Think twice before selling on Amazon.

AmazonUnhappyLast month I sold an item on Amazon for almost £500 and ended up losing both the item and the payment for it.  I was an Amazon seller (after a number of bad experiences such as this one I no longer am). This post will look at what I did and the circumstances that led to me being out of pocket by so much on a single transaction.  While there is more detail (see below), essentially I had a customer claim for a non delivery that was subsequently shown/proved to have been delivered.  (Amazon refunded the customer while I was in the midst of dealing with the issue with the courier). 

And so my plan is to identify if I have a worthwhile claim for the small claims court and if so, who I should claim against ?

1. The Recipient

I now have proof that the package was delivered the day after it was sent (although the tracking information from Parcel2Go did not show this).  The recipient is still claiming that they did not receive it – though the tracking now shows the date and time (with signature) of the delivery.

2. Parcel2Go.

I sent the package using Parcel2Go, which describes itself as “The Parcel Delivery Comparison Website” .  They consolidate the tracking information from all their couriers and present a uniform tracking view on their web site.  On this occasion the delivery event was not captured, although subsequently found to have been logged by their courier – I believe this was the event that sparked off this issue in the first place . UPDATE: It appears that there was an error in the Parcel2Go system that caused it not to pick up the InPost tracking information.

3. InPost / UK Mail / DHL

UK Mail is a subsidiary of DHL and my chosen courier on the Parce2Go web site. They actually delivered the package and their own tracking reflected the delivery date, time and signature of the recipient the day after it was sent.  As I write this the process for InPost providing their tracking information to Parcel2Go is not known to me.  As a consequence at this stage I don’t know if they are to blame for Parcel2Go not showing the delivery event on their web site. UPDATE: As it appears that the issue was down to Parcel2Go’s system so I don’t think that UK Mail can be held responsible.

4. Myself.

The recipient contacted Amazon during our ongoing dialog and asked for a refund.  Amazon then contacted me with the following message:

Within three (3) days, please issue a full refund to the buyer or respond to the claim. You can issue a refund, view, and respond to claims on the “A-to-z Guarantee Claims” page in the “Performance” section of Seller Central  

I responded directly  to the buyer within 3 days, but I used Amazon messaging instead of the A-to-Z claims page.  (In my defence this email was received on January first when I was not at my best.  Additionally there were no follow up mails before Amazon debited my account and refunded the recipient – I had anticipated being in charge of doing this myself as had been the case with previous issues when customers had returned goods to me.)

5. Amazon.

In my opinion Amazon showed an inflexibility within their system that is at odds with the real world.  For instance when the recipient contacted them for a refund the very least they should have done is read the messages that had taken place between myself and the recipient to that date.  It would have been obvious to anyone who did this that not only had this dispute only been going for a short time (under a week) but also that it was ongoing.  In addition they showed complete inflexibility when it was shown that the item had indeed been delivered and have compounded my frustration by not answering my emails regarding this issue.

So there are the candidates – I will be seeking advice as to who I should be claiming against in the small claims court although in my view I personally feel most aggrieved by Amazon who’s process I believe is unfair and inflexible to small sellers such as myself. 

 

What follows is a broad summary of events – each line is backed up by documentation (emails or chat records) which I would be happy to make available should you be reading this and able to offer me any advice (from a legal standpoint) as to whom I should be pursuing and the approach I should be take?

Amazon Issue

Finally I hope that in addition to assisting me in identifying whom I should be pursuing in the small claims court I hope that it will also serve as a warning to anyone becoming a small seller on Amazon to think hard beforehand and ensure that they are fully aware of Amazon processes (which it would appear are very rigid).

Has anyone had similar experiences selling on EBAY?

NB If you think you can help me please leave a comment or contact me via email: rd3d2[at]hotmail.co.uk. 

Thanks.

Amazon CASE ID: 1724695572


UPDATE: 19/01/2016

Thanks for all the feedback on this.  The comments below and on the Amazon Seller Forums suggest that I should be writing to the recipient and giving them 14 days before I pursue a claim through the small claims court.

(I will endeavour to update this post with progress made in case anyone is interested in the outcome)


UPDATE 01/02/2017

I sent this letter (feel free to reuse) and got an answer back saying that the recipient is happy to settle.  ironically they contacted Amazon but got know answer (as did I) so we settled using PayPal.

14 day letter

The perils of selling tech gear on Amazon

As we all know nothing devalues like tech hardware and as I had amassed a few items that were superfluous to my needs I recently put them up for sale on Amazon.

The items were:

1. A (used) Samsung Series 7 Slate

2. A new Asus Vivobook Tablet

3. 2 x new Nokia Lumia 620 Phones

4. A new Asus Bluetooth keyboard.

The first item I bought from a distraught user on eBay after he had attempted to upgrade the device by prizing apart the slate (little real damage although the slate does show some signs of having been taken apart (see video) it actually still works surprisingly well!

Of the items above I have had three requests for returns:

1. The series 7 slate – the user complained that the Bluetooth keyboard would not work.  (As it had worked perfectly before I sent it so when it arrived back the first thing I did was test it out) :-

As it turns out they were right and I did have to re-install the Bluetooth driver (which was on the CD that I had sent with the device).  Lesson learned!

2. The Asus Vivobook screen was damaged in its one day of courier transit (in spite of being both in it’s original packaging and bubble wrapped and completely covered using tape with ‘FRAGILE’ in big letters!.  I had used Amazon’s own process – paying for and printing a label before taking it to their elected Courier drop off point so I do feel that Amazon might have taken some responsibility for the damage.

3. The Nokia 620 – I suspect the user saw the same device advertised cheaper elsewhere and elected to return the device to me under the Amazon A-Z guarantee program.  In an effort to avoid the hassle of a return (and as a gesture of goodwill) I offered the user a partial rebate of £20 – this being the difference in price between what they paid and what I could see it currently being sold for (they refused my offer).

Sadly they had ripped the box so I can no longer sell the item as new (which it was).

 

So all in all a horrible experience selling tech on Amazon.  It was obvious to me that the person buying the phone was simply abusing Amazon’s customer charter but I got no response from Amazon when I asked them for advice (simply that I had to accept the return and refund the user).  I can only figure that the Courier company played hockey with the tablet and as for the Samsung slate, I guess I have to take that on the chin and chalk it up to my own stupidity for not testing the device after resetting it to it’s default more thoroughly.

Reflecting n this for a moment i seem to have been hit by 3 separate weaknesses in the system:

1. My own stupidity (I should have checked the Series 7 Slate more thoroughly after resetting it)

2. Careless Couriers (I can only assume that they saw the ‘FRAGILE’ stickers as a challenge?)

3. Dishonest Buyers (It does seem to me to be the case that Amazon’s system favours dishonest buyers over honest sellers)

With my apologies for having a bit of a rant with this one  …