Overstock Accepts Returned Sony Reader But Charges $93.41 For Missing USB Cable

If you ever wondered why Sony eBook readers cost so much, it’s apparently because of the included mini USB cable—at least according to Overstock.com. When reader Matt forgot to include the cable when returning his $147 Sony Reader Touch Edition, Overstock smacked him with a $93.41 charge.

Matt writes:

Dear Consumerist,

I am simply exasperated at Overstock.com’s return policy.

I recently purchased a Sony Reader “Touch Edition” digital ebook reader from overstock.com.

I received the order in a timely manner, however, due to the excessive glare on the Sony screen I was unable to keep the item, as it constantly gave me headaches. I requested an RMA on the item and shipped it back to overstock.com less than 48 hrs later.

In repackaging the unit, I inadvertently forgot to include the USB cable (a standard mini USB cable the likes of which many cell-phones and other small electronics devices use, it was not a “special” cable, by any means).

This morning, I was completely dumbfounded when I saw the following email sitting in my inbox:

    Hello Matthew,

    We received your return for the Sony PRS-600BC Black Touch Edition Digital Reader (Refurbished). A credit in the amount of $44.88 was issued on 08/04/2010. This credit will post to your account according to the time frame established by your financial institution.

    A breakdown of your refund is shown below:

    Item price: $147.99

    Refund Deductions:
    Original Discount: -$4.28
    Return Label Cost: -$5.42
    Not Restockable: Box Opened / Missing Accessories: -$93.41

    Total Refund Issued: $44.88

    Since you used a pre-paid return shipping label to return the item, the cost of the label has been withheld from your refund.

    For questions regarding our return policy or for additional assistance, please click here to visit our online Help Center.

    Thank you for shopping with Overstock.com.


    Customer Care Returns

That’s right, on a $147.99 item, I received a $44.88 refund because of a missing cable!

Never was I given the option to return the missing accessory, nor was I given an option to refuse the partial refund and receive my item back. I’m a reasonable person, I wouldn’t expect to get a full refund for an item I returned that was missing an accessory, however, nor would I expect them to deduct a full 2/3 of the purchase price because of it. I feel as if they’ve reached into my pocket and stolen $100 from me! Can they do this? I plan to complain to the Utah Better Business Bureau, as I see on their profile there, nearly 1/3 of all complaints have to do with their return policy.

Aside from this action, what would you and/or the consumerist reader community recommend?


Matt sent us an update after following through with his complaint to the Better Business Bureau.

Overstock.com called me early this morning, and, without quarrel, offered me an additional $80 on my refund, thus bringing the original $93 offset to $13 and change, an amount I could live with. I can’t help but wonder whether it was overstock’s consciencious return policy in responding to my online query yesterday, or as a result of my BBB complaint I also filed yesterday. The agent left a message on my machine, with instructions to call a number and ask for him by name, it makes me wonder if this is standard procedure or if the BBB lit a fire under them. Either way, I consider my matter resolved.