Shopping in the Valley of the Amazons

Amazon Marketplace is awesome but perils lurk among the shadows of the the merchant’s stalls…

You can get a cornucopia of gently used items for super cheap. If the vendor renegs on their side of the deal, such as not shipping the proper item or not even shipping at all, you’re covered under the Amazon A to Z guarantee whereby they refund your card and take it up with the merchant. However, according to our tipster, you’re only allowed to make five such claims. For people with a high volume of buys, this seems fairly low. After five, a claims filing is met with a terse non-committal response from Amazon.

Which is why you should do as David did, and after hitting your claims wall, create a second account until that one gets used up and so forth.

David W. writes:

    “I have been an Amazon customer for 7+ years, and to this day I will buy from them instead of schlepping to Best Buy or Barnes & Noble. Some time ago I started buying from Amazon’s Marketplace, where vendors sell like-new & used merchandise at greatly-reduced prices. If I’m buying a book or a CD for my use (not as a gift), I don’t care if the CD case is cracked or the book is missing a dust jacket. I have purchased 100 or more items, most of the time with great success. The items are as described, they’re cheap, and I got what I wanted at a reduced price.

    Every once in a while, the vendor is a squirrel. Maybe he forgets to ship my item, or he forgot to mention the computer book I got was missing the CD’s, or that the music CD had a big scratch in it. In that case, I file a complaint with Amazon, under the terms of their “A-Z Guarantee”. My credit card is refunded and Amazon takes it up with the merchant. This sounds good, but I recently discovered there is a secret condition to the guarantee that complicates any future purchases on my part.

    After 5 complaints, Amazon eliminates my ability to file a claim. If I follow the links about a problem with an order, i.e. not shipped or not as described, I get a terse message that my maximum number of claims has been reached. I have poured over the fine print in the agreements, but this 5-time limit is never mentioned. Emails to Amazon receive a canned, non-applying response, and I haven’t been able to get anyone on the phone that dealt with Marketplace purchases.

    Again, I still buy from Amazon, and a used $10 CD is not as big a deal if I don’t receive it. On the other hand, if I buy a $150 set of Microsoft Press books, I expect them to be as described. Maybe Amazon never thought the Marketplace would be used this much, but I thought the claim “rate” should be adjusted. If I had bought 10 items and filed 5 claims I should be throttled, but considering all I have bought I should still have the Guarantee option.

    I can’t prove this with any emails or links, but thought I’d mention it to you. I’m now buying under another ID with a fresh start, so to speak, but thought I’d mention this to you.”

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