With files from Simon Little
It calls itself “Canada’s national mail order marijuana service,” but a BC based online dispensary is being accused of ripping off customers.
The website BCbud.ca is one of dozens of online pot shops sprouting up in Vancouver, and across Canada.
But the nameless, faceless nature of the internet has some customers learning “buyer beware” the hard way.
One BCbud.ca customer we spoke to says his first shipment arrived problem-free. The second took five weeks. But 13 weeks later, his third shipment has still not arrived.
“These guys could be ripping off people, hundreds of thousands, we don’t know. Some of the comments I’ve read on the internet from different rating websites, people have sent a thousand, two thousands, and haven’t gotten anything back, they’re not answering the phone calls, they don’t return emails.”
While the BCbud.ca itself hosts dozens of glowing reviews… those hosted on other websites are not nearly as kind.
The man we spoke to, who did not want to give his name because of concerns about his employer, says it’s a story he’s now seeing repeated all over the web.
“There’s people, basically from every province and territory all across Canada on different sites that are saying the same thing.”
And that’s money, sometimes hundreds or thousands of dollars, sent, but no product received.
Many of the alleged victims tell a similar story: their first few orders come as expected, and then eventually they stop- along with any ability to contact the company by phone or email.
CKNW has tried repeatedly to reach out to BCBud.ca, to no avail. A search of internet domain registries revealed no information about the company’s address or owners other than an IP address in downtown Vancouver.
All of the company’s social media profiles turn up dead links, except for Pinterest, and an active Twitter account dedicated mainly to retweeting news stories about the marijuana industry.
That hasn’t stopped its alleged victims from lashing out via the social media platform:
And while their phone line is not accepting calls, the website is still accepting orders and taking people’s money.
As BCbud.ca faces accusations of scamming customers, the owner of another Vancouver-based online pot shop says it’s giving the industry a black eye.
Angie Best with ZenLeaf Delivery says she fears the allegations could tar all online retailers with the same brush.
“It’s absolutely bad for the image. It’s bad for dispensaries. But within the community there’s always going to be bad apples.”
With the businesses technically illegal, she says its up to the industry to weed out the scammers. But she adds in the mean time, consumers can find the solution to the problem online.
“That’s probably the best way to get info about a company is to check for reviews. I know that there’s a lot of online places like reddit, grass city, there’s a lot of different forums where people do review the different services.”
No legal recourse
Despite dozens of complaints online, it doesn’t look like police are going to be cracking down on the website any time soon.
While unhappy customers out big bucks may be writing bad reviews, most aren’t running to police.
It is still an illegal business.
Vancouver Police Constable Brian Montague says on top of that, ordering pot online is even trickier – because the whole thing is anonymous.
“You’re dealing with individuals that you don’t know. There’s no brick and mortar business here. There is some inherent risk someone is going to take when they try to purchase from a business like this.”
Then there’s the fact that police say they’ve really got bigger fish to fry.
“When it comes to drug investigations we have a finite number of resources. We have to determine how best to allocate those resources.”
That means cases involving things like fentanyl take priority over someone getting scammed by a pot website.