What Should I Do When An Amazon Marketplace Vendor Disappears?

Darren tells Consumerist that the vendor that sold him a failing MacBook Pro battery through the Amazon Marketplace has disappeared. Since the replacement battery wasn’t made by Apple, he’d like to find out what kind of warranty the battery might have and seek a replacement. Amazon is no help, and the company’s domain name is no longer registered, so e-mails bounce back. What should he do?

TL;DR Replacement laptop battery died within a year. Amazon Marketplace vendor has disappeared with necessary warranty information. Amazon and my credit card “can’t” do anything to help. What should I do now?

The longer version:

I bought a Macbook Pro laptop battery through Amazon Marketplace in late September of 2009. Because the battery was so reasonably priced and the vendor claimed it was OEM, I saved a copy of the listing just in case. When the battery arrived, I could tell it was not OEM, but it seemed to work well at first, so I let it go. After about two months of regular use, though, the performance of the battery started to slip.

Here we are not quite a year later, and the battery has completely malfunctioned. It still holds a charge and works while my computer is in sleep mode, but if I try to run the computer on the battery alone, it dies within two or three seconds. I tried to get in touch with the vendor, who seems to have disappeared from Amazon soon after my purchase, via both direct email and the Amazon contact option. The direct email got bounced back and I did not hear anything from the Amazon submission. After waiting a week, I tried to get in touch with Amazon to see if they could provide more information about the vendor, so I could figure out the warranty.

After a bit of back and forth (which I’m happy to send you if you’d like) it appears Amazon is ignoring my requests for more information. I tried getting in touch with my credit card provider to see if they could help, but disputed charges only go back 90 days and warranty extensions only work after expiration of the original manufacturer’s warranty (and we have no idea who is responsible for covering this warranty). My credit card suggested contacting the BBB in my area, but I don’t know how that would help.

What does a person do in this situation?

If the company has gone out of business entirely, your local Better Business Bureau won’t be much help. Neither will the one where the company is located. Your best options at this point were a credit card chargeback or seeking a refund under Amazon’s A-Z Guarantee–and it’s too late for both of those now.

Your best bet at this point is to try to track down the manufacturer of the battery. If there really aren’t any clues as to the manufacturer’s identity on the battery, one possible next step is to track down someone from the company to see whether they can at least tell you who their supplier was.

Any other ideas for Darren from the Hive Mind?

Comments

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  1. pop top says:

    The OP should’ve contacted the vendor when they were first noticing performance issues. As it stands, I think it’s just an expensive lesson for the OP about “things being too good to be true”. It sucks, but that’s all they can get out of this…

  2. Alex says:

    I think this is a case for Caveat Emptor — don’t buy batteries from non-reputable sources.

    • qbubbles says:

      Yes. This. Dude’s screwed.

      • Starfury says:

        This should be filed as a Life Lesson. Stuff happens and sometimes it costs you money you can’t recover.

        I also look at it as punishment for owning a Mac.

        • levelone says:

          I understand what you’re trying to say (“people are stupid for buying Macs” essentially), but this scenario could have just as easily happened to any PC laptop user. A manufacturer’s replacement battery for my PC laptop is $130-$160. Cheap ones can be had around $30-$40, and they can be bought on Amazon. So your point is kind of moot.

    • ecwis says:

      It’s usually worth it though. A replacement battery from Apple is $130 while a generic replacement is $30. The battery lasted a year which is good for saving $100.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        I think that’s the catch. So you buy the $30 version and maybe it breaks but maybe the $130 name-brand version breaks just as easily. The real risk you take with the cheap knockoff is the warranty service is probably going to be much harder to obtain.

        But that’s why you bought the $30 version. So when it breaks you just plunk down another $30 and forget about it. You’re still $70 ahead here.

        At least that was my thinking with Dell batteries and chargers. Especially the chargers, which cost $60+ from dell and still break all the time. I’d rather just buy the $10 one from some amazon vendor and replace as needed.

    • kriswone says:

      So the Apple battery died, and the non-Apple battery died?

      Seems to me like they both are non-reputable.

      Apple prolly forced that business to close for selling apple related products.

      • Billy says:

        By what mechanism could Apple do that?

      • Kitten Mittens says:

        Right because without knowing the age of the Apple battery (but presumably past the warranty date on it), it clearly is a “non-reputable” vendor. It couldn’t be that all batteries go bad at some point…

  3. dolemite says:

    Heh nope…ran into the same thing in college. Bought a new computer from a company that had a nice full color ad in computer shopper.

    3 months after buying it, the motherboard fried. Tried to contact them, but the phone was disconnected, the ad was gone, and their website was removed.

  4. al says:

    I never stray from Amazon. Ill pay a little more to be under their protection.

  5. nforcer says:

    Try calling Amazon instead of e-mailing. Amazon has always been happy to help me out over the phone.

  6. corrie06 says:

    He’s probably out of luck. The shop’s out of business now.

  7. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    Unfortunately, this seems like a case where all the roads lead to Nowheresville. I doubt any suppliers will help, since they’ll all be in China and likely not have any English-speaking staff for these concerns. I also don’t know that Amazon or the credit card will offer any help since it’s been too long.

    I think it’s one of those situations where you just write it off as a sunk cost and shrug it off.

  8. ubermex says:

    OP got taken. Not sure there’s much they can do.

  9. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Just a question, but could it be a charger issue? If this is a replacement battery, what happened to the first? I have a Roomba, the RCC Rodger Young, that was suffering similar battery issues, and after getting a replacement battery from Roomba, which still didn’t work, I started troubleshooting. I even got to the point of making my own plug which fit into the upgrade/diagnostic port on the RCC Rodger Young to measure internal voltages. I contacted some fellow Roomba users who had voltmeters and discovered my AC adapter wasn’t putting out sufficient voltage under load, so even though it SAID it was charged, as soon as she started spinning her brushes, the load dropped the voltage on the battery to the point it would shut down and play the uh-oh song to me.

    • PsiCop says:

      Aaaarrrggh … I was going to ask about the charger, too, but you beat me to it! ;)

    • ShadowFalls says:

      It is a possibility, but these knock-off batteries are not too uncommon. Ebay is full of them and they rarely last long, even worse than some used originals you can buy. This is just a lesson to learn. I have a battery that will not hold a charge at all, the replacement charges just fine, the other one just will not hold a charge whatsoever.

      Most of these batteries wouldn’t have longer than a one year warranty anyways, can even be as low as 90 days, so he would still likely be out of luck. The warranty itself likely was only valid with the company he bought it from that is no longer in business.

      Amazon likely has no more information to give here as they can’t even contact the company. Some things are private regardless, I would doubt you would want that information given without your permission either.

      If he had contacted Amazon when it started acting up, or immediately after noticing their lie, he would have ended up with a better resolution. Can’t wait almost a year and expect magical results.

  10. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Can the OP give us the name of the company they bought the battery from? Maybe someone has heard of them or can track down some info on them.

  11. Griking says:

    /shrug

    just buy another battery from another reputable source. Time is money. You can spend weeks trying to track this company down and have it eventually cost more than if you just bought another.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      I wish more people on Consumerist understood this. Fighting tooth and nail over something isn’t always financially worth it if you value your time in dollar terms.

  12. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I am willing to bet, based on the shotty workmanship of this item, that the company has actually disappeared entirely. And good riddance.

    • BBBB says:

      “….And good riddance.”

      Unfortunately, they are probably back with their new company name of the month scamming new victims.

  13. aeproberts says:

    I would say that a good lesson has been learned by the OP and the best bet it to buy a new battery and chalk this one up to experience.

    1) Don’t skimp on technical hardware that is prone to failure. When it comes to batteries, hard drives, RAM, you are generally better off buying a brand name item. You get what you pay for with items that are essentially commodity products.

    2) Always from a reputable source. Sometimes it is worth paying the extra 5-10% to get it from a reputable company.

  14. Pheo says:

    A lot of these third-party battery sellers frequently sell under multiple company names and frequently change their company names. I’m certain that this company is still in business, but good luck finding them.

    • frank64 says:

      They probably sell on Amazon under a different name. What is Amazon’s policy on this? They should make every effort to provide all the information they have.

  15. Tedsallis says:

    I’m betting if you lean on Amazon hard enough they will offer a refund. Lean does not mean yell.

  16. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    You should kidnap their cat.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      If I don’t get a refund, I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And then on some dark, cold night, I will steal away into your home and punch you in the face. And you better refund the shipping. The last company that didn’t refund me shipping? I found the CSR and salted the earth in the backyard so that nothing could grow there for 100 years.

      • grrrarrrg says:

        You know why I did that? Because they tried to get me to pay their closing costs.

        i see what you did there.

  17. nakkypoo says:

    There are some things where I’m fine with buying a generic. A battery is not one of them. Batteries are full of chemicals and other things that can explode.

    When OP noticed the battery wasn’t OEM he should have returned it.

    Now he knows why the battery was so “reasonably priced.”

    My advice to Darren is to take the battery to a recycler.

  18. kitty says:

    Replacement batteries dont carry a warranty that’s usually over 30,60, or 90 days. Ergo, you’re already out of the warranty period. That’s WHY you cant dispute it after so long, is because after so long your claim (as this one) is bull poop. Sorry, both companies lived up to their obligations by your product being sold correctly, and working during the in-warranty period.

    Buy another laptop batter ya loser!

  19. Winteridge2 says:

    Just don’t expect any help from Amazon. Period. I used to sell books thru them occasionally, but they stopped notifying me when a sale was made, then cancelled my sale and kept the money because I did not confirm the sale on time. What??? They are rich, I am not.

  20. scratchie says:

    I think the poster is SOL, and I’ve gotten ripped off on replacement batteries on Amazon Marketplace before, too. You live and you learn. Amazon might help if you get someone on the phone, as someone else suggested.

  21. Ouze says:

    Suck it up and buy a new one.

  22. Sarcastico says:

    Could be the MacBook Pro just destroys batteries. I purchased a new battery from Apple in July 2009 for my MBP purchased in January 2008. The original battery did just as the OP described but continued to deteriorate to the point where the computer would shut down just as it warned the battery was low. Now the July 2009 battery is having issues that I recognize as having started just as the original battery did–when charging it gets to 99% but not 100% until I unplug it, then it shows 100%.

  23. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Once upon a time I bought a set of ST: Voyager DVDs from an Amazon Marketplace seller.

    Turned out to be Chinese knockoffs (with hilarious descriptions on the boxes). Some of the episodes wouldn’t play at all…so I sent a note to the seller asking for my money back.

    No response from him, but Amazon told me to just return them to him, and they gave me a refund themselves. The guy never got back to me on where to return them to either – so eventually I just gave them away.

  24. MMD says:

    While I agree that the OP probably isn’t going to get much satisfaction on this issue, doesn’t Amazon have at least a basic obligation to provide any information it may have about the company’s dealings through the Marketplace? Like when they stopped selling, or any contact info the seller provided when they set up the Marketplace account?

  25. qualia says:

    Can you do a chargeback? No product, no payment.

  26. sirwired says:

    You buy an anonymous 3rd-party battery from Joe Blow Electronics, stuff like this happens. Chalk it up as a lesson learned.

  27. kriswone says:

    I read the start of the article wrong, lol, fruedism at its best! here is what i read:

    “Darren tells Consumerist that the vendor that sold him a failing MacBook Pro… disappeared”

    I thought to myself “Apple?”

  28. NOS says:

    This following line shows that the OP made a stupid judgment call.

    “When the battery arrived, I could tell it was not OEM, but it seemed to work well at first, so I let it go.”

    The moment the OP received the fake OEM battery he/she should have IMMEDIATELY reported them to amazon and gotten a refund on it. When the seller lies about anything that major, you can expect nothing but bad things after that.

  29. oldwiz65 says:

    That’s why I don’t deal with Amazon Marketplace vendors; there are simply way too many shady vendors there. I buy from Amazon, but if it says 3rd party seller, I never buy. Trusting Amazon is one thing; they are more or less repuatable (except for e-books), but the Marketplace sellers tend to be borderline scammers.

  30. RandomHookup says:

    Does the credit card you charged it to offer a buyer protection plan or an extended warranty plan? Other than A-to-Z, I can’t think of anything else. You bought it, received it, didn’t complain and now, about a year later, it’s dying. Seems like you’ve got what you can from the deal.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      FTA:
      “I tried getting in touch with my credit card provider to see if they could help, but disputed charges only go back 90 days and warranty extensions only work after expiration of the original manufacturer’s warranty (and we have no idea who is responsible for covering this warranty). My credit card suggested contacting the BBB in my area, but I don’t know how that would help.”

  31. Paramedicguy says:

    This is one of the few instances where I might recommend extended coverage such as Apple Care. It’s money well spent. If you simply replace 1 battery over the life of the agreement you’ve almost broken even. In my case it’s covered a battery, DVD Drive, and other components.

    • NOS says:

      I agree 100% Apple care rox!

      THey have replaced/fixed for me…

      failed HDD in a macbook pro
      bad screen in an iPhone 3GS
      Bad screen on an iMac

      no extra cost to me for any of those repairs.

  32. Keliken says:

    Call Obama and have a beer summit.

  33. Groanan says:

    Check the battery for any identification marks (like serial numbers / product numbers / etc.)
    Do a Google search and try to find it listed in some catalogue someplace, and try to find the manufacturer.

    Probably SOL, but maybe worth the 5 minutes.

  34. Santas Little Helper says:

    Buy a real battery from apple.

  35. BytheSea says:

    A year isn’t that bad for a part you bought off the internet, especially a part as fallible as a battery. You buy cheap, you get cheap.

  36. KingPsyz says:

    Pro tip, if you know of the consumerist to send this tip you know better than to buy from amazon anything listed other than by amazon itself.

    If you know of the consumerist, you likely know that your $100 savings in the replacement battery came with the risk that it’s all very likely the battery will suck, kill your laptop, void the warranty, or not have any customer support. This is totally a case of you get what you pay for.

    NEXT.