How I Sent A Stranger A Free PS3, Thanks To Amazon

Peter didn’t set out to send a stranger in a different state the gift of a 100% free PlayStation 3 this holiday season, but thanks to the policies of the Amazon Marketplace, that’s what he did. His customer had a problem with the console, and filed an A-Z Guarantee claim with Amazon, since it didn’t work. Except after Peter helped her with the problem and it was working again, she stopped communicating with him, didn’t close the claim, and promptly received a refund for the full purchase price without having to return the item.

Let me preface this by saying that I am a high-volume Amazon consumer, but I have only used Amazon as a seller very rarely. But as a consumer, I think Amazon can do no wrong.

But Amazon’s seller policies are terrible.

My story: I sold a used PS3 on Amazon. I had sold most stuff on eBay, but having recently sold an iPad on Amazon very quickly and painlessly, figured I’d give Amazon another chance.

A woman named [redacted], purchased it. I packed it carefully, put in a few extras (games I no longer played), and shipped it the day after she bought it.

A few days after she received it, she contacted me to tell me the PS3 was turning on but not outputting a signal. She immediately filed an A-to-Z claim against me. I walked her through the issue, which was basically that the PS3 had to be reset to switch from HDMI mode to component cables (a well-documented issue). I informed her that she was welcome to return the unit for a refund if she wanted, but she would have to return the unit. However, once she figured out how to solve her problem, she ceased responding to me, and maintained her A-to-Z claim.

Amazon immediately refunded her the cost of the PS3. When I demanded that she ship it back to me, Amazon said I had missed my window of opportunity to ask her to send the unit back. Despite my best efforts at talking to Amazon “seller support,” they let [the customer] keep a brand new PS3 for free, while leaving me high and dry.

I will never sell on Amazon again. eBay, by contrast, requires buyers who report a defective or counterfeit item to at least place the item in the return mail before issuing a refund. I have no idea why Amazon would allow a thief like “[redacted]” to file a claim, sit on it, and then keep the allegedly defective unit, even though I offered to pay for shipping and handling back to me.


Edit Your Comment

  1. scoutermac says:

    Sounds like both this customer and amazon are to blame.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Bad policy exploited by a crooked consumer?

      Sounds about right.

      • scoutermac says:

        I wonder if small claims court could resolve this issue. He should have the emails to document the issue was resolved.

  2. Cat says:

    eBay, by contrast, requires buyers who report a defective or counterfeit item to at least place the item in the return mail before issuing a refund.

    But eBay would make them destroy it with a hammer before returning it.

  3. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Sounds like this part of the “A-Z Guarantee” is either where the policy was violated by the buyer or the OP left something out:

    “You must first contact the seller through Your Account before filing a claim. From the order details, click “Problem with this order?” and “Contact your Seller.” Please allow three business days to give your seller a chance to address the issue. You can submit a Guarantee claim if the seller does not respond or if the issue is not addressed to your satisfaction.”

    • frugalmom says:

      I would assume the customer didn’t contact the seller. We had an issue a few months ago with a buyer filing a claim after 5 days without contacting us. The problem was that the buyer had selected standard shipping, so it was sent Media Mail, and wasn’t even remotely late yet. My husband explained that in his reply email about the claim, and the claim disappeared. However, after that, I made him stop sending expensive books Media Mail with no delivery confirmation so someone couldn’t just file a claim and say they never got the book. (He sells law texts to get some of his money back.)

  4. jonmason1977 says:

    “My story: I sold a used PS3 on Amazon.”
    “…they let [the customer] keep a brand new PS3 for free, while leaving me high and dry.”

    Not that it really affects the story, but was it new or used?

  5. AngryK9 says:

    ” wmn nmd [rdctd]”, thn ltr, ” thf lk ‘Jck'”…

    S, hr [rdctd] nm s “Jck”? =P

  6. elangomatt says:

    I don’t usually say this, but I think an EECB would be a good move in this case.

    I think it is pretty silly that apparently this refund to the customer is automatic (according to this seller) and they claim nothing can be done now. I wonder if maybe there isn’t a bit more to this story like possibly the seller didn’t reply to the A to Z claim message or something since the issue was resolved and he assumed the buyer would cancel the A to Z claim.

  7. LightningUsagi says:

    My mother has had A to Z claims overturned with Amazon. Give their customer service line a call, and explain your side, and ask if you can send them the emails you got from the buyer.

  8. Bsamm09 says:

    “My story: I sold a used PS3 on Amazon. I had sold most stuff on eBay, but having recently sold an iPad on Amazon very quickly and painlessly, figured I’d give Amazon another chance.”

    So selling an item quickly and painlessly is bad?

    • elangomatt says:

      I think the OP is saying that he usually sells stuff on ebay but tried amazon once. It went so well that he decided to try it again. He probably didn’t expect it to be so easy on Amazon so maybe he thought the first quick and seamless sale was just a fluke or something.

  9. RubiksDude says:

    This happened to me. Sold a laptop through Amazon Marketplace. A few days after the buyer got it she claimed it stopped working. Amazon processed the refund before ever confirming that the item was returned, then refused to help. Went to my bank, who from what I was told contacted the buyers bank and I got my money back that way. That was the first and only time I sold something through the martketplace.

  10. incident man stole my avatar says:

    So Amazon screws sellers like eBay… no wonder Craigslist does so well

    • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

      Not if SOPA has a say. Did we forget already ?

      • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

        SOPA does not have to exist for it to be implemented….see what really happened to Megaupload.

        • Jawaka says:

          Megaupload was breaking the law and they were shut down?

          Is there a problem with that?

          • Twonkey says:

            A handful of Megaupload’s users were breaking the law, and I seem to recall that at least at some point in history, websites couldn’t be held accountable for the shady shit their users do.

            Besides, Megaupload had legitimate uses just like bittorrent does. Jonathan Coulton hosted some of his music on the site, for example, and was pretty upset when it got shut down. And it wasn’t even as if Megaupload wasn’t diligent about taking down illegally uploaded copyrighted materials when they were brought to their attention. They did.

            So yeah, there was no reason for the Feds to shut down Megaupload, much less to vilify and make criminals of the folks behind the site. Well, besides of course for using it to make the case for why SOPA is just soooo very important. Which of course has backfired, seeing as they were able to shut the site down just fine without it…

            • Twonkey says:

              Oops, looks like I had some of my facts wrong. The stories I read portrayed the impetus behind Coulton’s tweet as being that he had shared his stuff on Megaupload at one point, when he was really just making a statement about how shutting down the site hasn’t really changed things one single bit for the entertainment industry after Megaupload was shut down.

              The entertainment industry loves SOPA because it isn’t making money hand over fist like it thinks it should be, and that they believe that piracy is to blame. There is a shit-ton that keeps people from tossing these mooks their money, and piracy has very little to do with it. But the entertainment industry is out of touch, so they go after sites like Megaupload, believing that cutting off sources of piracy will start the money rolling in. Coulton was just wryly pointing out that if people weren’t buying their stuff before, they’re not going to be any more likely to do so now just because Megaupload is gone.

    • ancientone567 says:

      When you meet someone from Craigslist, bring a gun.

  11. deathbecomesme says:

    When you file an A-Z claim all communications through your email on file are kept as a record for that claim. If he assisted her with the issue through email they should be able to see that. if he contacted her directly through another email account or over the phone then that was a bad move.

  12. bethanyboo says:

    eBay and Amazon almost always side with the buyers. That’s why I prefer to sell on Craigslist. Your stuff won’t sell for as much, but you also won’t have to pay all the fees. Of course, you do have to take safety precautions with Craigslist.

    • toodarnloud says:

      Ask to do transactions in or in front of a police station. That should weed out all of the bad apples.

      • pinkbunnyslippers says:

        I think back to when I was younger and not as smart, and I’d go to back behind the Barnes and Noble to meet a buyer for electronics I was selling. And I’d go there as a single woman, alone. I was an idiot. I like the police station idea!

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Wear a condom.

  13. shepd says:

    Amazon and eBay make using Kijiji to sell stuff by mail seem like a good idea.

    Yeah, that bad. And no, nobody uses Craigslist here. :^P

  14. Kate says:

    I wonder if you could contact the DA in her area and get her prosecuted for theft.

  15. loueloui says:

    I would file a police report with her local law enforcement for theft. Regardless of how it went about, if she accepted the item and then falsely claimed it was defective and refused to return it that is stealing. I doubt Amazon would help her, and since you probably won’t be selling any more items through Amazon, you’ve nothing to lose.

    I could not go to a restaurant and eat an entire meal and then say it wasn’t up to my standards so I’m not paying.

    A phone call from her friendly neighborhood police detective might get her to pay what she owes, or at least send the system back. Also a police report indicating it was stolen might be enough to get the system banned from PSN, lessening its usefulness.

    • TomClements says:

      The only downside would be if you get it banned from PSN and then get the unit back, you have lessened the usefulness of your property. I would file a police report and if it doesn’t appear that they will contact her right awayt then send her a copy of the report via certified mail with a KIND letter including instructions on how she can rectify the situation.

  16. Cicadymn says:

    [redacted] is such a bitch. I’d never sell to her.

  17. teamplur says:

    I never use ebay anymore for buying just because of how many times i’ve been screwed over. Ebay has improved the way the help buyers over the years but having gone thru the dispute process so many times it’s just not worth it. As for amazon, I love how good they are to consumers, but i guess that comes at a cost to the sellers some times. Maybe they work towards a happy middle ground.
    I think a huge cause to these messed up transactions is the limits they put on filing certain claims. If you try to work out an issue with a vendor/buyer, those few days of emailing back and forth may put you close enough to the claim limit. But if you don’t try to work it out first, then you get angry customers and bad reviews.

  18. maruawe says:

    I hope that she sent a thank you card You ,my friend ,have been taken

  19. ancientone567 says:

    There is a way to avoid this rip off if you use Ebay. It is what I do everytime. Sell something small first to get your account in good standing if you have not used it in a while. After they lift the ban on holding your Paypal money then sell you item. The second it gets into your account wire it all to your bank. Once you do the wire, Paypal’s hands are tied. If the buyer tries some type of scam the worst Paypal can do is lock your now empty account. SO THEY NOTHING. You will have to use another provider until you can get your account cleared. Don’t send anyone anything like money. It is their fault let them eat it.

    • teamplur says:


      You completely that entire thing ;)

    • yurei avalon says:

      Last I checked you had to have either a bank account or CC on file with PayPal, some sort of funding source. You can’t just have an empty account. That way they can get to the money one way or another for any perceived “wrong”. I could be wrong though.

  20. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Maybe the buyer was hit by a car and that’s why they are not responding. If she was not, then the OP has every right to ensure she is hit by a car.

  21. Swins says:

    New or used, get the story straight.

    I also have to say, why redact the names? What if this lady does stuff like this all the time?

  22. Geekybiker says:

    Yikes. At least ebay disputes normally require a tracking number for a refund.

  23. I Love Christmas says:

    The EXACT same senario happened to me. I sold a PS3 to someone and they contacted me twice by mistake with the same message. I answered one and didn’t bother with the second. This is before I knew that not answering a message is considered an instant refund. Amazon was completely unhelpful in trying to resolve it, even with a tracking a number showing delivery confirmed AND emails from the buyer stating he received it and that he would contact amazon. He never did and amazon would not contact the buyer either. Very frustrating. I avoid amazon for any purchases I can buy elsewhere now, but it’s amazon so there’s only so much. I still sell there since it’s cheaper than ebay fees, but it’s truly not fair and the lack of help from amazon was unbelievable.

    I did get my money eventually, but let’s just saw it wasn’t according to amazon steps.

  24. SJ says:

    You should sue the buyer in small claims, since they should have resolved the claim.

  25. Jawaka says:

    “My story: I sold a used PS3 on Amazon.”

    “Despite my best efforts at talking to Amazon “seller support,” they let [the customer] keep a brand new PS3 for free, while leaving me high and dry.”

    Hmm… so was it a used or a brand new Ps3?

    Either way, I guess I agree with the seller. Both Amazon and eBay bend over backwards to help buyers while they just bend over their sellers.

    I just wish that sellers who have bad experiences on one will stop saying that they’re going to bring all of their business over to the other. The grass isn’t greener.

  26. cyberpenguin says:

    If the OP sent it via USPS, they should file a claim with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alleging mail fraud.

    If there are two government agencies you don’t want after you its the I.R.S. and U.S.P.I.S.

  27. Extended-Warranty says:

    What a mess.

    Amazon is the worst thing to ever happen to American jobs.

    I just bought a phone case on there for the price. First, they sent me the wrong one (with no packaging). Then I got the right one, and it was broken (and had the sticker from a retailer stating this).

  28. mcgyver210 says:

    She has actually stolen from you, committed fraud & you could sue her although due to cost it would be more on principle than for damages.

    Consumers are not all honest just like sellers are not all honest. Consumers think if they get their money back on a chargeback or from a company like amazon it absolves them of the debt, In most cases it doesn’t but the merchantseller lets it go as a loss due to time & money to collect.

  29. ShinGetterPoPo says:

    So I should buy something, make an a-z claim then never return it and it will be the sellers fault.

    Sounds like a plan amazon

  30. make7acs says:

    Small claims court, super simple.

    I’ve done it for both PayPal and for Amazon. Nothing better than staring them in the face as they are ordered to give the money back.