Scam Alert! Amazon Returns

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Amazon Returns is part of the Expat in Puerto Rico series.


Dear United States of America,

I don’t live in a foreign country. I don’t live in Costa Rica. I live in Puerto Rico. One great advantage of living in America is that I have Amazon Prime-ish. While there’s no Amazon Locker, packages are still shipped for free and arrive in a few days. The problem with Amazon here is returns. I used to be able to return items via USPS. That option no longer exists. Now, the only option is to go to the one UPS location for returns. It’s at the airport which is a 30-minute drive. That’s not the annoying part. The annoying part is that this is the only place to go for all things UPS. The wait can be nonexistent or it can be longer than the DMV. It makes me think twice each time I see an ad for the set it and forget it rotisserie.

Speaking of forget it, sometimes I am tempted to keep a product I don’t like to avoid dealing with UPS. Then my cheapness gets the better of me and I find myself scurrying off to UPS at the 11th hour.

And that’s where this feel-good story takes a turn for the worse. I went to the UPS location and showed the employee the barcode on my phone.

He said that the code only works at UPS Stores and there aren’t any UPS stores on the island. He instructed me to contact Amazon for the normal return paperwork. I used the chat feature on my mobile and received a stunning response: “You’ve missed the return window.” I replied that today was the last date to return the package. You won’t believe his response. It was, “The deadline was 11:43AM PDT.”

What in the bleep! Where in the terms does it say that it has to be turned in at a certain time like a final exam? I replied with many auto-correct errors about the absurdity of this policy. After all, had I known about the prohibition about bar codes, I would’ve requested the normal return label ahead of time. Without too much push-back, Amazon agreed to send me the return label.

But that’s not where the scam ends. Instead of receiving a full refund, I am only receiving 80% of the purchase price. Can anyone say Bachuwa Law? Can anyone say arbitration?

Absolutely ridiculous! You hear me Bezos?!

 

21 COMMENTS

      • I would say you traded some tax liability in exchange for living in a place with limited infrastructure. I just returned an amazon package to my UPS store a mile away. But it’s also a place with the second highest tax burden in the US.

      • You are taxed by heaving to eat at Burger King every day and not being able to return Amazon packages. Just wait until you get old and need a real doctor and hospital.

  1. Let me see if I understand your complaint.

    You feel scammed because you waited until day 29.75 of the Amazon’s return window to begin sending something back, and ultimately got penalized for missing the 30 day mark by not reading the details clearly published on the return options page?

    Or, are you alerting us that you tried to scam Amazon by using a product, for free, during the return period and got burned in the process?

    To paraphrase from another Boarding Area blogger’s recent post: “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute a scam on Amazon’s part.”

    As a frequent Amazon user myself, and being quite familiar with their rather generous return process, no sympathy from this reader.

    • First, the last thing I want is your sympathy. Second, quoting another blogger about to bolster your argument is hardly dispositive. Third, you didn’t read the post correctly. Technically, I was pay day 30.

      Finally, I already described why I waited till the last minute to use a return. I have no interest in test driving products when I have to deal with the hassle of the return process.

      And one more thing: I’m sure 99.99% of people don’t know there a date And time restriction, except for you, of course.

  2. I sympathize with your situation. I would likely expect them to honor until the end of the 30th day as well but by nature i wouldn’t cut it so close. But calling it a Scam Alert with exclamation point is a little dramatic and click-bait’y.

    • Should I call readers lazy if they don’t click on well written articles that don’t have an exclamation point? I have no interest in driving traffic through click bait titles nor do I have interest in writing about the same credit card offers as everyone else.

      I’m a dramatic mfer and I’m annoyed my money is gone. I don’t care if it’s only one dollar. It’s my dollar. That’s why I’m a consumer attorney. I don’t let corporate crooks minimize claims and say it’s only $5 or you shouldn’t wait till the last minute. Either clearly state that all returns are due at noon Pacific time or give customers who spend money the benefit. Mind you, these companies don’t pay taxes but they want to nickel and dime me. No sir! I’m not that guy. Exclamation point.

    • And to all others who dare comment, I did have a valid bar code. Had I been in any state on the mainland, it would’ve worked. It’s only here that the bar code is invalid which pushed me outside the return window (by a matter of minutes).

  3. Was not offering sympathy nor an argument in my first post.

    However, to your point #2, I do offer my sympathy to you for being humor impaired. I apologize for making a lighthearted comment on your blog, the pain brought by misunderstanding my levity shows in your anger; I say that with all due respect and not the sarcasm it sounds like.

    Regarding your #3, I carefully read your blog post, several times, and ask you to kindly clarify what exactly is the scam, as proclaimed in the headline. Otherwise, I agree with the other person re: the headline reads as click-bait, if you pardon me for being blunt in saying so.

    Good luck in your resolution, keep us posted on outcome.

    (As a side note, I would argue for you that Amazon is missing the point of making returns easier, yet not doing so by removing the traditional USPS and UPS [self-package & drop off with carrier for free] options. Heck, even the drop at Kohl’s option is missing if you are more the one zip code zone away from a store, despite living only several minutes from a Kohl’s.)

    • I’m not angry! Though everyone always thinks that.

      The scam is what I said from the outset: I obtained authorization to return the item in a timely manner. I brought the barcode to the UPS facility. They don’t process returns using the bar code, that’s only available in UPS stores. I contacted Amazon to say, barcodes don’t work here. They said oh well too bad for you, you missed the window.

      Amazon knows I’m in PR because they sent the item here. When I ask for a return, they should not offer the barcode as the only way to process the return because the barcode doesn’t work here. How would I know the barcode would not work? If this was Texas and I walked into a UPS store at 8PM ( past the Pacific time deadline of starting a return), the barcode would have worked and I would’ve received a full refund.

  4. Sounds like bad customer service training, not a scam.

    Here’s why I think this: Amazon initially refused to refund one of my returns once, claiming is it was received at Amazon after the 30 days, (UPS had a service disruption due to severe winter weather, but it *was* scanned/accepted for shipping by UPS before the return window closed…,) a quick chat with the CS agent about Amazon’s posting on the return page (where you would print the QR code, though my experience was before the QR code free returns began) what the deadline date was to ship it, nothing about “received by” caused me to be escalated to a supervisor, and than manger, who confirmed that it is when ‘postmarked’ that matters, so with my tracking info showing it was accepted by UPS inside the window, my refund was processed quickly.

    Might try a similar approach, since they go by date dropped off (scanned in) at UPS/USPS/Kohl’s etc., as when returned, They don’t go by some specific minute halfway within the day. Theoretically, the drop-off point scanning it in at 11:59 PM local time is good to go, though that is foolishly risky…

    As I was writing the above, I was also pondering why 11:43AM is beyond the return window, then it dawned on my, Amazon has call centers in India. India, being half way around the world is effectively on other side of the International Date Line, and is uniquely situated with a single, half-hour time zone for the entire country. While you are 4 hours ahead of Amazon HQ )Pacific time zone), India’s national time zone is minus 11-1/2 hours plus a day from Amazon HQ. To the CSR that handled your request, by his/her clock, it was already after midnight and into tomorrow (12:13AM), and being told you were a day late (and thus a dollar short…sorry, couldn’t resist).

    Seriously, though, check your tracking info. Assuming you dropped it off later the same day you started the return quest, it would be scanned in by UPS, or whomever, still on the last day of your return window, your local time…if indeed it does, reach out to Amazon again, explain how tracking shows it was scanned by UPS within return window, etc., and if not resolved, ask to have your case escalated to a manager (might take 2 or 3 escalation hand-offs). I’ve found most things Amazon can be handled by the script readers, but this was one of those aberrant items where a manager had to get involved to resolve.

    Sorry for the rambling, good luck,
    Bob

  5. “Should I call readers lazy if they don’t click on well written articles that don’t have an exclamation point?”

    What articles are you talking about? Sure not this rant?

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