Amazon 3rd party items arrived with Serial Numbers cut out.
October 25, 2016 5:44 PM   Subscribe

I ordered speakers from a 3rd party seller on Amazon (Discount Music) and when they arrived the serial numbers had been cut out of the boxes. This sketches me out. Why would someone do this and, given that the items are now out of stock and more expensive, how should I proceed?

When I ordered the speakers they immediately were listed as "shipped" but after 5 days they still didn't show up in UPS's tracking system. I contacted the seller and the next day UPS had them. Today they arrived (5 days late) with the serial numbers on the box carefully excised. To make matters worse, the speakers are now more expensive and out of stock (ships in 1-5 weeks) so simply returning and re-ordering is problematic.

I've contacted the seller saying I think the items are grey-market and/or stolen but haven't heard back. I think I could file a claim with Amazon but I've already waited two weeks and would really love to not have to wait another 5.

- Why would someone cut out and take the serial numbers?
- What do I have to worry about?
- What recourse do I have, and how should I proceed?

posted by lucasks to Shopping (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Take photos, immediately file for a refund using Amazon's interface, and upload the photos showing the missing serial numbers. You may or may not be asked to send the speakers back. At the very least get a refund going now, then contact Amazon to file a claim. They respond very, very quickly.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:51 PM on October 25, 2016 [17 favorites]

Assuming you mean the serial numbers were cut out of the cardboard packaging box, not the speaker-housing itself, they did this to claim some sort of rebate. They bought, cashed in the rebate and then sold. If it were me, I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:54 PM on October 25, 2016 [8 favorites]

I know someone who does amazon fulfilled sales and I know he removes tags, identifying marks, etc, because he is usually finding stuff for low prices locally that he can flip quickly on amazon. So, it's possible that those areas are where the store label was and he sloppily cut it off.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:55 PM on October 25, 2016

I've seen this where the seller wants to claim a rebate, and the UPC and/or serial is required as part of the paperwork.

Personally, I would't worry about it.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:57 PM on October 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is not a business practice that should be encouraged.
posted by amtho at 6:02 PM on October 25, 2016 [18 favorites]

Agree with amtho. Even if the speakers work correctly now, if they become defective down the line, you're going to have a hell of time trying to get them repaired under warranty.

Fact is, you bought something new and the product you received is used/tampered with. That's misrepresentation. File a claim with Amazon and report the seller. This happened to me recently when I ordered a new keyboard from a 3rd party seller on Amazon and the one I received was defective in that it wouldn't hold a charge past 30% even with fresh batteries. Although it was inconvenient, I reported the seller and sent the item back and Amazon refunded my money very quickly. I'm no longer comfortable buying electronics from 3rd party sellers on Amazon because the fraud seems so pervasive these days, it's almost as bad as eBay. I'd rather buy from Amazon itself or another reputable retailer, even if I have to pay a bit more.

(Incidentally, the speakers are probably more expensive temporarily because they're out of stock. I've seen this happen before. Once they get back in stock, the price will drop down again.)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:33 PM on October 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

Return them as damaged. Pursue it through Amazon; send pictures. The seller doesn't have a leg to stand on. I can't see why this would be an issue, unless you were looking for a way to get your money back while keeping the speakers? That won't be possible. But you should certainly be able to return them.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:37 PM on October 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

> Fact is, you bought something new

Nowhere in the post does OP say the items were purchased in "new" condition.
posted by paulcole at 6:49 PM on October 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

If sold as "new," absolutely fill out an "A to Z" claim. While it's courteous to try to work it out with the seller first generally, if these were sold as new, they've already broken a huge rule and the outcome will most likely be your getting your cash back and you can keep the speakers. If these were sold as used, I'm with the folks who say don't sweat it as long as they work as described.
(I'm a third party seller, and stuff like this just chaps me.)
posted by thebrokedown at 7:36 PM on October 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's almost certainly for a rebate. If they were billed as new, you should raise a stink about it. If it wasn't, then it's probably not worth worrying about.
posted by Candleman at 7:56 PM on October 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming the OP ordered "new"; otherwise he wouldn't be upset that the boxes were tampered with. If they're not new, or missing something like a manual or original packaging, Amazon requires the seller to say so in the item description.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:02 PM on October 25, 2016

Thanks for the information everyone. To add some clarity, the speakers were listed as "new" which is why the missing serial numbers from the exterior of the box concerns me. I wrote to the seller and they responded:

"Hello dear buyer, please see we still don't know why of the serial were cut off, what I can do is request new serials codes from the manufacturer, also I just set you up for Free 5 years warranty with us, just keep the receipt for the day something happens with the speaker. Please any question let me know I am here to help you."

Does this seem like a reasonable response?

I'm afraid I have very little experience dealing with 3rd party sellers and even less purchasing expensive speakers.
posted by lucasks at 8:54 AM on October 26, 2016

That's not a reasonable response. Between the late shipping, the missing serial numbers, and the claim of ignorance about where those numbers could have been gone something fishy is going on. My first concern would be whether the speakers in the box are what they are supposed to be or if they are a counterfeit.

Return the items to Amazon and demand a full refund, including shipping. Tell Amazon you suspect fraud from the third party and include the explanation you've given us.

You might learn more by looking at the seller feedback. I never buy from a third party seller without 1000s of positive reviews and very few negative.
posted by Nelson at 10:43 AM on October 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Are the serial numbers still on the speakers themselves? It 's not clear from the thread. If so, it's not clear that you have a problem. Other posters have indicated that tampering with the packing box is not a problem in itself.
posted by JimN2TAW at 11:15 AM on October 26, 2016

Does this seem like a reasonable response?

This is not a reasonable response. There is nothing to hold them to their "5 Year Warranty" if they decide not to honor it 2 years from now (if you can even find them 2 years from now).

This is your one chance to force them to make things right, because before long neither Amazon nor your credit card company will help you get your money back on this shady purchase.

File the claim. Get the refund. Spend a little extra money to get the speakers from Amazon directly, or from another reputable retailer like New Egg or [BrickAndMortarHomeTheaterRetailerAsIfThoseStillExisted].

To your original questions:
Why would someone cut out and take the serial numbers? What do I have to worry about?

If you're lucky, it's just the rebate thing discussed above. To be fair, it may not have been this amazon seller who benefited from the undeserved rebate -- they may just be reselling goods that were returned to other stores (McShady goes to Best Buy, buys speakers with rebate, sends in rebate paperwork with SN tag, McShady returns speakers to Best Buy, Best Buy sees speakers w/o SN as unsellable, AmazonSeller buys them at auction).

If you're unlucky, something shady is going on in the chain of custody of these speakers. Maybe they were stolen. Maybe they were illegally imported. Regardless, someone wanted it to be non-trivial to check the serial number from the outside of the box.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:07 PM on October 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Maybe the shortcut here is to contact the manufacturer directly and find out if they'll honor the warranty. Generally, I would agree that missing serial numbers mean it's a rebate. But the written English in the message you received says to me that they're gray market. I wouldn't trust (almost) any seller to honor any sort of long-term warranty. If the manufacturer will honor the warranty, I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by cnc at 1:08 PM on October 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Speaking as a third-party seller, this situation and response are not acceptable. Time to go to an A-Z claim with it. These are not new as described, and it is one of the biggest no-nos a seller can commit. Amazon is very responsive to buyers. You should get full satisfaction from an A-Z claim.
posted by thebrokedown at 4:07 PM on October 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

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