NOTE: This post is meant as a warning to online shoppers to avoid shopping with CompactAppliance or any of the “Living Direct Network” of sites — they are a bottom-of-the-barrel company with terrible customer support and you’d be better to spend your money at another reputable dealer.
I was recently in the market for a portable AC unit and instead of trusting my better senses and getting something from Costco with a lifetime warranty, I did some looking online. Amazon didn’t have one particular unit that stood out so I kept looking at other places online to see if I could find a “favorite” among folks that have portable AC units.
I checked ConsumerSearch, a website that I’ve enjoyed in the past, but am now starting to think is a shill site for advertisers to buy their positioning in. They had a section (similar to About.com) related to Highest Rated Portable AC Units that gave very high marks to the EdgeStar units based on reviews found on the web.
Interestingly enough, Amazon doesn’t sell this item, so I checked out the 2nd most “active looking” store for the EdgeStar 12000s which was CompactAppliance.com. Over 200 “reviews” and 4.5/5 stars… not too shabby. I went ahead and ordered the device in a flurry and didn’t think much about it.
I immediately received an order confirmation from ComplactAppliance.com and soon there after a shipping confirmation email:
I thought “wow that was fast” and went about having a nice weekend.
I woke up this morning trying to figure out when this item would be delivered, so I clicked the link to check the tracking and was told by FedEx that no item with that shipping number exists in their system.
My internal alarm bells started to go off…
So now I start searching online for reviews of CompactAppliance.com and/or Living Direct and start to find complaint after complaint about the non-existent customer service, the highway robbery-esque return policies, mis-shipped and double-charged items, broken products being delivered and then like icing on the cake, terrible customer reviews of the EdgeStar unit (from sites other than CompactAppliance.com and ConsumerSearch) which seem to be very shoddy Chinese mass-produced units that the Living Direct network have exclusive distribution rights to — I’m starting to wonder now if the 200+ “reviews” of the EdgeStar12000S are being filled out by Living Direct employees and they paid dearly for their ConsumerSearch.com placement.
Given that my shipping information originally emailed to me is invalid, I am pretty much assuming that I just got scammed. So I login to the website to check 1 last time what my order status is and instead find a completely different tracking number:
And according to FedEx it will be delivered tomorrow.
At this point I don’t want anything to do with this company, so I give them a call to try and cancel the order or see what the process is for returning an un-opened item. As “Cindy” explains, my choices are:
- Cancel the FedEx shipment and pay a 20% restocking fee (keep in mind the product has obviously never been opened because it was never delivered)
- Receive the item, then call them for an RMA # and pay for shipping as well as a 15% restocking fee for an unopened item
So both choices for returning an unopened item result in CompactAppliance and the Living Direct Network having their way with my back-side. Great.
Let this post serve as a warning to you if you are shopping at any of the Living Direct Network sites (CompactAppliance, Portable Air Shop, EdgeStar, Kegerator, Simply Dehumidifiers, Hotwater Source, Wine Cool Direct) to save your money and shop somewhere else. Hell, even buy whatever it is you want locally so you can at least return it without enduring rape.
Living Direct reminds me of those sites that started springing up 10 years ago that establish what looks like a reputable online presence but in reality are just 5 people sitting at desks in some shut-in office acting like middle men. I think the most profitable thing Living Direct has done is order and secure thousands of the “EdgeStar” units from China directly and selling them as if they were a legit appliance and not some in-house invented knock off brand that gives them huge profit margins.
I’ll update this post when the unit arrives with my comments about it, but at this point I don’t expect it to last longer than a year.
I hope this post keeps someone else from falling into the trap of the Living Direct Network, CompactAppliance or any EdgeStar appliance.
Update #1: Well the EdgeStar 12000s arrived on-time and we ran it last night… it is definitely loud, especially when the compressor turns on, but seems to do a good job. I’ll wait a few months before I do a review to make sure it keeps working. Also, it’s HEAVY… like 72lbs heavy…
Update #2: Got spammed with some Living Direct email offers this morning, even though I explicitly did not check “send me offers” when I created my account. I went ahead and unsubscribed from the mailing list which showed me this screen:
You really need to appreciate a company so buried in apathy and customer-hate that they will not even remove you from a mailing list immediately. This isn’t like a mom-and-pop store that need to manually update an XLS spreadsheet… this is an online-only company claiming that it takes 30 days to remove your email address from a DB.
My guess is that they will spam me this entire month under the excuse of “well it hasn’t been 30 days yet” hoping that either (A) I forget that I unsubscribed after a month of this shit and just give up and stay on the list or (B) they actually aren’t going to unsubscribe me at all and want a fuzzy gray area in which to keep blasting me with “offers” since I’m already a “lost subscriber” they might as well try and piss me off in the process to make 1 more sale.
Again, I’m only sharing this to give you an idea of the “vibe” of this company. Customers are a necessary evil to them. Please shop somewhere else.
Update #3: Just to add insult to injury, as you noted at the beginning of this post, I like Costco. They stand behind their products and stock good quality things. I walked into Costco yesterday to do some shopping, and sitting RIGHT by the front door are Sharp Portable AC units that are quiet… goddamnit.