Warranty providers show earlier purchase dates for Amazon electronics?
February 27, 2013 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I've had this problem twice now: I purchase an electronic item from Amazon and when I call in for service under warranty, I'm told that their records show a different, much earlier purchase date.

This happened with a major repair for a trivial machine (tiny Cuisinart food processor) and a minor repair for a major machine (Macbook Air.) In the case of the food processor, they told me I was actually out of warranty because they showed a purchase date that was at least several months before the date I actually bought the thing. I wound up forwarding an email receipt from Amazon and that seemingly worked out.

In the other case I bought a 2011 Macbook air new on Amazon last year in October 2012. The battery life showed 96% on its first run out of the box, which was strange because it also showed 0 charging cycles, but I assumed that just meant it had been lying in a box since 2011 or so and had deteriorated a bit. (I ran the CoconutID program and it says the computer was actually built in April 2012.) Then I took it in to an Apple store recently for a minor repair, and they took care of it, but the email receipt from Apple I says that the purchase date for this serial number is June 1 2012! I am going to call Apple shortly to ask what I can do about updating the warranty. Mostly I am alarmed that this has been a pattern and if the items I think I'm buying new are actually refurbished or slightly used returns. Amazon already has a pretty robust open box sale section, so I'm surprised if that would be the case.

I did try emailing Amazon's customer service after the food processor incident and got no reply. Now I am just befuddled. I am wondering if anyone has any explanation or would know about any tipoffs in the product listings (again, both items were billed as new and sold by Amazon, not some shady-sounding third-party retailer).
posted by ziggly to Shopping (11 answers total)
Were the items purchased directly from Amazon? Or was it "fulfilled by Amazon" or through a 3rd party that uses Amazon's checkout?
posted by radioamy at 3:03 PM on February 27, 2013

I've had this happen. Sometimes it is a result of the retailer not being an authorized retailer. Because the mfr does not recognize them as a retailer, they are logged as the purchaser (i.e., end user) in the mfr's records.

I had this happen, in particular, with the first-generation iPod I purchased from Amazon years and years ago.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:03 PM on February 27, 2013

Directly from Amazon.
posted by ziggly at 3:04 PM on February 27, 2013

(That is, Amazon is listed as the purchaser as of the date it buys the product from Apple, and it's not you listed as purchaser as of the date you buy from Amazon.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:05 PM on February 27, 2013

Don't you have a record of a purchase date independent of Amazon? E.g. on your credit card record or bank account? I am sure they will take notice if you can show their records are different than your bank's.

I use Quicken and I generally put my purchases from Amazon on my Chase Amazon card. I have bought things large and small on Amazon. My experience has been that Amazon's records of purchases track with the date of purchase, but broken down in amount based on when the item was mailed. E.g. if I buy 5 books, the date of purchase is the same for each, but the amounts vary depending on when each book was shipped.
posted by bearwife at 3:33 PM on February 27, 2013

As an FYI, lithium-ion batteries are normally not fully charged out of the box.
posted by dobi at 5:11 PM on February 27, 2013

"I've had this happen. Sometimes it is a result of the retailer not being an authorized retailer. Because the mfr does not recognize them as a retailer, they are logged as the purchaser (i.e., end user) in the mfr's records."

Yes, and this often happens with grey market goods. It's pretty common with electronics, especially the bargains.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:27 PM on February 27, 2013

Oh, and for items where a valid warranty is important (MBP yes, mini-chopper no so much) you can usually check the serial number online to find out if that exact item is covered.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:30 PM on February 27, 2013

its the manufacturing date or when it was sold (wholesale) to the seller you bought it from. They don't get notified every time individuals buy something from a reseller.

Keep your receipts if you want the full warranty period, or make due with the backend recorded shorter period.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:49 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd like to clarify: both items listed the seller/fulfiller as Amazon, i.e. "Ships from and sold by Amazon.com." For the computer in particular, I thought I took care to avoid resellers and fulfillers by steering clear of sellers with names like "JJManElectronics." I'm asking Metafilter as I would indeed like to avoid grey market goods for expensive purchases, and would like to know if that means I should be avoiding Amazon, even when they're the seller and shipper. Should note that I haven't had any real problems with the computer, though the food processor did fail spectacularly one day.

I also should have been clearer about the battery issue. I was not referring to the charge level. I was referring to the total capacity left on the battery as tested by Coconutbattery, a program that measures battery health. There was only 96% capacity on the battery for a computer right out of the box, which seemed odd to me.
posted by ziggly at 9:06 PM on February 27, 2013

I have run into this as well. Yes, it is most likely based on the date of manufacture, or the date the unit left the warehouse, depending on how well they document their inventory.

It is completely normal to have to show a receipt to get the last few months of warranty honored. TheAdamist is right, most or all manufacturers don't have a program in place for the retailer to send the purchase date back to them.
posted by gjc at 1:52 AM on February 28, 2013

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