Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Amazon A-to-z Claim Was Denied (and Here's Why)

My husband purchased some shoes from a third party seller. Poor thing didn't realize that's what he'd done, and that this seller wasn't backed by Amazon. At any rate, if the shoes had fit, I wouldn't be writing this complaint. What do you do when you buy something that doesn't work out? You return it! No shame in that game.

So, after printing up the return address label, carefully packing the shoes, and sending them with me, the wife, to be shipped via UPS (this seller's preferred shipping method), I realize, as I'm taking the box to be sent back, that the label requires postage be paid. OK, that wouldn't be such a big deal, except that it was going to cost $24.95 to send those puppies back.

Shocking! $24.95 to send shoes from Commerce, GA to Mobile, AL. For those of you who missed geography, these are adjacent states. That's absurdly expensive! I was also quoted a price for using FedEx. $19.99 would be the total to ship them back. Too expensive, considering he paid around $68, before taxes, for the shoes on Amazon.

The math on that is it would cost a third of the selling price for these shoes to be returned. Politely, I decline to pay for the shipping. I'll go home and see about getting a return label. Surely, these were ordered with free shipping and free returns, which is how many items are presented on

Upon checking the order information, the display page (where one adds items to his cart) clearly shows the "free shipping on over $49 or more & free returns." [See attachment: Screen shot free returns] Now, third party seller or not, when that's on the display page, one should feel no need to investigate further.

When there was no return label available with postage paid, I contacted both the seller and Amazon asking for the appropriate postage label in accordance with the statement residing right by the price of the shoes, "free returns."

The seller claims their return policy, which doesn't provide free returns was located in their FAQ (see attachment "No Free Return"). This would be located on the seller's storefront page. I say again, if the initial page a customer sees is the as the one shown in the attachment Screen shot free returns, a customer's expectation is that there will be free shipping and free returns. That's the policy displayed, therefore that should be the policy followed whether it is fulfilled by the seller or Amazon.

Amazon suggested I file a claim via their A to Z Guarantee. So, I did just that. Before filing this claim, to be sure it was not in vain, I checked the policies, as listed on their site, as to an acceptable reason for filing such a claim.

The one that seemed to fit is as follows, quoted verbatim: The third-party seller does not accept the return of item in accordance with the return policy or on their own website. So, this is how the reason for the claim was labeled. The following statement was submitted as the reason for my claim:

I wanted to return these shoes since they didn't fit. When I ordered them, the page that I ordered from clearly states "free shipping on orders of $49 or more and free returns." However, upon printing the return label, I realized that the seller did not reimburse me for the cost of the return. As the seller requested UPS, this return will cost me $24.95, which certainly not in line with the norm for any online purchase.

Hopefully, neither Shoe Station nor Amazon is in business to rip off customers, but going from "free" to "$24.95" for a simple return is not a good business practice. By the way, I initially contacted the seller, who didn’t reply in a timely manner, but when I did receive one, it is as follows: It is free return shipping for orders fulfilled by Amazon (or other sellers that offer free return shipping). We, however, do not provide free return shipping, which is stated in our policy and is available to see before purchase.

The aforementioned Amazon FAQs section is not on the display page, and as anyone could see after clicking on the link provided, and “Free returns” is clearly stated. All I want is a return label in which the postage has been paid as per the "free returns" that was advertised in the first place.

However, if I cannot be provided with a such a return label, I would like to be refunded the amount I paid for the item and reimbursed for the amount it will cost to ship the item back. I’ll be glad to return the shoes, whether is is via UPS for $24.95 or via some cheaper method. Regardless of how the shoes make their way there, I would like the free return as the item was listed.

It states on Amazon's website that it could take 1-2 weeks to have a claim processed. This was processed in under an hour. To read the response in its entirety, please see the attachment Claim 1 Response. In short, it says that since the item arrived undamaged, I can continue with the return. If a refund on that return isn't received within 5 days, I may reopen the claim. It is obvious this claim was not read.

Had it been, perhaps a response more suited to the claim would have been issued by Alvina, Account Specialist. Since this did not satisfy, I had them call me. I explained to the woman on the phone the issue. I simply wanted a refund of the shoes (after I returned them, of course) along with a guaranteed reimbursement of the shipping costs as per the "free shipping" that was advertised. The woman said that she understood, that I should appeal my claim, and I would most certainly receive a refund.

I appealed my claim, and, again, received a response in an alarmingly short time (see attachment Claim Appeal Response). They denied my claim, again. All I wanted was a label with postage paid, or a guarantee reimbursement for the postage costs. Free shipping and free returns is how these shoes were presented, making them a more enticing purchase, so free shipping and free returns should be fulfilled. I find this to be appallingly poor customer service. Perhaps, the reader is thinking, "What's the big deal?

Pay the shipping, get a portion of your money back, and move on." It's the principle. This is dishonest. As the customer, with proof of wrongdoing or misrepresentation, either on the part of Amazon or a third party seller, I should be able to be assured that Amazon is a decent company without the intent of ripping off its customers.

I shouldn't be fought or ignored by the company hosting the third party seller. As such, I should not have to acquiesce. Amazon should say, "You know, this customer says free shipping and free returns were offered. Let's back him up and keep his business."

Unfortunately, that is not what has happened. So, as a former Amazon customer, I say tread lightly. Amazon is showing its true colors: that it is not a user-friendly, customer-oriented type of business. No longer is customer satisfaction at the core of its business practices; it is simply a company comprised of rogues looking to prey upon unwary, inexperienced online shoppers. Wolves in sheeps' clothing. Hey, if the shoe fits.