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Online Shopping - Cautionary tales and hidden details that others might want to know

MarcosCh

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Hi, as is normal and expected, from time to time we have members explaining in the forum the issues they find when buying gear online. Sometimes there is information there that might be useful for others. I thought it could be good to have a thread to gather this valuable information.

If you had one such experience, or have an advice on how to protect your rights as a consumer, or happen to know one of these half hidden details that can result in a headache, feel free to share and discuss here.
 
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MarcosCh

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I will start with Amazon, specifically Amazon.de , even though i would imagine that something similar could happen in other branches. I am not sure though....

How Amazon works in terms of returns, refunds, warranties etc. is not obvious, and i have seen discussions about it here in ASR. But for me, and i think for most folks, "Dispatched from and sold by Amazon." is considered the gold standard that offers the maximum grade of protection. This is what happened to me a few days ago. Not audio related but in the price range of many audio devices discussed here, so i thought it could be helpful.

I was eyeing a laptop and a smartphone because my old ones where starting to fail here and there. Last October 11th, amazon prime days started (I am long time prime member), and lucky me, both the laptop and the smartphone i had my eyes on had a significant reduction. I don't hesitate and place the order immediately. 900+ euros combined, significant money but really good price not available anywhere else.

In a matter of hours, the products are dispatched and my credit card charged. Next day i would have them at home. I was a happy man, had saved the equivalent of the smartphone, and bought under the "Dispatched from and sold by Amazon." seal, nothing could go wrong.

Unfortunately next day, after being "on delivery", the carrier, that was not the usual one, updated the status to "undeliverable". Immediately Amazon informed me via email that the carrier reported that there was a problem with the address and they could not deliver the parcel, that was on its way back to Amazon and i would receive a refund in 5-7 business days.

All this was very strange, because i haven't changed my address for two years and never had a problem, i live in a condo in a populated area and nobody there has such problems, but anyways, the prime days were fortunately two days so the good price was still there.... but i could not wait 5-7 days for the refund, so trusting Amazon's gold standard i went ahead and ordered the same laptop and smartphone again. Too good offer to let it go, and anyways, what could go wrong, right?
This time i receive the items a couple of days later from the usual carrier and I forget the incident.... until last night....

Friday night October 21st, 10 days later, i order a small item, by coincidence, from Amazon.de, and after a couple of minutes i receive a message. "your order has been blocked, there is a problem with your payment method". what? i check my bank website, and my card was blocked because i had exceeded the monthly limit, the main reason being that the refund from Amazon was not there yet.

My only credit card blocked on a friday night, two days away from monday, panic!!
i return immediately to amazon.de to check the status of the refund, and this time i read the small leter in detail "will be refunded in 5-7 business days after we receive the items back in our warehouse".... what? I guess this makes sense when you are returning an item, but here it is not the case, the parcel never reached to me, this is completely out of my control.

I immediately go to the customer service and open a chat, i explain the woman everything, she tells me that they have not yet received the items back from the carrier so they cannot refund me... what???? this has nothing to do with me, I never had the items in my hands, this is between the carrier and them! "sorry, you will need to be patient".

I explain her that i have no means to get any money or buy anything until this is solved, it is friday night and my bank wont open until monday, i have a small child and i can't even go to the supermarket. Same answer every time "Don't worry we will release a refund as soon as we receive the items back", "I am very sorry, but there is nothing we can do, you will have to be patient".

She has all the data, she can see how my last payment was rejected, i am not making it up, I keep on insisting, telling i would go to the police, nothing.
Very significantly, at some point i ask, "and what happens if the parcel is lost in a warehouse, or someone in the delivery company stole it?" - She does not answer.
Finally, after more than one hour, she says she will discuss the case with her supervisor, and leaves me waiting for good half hour. When she is back, she says they will give me a refund, and i would get the money back in 5-7 working days starting from now.

I am relieved, still have my card blocked but a few hours later the orders in amazon.de changed from "undeliverable" to "refunded". Still bear the message "return requested" but i cannot care less, even if now all the undeliverable reporting has disappeared from the order details.

So yes, even under the well regarded "Dispatched from and sold by Amazon." crap can happen and you are at the mercy of a big corporation. I start to doubt if the time lost, the bad time and one weekend without access to my money is worth the discount or not, but my doubt is now about the question amazon didn't answer. What if they never receive back the parcel? anyone knows??
 
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Mart68

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Ordered a lot from Amazon over the years never had a problem until a few months ago my order did not arrive. I was retired at the time and in the house about 95% of the time but when I checked it said 'Delivered, left safe' (or something very similar). I had a search around and even looked inside my bins as sometimes they tuck the packages behind them but nothing there.


Contacted them and they refunded me - immediately, no 5 to 7 days wait - but I paid on debit card not credit card. I don't know if that makes a difference to the speed of refund, I have not had a credit card for many years now.

Later the same day was having a smoke outside and my eyes fell on the recycling bin out front of the house next door. The house has been empty for a few years and the bin has never been used. On a whim I looked inside and there was my package. Contacted Amazon again and told them I now had it and to re-bill me, which they did. No muss, no fuss.

Legal rights may be different depending on country/territory but in UK, if it came down to it, they would have to offer evidence that they had delivered, and to the correct address, otherwise you get your money back. I don't know what the deal is in Germany/EU.
 
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MarcosCh

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Ordered a lot from Amazon over the years never had a problem until a few months ago my order did not arrive. I was retired at the time and in the house about 95% of the time but when I checked it said 'Delivered, left safe' (or something very similar). I had a search around and even looked inside my bins as sometimes they tuck the packages behind them but nothing there.


Contacted them and they refunded me - immediately, no 5 to 7 days wait - but I paid on debit card not credit card. I don't know if that makes a difference to the speed of refund, I have not had a credit card for many years now.

Later the same day was having a smoke outside and my eyes fell on the recycling bin out front of the house next door. The house has been empty for a few years and the bin has never been used. On a whim I looked inside and there was my package. Contacted Amazon again and told them I now had it and to re-bill me, which they did. No muss, no fuss.

Legal rights may be different depending on country/territory but in UK, if it came down to it, they would have to offer evidence that they had delivered, and to the correct address, otherwise you get your money back. I don't know what the deal is in Germany/EU.
I also had ocassionally small incidents like that, with not further issues to receive a reimbursement. But it was always a very small amount. I wonder now if things change when it is a more serious one like my case above, 922euros. How much was yours, roughly?
 

Mart68

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I also had ocassionally small incidents like that, with not further issues to receive a reimbursement. But it was always a very small amount. I wonder if things change when it is a more serious one like my case above, 922euros. How much was yours, roughly?
It was about £80 (GBP)
 

BlackTalon

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Just dispute the change with your credit card company. Save screen shots of the notes from Amazon and delivery service so yo can share them with the CC company.
 
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MarcosCh

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Just dispute the change with your credit card company. Save screen shots of the notes from Amazon and delivery service so yo can share them with the CC company.
Not necessary in my case anymore but it is true that I probably should have chosen to communicate with Amazon cs via email instead of live chat.
Once finished, you don't have access anymore to the chat but they do. Same thing with order status. Once they change it, you cannot see anymore what was the previous status. Screenshot is not a bad idea.
 

ronniebear

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When using payment cards, be aware that many (though not all) purchase and refund transactions are not processed "in real time" or simultaneously. Merchants and their credit-card processors have different methodologies, such as "batching" multiple transactions into a single group to reduce processing costs. Keep in mind, also, that there is a big difference between "business days" and "calendar days". For example, a credit card refund issued in the USA on Thursday, November 10th might be held in limbo until Monday, November 14 due to three non-business days in the interim: Friday (Veteran's Day legal holiday), Saturday and Sunday.
 
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