Best way to resolve Amazon situation?
February 3, 2009 8:23 PM   Subscribe

I didn't get a used book from a seller on Amazon . . . but if I use the A to Z guarantee then they take my money back from her, right? But what if she really sent it?

I ordered all my textbooks online from amazon this semester and got all of them but one. The one I didn't get was from a 'newly launched seller'- in other words just another student like me trying to get some money for an expensive book. Tomorrow is the last day of the "expected arrival range" but I emailed her today anyway- and she says she mailed it the day after I bought it (meaning it should have been here already.)

So I'm out $134 and I am also two weeks into a class I have no book for. Obviously I want my money back so I can buy the damn thing at a bookstore, but my understanding of Amazon's system is that it will just take the money right from her. This makes me feel bad because what if she really did send it and it just got lost in the mail somehow? Arguably its her fault for not putting insurance/tracking/ whatever on it. But I still feel kinda bad. And what happens if I get my money back and it shows up like a month later? I don't know what to do because I'm really mad but I have no idea of actually knowing whether its her fault or not. I also live in an apartment building so for all I know it could have gotten stolen from the foyer or something (although, all my other books managed to make it to me alright.) Whose responsibility is it, really, to make sure it gets to me? Amazon kinda sucks for sellers. I didn't realize it before. What would you do in this situation?
posted by lblair to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's the seller's responsibility to get you what you paid for. Put all that other nonsense out of your mind. You must be very new at this stuff.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:37 PM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This happened to me once. I mailed a book but didn't have time to get delivery confirmation. Seller denied that the book ever arrived. I was out $112, which Amazon took back from me. I'd say wait a couple more days and then report it to Amazon. I understand (and appreciate) your concern for the seller but the only alternative is that you'll be out of $134 (and I'm guessing you're a poor student too).

And what happens if I get my money back and it shows up like a month later?

In that case you should mail the book back to the seller so he/she can re-list it and be more careful when mailing it.

Whose responsibility is it, really, to make sure it gets to me?

The sellers. Which is why it's very important to get delivery confirmation. If the seller has proof that he/she mailed it, then Amazon will bite the bullet on this.
posted by special-k at 8:38 PM on February 3, 2009

if you buy something from an online store and it never arrives, or arrives damaged I wager you'd have no compunction about expecting them to refund/replace it in a timely manner. This is similar, only it is an individual selling, not a company. Yeah post mistakes happen, but as the buyer you expect product for payment. The seller is responsible for insurance/tracking and if up-front can easily tack on that small price to the cost of item. If they didn't they have no way of verifying and as such they are sol.
posted by edgeways at 9:01 PM on February 3, 2009

You should realize how extraordinarily rare it is for an item sent by U.S. Mail not to arrive. Things hardly ever get lost in the mail. I have ordered dozens of things from Amazon Marketplace sellers --- at least a hundred items in the last five or six years --- and every single one has arrived.

Given two options --- that the seller is lying and never shipped it, versus that it got lost in the mail --- the seller lying is far more likely scenario.

So feel no compunction about pursuing whatever remedies are available to you.
posted by jayder at 9:20 PM on February 3, 2009

Best answer: As someone who actually just wound up in your seller's shoes, I appreciate your thoughtfulness!

I sold a book, sent it right away, and it even shows as delivered to the right zip code. But I didn't put specific tracking on it since I'd never had a problem with the USPS before, so when the buyer tells me it didn't arrive, I'm sort of out of luck. We went back and forth a few times, calling the USPS and she checked her mailroom a few times, supposedly, but it never surfaced and she asked for a refund. It pained me, but I ultimately gave it to her. It's less $$ than what you're talking about but I figured that if I were here, I'd want the buyer to do that for me, so it feels like the right thing to do. (good karma and all that.) We did not get to the point of filing an A-Z claim.

I think especially in the US we are taught the mentality that in business, in general, it's to your advantage to keep your customers happy, even if that means taking a hit sometimes. And so that is how it is for your seller, too. They could've gotten insurance/delivery confirmation/etc. - their responsibility. But it didn't show up, you didn't get what you paid for... I'd want the same thing in your shoes.

If you are still feeling bad asking for your $$ back, though, you could suggest a partial refund, so that you guys split the cost of the lost item. Or do the A-Z, get your $$, and let Amazon decide whether or not to charge the seller for the $$ that they've given to you. (I don't think they always do it, if the seller can prove they were not in the wrong. I didn't deal w/ that b/c my book was too low value to justify it, but for more $$ it makes sense.)

good luck!
posted by inatizzy at 9:40 PM on February 3, 2009

You paid for a product, you did not receive the product, it does not matter if it is her fault or not, it is her responsibility.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:46 PM on February 3, 2009

Several Amazon sellers I've dealt with have shipped via Media Mail, which can be bitch-awful slow but it's cheap, which is why they use it. Once, after a month or so, I filed a claim with Amazon and got my money back. SIX weeks after that, the book showed up. I emailed the seller and asked if I could re-pay for the item, and they were very grateful. If you didn't get your book as promised, it's the seller's responsibility. It's cool that you care about the dilemma, so if the book does wander in after you've replaced it, it would be twice as cool of you to send it back.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:07 AM on February 4, 2009

The seller is responsible to get you what you paid for or a full refund. If the people the seller hired to take it to you failed, then that's an issue for the seller to work out with them and not the buyer's concern. If the loss of your payment will be a problem for the seller, there are things the seller could have done to prepare for that (e.g. insure the parcel).
posted by winston at 4:09 AM on February 4, 2009

Amazon kinda sucks for sellers.

No more than another other method of selling by mail. And I think Amazon's one of the best places for sellers online. The idea that if the customer doesn't get what they paid for then they get a refund is the law -- to do otherwise would be fraud.

Would you be as concerned if it was a big company like Amazon you bought from? Or if she said "It's not my fault that my employee lost it?" The seller is the one responsible to you, and it's her job to worry about the people she hires to carry out that responsibility, not yours.
posted by winston at 4:20 AM on February 4, 2009

You should realize how extraordinarily rare it is for an item sent by U.S. Mail not to arrive. Things hardly ever get lost in the mail.

This happened to me over the holidays. I ordered an item from Amazon marketplace, it failed to arrive within the time limit, I contacted the seller and got a refund.

About two weeks ago - more than a month later than the "expected delivery date" - the book showed up at my door. I contacted the seller and got recharged for it, and everything is now ok.

Bottom line: get the refund in case the book never shows up, but I will be that -- eventually -- the book will either find you or find its way back to the seller.
posted by anastasiav at 5:37 AM on February 4, 2009

I've sold plenty of books on Amazon, and I've had books lost in the mail. (And contrary to jayder's statement above, it may be rare, but it does happen.)

In all cases, I would immediately offer to refund the entire cost of the money. I may have shipped it, yeah, but it didn't get to the customer, and me being out the money is kind of part of the cost of doing business like that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: She seems like she's being kinda snotty and not particularly apologetic about the whole thing so i may just have to resort to the A-Z guarantee.

I guess I just felt bad because I realized how easily this could have happened to ME (i've sold a couple expensive books online and didn't bother tracking them either- you can bet I will from now on) and how much it would suck. And I didn't mean what I said about Amazon sucking for sellers. I was blinded by my misplaced guilt and bookless frustration :-) After thinking about it, I realized that the whole A-Z guarantee description is surely in the fine print you agree to when you sign up to sell- thats what you get for not reading it. But hopefully other occasional Amazon users will read this post and avoid making the same expensive mistake. Yikes.

Thanks everyone . . . I'm off to try to go collect my money, and in the meantime try to do my Organic Chem homework without a book :-( Hopefully it won't be insanely expensive in the bookstore. Sigh.
posted by lblair at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: Update:

So I finally did get my book. Sure enough, she had sent it right away. Media mail. It arrived exactly one month after she sent it (from a state that borders my own!) and ten days after my 'expected arrival' range or whatever it's called. she actually did end up being nice about it and gave me a refund, so now I will either have her re-charge me if I decide to keep it, or send it back to her so she can relist it if I decide not to keep it.

I don't think it's media mail's fault, though- she had sent me an extra book with it (a solution manual) and instead of stacking them together, they were side-by-side in a big envelope and it appears the whole thing ripped open. When it got to me it looked like it had been taped up, sealed in plastic and relabeled.

So I guess the moral of the story is- Amazon is OK, but if you sell, be sure to package things securely, and get tracking on your packages. For your own protection- because here I am now, with a book I paid for and subsequently got a refund on. Of course, I believe in karma and niceness so I am going to pay her or send it back, but it does show how easily one could get away with ripping you off on Amazon if you aren't careful!
posted by lblair at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2009

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