Amazon Australia Return - Re-stocking Fee Rip-Off

This is my first post here and I have been reading this forum for a long time (thanks for all the useful info here!). Finally decided to join due to the really unpleasant experiences with Amazon Australia and hope you all can beware.

I bought the Sonos Play 1 from Amazon Australia with its lighting deal last month (AUD185.99). It was an impulse buy honestly and I have a change of mind afterwards. I have checked gumtree and eBay and found that I can easily sell it at such price but decided to return it to "save" the troubles. Turns out I made a really bad decision actually as only today I knew that the refund amount is only AUD92.99.

When I went through the sophisticated return process in their website (e.g. confirming the item return, printing shipping label, etc), I keep looking whether there will be restocking fee terms and couldn't find that during the process.. I would think if they have such a neat system process they will list it or warn the customer. Only after talking to their customer services teams I could find that they put in other help "page" (a small print as expected) which is not incorporated into the return process at all.

It said "reasonable" restocking fee will be incurred but I don't think any reasonable person would expect 50%! Moreover, their customer service team are saying restocking fee for most items are 50% while some items will incur 80% restocking fee so that's why I got a "reasonable" refund already! I have not even opened the item at all and so condition is brand new and the return shipping fee is at AUD20 which means they get the brand new item back while I am paying AUD110 for nothing in the end. Actually I tried to ask them to ship me back the item (such that I can sell by myself at a much higher price) but their customer service team has not even tried to help at all. Painful lesson learnt and would like to share here to be careful of them. I am "caught" by not looking at every single page of their website before returning but 50% restocking fee for a brand new item is really a shocker (not to mention the shipping and packaging is paid by myself).

They don't have a nice launch here already and their customer service team (which they said they are local Australian here in Victoria) is much worse than US and UK one. Don't even want to pass my feedback and don't even try to see whether they can do something with it.

Update: Facebook Conversation with Amazon AU

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Comments

  • That is ridiculous. I'd complain… To someone
    Good luck

    • to who? maybe around people and forums. For awareness.

      Agreed it sounds crazy, but.
      I don't see it being against the law/breach of contract. Just swallow the pill and carry on

      • it's possible the ACCC would be interested in this story.
        There are regulations covering 'refunds' and 'restocking' costs, and one of the key phrases is "fair and reasonable". I suspect that 50% of the value of the goods (of such a high value) would tend to be outside the realms of
        fair and reasonable".
        .h

        • It's possible A Current Affair would be interested in this story. A 50% restocking fee is daylight robbery.

        • @sparkles: especially since Amazon Australia has been on the nose since launch basically

        • @spillmill: however, consumer law does not guarantee you a refund for change of mind. Retailers don't have to give you anything if you change your mind. To be honest Amazon would be better off not offering returns for change of mind at all if they're charging such insane fees.

        • @seanjaus: Agree that in the basic rights we are given by law there is no guarantee, but stores are allowed to go above and beyond those rights and when it is done, they have a good reason for doing it.

          Amazon AU differentiate their online store from other stores by advertising they have this return policy. People are more likely to buy from them if they can return a product for a refund with certain limitations. It is a market advantage to offer this service.

          In adverting the policy, AFAIK it becomes false advertising if they do not refund according to the policy set out on their Australian Amazon site at the time of purchase.

          Amazon AU Return Policy
          You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon AU within 30 days of receipt of delivery for a full refund of the price you paid for the item. Unless otherwise stated, shipping costs are not refunded.

          https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=...

        • @Stphen: Oh well then that policy being advertised makes this an entirely different story. I'd be hitting the ACCC/Ombudsman

    • -36 votes

      OP is lying, if he asked properly he could have just returned it

  • There is nobody to complain to, according to their bible-like policy. Just like talking to a machine and I wish someday they have the same experience with other companies. They can't complain then!

    • Amazon "Australia" would be an Australian business. Try getting in touch with the ACCC. I also bet some media outlets would also be interested in this and similar stories.

      • +5 votes

        an Australian Business that doesn't pay tax to Australian Government. Nice move Jeff.

      • https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees...

        You can ask a business for your preference of a free repair, replacement or refund, but you are not always entitled to one. For example, the consumer guarantees do not apply if you got what you asked for but simply changed your mind, found it cheaper somewhere else, decided you did not like the purchase or had no use for it.<

        Because they are under no obligation to take it back, they can really charge whatever they deem.

        • But they have their policy that says they will refund. That will form part of the contract that they will be held to.

        • @tomsco:

          You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon AU within 30 days of receipt of delivery for a full refund of the price you paid for the item.

          Also

          “I bought the Sonos Play 1 from Amazon Australia with its lighting deal last month (AUD185.99)

          The OP fails to state if the return was done in 30 days, and from years of dealing with the returns "unopened" doesn't always mean unopened. Some people thinks this means they can open the box, but as long as they don't use it or open the internal packaging than it's fine.

          I'm not saying that Amazon are correct, or the customer is either, just saying things aren't always what they seem and the retailer isn't always the bad guy.

        • @sykeau:

          If not in the original post, then somewhere in the comments the OP has stated it was returned within 30 days.

          They state most, but then provide a list of exclusions. I would argue beyond reasonable doubt that the exclusion list should link in with the most statement, and therefore, if it's not on the exclusion list, or doesn't conflict with any of their other criteria (ie. damaged, over 30 days, etc) than the item is eligible for a full refund.

          If you read that whole paragraph as a whole, rather than quoting specific parts, it is quite clear that it is on the OPs side.

          Amazon have even responded on Facebook that in a situation as per the OPs, the OP is eligible for a full refund.

          Amazon.com.au, using your criteria - the item was fulfilled from Amazon AU, returned undamaged within 30 days and was not on the list of exclusions - would you be entitled to a full refund?

          Amazon:

          Yes, if the item is fulfilled from Amazon AU and returned undamaged within 30 days, and the reason stated is not on the list of exclusions, the order is eligible for a complete refund.

    • 1) Consumer Affairs - they can only mediate and cannot do anything binding for most part.
      2) ACCC - they make you fill a qualifying survey. Cant complain if you don't meet the criteria. In that case:
      Alternate (2) - VCAT or equivalent. Application Fee $62. $9 to get company info from ASIC (mandatory), $8 to ship the documents to Amazon, $?? to travel to tribunal office and present your case (1 hr hearings) + Case preparation around your argument on "what's reasonable".
      I'd do it if I were you (and have in the past (and won)). You will break even if case goes in your favour (teaching Amazon a lesson and doing all of us a favour) and if not, you'll be out of paltry ~$100 (and earn a story how you took on Amazon).

      ** I am not a lawyer.

  • Holy. Crap.

    Honestly, that policy (even if it's only 20% re-stocking; but 50% is just absurd) is going to really, really hurt Amazon's appeal here. For example; Officeworks, JB-HiFi, K-Mart, Bunnings, even Myer have much, much better returns policies. Hell, Amazon isn't even that cheap.

    Yep, I'm really put off Amazon.

    • Ordered goggles from Gearbest. Arrived working fine, but had a small air bubble on the screen.

      I decided to return them, so I lodged a support ticket.

      Within 30 mins I had a response, asking me to video the goggles. Sent that through and 45 mins later they come back offering full refund for returning, or partial refund if I decided to keep the item.

      I chose the $10 USD refund (%20 of the item value).

      Under two hours to sort it out professionally. I was almost thinking it was too easy.

      Oh, and I ordered the goggles on the 10th, arrived 9 days later, and that was the crappy unregistered shipping too.

      Local retailers need to up their game or GB and the like are going to walk all over them.

      • Don't be so quick to pump up gear best. They sent my door lock to the wrong address and their customer service response was for me to drive to the wrong address or get a friend too and collect it.

        • I ordered a $400 laptop from Gearbest on december the 2nd and it was meant to come with a bonus 4x usb hub thingy, which I had in my cart at the time of checkout. However, due to the confusing and buggy website, it 'fell out' of the cart as I completed my purchase. I contacted support but they took a week to get back to me, and would not add it to my order. Fine, maybe I am asking for too much. It has now been almost 2 months and they haven't even shipped my laptop- when I emailed support, they just sent me a table with statistics on shipping time for each continent. I understand shipping takes a while, but my order is still 'processing'. My suspicion is they're taking orders on stock they don't even have yet!

        • Wow, that warrants a big f*** y** and a credit card chargeback.

    • At work we ordered a machine press that was way too large for our liking. Weighed at least 100-150kg on a palette.
      Supplier took it back without charge. So nice of them.

      • You'd imagine that with a business to business interaction it makes sense to ensure that your customer is happy in case they continue purchasing more equipment in the future, though I'm sure this is probably just wishful thinking and that the reality is much more hit and miss?

        What was wrong with the machine press? I really don't know much about them at all, just curious.

        • it's a hand operated press, that was a meter tall and weighed too much. The description wasn't perfectly clear.
          This needed to be used on a table and is completely unwieldy.

        • @Blitzfx: Fair enough. Yeah, sounds like the description was way off.

  • +31 votes

    wow i am so glad Amazon is here

    • +2 votes

      I'd rather buy from Gearbest and Zapals, their stuff is like less than a dollar each and never had issue with them.

  • That. Is. Insane.

    How godamn bad could their marketing team be to propose and launch such a poorly thought through policy? Are they trying to fail?

    • +12 votes

      That would not have been marketing. That's logistics and actuarial. Marketing would have been strongly against it.

  • Was the item sold by Amazon or by a 3rd party seller? I ask because the returns policy states:

    When you order on Amazon.com.au from a seller that fulfills and ships its own inventory (also called a third party seller), that item can be returned according to the returns policy set by the seller (and the Amazon AU returns policy does not apply).

    Assuming fulfilled by Amazon AU, and looking at their returns policy - I'd be questioning them based upon the following:

    You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon AU within 30 days of receipt of delivery for a full refund of the price you paid for the item.

    Amazon AU is not required to accept change of mind returns on items outside the return window or return of items that do not comply with this Policy. If Amazon AU does accept such returns, and the reason for return is not a result of our error, we may deduct a reasonable restocking fee from any refund, based on this Policy and the item type, value and condition.

    My questions would be:
    * Why does the item not comply with the documented policy? It is not one of the disallowed item categories shown on the linked returns policy, and it was returned within the 30 day period.
    * How is 50% a reasonable restocking fee for a new, unopened item?

    • Thanks for the points. It is sold by Amazon but they keep arguing they have the right to deduct restocking fee according to the policy and so they did it with my return. They also think 50% is a very reasonable and not very significant restocking % (exact wordings coming from their mouth) which is stated in their policy and can’t be argued.

      • Smells distinctly like a training/knowledge gap. You could always flag it with Jeff Bezos with a concise and clear email… you never know, it might get read ;)

        • Not sure whether you are trying to make a joke but this is a good idea. You hear stories on how Jobs use to read customer emails directed at him. Pretty sure Bezos would want to hear from an Australian customer especially when he is going to use Australia as a test market for USA

        • @Wiede:
          Bezo will send his famous ? (question mark) down his ladder of managers, until the twit at the bottom explains what happened. The all the managers scramble the response back up to him.

        • @Wiede:

          it's not a joke. I had an issue with Amazon that was getting nowhere, so I emailed him. 24 hours later I got a phone call from an assistant or someone like that, problem solved and $50 credit for the headache.

      • +2 votes

        You may return most [new, unopened items]
        Amazon AU is not required to accept change of mind returns on items [outside the return window] or return of items that [do not comply with this Policy].

        OP, can you confirm:
        1) The product was new and unopened, or was it opened prior to returning?
        2) That you lodged the return within the 30 day return window?

        It'd be very interesting how to interpret that "most" before "new, unopened items" if yes to both of the above.

        • 1) The product was new and unopened, or was it opened prior to returning?

          Yep, OP said in the original post that it was sent back unopened.

          2) That you lodged the return within the 30 day return window?

          And clarified in a comment it was within 30 days.

  • if I were you, I will try to talk with them again. Who knows you may get a better person to speak/chat with.

  • I have already talked to the “manager” of CS’s team and he is just like a machine (which I believe the whole team is trained like that).

    When I pressed about how 50% is “reasonable” for a brand new unopened item and he told me the policy is like that and it is already less than 80% applicable to other items.

    I already wish them luck as amazon’s price is already not competitive and with such return policy (and the hidden small print things) customers here won’t be liking it. No matter how many ice cream they are giving out people won’t go for them. Yet the most amazing thing is that they don’t have any channels for feedbacks or complaints. That’s why I took the trouble to create account here and give my first post to them. You won’t know their policy unless you went through the painful lesson!

  • Sorry if I missed the answer to my question but did you return it within the 30-day window?

    Thanks

    • Yes it is within 30 days

      • Thanks. That seems to violate their own policy of giving a full refund for change of mind returns in unopened boxes within 30 days. Are you sure this is exactly what happened? I'm sorry if I am wrong but I've never had any problems returning stuff to Amazon (US and European sites).

        • Yes that’s what happened and they are saying as returning is not a result of their error so they have right to deduct the restocking fee per the second paragraph of their policy you quoted.

          You are right that both Amazon US and UK are much more easier and fairer to handle. I had pleasant experiences with them and that’s why I trusted amazon Australia. Turns out some local genius running them in completely different way.

  • Can you screen shit the convo? That's bonkers

    • I contact their CS through phone call as it is the “recommended” contact method and so no screenshot. Nevertheless, they said the whole conversation is “recorded” and should be retrieveable (but it reminded me i didn’t hear any disclaimer saying they will record the conversation at all, is it legal to do it in Australia to record a phone call without disclaimer?)

      • Depends on the State you are in

        • I am in Victoria, not sure about the law for recording conversationl. The restocking fee is the key as it seems they can claim anything “reasonable” as they want.

        • @TylerOZ: According to Amazon AU returns policy on their site there is NO restocking fee, reasonable or otherwise.

        • @lahiruwan:

          I think I understand now that their policy wordings actually should me to have full refund as I clearly returned within the return window and so they can’t exercise the right to incur restocking fee. Will write in their Facebook and see how it goes .

        • @TylerOZ: Can you share the link to your FB post?

      • In Victoria, you only have to tell them their phone conversation is being recorded at any point during the call, but in NSW you have to tell them at the start of the phone call

  • +27 votes

    This is what they told me when I asked via chat just now
    http://i64.tinypic.com/10zwy1d.jpg

    • I can post the refund receipt here! They are definitely doing it differently in reality!

      Luckily I still have my Australia post receipt and it also prove that I bought a box to package it nicely to avoid shipping damage.

    • +43 votes

      well the rep's name was Akbar, so obviously it was a trap :)

    • Great win , this is perfect evidence for op.

  • Maybe try facebook or other social media if they have it?

    • Just tried Facebook, don’t hold my hope though after talking to those CS (I talked to 2’persons already).

      • CS are presumably pretty new and just working from their script - hopefully social media team can actually look at the advertised policy and think about the repucussions of not following it.

        • Why businesses unleash mindless customer service script monkeys on paying customers, I'll never understand.

      • I've had success with other companies by going through their FB messenger page. I think they have they have more sway than the regular CS routes.

  • Why don't you initiate a chat session, ask about "change of mind" returns pretending that you haven't bought yet and then if they give the same answer they gave me, refer them to your order?

  • The Amazon show has just begun. I hate how they make you log in and right at the end you find out how much shipping to Australia would cost. Never liked them. Would much rather buy from eBay. Much more transparent with shipping cost.

    • That's strange. I often see when looking at Amazon US products it says the shipping and import duty cost right on the product page.

      For example, a Sonos Play 1 from Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EWCUK1Q/
      For me it says this:

      Price: $149.00 + $20.54 Shipping & Import Fees Deposit to Australia

      I really like that they include prepayment of the import fees (duty, if applicable). It means it will clear Customs without having to wait for you to pay the import duty.

      • It does if you have an account with them. If the item comes with free shipping (In US) it will say free shipping until the very end. When you are about to finish the checkout process it sneakily adds the shipping.

  • This is ridiculous. I encourage ozbargainers to leave their thoughts on Amazon Australia's policy and poor implementation of said policy in the comments under OP's facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/pg/AmazonAustralia/posts/?ref=page_...

    • +13 votes

      I hate how it takes social media rage for the biggest company in the world to be reasonable, and not just say it, but I guess it works right?

      • totally agree that why do I need to spend so much time in dealing with this shxx but seems resorting to social media is the only way to get it sorted.

        honestly if all of you have not been supporting me, I will just stop and blame myself for "bad luck".

        • Nar, clearly it’s completely unreasonable to have a restocking fee of 50%, maybe a fixed $5 or something even less.

          Who knows what other little small print fee is in their policy like warranties or finding lost packages or whatnot

    • Agreed, or at least Like the posts to show Amazon how many pissed off Ozbargainers have read them.

  • Disgusting! I left a feedback on the facebook page under OP's post.

  • Thanks a lot for all the support and your troubles in posting in Facebook. Just reckon if we really look into the wordings of their refund policy I should get full refund as I return within the return windows.

    Seems they even don’t know their own policy well, what a good start!

  • hope you get it sorted OP, I will be avoiding amazon now, I’ve always found the website not very friendly and confusing with a range of pricing for a item like it knows if it can charge someone more based on they algorithms, now this stupid “reasonable” return fee, wtf?

    I’m just gonna stick to the shops, least they have air conditioning on a 39 degree day too :)

  • An option you may not have considered yet is to do a credit card chargeback for the remaining amount.

  • I’d e-mail [email protected] and see if the higher level CS reps there can do something about this asinine policy in Australia. They usually get things done when you need them for Amazon US and Amazon Canada.

  • I'd send an email to Gerry Harvey instead. Tell him you are a long time customer of his shop though got caught in the hype and bought on Amazon and look what happened. Tell him after the bad experience you're back for good. Good ol Gerry should be able to pay for your story to get on A Current Affair.

  • +15 votes

    This is a great news for 9 news current affairs. Pass this to them. Most likely Amazon will compensate you more than your refund. Further, complaint to ACCC. Amazon is not required to refund for change of mind by law. But in this case they are misleading public by publishing a policy for full refund for change of mind with in 30 days but not honouring them. That has very serious consequences.

  • You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon AU within 30 days of receipt of delivery for a full refund of the price you paid for the item.

    Amazon AU is not required to accept change of mind returns on items outside the return window or return of items that do not comply with this Policy. If Amazon AU does accept such returns, and the reason for return is not a result of our error, we may deduct a reasonable restocking fee from any refund, based on this Policy and the item type, value and condition.

    it seems that paragraph two seems to contradict paragraph one. i'm sure someone from @ACA would be interested in this.

    • "Most" new unopened items. They can claim this one is excluded. The conversation above says otherwise, though. Personally I wouldn't let this one go. ACCC and fair trading.

      Assuming this is genuine, for me personally, it's enough reason not to deal with Amazon, or at the least to consider it a gamble. Kinda like buying from an Ebayer with bad feedback.

      • the refund policy is really confusing but they are treating it like bible which is not arguable and all people need to obey it.

        Is it complicated to report to ACCA and Fair Trading? Honestly, after a sleep I don't feel like going further as I have put too much effort already in posting here / Facebook and writing to their CEO.

      • They do have a list of excluded items, of which, OPs item does not fall under any of the categories.

  • That is insane. It's like amazon wants to fail in Australia.

  • Per comments above, it seems Jeff is "reachable" (or at least have a team of people helping him to read the email).

    https://www.businessinsider.com.au/amazon-customer-service-a...

    Thus I already wrote a email to him saying his Amazon Australia team is taking a great step for failure and the 50% restocking fee is absurd for a brand new unused item.

    What piss me off most now is the hypocritical CS team keep saying they want to provide "best customer experience" to me but keep dodging my questions over Facebook and don't even look at the product details themselves! Don't say you care about me when you don't mean it.