How Can Amazon Not Understand The Actual Purpose Of A Gift Receipt?

Justin really likes Amazon. He does. He’s a big fan and frequent customer. When his employer gave out Kindle Fires (Kindles Fire?) as a gift to employees, though, his boss told Justin that it would be okay to return his for store credit, since he already owned one. Cool. Armed with a gift receipt, Justin set out to do that. He was met with impenetrable corporate logic: he couldn’t use the gift receipt to return just one kindle. Since his boss had bought them all in one purchase, he had to return all of them.

I have to preface all of this by saying that I am a loyal Amazon customer. I love Amazon. My girlfriend and I both have Kindles and I have a Kindle fire. I have an Amazon credit card. I subscribe to Amazon Prime. I have even previously wrote to you folks back in 2010 I think about how great Amazon had been to me with some customer service experience. However, I think it’s all changed over at Amazon. The operators no longer seem to speak English and they all seem to be unhelpful. Here’s what happened:

Our office bought everyone Kindle Fires and cases as gifts. I already have a Kindle Fire so the boss asked me to just return mine and get a credit. Seemed straightforward. He handed me a gift receipt and left it in my hands. I called Amazon (or they technically called me through the Website) and I just asked for a return address to send the Kindle Fire and case for a refund. I provided the order number and this is where it all went wrong. When the office bought the Kindles they bought all of them at once and marked that they would all be gifts. Well, from what Amazon tells me, because I wasn’t returning all of the gifts I couldn’t get a credit. They could credit the original purchaser (my boss) but not me. This didn’t make sense to me on a practical level. If I go to Target and I buy a bunch of stuff and I happen to buy a couple gifts with that stuff, I get a gift receipt for those items and the receiver can return the gifts to Target later for a credit if they hate what I got them. How is it that Amazon can’t do that? Especially with Christmas right around the corner. Also, she had no idea what address to give me to return the item. So, I called back and spoke to another person and got the same answer. I took a survey after that call and said that I was not helped. This prompted a “Let Us Try Again” type of button and I was connected to another representative who connected me with Kindle support.

I have worked with Kindle support in the past and they have always been really awesome. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this person was as awesome as in the past but he was *much* better. He actually understood what happened and found a way to get the outcome I wanted. Both items were returned. I had to pay for shipping (normally Amazon would credit me for any shipping costs but I wasn’t going to complain) but they got returned and I got my credit. It was a little weird, though, because when the Kindle Fire was received, I received 5 confirmation emails and no credit for a long time but finally I got the credit a while later. So, it took about 2 hours in phone calls to work it all out and maybe an hour to get the supplies and go to UPS for the return but it did work out. It just seemed like an awful lot of time to spend on something that should be easy … and for a gift. I thought I may be the only one but someone else in the office came to me and told me she also already has a Kindle Fire and has been having a heck of a time trying to return it.

This return policy Amazon has with gifts seems like a total nightmare. If I order a bunch of stuff from Amazon and a couple of the items happen to be gifts and I mark them as gifts and the person I send them to doesn’t like any of the items, he or she should be able to return any of them (or all of them) for a credit. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t imagine what it will be like at Christmas if this is still Amazon’s policy.

Well, Justin could have always had the credit go back to his boss, and then his boss could give him cash. That doesn’t really help people trying to return gifts purchased for occasions requiring more social finesse, though.

…Wait a second. Christmas is right around the corner? Justin, you don’t work for Costco, do you?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Captain Spock says:

    Christmas Around the corner!

  2. SirWired says:

    Just one minor note: Amazon will NOT credit you shipping if you are returning an item through no fault of Amazon or the product. They’ve always made the customer cover return shipping in that instance, although they will often generate a pre-paid label for you (at a decent postage rate) and simply deduct that from your return when they get it.

  3. cactus jack says:

    Customer gets what he wants in the end, complains to Consumerist that Amazon customer service is now terrible.

    • TRRosen says:

      Yes because Having Two reps fail to solve the issue and having to essentially file a complant on the service survey to get another rep that transfers you to another rep that finally deals with the issue, that is great service.

    • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

      My first thought when I read this was that Amazon has been going downhill for a while now…yet they’re still (at least a bit) above average among online shopping sites.

    • Sneeje says:

      I’m surprised at your reaction because I think we’ve all learned something–that gift receipts may be difficult to use if only part of the purchase is returned. Isn’t that helpful? Or do you require a very specific tone and wording for each type of Consumerist article?

  4. zyphbear says:

    Seems that Amazon really doesn’t prepare for “gifts”. I have gotten things shipped to me for special occasions shipped through Amazon, but some items, i wish I could have the option of electing to accept a gift ahead of time of it being shipped since I have Prime and am a regular customer. I had gotten an item that was about $35 once, that I didn’t want, wasn’t going to use, wasn’t from my wish list, but got a gift receipt, went to go and return it, but they wanted to charge me $10 in return shipping, and a re-stocking fee, so from $35, I would only get about $15-20. I was very annoyed about the situation myself and really wish there was a better use for the Gift Receipt if you end up paying everything else just as if you didn’t have it. After all, if I had gotten a book that I didn’t want, i couldn’t even replace it with another book due to the shipping/stocking.

  5. mh_ccl says:

    Ah, Amazon gift returns. My sister bought me a book as part of my wedding gift. I had ordered the same book for myself a few months before. I spent a lot of time in online chat with an agent to locate the sale and verify that I could get Amazon credit if I returned it. I shipped it back, and they credited my sister’s card and told me there was nothing they could do for me.

    My sister and I have never discussed this incident.

  6. Difdi says:

    I keep thinking, I should make a Halloween costume one of these years…

    Core out an artificial Christmas tree, decorate it with unbreakable plastic ornaments, garlands, battery-powered LED lights, etc. Wear the thing to a Halloween party.

    If anybody asks what the heck I dressed as, tell them “Christmas Creep”. Heh.

  7. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Blargh; I’m going to tell people just to give me a gift card and I will buy my own stuff off Amazon. Or go to my wish list. Or better yet, don’t buy me ANYTHING. They always get it wrong!