Shipping fees refund: what is reasonable?
December 5, 2013 7:34 AM   Subscribe

An seller failed to deliver on time, and is now quibbling about refunding shipping costs. Am I being unreasonable?

On Nov 23 I placed an order to a third-party seller through Amazon for two post-surgical garments and paid the items cost plus an additional $38.54 for two-day UPS shipping. Taking into account the holiday and the company’s processing time, Amazon’s estimated delivery was Nov 27-29. But UPS tracking info indicates the actual shipping date was Nov 29, and the garments were not delivered until Dec 3.

I will use the garments, even though I had to buy more expensive ones locally in the interim. Following Amazon’s directions, I contacted the seller and requested a refund of the shipping fees.

The seller has replied saying they would refund $30 dollars only, as the remaining $8.54 would have been normal shipping fees. This in itself is not accurate, as regular shipping for the order would have been only $6.91 (and fueling my opinion that they’re generally not trustworthy). But I feel if I bring that up, I will essentially be agreeing with their position that I owe them for some shipping, abysmal as it was.

If other mefites agree with the seller’s logic, I will accept that my sense of entitlement to a refund of the full shipping fees is misplaced and probably due to my irritation and dissatisfaction. But if the consensus is that I am due the entire shipping fee, I will escalate the matter and file an Amazon A-Z Guarantee claim.
posted by ohcanireally to Shopping (17 answers total)
Take the thirty dollars. I can't imagine your time is worth the $1.63 you are arguing over. The rest of the difference is just a shipping fee and getting that $6.91 back is going to be an even harder battle because you're essentially asking for a refund of a service that was provided poorly, rather than not provided at all. Much, much less leverage there and much more of an uphill climb.
posted by griphus at 7:39 AM on December 5, 2013 [18 favorites]

I think, from a customer service standpoint, the seller should refund the entire amount, but from your standpoint, or better yet from mine if it were me, I would tell them the shipping would have been less, and tell them to refund what they think is appropriate. I don't ever post reviews and what not, but if this is possible on an Amazon seller, I would post an accurate description of what happened and leave it at that. I would never order from them again although it sounds like sort of a one off item anyway.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:43 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will use the garments, even though I had to buy more expensive ones locally in the interim.

If you don't need them, I suspect Amazon would support your simply returning the garments for a full refund, including shipping both ways.
posted by jon1270 at 7:49 AM on December 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

Basically agree with griphus. I totally empathize with your situation. At the same time it's nutty holidaytime (assuming you are in the US) which means it's entirely possible that the box went in the mail late on the 27th and would not have posted until the 29th which then kicks the thing into being shipped over the weekend. Again, I sympathize but I would not have presumed this stuff would have made it to me with 100% accuracy. Not saying that is what happened, just saying that there is room for the seller to have acted almost-reasonably here. $30 is fine, take it and write a factual review. Your mention of post-surgical anything indicates to me that you might have a bit going on at home which may make this issue seem like more of a big deal than it is. Glad it finally worked out.
posted by jessamyn at 7:55 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is the seller an individual person or a company?

If its the former, cut them some slack. If its the latter, chalk it up to bad customer service and don't shop from them again.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:07 AM on December 5, 2013

"Had I known the package wouldn't reach me in time I would have not had it shipped at all. I would like a full refund of the shipping costs or I will need free return shipping and a full refund for the purchase."

If they won't budge take the 30 and leave feedback about your experience.
posted by HMSSM at 8:37 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

But UPS tracking info indicates the actual shipping date was Nov 29, and the garments were not delivered until Dec 3.

That means you had two day shipping and are, strictly speaking, due no refund. It's two business days after the ship date. Nov 29 is the ship date, Nov 30 and Dec 1 are weekends, Dec 2 was the first business day, and Dec 3 was the second business day.

You purchased two day shipping, not two day delivery. Unlike Amazon (which includes packing time into its delivery times and guarantees those dates), third party sellers are not obligated to provide any packing time guarantees, nor are they obligated to follow Amazon's estimates, as you found the hard way.

That said, I agree with other posters that it is likely you could get a refund either by contacting Amazon or by doing a credit card chargeback.
posted by saeculorum at 8:41 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would fight for it, on principle. You paid for a service (expedited shipping) and they did not deliver that service.

Contact the seller one more time to ask them to refund the full amount of the expedited portion (I think it's fair to pay the regular shipping rate). If they don't respond in your favor, contact Amazon to let them know you have a dispute, then contact your credit card to dispute the charge as well.

Document all your emails / calls, but in the end, don't spend more than a couple of hours on it. I normally never leave reviews because my Amazon account is under my real name and I don't think it's anyone's business what I purchase, but if you don't have those kinds of concerns, I would leave a truthful (yet unemotional) account of the situation.
posted by vignettist at 8:46 AM on December 5, 2013

I have a response a bit in the middle.

My guess would be that sellers agree to fulfill certain obligations, including responding and acting within a given amount of time, which would likely include responding within 1 day and shipping. I could not find the current requirements on Amazon, but you may want to see if you can find this.

But if you placed the order on the 23rd, there is no way that the person could not have known by the following day and had in the mail in the next.

It sounds like you have time on your side, OP.

The problem that has been started is that Amazon may be presenting 3rd party sellers as offering the same time service (or tried to force people into it), which can have consequences such as what happened to you.

For that reason, I would want Amazon to know so that it doesn't happen to other people.Maybe over time they will change their policy (ie, not list a 2 day delivery), or let sellers opt into and out of it so that someone knows up front.

For that reason,I would fill out the form and fully describe what happens. Don't mention remuneration, just what happened and that you are happened.

If they offer you the chance to return it, you may want to take that offer just because it has already cost you time and money.
posted by Wolfster at 9:06 AM on December 5, 2013

But I feel if I bring that up, I will essentially be agreeing with their position that I owe them for some shipping, abysmal as it was.

You do. They shipped to you; you owe them for shipping and materials. Accept the $30 refund; it seems perfectly reasonable to me.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:28 AM on December 5, 2013

Amazon can be draconian when buyers complain about third party sellers' shipping practices. Sometimes accounts are permanently shut down. So complaints can have ramifications far greater than the customer realizes.

Yes, they should have shipped sooner, but it's holiday time and they're giving you a reasonable refund, especially since they are eating the cost of the 2-day shipping. Take it, and don't stress about it anymore.
posted by Scram at 10:14 AM on December 5, 2013

I would accept the 30 bucks. Here's why - and I realise I'm repeating saeculorum's response, but this is my experience as a third party seller:

Amazon's "estimate" has nothing to do with third party transactions. The seller gets, if I recall correctly, 3-5 business days after the transaction to ship. Many, but not all, sellers ship within two. If you ordered on the 23rd, the third business day is the 29th.

No matter from whom you purchase, overnight or two day delivery only refers to the time in transit after it's shipped -- it does not account for the handling time.

Honestly the seller does not owe you the 30 bucks, and is extending it out of good faith. I would accept it in kind. You might win an A-Z case because December 3rd is outside of the 3 calendar days after Amazon's shipping estimate window that Amazon extends to sellers for A-Z claims. You could leave feedback to the effect of what you experienced but the buyer will either respond with the information I've given you, or just ask Amazon to strike it. Either way, it's more effort on your part than I think the money is worth.

Just my lengthy two cents.
posted by sm1tten at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2013

I would accept the $30 refund because it doesn't seem worth your time to fight over such a small amount of money. But I would also leave a poor review -- regardless of what Amazon's policies are, if sellers cannot truly offer 2-day shipping or whatever, they should state that clearly in the item listings and be proactive about issuing refunds rather than waiting for complaints. I have had this happen to me with an item I had to purchase locally and it is super obnoxious. If sellers are indeed locked into some weird policy on Amazon's end (as I have had a seller claim in a back-and-forth), then they should be clear in the item listing that you should not purchase 2-day shipping from them/the shipping estimates are incorrect and/or if someone does pay the expedited shipping fee not knowing the deal, they should proactively refund the difference and offer the option to cancel the order. Although Amazon may have a flawed approach to this, I feel like a lot of sellers just take advantage and cheat people out of fees when buyers don't realize/don't bother to complain. They deserve a 2- or 3- star rating for that so that others can be warned about shady practices.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:21 AM on December 5, 2013

I'd take the $30; personally I feel they ought to refund you the whole shipping cost, both out of it not being 2-day as you were promised (which brings it down to $6.91) plus good customer relations (which brings it down to zero on you). Sure, they said 2-day shipping as opposed to 2-day delivery, but that sophistry is merely misleading the customer.

But realistically, it just ain't worth fighting over. Take the $30, and after you have that in your hand (once you are positive it has been refunded to your credit card or you have cashed their check) leave a factual customer review.
posted by easily confused at 10:23 AM on December 5, 2013

As an occasional Amazon seller, I can tell you that they are required to ship within two business days, even if you're using Slow Boat To China shipping. That's no later than the 26th, and, with Thanksgiving, you should have had the item by the 29th. However, when someone shells out that kind of money for two day shipping, sitting on the order for the full two days is just crummy service. I don't think you owe them a dime for shipping, dispute it.
posted by wnissen at 10:25 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm not quibbling, just relaying information I got from my contact in Seller Support at Amazon: The seller is are required to provide notice of ship within two business days. That's not actually the same as shipping. If the label was printed on the 26th but not picked up until the 29th, the seller would not be penalized.

OP didn't say that they got a late-ship notice, which happens on the third business day.
I apologise, the 3-5 business days to ship I referred to above is incorrect. I am not a current seller.
posted by sm1tten at 10:45 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: After deciding that the vendor was not interested in my satisfaction and was being deliberately difficult, I escalated it to Amazon customer service by filing an A-Z claim. The second I hit 'submit,' Amazon replied they would cheerfully credit my account the full shipping fees.

So there it is. While my desire to have the vendor shamed and dragged through the streets was unfulfilled, Amazon instantly swallowed the cost and gave me what I wanted. A drop in the bucket for them, to be sure, but it reinforced my faith in their satisfaction guarantee.
posted by ohcanireally at 9:05 PM on February 1, 2014

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