Amazon Marketplace Dispute Leaves Me With No Money, No Navigation System

The Amazon Marketplace is a really useful consumer-to-consumer selling arena. Unfortunately, when there’s a dispute, the site tends to side with the customer. Even, as reader and first-time Amazon seller Jeff learned, when the dispute has already been decided in the seller’s favor. Worse: the buyer, or the shipping service the buyer used to send the item back, destroyed the item enough that it can’t be resold.

Here is Jeff’s sad story, in his own words. May it encourage you to think twice before selling on Amazon.

I have been a heavy Amazon Prime user and decided to try listing a JVC navigation unit that I had taken out of my vehicle when I traded it in for sale on the Sellers Market. Here is the Amazon link to the type of unit I tried to sell. Because it was taken out of my vehicle, I did not have the microphone cable and the wiring harness had about an inch of wire available for someone to tie into their car. I listed the item as “Used – Good”, the lowest condition available, and indicated in the description the missing items. The exact description was ” Previously installed and in great working condition. No soft case, metal sleeve, or microphone. Original box included. Wiring harness is cut to approximately 1 inch of wire coming out of the back.”. I also set the price to $300, which is $600 below list and $200 below what Amazon is selling it for now.

Upon delivery of the unit, the buyer immediately sent me a return request, which I replied to with “In the original item description , it was noted that there was an inch of wire coming out of the harness as well as no metal sleeve. Hence why it was listed at so much below retail. The harness will absolutely work without an issue with 50 cent butt connectors from radio shack or anywhere else”. His response was “But it there is no inch of cable and you dint say rating bait the antenna.”.

He then filed an A-Z Guarantee claim with Amazon. I described the issue to the Amazon investigator and they told me that if you sell a used item it must have the exact contents as what they sell new. Looking at other item types listed used show a lot of people doing exactly what I did. Sure enough, looking in the terms of service, this was true and I immediately authorized a return for the full amount and requested the item be returned to me, at which point I would offer a full refund. I authorized the return on July 5. From within the Amazon website, you can monitor updates to the A-Z claim. The claim was still under review at this point and the last entry on July 5th was “Amazon requested information from buyer”. It was never updated until July 11th, at which point it noted “Buyer Claim Denied”. As the seller, you cannot see communication between the buyer and Amazon, so Im not sure what led them to resolve the claim in my favor, but it happened.

During the review, Amazon had held the $265 balance until the review process was complete. After the buyer claim was denied, the hold was removed, and the $265 was automatically deposited into my bank account. In the mean time, on Monday July 16, the navigation unit was returned to me. The buyer did not use the provided Amazon label for UPS, he paid out of pocket to send it via the US Postal Service, with apparently no insurance. The box had looked beaten up but it was still sealed. Upon opening the box, I find that my navigation screen was completely cracked open. Whether the “buyer” did this, or the postal service, I do not know. Using the tracking number, I tried to file a claim with the postal service for the damage and even offered to refund the buyer the full amount if he had insurance on the package but since he did not pay for it there was nothing I could do. Ive attached photos of the damage.

On Tuesday July 17th, I login to Amazon to find the claim had been changed from “Resolved’ back to “Under Review”. I called multiple times to the seller support, who asked me to provide images of the damages and the label that was used for shipping. I sent the photos to both the buyer and amazon. I was assured by Amazon customer support on the first two calls I made that I was in the clear and had done everything asked of me to this point and it would be resolved accordingly. They specifically told me I would not have to refund the buyer because the item was destroyed.

Yesterday, July 19th, I receive an email from “R” at Amazon support indicating I would be required to provide a full refund to the customer within 3 days or it would be automatically debited from my account. I immediately called into seller support again and was escalated to a supervisor who informed me there was nothing they could do. The reason they couldnt help me was because I had listed an item that didnt have complete contents. It didnt matter that it was in full working condition or that I followed their instructions during the entire process. Just a day before, I was told over the phone I had nothing to worry about and woulnt be responsible for the damage. Keep in mind, this was all after my claim had been RESOLVED IN MY FAVOR and the funds were released to my bank account. They are now telling me that if I dont issue the refund in 3 days, it will be automatically debited from my credit card on file.

In conclusion, I will be now out of $265 which was disbursed to me and I have a useless navigation that cannot be resold. Im trying to make as many people as I can aware of this so that users DO NOT use Amazon’s sellers market to sell their items. I guess I should have stuck with eBay. Oh and the buyer just left me feedback that just says “sucks”. Not that I will ever sell anything on Amazon again.

I would be glad to provide more information to anyone who requests it, as I have a full records of every step of the way. My only recourse now seems to be to let Amazon charge my card and then dispute it with my credit card company and cancel my Amazon Prime and Sellers market accounts. Any help would be appreciated.

The highest authority that we know of for escalated customer service at Amazon consists of e-mailing the office of CEO Jeff Bezos. You can reach that team at jeff@amazon.com.

Comments

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  1. icerabbit says:

    A couple lessons we learned the hard way years ago from online buying and selling a few things on Ebay which involved payments through Paypal linked to a credit card and insured shipping with Fedex or USPS:

    >>> you may be without the item you bought/sold and without your money

    We won a mis-represented >$2k auction on Ebay a decade ago which turned into a 6 month nightmare. Discussed the return with the seller. Return shipped express overnight signature required. No signature was taken … Seller said they never got it (though they re-listed the same day of arrival on Ebay). Ebay – no help. Paypal – no help. Credit card – no help. Police – no help. Fedex – promises but no help. Repeated claim denials for documentation, lack of proof of original purchase, used item value, … said to just sue them (costing more than the item in legal fees).

    Combine that with several items that have arrived broken due to inadequate packaging on the part of the shipper (wrap something in two pieces in of kitchen tissue and stuff it in a box) and insurance against that is useless. Plus for some reason we’ve never had a successful insurance claim with the USPS, which many people use.

    And we concluded that if you buy/sell something new/used online; you have to consider it a game of chance.

    It may likely work out well, arrive intact and be the dream product you looked for – but – it may be a fraud, may be defective, may arrive broken, … – or be a downright fraudulent transaction where the buyer or seller has other intentions.

    So, don’t put something on the line that you can’t do without.

    In the OP’s case, it sucks to have a bad transaction and buyer who may have damaged the item, intentionally not packaged properly, … but it is best to just cut your losses instead of losing sleep over it.

    • bbb111 says:

      “And we concluded that if you buy/sell something new/used online; you have to consider it a game of chance. ”

      That’s part of shrinkage and a cost of doing business – unfortunately, as an individual seller a single bad roll is not offset by the many good ones. [Think like a casino – they may lose to any one player in the short term, but at the end of the day the house always wins.]

  2. SoCalGNX says:

    Ebay would do basically the same thing as far as letting the buyer get away with whatever and the seller getting bad feedback.

  3. Ashman says:

    I suspect that the buyer had a broken unit, got this guys unit and sent back the broken one. Simple bait and switch on the seller, who ultimately ends up losing here.

    If I sell any electronics on any online source , I always write down the serial number of the item I sell. Had it happen once to me, but since I had proof of the serial number the buyer was SOL in his false claim.

    • CalicoGal says:

      recording the serial numbers a really good idea – Maybe even take a picture of it…

      Just a shot in the dark, but if the OP here removed his credit card from his Amazon account, would they still be able to access it?

      • deathbecomesme says:

        Microsoft charged my dead and closed debit account with Wells Fargo a year after it was closed because it was lost/stolen. They WILL find ways to get their money.

  4. FengShui says:

    The reality of selling things online is that you have to expect some level of fraud, just like any retailer. You can take measures to protect yourself, but in the end, scams are possible, and you need to price your items to cover that risk, or accept the risk yourself.

    For example, you can pay for insurance when shipping. However, shipping insurance is priced really high, and only makes sense for small-volume shippers. Large volume shippers pass on the insurance and understand that a small percentage of packages will be damaged at their cost.