My topic for this blog (sometimes I think I should call it vent session) is catalog/Internet orders gone awry. ?The first order involved a stain for my new barn. I found exactly what I needed and, although the website was rather unprofessional and didn't fill me with confidence, I was familiar with the product from about 15 years ago. After a pleasant phone conversation with the company to verify that what they were selling was what I wanted, I placed the order online.? I received immediate confirmation of the order via e-mail, and my credit card was immediately charged. Great, I thought, I'll have this quickly, since I know that Visa and Master Card both require retailers to not bill a credit card until an item actually ships. I e-mailed the company 12 days later to find out where the product was, and I received no response. I waited another week and was told that they think the item shipped the previous week.? She said they normally ship within a few days of order, but they may have been out of stock on this item; she?d check on that. (it's a two-day UPS shipment between me and the company.) Three days later, I asked for a refund. The refund was issued immediately, and I was told the item was shipped but UPS was returning it them due to damage. Never, ever was I given a UPS tracking number, which is the norm for most companies. Wouldn?t you think sending a complaining customer the UPS tracking number would have been step 1' I honestly don't believe the product was ever shipped. This was just a lesson that unprofessional handling of inquiries is probably an indication of a haphazard company.? But the next incident, which (lucky me) was around the same time is mind-boggling. On another order, from a different company, I received the package quickly, but it was missing one product, a bag of plastic tops for metal fence posts we needed to get in around the new barn. Of course, it was the one item I wanted immediately (I had ordered non-critical items also to qualify for ?free shipping?), but we're all human. Mistakes happen. I called the company and explained the situation. ?I was asked to: 1)??? ?Please check the box to be sure you didn't overlook it.? The bag of tops would be too big to overlook, and the box was upstairs. Still,?I was raised to do what I was told. I ran up the stairs and checked again. No product. 2)??? ?Please look inside all the foam filler to be sure you didn't overlook it.? But, I said, this item is too large to be caught in foam. ?Please look,? the customer service person insisted. ?This is protocol.? I'm actually embarrassed to admit to you now that I stupidly, again, ran up the stairs and looked through all the foam, but I tend to be a nice person. No product. 3)??? ?Please check to be sure the packing slip says the item was in the box.? I already did, I said. ?that's why I'm calling you. ?You must check it again,? the customer-service person said. Thinking that tHere's definitely a reason some people equate ?nice? with ?stupid,? I ran up the stairs and looked at the packing slip. Now very much out of breath?nice/stupid me, I didn't want to waste too much of the customer-service person?s time so I ran up and down the stairs?I went back to the phone, packing slip in hand, and said, yes, the item is supposed to be in there. ?Well,? she said, ?the item was in the box.? (I am not making this up!) What' No, it isn?t! I checked everything. ?The weight on the package indicates that the item is in the box, and UPS would have notified us if the weight was incorrect.? No they wouldn?t! If you're dumb enough to pay more than the actual shipping charge, that's just fine with them.? They only notify you if it's underweight. ?I'm sorry, ma?am. The item was in the package.? Shocked?and thankful the item was only $10?I hung up. I then put the package together again with everything in it that I received. The UPS label was marked ?14 lbs.? The items and the box weighed less than 9 lbs. We ship out a lot of test products for Horse Journal, so this was routine for me. I called back and asked to speak with a manager. I told her what happened. She apologized and said the customer-service rep was following instructions, but she clearly pushed it too far. (You think') I told her it would make more sense to track that I called about this problem, so if it's repeated frequently you might suspect that I wasn?t telling the truth, but the way the rep sounded, I was a horrible liar. (Actually, at this point, I was livid, and I'm giving you the G-rated version.) I also told her that clearly her shipping department was not weighing individual boxes, but instead was pushing in whatever code the first woman used to estimate the weight and slapping on a shipping label. The company overnighted me the missing item, which I appreciated, but when that catalog comes in the mail, I just toss it. Well, I feel better. Do you have some horse-item shipping horror stories to share'