Accounts. But the phone just rang and rang. As the time was ten past four in the afternoon, I assumed that they'd all buggered off home early.
   I was left with Customer Services. The bloke there could do nothing for me but take details and tell me someone would be in touch on Tuesday (after the Easter holiday).

I am left with the conclusion that there must be something very seriously wrong with Viking's accounts system. There is no way they should have been able to charge my credit card once for a cancelled order, let alone twice.

Further, I find it very disturbing that they can just grab £94 off me without automatically generating an invoice or another form of paperwork.
   If I hadn't checked my credit card bill, I might never have learnt that I'd been ripped off.

And so much for trying to tell them what had happened by fax. Whatever happened to that? I ask myself.

Tuesday, 25th March 2008
Waited out the morning, no call from Viking so I phoned them. I was told that the bloke who answered the call would try to get in touch with Credit Control and get them to phone me back. That was at about noon. Lunchtime has come and gone and I'm still waiting.
16:15 hours
I sent the following fax to Viking:

Wednesday, 26th March 2008
No response at all to yesterday's fax, but why aren't I surprised?
   I decided to try one last phone call to see if it would succeed where 2 faxes and 5 previous phone calls failed. When I asked the young lady at Customer Services if her company was going out of business, because an unavailable accounts department is the first warning sign of that happening, she assured me that wasn't happening.
   Shock, horror!!! I was actually put through to someone in the credit card department!!!
   I was told that my cancelled order was still on the system as an active order and the items were now in stock. But the young lady was unable to explain why the order hadn't been sent out or why I was charged twice for it. She told me that she had cancelled the order and that a refund to my credit card would take three to four working days.
   So I am giving them to the end of the week to give me my money back. And if that hasn't happened, I suppose it's a toss up whether the next phone call goes to the Fraud Department of my credit card company, Stockport Trading Standards or Greater Manchester Police.

Thursday, 27th March 2008
Someone from Viking phoned while I was out working on a website. She said she would phone again tomorrow (Friday). That didn't happen.

Monday, 31st March 2008
I was unavailable for another phone call but the bloke decided that the matter had been sorted out and I didn't need to call him back. I assume this meant that the cash ram-raided from my credit card had been returned as stealthily and as invisibly as it had been extracted.
Later that same morning
The lady from the managing director's office at Viking phoned again to tell me she was investigating my case and she was as concerned as I was that money had been removed from my credit card, without generating a paper trail, even though I had not been sent any of Mr. Viking's office supplies. She will call back on Friday with the results of her probe into Viking's accounts department.

Thursday, 3rd April 2008
Checked my credit card account on-line and found that my ram-raided account had been repaid on April 1st, which seemed appropriate somehow, even if I'd had to wait a full 4 working days to get it done.

Friday, 4th April 2008
The lady from the managing director's office at Viking phoned again to tell me that the refund had been made and Viking would be offering me a discount on my next order. Everyone is still baffled about what happened but her investigation suggested that no one else has ever suffered this particular problem in the whole history of the universe.
   Being singled out for the treatment is an honour which I wouldn't mind having been spared!

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