Sellers beware... helps perpetuate fraud with their A-Z guarantee.

Discussion in 'Ecommerce Forum' started by zeone, May 13, 2009.

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  1. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2
    A warning to all sellers operating on,
    ... helps perpetuate fraud with their A-Z guarantee

    Amazon's A-Z guarantee program is apparently designed to help buyers in cases where they have not received an item or they have received an item that is "not as described". Well, fraudulent buyers have found ways to exploit this scheme at seller's expense and not only is Amazon siding with the frauds, but they are helping them con small businesses whilst hiding behind the clause in their terms and conditions:
    4. Amazon's right of recovery. Amazon retains the right to seek reimbursement from
    the seller if it, in its sole discretion, decides to reimburse the buyer under the
    terms of the Amazon A-z Guarantee described in clause C.1 or Amazon receives a
    chargeback from the buyer's credit/debit card issuer for the amount of the buyer's
    purchase from the seller.

    Our story - we are a small business based in London. We sell on Amazon, eBay, Playtrade & Tazbar and have good histories with each.
    We have been selling on the longest (since 2006) and have noticed an increase in buyer fraud. This is what happened to us just this week and I wanted to alert
    other small businesses operating on of this:

    30th March, 2009: We sold a buyer a used Playstation 3 console with all necessary accessories.
    It was described as "Used - Good" and we even added a complementary bag.
    Total sale price: £220.00 delivered.

    1st April, 2009: The buyer contacted us to say that a USB charger for one of the controllers was missing from the "package".
    There were 3 people who were present when the console was packed including myself. I had personally watched
    each item being placed into the console travel bag - it really was packed & presented very well. We responded
    to the buyer exactly where that cable had been packed and asked him to check.

    1st April, 2009: The buyer filed an A-Z guarantee claim saying that the item was
    "Not as described - Missing parts/components". We responded the above statement via's online form.
    We also told the buyer that if they were not happy with the purchase, they were welcome to return the goods
    & provided the address (which is on the invoice, as are our T&Cs in accordance with DSR).
    8th April, 2009: An empty C6 envelope is delivered to us via Royal Mail First Class Recorded delivery - it was signed for by our building mailroom staff. Puzzled, I keep this envelope in my desk drawer.

    16th April, 2009: Amazon inform us that the buyer informed that he has returned the Playstation 3 console via Royal Mail First Class Recorded Delivery for a full refund. He says that it was successfully delivered & signed for and provides a tracking number. This number corresponds to the envelope mentioned above. We relay the above information to, scan the envelope and email the picture. The envelope was empty and cost £1.14 to send. For the record, a Playstation 3 console costs around 7KG and we had to courier the package and enhance the insurance to £210. Royal Mail's Recorded Delivery service insures up to £39.

    21st April, 2009: Response from, "We will contact the buyer regarding the return of the item and request proof of shipping which should show the weight of the item at the time it was shipped. If the buyer can produce a receipt that shows the order was sent back to you with the correct address and shipping weight you could be held responsible for the claim."

    10th May, 2009: Follow-up from, "The buyer has provided us with a shipping receipt that shows that the return was sent to your address with a weight of 6.030 kg. The receipt also shows it was shipped on 07/04/09 and the cost was GBP 14.57. As they have proven that the item was shipped back to you we will need you to issue them a full refund. If you need a copy of the receipt we would suggest that you contact the buyer directly as we are not able to send attachments through our claims system. Please issue a full refund for this buyer within the next two business days. Failure to do so may result in a debit to your Payments account."

    11th May, 2009: We reiterated to that the console had not been returned and that the buyer had sent them a fake scan. We asked that they request the original of the receipt from the buyer - which he buyer would undoubtedly be unable to provide as that tracking number corresponds to an envelope. I pointed out that it had taken the buyer almost 3 weeks to respond to a request for a receipt and that he claims to have sent a £210 item via a service that insures it to £39.

    11th May, 2009: (One business day after had said that they would allow two) issued the buyer a full refund of £220 from our account. They now no longer respond to any emails regarding the issue.

    We have received legal advice regarding this issue and will pursue the buyer for the funds - the case may end up in court.'s T&C protect them from being sued over the matter - however, I feel that they cannot be allowed to rob people of their money with no repercussions. We are considering approaching BBC Watchdog about this issue and would like to invite any other businesses who have been through a similar case, to share their stories too - perhaps we can all put something together?
    For any other businesses operating on the site, please be wary of A-Z guarantee claims & remember that have little / no regard for their sellers/merchants.

    Thank you for reading.
    Posted: May 13, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
  2. stevemac

    stevemac UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    95 18
    If you feel a crime has been committed, I would get in touch with the police & have them investigate. Fraud is illegal & neither the purchaser nor Amazon will be able to hide behind whatever rules they have set for themselves.
    Last edited: May 14, 2009
    Posted: May 14, 2009 By: stevemac Member since: May 7, 2009
  3. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2 have iron-clad Terms and Conditions. There is no way that we can challenge them on those and the FSB don't advise it either. We are going to report the buyer to the local police and see if they can help and also begin court proceedings to recover the cost of the PS3.
    Posted: May 14, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
  4. quikshop

    quikshop UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    3,706 720
    Take the buyer to the small claims court, I've done the same in the past to fraudsters who abuse the chargeback system.

    Also report Amazon to trading standards, it sounds like they might be infringing on UK law which is a common practice of large US businesses (eBay / PayPal are the usual suspects for this).

    Best of luck anyway, its about time the playing field was levelled between consumer and retailer.
    Posted: May 14, 2009 By: quikshop Member since: Oct 11, 2006
  5. stevemac

    stevemac UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    95 18
    From your story above, the current Amazon system would seem wide open to abuse. I would be surprised if other sellers haven't also fallen victim.
    Posted: May 14, 2009 By: stevemac Member since: May 7, 2009
  6. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2
    I would be surprised too. A Google search has revealed similar stories about, but I have yet to find any on If there are any other UK companies who have been through the same thing and maybe have already registered a case with Trading Standards, do let us know, as perhaps we can add strength to your case/quote you in ours?

    The worst part is that the "buyers" are also allowed to simply get away with it and can continue to repeat the scam. If there was a website where sellers who have been victims to fraudulent chargebacks could publish the fraud's details, then it could potentially protect future sellers. The unfortunate thing is that it would be open to misuse. There could also potentially be negative legal repercussions.
    Posted: May 14, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
  7. KateCB

    KateCB UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,258 534
    Wow - I would go to Watch dog AND the Police! That just out and out robbery and Amazon are aiding and abetting! PLEASE keep us posted on the outcome, this is just so shocking!
    Posted: May 18, 2009 By: KateCB Member since: May 11, 2006
  8. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2
    We'll know on Monday 25th May whether we're taking this further (if the "buyer" does not respond to our pre-advice) - so I will update then.
    Posted: May 18, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
  9. stevemac

    stevemac UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    95 18
    I'll be interested to hear how you get along with this.

    I'm no legal expert but I've been to the small claims court several times, representing one of my previous employers. Never 'lost' a case either :D

    If you do decide to prosecute, it may be worth asking the mods to move this thread to the 'legal' section of the forum.
    Posted: May 18, 2009 By: stevemac Member since: May 7, 2009
  10. urban33ltd

    urban33ltd UKBF Regular Free Member

    141 21
    It must be difficult for Amazon to be in the middle of this to...if the customer has proof of delivery then what can they do.

    I agree its not right and I certainly wouldn't be happy but its one of the problems when dealing with big companies they are to big and they don't care about sellers, just about buyers like ebay do.

    You will never win with them so I wouldn't waste your time, your better of putting your energy into your own websites thats what I have done!

    Posted: May 18, 2009 By: urban33ltd Member since: Aug 19, 2008
  11. FireFleur

    FireFleur UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,868 441
    It is something to be aware of, but that is how these places have to operate.

    I have had cause to get in contact with Amazon customer service, and they don't just roll over, they do encourage a dialogue with the customer and the seller.

    The problem is the people who do set out to abuse the system, they know the line through it, and perhaps Amazon are a little slow to get a fairer system, or this is just the evolutionary point of Amazon.

    Is it wise to sell on Amazon, well yes if you want to launch something, and understand the risks, but day to day selling on it, perhaps not wise.

    And maybe that is a good thing, Amazon is large, and no one really wins if some organisation gets too large. For quite some time Amazon operated at a loss, and I would shop on Amazon to do my bit if you will, good concept deserves to be around and good prices.

    But over the years Amazon has changed, and it is trying to swallow everything up, so now I shop around, what I cannot understand is why people sell lower on Amazon than their own site, that is silly, and it stops me bookmarking their site to buy from.

    Sure I will buy on price for the exact same item generally. So, to beat Amazon you have to do it on price, but don't do it on the market place forever get your own site and do it.
    Posted: May 19, 2009 By: FireFleur Member since: Oct 29, 2008
  12. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2
    That's what I thought... at first. So then I suggested that they ask the buyer to mail them the original receipt - which is what credit card companies would do (I believe). Their response was to debit our account. Incidentally, I got an email from last night after asking them (for the 2nd/3rd time) to forward the image that the buyer had sent them - you know, the "evidence" that they had used to "decide" the case (which they for some reason couldn't forward via email). I gave them our fax number & postal address. Their response:

    "Greetings from

    As mentioned previously, we have reviewed the buyer's claim and the information you
    provided. We have determined that this A-to-z Guarantee claim will remain unchanged.

    We understand that you may not agree with this decision, but we will not be able to
    assist you further with this claim and there will be no further response to your
    e-mail messages regarding this transaction.

    Thank you for selling with

    Account Specialist
    A-to-z Guarantee Program"

    Posted: May 19, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
  13. Robert Wheeler

    Robert Wheeler UKBF Regular Free Member

    466 58
    Unfortunately it would not be possible to refer this matter to Trading Standards as is registered in Switzerland, where they have no jurisdiction.

    I would also say, there are a *lot* of holes in Amazon's contracts. I can show you things in the Amazon Advantage contract that seem to be endorsing theft of rights.
    Posted: May 20, 2009 By: Robert Wheeler Member since: Jan 11, 2009
  14. Paddymcc

    Paddymcc UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    41 1
    Had a similair thing happen to myself through ebay and paypal.

    Buyer was supposed to return a laptop and instead sent an argos catalogue and ink cartridge lol. Called paypal about it who were about to issue a refund as i 'signed' for the laptop.

    Ended up going to police to have it checked and got a crime reference number. In the end paypal sided with me.

    A month or so later i got a call from the police man handling the case who informed me that the laptop must have been taken out of the box at the sorting office and changed over which i find hard to believe.

    Anyway in the end i was happy i still had my money.
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
    Posted: May 21, 2009 By: Paddymcc Member since: Aug 10, 2005
  15. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2
    Somehow, I'm not surprised about that - are so brazen that it figures they're not regulated by anyone. Although, I should have thought that as they operate in the UK & have a UK address, someone should be able to do something. If Watchdog highlight the story, then I am sure it will force them to make changes to their process. Though I gather the Watchdog just did a story on Amazon (albeit a different kind of story); who knows if they'll investigate another...

    Firstly, glad to hear that you had luck - obviously Paypal care a little more about their merchants than Amazon do. Though your "buyer" was a little more underhanded than ours, considering that an Argos catalog weighs quite a bit. The "buyer" in our case sent us an empty letter envelope - yet forged a receipt (according to that says otherwise. That is far more incriminating and allows little room for benefit of the doubt (like your Police officer seems to have given the "buyer" in your case). If the Police act on our complaint, I should think that our "buyer" would be in quite a bit of trouble - as I doubt this is the first time he's done something like this.
    Posted: May 21, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
  16. Rainbow Chasers'

    Rainbow Chasers' UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    443 90
    This is becoming more and more common by the day with most of the online auction sites, it started when ebay brought out the buyer friendly regs, and others followed suit. It gets abused the same way, and there is nothing the seller can do!

    It appears that these companies are not interested as they just want to sell space - and there are always plenty of mugs getting on the escalator so they have no morals when it comes to service - they just want the fees! It really would be poor business sense, as without sellers they have no market - but unfortunately they are of a size that unless there is a mass departure of sellers, then they have little to worry about.

    I once had a mail from an ebay rep state 'If you don't want to be ripped off, don't sell on ebay! That is what we do - we are here to make money and we do that well' That left me quite shocked, don't know if he still works there - but at least he was honest!
    Posted: May 21, 2009 By: Rainbow Chasers' Member since: Nov 20, 2008
  17. Blush

    Blush UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    1,135 78
    That is appallingWe have only just started selling on Amazon so shall keep an eye on this.
    I would take things further though. At the end of the day its theft isn't it?
    Posted: May 21, 2009 By: Blush Member since: Mar 22, 2007
  18. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2
    Tell me about it - Amazon have actually charged us £5.00 for giving the refund - a fee they call "refund commission" - talk about insult to injury! They really just don't give a damn at all... I think sellers are just icing on the cake for Amazon. Ebay on the other hand, I would have thought they would have been a little more seller-friendly.
    Posted: May 22, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
  19. justintime

    justintime UKBF Regular Free Member

    536 74
    Good luck with your case Zeone, the buyer should not be allowed to get away with this. With luck the Police will prosecute and Im 99% certain you will win in court.
    Posted: May 22, 2009 By: justintime Member since: Apr 12, 2009
  20. zeone

    zeone UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 2
    Just wanted to update this thread after mine & my colleague's visit to Colindale police station. We waited about 2 hours to see an officer - only to be told that apparently it's a civil matter & that (long story short) there's no criminality involved. I was quite surprised, but my colleague explained to me that it would apparently be too much paperwork for them to investigate the case! So much for protect & serve, eh?
    Posted: May 28, 2009 By: zeone Member since: Oct 20, 2008
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