A self-confessed Amazon addict has had his account banned and gift card balance seized after returning a number of items which he insists were faulty. Greg Nelson, a computer programmer from the UK, bought 343 items from the online retailer over two years, returning 37 of them on the grounds that they were faulty, damaged, or not as described. The frequent returns have resulted in him being blocked from any future purchases from Amazon, losing his gift card balance in the process, despite what Nelson claims to be fair grounds for sending the offending items back.
“As a previously fervently loyal fan of Amazon who has been a customer since 2002, I understand that it is trying to protect its business – however I find its actions in this situation totally egregious,” Nelson told The Guardian. “I could understand if there were evidence that I had somehow tried to abuse the system, but I haven’t. Of course, Amazon can refuse to serve whom it likes, but surely it cannot legally keep gift card balances and other purchased goods which have already been paid for by the customer – despite what any potentially unfair small print might say?”
Nelson has tried repeatedly to contact Amazon about the matter, but the company’s customer service department has only responded with a default response, refusing to re-open his account.
Amazon refused to discuss Nelson’s case specifically, but confirmed that Nelson’s account will remain closed.
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for the millions of customers who shop with us,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “In a tiny fraction of cases we are forced to close accounts where we identify extreme account abuse. This decision is only taken after we have reviewed the account carefully and tried to work with the customer over an extended time period to resolve any issues.”
Amazon’s ability to offer impeccable customer service and a straightforward returns policy has made it a global leader in online shopping. This ensures consumers have a loyalty to Amazon’s store through peace-of-mind shopping. There’s even been situations when the company has honoured misprices which has cost them money in the short-term. However, the company’s management looks towards the larger picture and knows more money will be made via repeat or future purchases instead of an individual mistake. While this kind of returns policy is absolutely fantastic for the consumer, some users can abuse it and send back perfectly functional items on a regular basis. Admittedly, I’ve returned products because they haven’t met my expectations or I’ve change my mind. However, it’s important to find a balance and consider each purchase very carefully.
In the US and Europe, Amazon can charge a restocking fee depending on the item’s condition if it’s not faulty. Honestly, I haven’t really seen many situations where this applies, and Amazon staff tend to refund the full amount including shipping. This policy doesn’t apply in the Indian market, and reports indicate some customers have been abusing the refund policy quite badly. As a result of this, Amazon India will not longer accept any refunds on mobile phones, and only replace them if the item is faulty. The updated statement reads:
“All mobile phones that are fulfilled by Amazon, purchased on or after 7th February 2016, will have a replacement only policy. Mobile phone items that are fulfilled by Amazon will no longer be eligible for refunds,”
It’s a shame that the minority who abuse Amazon’s return policy has spoilt it for the rest. Also, this is a fairly strict line from Amazon and could deter users from using them in the future. It makes business sense though if the amount of people abusing the system is costing them a lot of money. Please remember that this only applies to the Indian store, and consumer protection in the UK, and Europe explicitly states that a refund must be offered even if the items don’t meet your expectations.
If you purchased from Amazon before, you know that reviews are important to get the right customer feedback from others who had bought the same product in the past. This is a great way of knowing that your money is going towards something that deserves the price tag it comes with. However, Amazon needs to sweep through all these reviews and take down illegitimate reviews. But how do they do it? One writer appears to know the hard truth.
Imy Santiago bought a book from Amazon a while back. She apparently loved it so much that she wanted to post a good review about it on Amazon to congratulating the author and let others know a consumer’s opinion about the book. However, she was greeted with an unexpected email rather than having her review posted on the website. The email was as follows:
Dear Amazon Customer,
Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines: http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines
She went back and read her review and also took a close look at the retailer’s guidelines, to which she saw nothing wrong in what she wrote. So she went on and emailed their customer service team to get a better answer. Their reply was as follows:
We cannot post your Customer Review for (book title deleted) by (author name deleted) to the Amazon website because your account activity indicates that you know the author.
We encourage family and friends to share their enthusiasm for the book through our Customer Discussions feature or Editorial Reviews feature. To start a Customer Discussion visit the Meet Our Authors forum and enter your discussion title in the Start a new discussion box. You’ll find the forum here: http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S
To have your Editorial Review posted to the detail page, e-mail it directly to the author so they can add it for you.
If you believe you’re eligible to write a Customer Review for this book, send additional details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to see you again soon.
At this point, Santiago wrote an email explaining that knowing an author online is not the same thing as knowing an author personally. We all have fan pages we like, authors or other public figures we add as friends, but having a website as Amazon snooping around users’ social media websites and judging by profiles is surely not a way to make sure reviewers are ‘legitimate’. Amazon also did not reveal how they ‘determine’ how accounts are related and are not able to share ‘further information’ about what made them deny a good review.
Santiago may have crossed paths with the author, may it be online or even in person at an expo for example, but Amazon’s decision to deny sharing information on how they determine this is quite unsettling. I mean, if not even the customer knows how companies find out two people are related and are not provided with an explanation, then there’s clearly a privacy violation in the middle of it. What do you think?
Thank you BGR for providing us with this information