I was recently looking into buying a mechanical keyboard since I was growing rather tired of Apple rubber dome products. After plenty of research I ended up with a Filco Majestouch-2 and a Noppoo Choc Mini 84 on my shortlist. They both received good reviews from enthusiasts, but I then couldn’t see myself spending 120 pound sterling on a Filco, and the Noppoo Choc Mini 84 seemed a bit cramped. It was still quite pricey at 84 pounds on Amazon.co.uk, though. Then I learnt about the Noppoo Choc Mid 87, which has a somewhat more comfortable layout but still no numeric keypad.
Still, all things considered it seemed like a good compromise, since I was interested in a mechanical keyboard with blue Cherry switches. I don’t play games on my computer, so the many available mechanical keyboards with black “gaming switches” that lack the actuation point of blue switches were not attractive to me. So, the Noppoo Choc Mid 87 it would be. Looking around for a good offer, I eventually stumbled upon Noppoo.eu, which looked legit enough at first sight. Their pricing was very attractive to, selling all keyboards for EUR 89.99, which is about 75 pounds. They offer free shipping, too, and they claim to ship from within the European Union, so it should have taken a few days to receive the product.
I happily picked a Noppoo Choc Mid 87 with blue switches, and placed my order. The shop seemed a bit amateurish, but that keyboard is only sold by third-parties on Amazon.co.uk, and I’ve had some pretty bad experiences with those, too, so paying more for a possibly even worse experience wasn’t such an enticing option either. Fortunately, Noppoo.eu accepts payment via credit card, so I was aware that I could always just cancel the payment in case they tried screwing me over. Had they used Paypal, I would have avoided them altogether, though.
The red flags came in rapid succession after my order, though. First, the order confirmation didn’t come from an “@noppoo.eu” email address, but instead from “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and I was told that I could contact them at that address in case I had any questions about my order. So, Noppoo.eu was just a front for Mister Deal, whatever that is. Looking up the address, it turned out they sell trinkets online:
Very shortly after I had placed my order, they took money off my credit card, and the transaction was done by “Florent Pialot T/A”. The email referenced two URLs, one of which being noppoo.eu, and the other kbtpure.com. That’s what their website looks like:
This didn’t look good at all. At that point I made a note in my calendar to review my VISA statements in two weeks. Then things took a rather surprising turn, and I found myself in the middle of the typical scam playbook:
I placed my order at the beginning of November. Does this ring a bell already?
Okay, let me tell you what a reputable seller does: They keep the stock information on their website up-to-date, and they take your money not when you order but the moment they ship the product to you. Scammers on ebay do the following: take your money, often via PayPal, and then tell you of “unexpected difficulties”, which are of course expected to be resolved within six weeks or two months. As it just so happens, after that much time has passed, you can’t dispute your PayPal transactions any more, which means that they now have your money, while you’ll have no way to get it back. PayPal will then refer to their terms and conditions, if they respond to you at all. You could of course take legal action, but good luck chasing after some scammer in a foreign country.
I was not at all interested in getting scammed by some guy allegedly residing in Hong Kong, so I asked them to refund my money. Note that they never offered this option themselves. Instead, their proposition amounted to basically saying, “Hey, mind if we keep your money? We’ll send you that product in about two months, but then it’s Christmas and New Years, so it might take even longer. But don’t worry, dude, you can trust us!”
After about a week I got my money back, but they just had flip me the bird by refunding one cent less than I paid, and when questioned, claimed it “was not on purpose” and that I should contact their payment processor. This doesn’t make any sense since the company handling payments only transfers the amount of money it was instructed to transfer.
Let me digress for a moment. Those things never happen “by accident”. At the very least, they are the result of structural stupidity, i.e. of someone manually refunding money instead of referencing a particular payment. This is by design as well. Further, I certainly never ever had it happen that a company accidentally refunded me more money than I was owed. It was always the opposite. There are even “reputable” institutions like banks who unfortunately experience some problems with their systems and charge you fees for free services. If you question them on that, they throw their hand up in the air and claim it was all a computer mistake. This must be the most convenient excuse of all time. It’s the business equivalent of the high school student claiming that his dog ate his homework. To add insult to injury, you then have to jump through hoops to get your money back, and you may even encounter people playing dumb, hoping that you’ll give up. I guess some businesses really do hire morons for that task, though.
In the case of banks it’s of course part of the business model to try charging all, or at the very least a large subset of their customers, unjustified fees, and hoping that not enough of them will dispute the charges. Hey, what’s EUR 15 once every three months, or EUR 20 once a year for a report you never ordered? It’s a ton of free money if you multiply it by their number of customers.
I have no patience with incompetent and dishonest businesses, and I certainly have no sympathy for companies that act in downright fraudulent ways. In that regard, it is quite amazing how cooperative third-party sellers become if you tell them that you’ll inform Amazon about their business practices. For instance, I had it happen more than once that I was sent a re-sealed used video game when I had ordered a new one, and there were scratches as well as dirt underneath the shrink-wrap.
In the case of Noppoo.eu, disputing the credit card charges would, if enough duped customers did the same, increase their costs of operation since VISA would raise the rate they charge them for processing payments, and, if there are too many chargebacks, eventually just close their account. My bank would have needed a form for this in writing, and sent via snail mail. I then thought that it has been a while since I’ve written a blog post, so I thought that my time was better spent voicing my discontent online, and warn other customer of Noppoo.eu.
Please note that I am not making the claim that the people behind Noppoo.eu — it could well be just a one-man operation, though — are scammers. I could have done that had they really scammed me. However, think of the duck test: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” To me, Noppoo.eu shows all signs of a scam operation. Of course I could just have waited for two months and then I might have received my keyboard. Maybe I wouldn’t. If you’re about to take a shortcut through a dark alley and notice two suspicious characters, one of which is wielding a baseball bat, you might not want to try your luck either.
Lastly, let me point out that I find it highly dubious that Noppoo.eu has not changed the stock status of any of their products on their website. If the information in their email is correct and their keyboards are sold out, then why on Earth didn’t they update their website to reflect this? I checked their site after I got their email, and, out of curiosity, for seven workdays in a row, until I decided that they deserve some public shaming for their actions. As I’m typing this they still list all keyboard models in all colors and with all switches as “in stock”:
Feel like a scam, looks like a scam, acts like a scam. Probably a scam. But feel free to risk 90 Euros for absolute certainty.