Saturday, September 6, 2008

Customer Service... UR Doin’ It Wrong

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There’s been a lot of hubbub in recent months about 3 star or lower book reviews disappearing over on Amazon. Well, I now have firsthand knowledge of another aspect of Amazon that SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT BE TRUSTED!

You know how when you order merchandise on Amazon, it says it is either shipped from Amazon or else it says it’s shipped by another company? Those Amazon marketplace or partner companies have their own star rating system and feedback. Bet, like me, you figured that if anyone had a problem with that seller, they’d be sure to leave negative feedback, right? Nuh-uh, nope, don’t count on it. A devious seller can manipulate the system simply by canceling the order and thereby blocking a customer from leaving feedback!

My oldest son needs some cheapo furniture for his apartment off-campus (last year's apt. was furnished). So I figured I’d just have a futon or sofa bed shipped directly to him. After a whole lot of searching and price comparisons, I finally decided on one based largely on the fact that this sofa bed was listed for $284.99 INCLUDING SHIPPING.

I placed my order on Tuesday, 09/02/2008. My Amazon order confirmation also showed no shipping costs. The next day, I received an email from the seller (through Amazon), informing me that I "did miss one step regarding to the shipping information. Because your item should be shipped by a special shipping carrier the rate quote is $405.34." WTF? Have these people ever placed an Amazon order? How does one “skip” the step where shipping costs are added? BTW, on 09/03 they changed the sofa bed's Amazon listing to reflect a $94 shipping charge, which was then changed again on 09/04 to $105. And today, the item has disappeared altogether.

After contacting Amazon Customer Service and verifying that this seller's attempt to circumvent Amazon to solicit further funds from me was “a serious violation of the Amazon Marketplace terms of use”, I sent the seller an email (through Amazon) quoting Customer Service and informed the seller that I wanted the sofa bed for the original total price.

Today I received an email from Amazon saying that the order was cancelled. Let me be clear that I did NOT cancel the order, I was quite clear that I wanted the order shipped as it was originally described. It was the seller who cancelled the order, which surprised me because it was my understanding that the seller would be required to fulfill the order at its confirmed price. Per the listing, the item was available.

I feel this seller acted in what can be described, at best, in an unprofessional, unbusinesslike manner (blaming me for their mistake and then expecting me to pay for it). And, at worst, the seller acted in an unethical, deceptive manner that seriously violated the Amazon Marketplace terms of use.

I did file an Amazon TOS violation report against the seller, but that’s really all I can do and I’ll never know what, if anything, happens because the results are kept confidential. Now here’s what REALLY fries my bacon-- because the seller canceled the transaction, I CANNOT LEAVE FEEDBACK TO LET OTHERS KNOW ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE WITH THIS SELLER! WTF?? Isn't that what the seller feedback sytem is FOR?!

So basically, sellers can troll for customers trying to con them out of more money, but they don’t have to worry about negative feedback because, if the customer doesn’t take the bait, the seller can just cancel the transaction. And I find it hard to believe that Amazon’s TOS violation investigation will do much after the seller says “Oops! My bad.”

While this rant applies to Amazon’s seller feedback policies in general, let me tell you which Amazon seller to avoid...


If an item indicates that it will be shipped by this company, BEWARE con attempts!

Ironically, my 2nd choice in sofa beds is also shipped by Easy Shopping Furniture. Needless to say, I will NOT be buying that one either!


JenB said...

Yikes, that's just creepy.

Were you able to find a replacement? I have great luck with, and sometimes you can find coupons for them on

Madame Butterfly said...

Wow, Amazon's system of doing anything is just sucking more and more these days.

I commend you because I would have been too pissed off to even deal with the company anymore and would have been happy that the sale got canceled. Only because that company showed straight off the bat that the are gonna be trouble.

I really wish sometimes that there was one huge famous site for people to post complaints about shoddy business practices.

I hope you have better luck with who ever you chose to buy the next futon from.

Bev(QB) said...

I've found a few possible replacements, but infortunately, they are higher priced and/or look a helluva lot cheaper.

Ah well, like they say, "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is."

I STILL find it unbelievable that I can't leave feedback for the seller.

Sarah said...

That is so sucky! Not too keen on the whole disappearing 3 star reviews either! Cheeky beggars.

Bev(QB) said...

Yeah Sarah, I've never put a lot of weight on the Amazon book comments (I try to refrain from calling most of them reviews), but if I read a sampling of both good, bad, and mediocre ratings, I can generally get enough detail about a book to tell if it might interest me. I tend to put the most weight on the 4-star and 3-star ratings because Fangirls and friends of the author usually feel guilty if they give less than a 5-star, whereas I think most people like me believe a true 5-star is rare.

And the thing is, some of the lowest ratings have convinced me to buy a book!