Updated on November 24, 2014: Amazon ultimately refunded that last $120 as of two days ago (but it hasn’t appeared on the credit card yet). However, the highly questionable third-party vendor is still active on Amazon with a stellar rating.
In my many letters to Amazon, I suggested they look at the reviews outside of Amazon, where they’d find that this vendor has many one-star reviews for the same questionable shenanigans.
This week, I’ve done quite a bit of Christmas shopping, and none of it through Amazon. They’ve lost their #1 fan.
I am highly allergic to people.
And shopping malls.
Large groups of loud, sticky children make me break out in hives. (And by large groups, I mean one or more.)
For these reasons and more, I’ve always been Amazon’s Number One Fan.
That is, until last month when I purchased a laptop via a third-party vendor at Amazon.
In 2002, I purchased my first laptop. It died 23 months later. Lappys II and III also died on cue, within 30 days of the two-year mark.
In August 2010, Lappy IV (Toshiba Satellite) was adopted from Office Depot, and lived to the ripe old age of 4 years and 2 months, probably (in part) because I started using a laptop cooler 100% of the time.
Last month, Lappy IV developed severe dementia and had to be replaced. I dreaded the thought of dealing with Windows 8. No one likes Windows 8, and I do not embrace change, so I went searching for a laptop with Windows 7. My #1 favorite vendor for such things (Tiger Direct) did not have any laptops big enough for my needs, so I turned to Amazon.
And that’s where it went off the rails.
I found a name-brand laptop for $600+ with Windows 7. The machine had glowing reviews, so I purchased it from a third-party vendor which promised fast delivery. I paid a significant sum for next-day shipment. That was on a Friday.
Every few hours, I checked and found that the computer had not shipped. This went on until late Monday afternoon when I attempted to cancel the order. The response to my cancellation from the website was unclear. I called Amazon and explained the circumstance, and they also attempted to cancel but explained, “Don’t worry; if you receive this item, you can send it back and 100% of your money will be refunded. It’s protected by our A-Z guarantee.”
Amazon called the vendor on my behalf. No response.
Tuesday afternoon, the machine had still not been shipped, so I contacted Amazon again, and they contacted the vendor again. Still, no response.
Wednesday morning, I got an email showing that the laptop had been shipped, a full 36 hours after the cancellation.
This lugubrious story goes on and on, and included several very long, painful phone calls to Amazon.
The laptop arrived at my home a week after I had placed the order, and I purposefully did not disturb the original seal but began writing emails to both Amazon and the vendor, asking for return authorization. The vendor did not reply for several days. More phone calls. More hours. More emails. No response.
It was maddening. Ultimately, I was promised by both companies that my full purchase price would be refunded, and instructions for returning the laptop were finally provided by the third-party vendor.
Return shipping was $36, but that was a small price to have this sad saga come to an end.
Two weeks ago, Fed Ex showed the package had been delivered. I contacted the third-party vendor and they said they never received the laptop. I provided a tracking number. Days later, the vendor finally acknowledged they received the laptop. Last week, I contacted the vendor and said, “It’s been more than a week; where’s my refund?”
Yesterday, two weeks after the vendor received the laptop, they sent an email saying that they’d “started to process” a refund, minus a 20% restocking fee.
In other words, $120 shy.
Again, I contacted Amazon and asked for protection under their “A-Z Guarantee.” They replied with, “This case is closed now because the seller issued a refund.”
I sat down and cried out of sheer frustration.
After I wiped my tears, I called Amazon and spent another hour on the phone. They said they would re-open it under the A-Z Guarantee. That was at 2:00 pm. At 6:00 pm, I received yet another email from Amazon saying that “This case was closed because the seller issued a refund.”
My husband tells me to let it go, but I have a problem with being ripped off. And it was Amazon that exposed me to this chicanery. Later, I went online and googled this company’s name (outside of Amazon). I was not surprised to find that they have many one-star reviews for this same kind of shady dealings.
Here’s what I learned:
1) Do not deal with third-party vendors at Amazon, unless it’s an amount of money that you can afford to take out in the back yard and set on fire.
2) According to Amazon’s customer-service reps, the Amazon A-Z Guarantee is 100% contingent upon the third-party vendor’s terms for returns. If the third-party refuses returns, or has a 50% restocking fee (which is not disclosed anywhere on the product page), that’s okay with Amazon.
3) Third-party vendors are given free rein on Amazon, and if they refund any portion of your money, Amazon considers it “Case Closed.”
4) If you write a negative review of a company, that company can sue you for libel or slander. My lawyer-husband told me this, and I honestly couldn’t believe he was right. He was. Click here to read more.
5) Have you read that article yet? Even if your review was 100% honest and truthful, the cost to defend “the truth” in court can be tens of thousands of dollars. The article recommends you check your homeowner’s insurance to see if it includes “court costs for libel cases” before you write a negative review.
6) If you contact Amazon customer service, you are referred to a call center. Good luck finding someone who can speak the Queen’s English. However, IF you have 30 minutes to kill, they WILL transfer you to a US call center if you ask (and if you can wait, and if you don’t get disconnected).
7) When an Amazon representative promises to “call you back within two hours,” don’t refuse a call from your out-of-town daughter because you naively believe the Amazon rep is really going to call you back. Three weeks later, I’m still waiting for that call.
8 ) The biggie: Sometimes, your mental health is worth more than a laptop and shady business dealings.
If you have a story to share, or if you know anyone at Amazon, please leave a comment below. I sent an email to Jeff@Amazon.com and received a response that said, “The vendor has taken care of this.”
I’m out of ideas. And frankly, thoroughly disappointed in my #1 favorite online company.
Read a happy post about Sears kit homes by clicking here.
* * *
I guess they're waiving the 15% restocking fee in favor of a 20% restocking fee?
Let's go back to happy thoughts, such as the Aladdin Marshfield I found in Edwardsville, IL during my recent trip. This is from the 1931 Aladdin catalog, courtesy Rachel Shoemaker. See, I was far from home when I found this house, and called upon dear Rachel to supply a vintage image.
I don't think I've ever done a survey for a community on a day other than trash day. Nonetheless, here it is, an Aladdin Marshfield in all its glory. What a perfect match!
Rachel found a Roseland (Wardway) in Edwardsville during her "Google Tour" of the city.
And what a lovely match! This house is on Plum Street in Edwardsville. The home's owner came to my talk in Edwardsville, and told us she had not realized it was a kit house! Photo is copyright 2014 Cindy Reinhardt and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.
As Cindy Reinhardt and I tooled along the Edwardsville countryside, I happened upon this bucolic scene and hopped out to take a photo! And to think that I found it in Edwardsville!