If you’re reading this blog, then I hope you haven’t bought anything from a company called CNF (www.cnfoutdoors.co.uk). If you haven’t, then don’t. If you have, please read on. (The business also trades under Sherwoodleisure.co.uk)
After a Google search on a particular make and model of sleeping bag, I purchased a bag from CNF for £79.97 on 9 January 2016 to use the following weekend. I received confirmation emails of my order and payment. Nothing unusual there.
Maybe we’re a bit spoiled with good customer service from reputable outdoor gear retailers but I was expecting a dispatched or shipping confirmation email during the week as the sleeping bag was listed as ‘in stock’ when I bought it.
No dispatch emails arrived and warning bells began to ring, I Googled ‘CNF Outdoors’ and my heart immediately sank with the results. Bad reviews all over the internet of customers being conned, no goods, no refunds, no replies, no nothing. Not good!
I took to Twitter and found more customers who had received nothing either. I decided to email CNF at sales@cnfoutdoors to find out when I could expect to receive the sleeping bag as I hoped to use it that weekend. No replies. I sent another email warning I would go down the Trading Standards route and leave negative reviews if they didn’t reply.
I looked at CNF’s terms and conditions and the delivery schedule was between 2-7 business days. This was day 7 and I hadn’t received anything. Lo and behold, business day 8 and they finally replied and advised they were waiting direct on the manufacturer of the sleeping bag to deliver a new shipment. This was misleading, CNF’s website claimed the item I wanted was in stock. I raised a complaint with the Citizens Advice and I was given a reference number and because CNF is misleading customers about stock levels, there is potentially a criminal element in the way CNF appears to trade.
I began contacting other disgruntled customers via Social Media and I was finding more and more people who received no communication, goods or refunds. I have urged them all to log complaints with the Citizens Advice, as all information is passed to Trading Standards, giving them vital intelligence on how the trader operates their business.
I decided to contact the manufacturer direct, to see if they had actually received an order on my behalf from CNF. Today they replied and advised they have had several complaints of the same nature about CNF and they would not fulfil any orders from them.
CNF also emailed me today to say my order had been cancelled and I would receive a refund. Hopefully they’re true to their word on the refund.
If you’ve recently been through a similar experience with CNF, then my advice would be:
- If you paid by debit card then contact your bank ASAP to see if they’ll do a ‘Charge back’ to claw your money back from CNF Outdoors. You may need to speak to a manager as not all staff are aware of this. I’m with TSB and I spoke with the dispute team.
- If you paid by credit card and your purchase was over £100 then you usually claim this back from the credit card company through Section 75. If it was under £100 then the revert to back to the ‘Charge back’ scheme.
- Contact Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 or Citizens Advice to log your dispute with CNF. They will pass on your information to Trading Standards to help build up intelligence about CNF and they way they trade. The more people that do this the better.
- Email and or preferably write to CNF Outdoors with a ‘Make time of the essence’ request. See: make time of the essence template letter. If you send it by letter, use recorded delivery. This demands that CNF deliver the goods within 14 days or your money back.
- Contact the company direct that makes the product you ordered to see if they have received an order from CNF on your behalf.
- Help spread the word about CNF on social media. So others do not make the same mistake as us.
Remember you have the right to cancel an order within 14 days from the date you ordered. The trader has 30 days to deliver the goods, after that you’re entitled to a refund.
If this blog prevents a few people from going through the same experience as me or helps others to get their money back, then it’s job well done.
If you need further information about CNF outdoors, please let me know. I’ve picked up a bit of information about them. Amazing what you find online!
Citizens Advice consumer helpline: 03454 04 05 06
For more information, please visit: Citizens Advice help
**Update** Good news, I got a full refund as the company no longer deal with CNF. I’m Now helping others who may not have been so lucky.