A new proposed class action alleges that Amazon routinely fails to provide free, no-hassle returns as advertised for certain items and instead regularly re-charges consumers who send back products within the designated return window.
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According to the 42-page lawsuit, Amazon represents that most products can be returned within 30 days for a full refund and even allows, in some circumstances, for customers to get their money back almost immediately—that is, once the return is initiated but before Amazon physically receives the item. The lawsuit claims that for these “instant refund” returns, however, the retailer will regularly re-charge consumers the full sales price and tax later on, even when the return was made on time and the company’s own records show the items were sent back.
According to the complaint, consumers who have caught Amazon’s charges for certain returns have been burdened with “frustration and hours of lost time” dealing with the company’s customer service reps. Those who do not notice they have been re-charged by Amazon, or are hindered by the inconvenience of “having to figure out what happened and how to fix it,” ultimately lose money, the suit emphasizes.
Per the suit, Amazon is aware of its “systemic” failure to issue promised refunds yet continues to tout free, no-hassle returns to the detriment of consumers. The case notes that, for shoppers, the notion of easy, hassle-free returns is material in deciding which retailer to buy from.
“These affirmative misrepresentations were likely to mislead and unfair in that they incentivized consumers to purchase goods from Amazon on the expectation that returns would be handled as Amazon described, and discouraged consumers from contacting Amazon to investigate its charges,” the case summarizes.
Buying is easy. Returns, not so much, lawsuit claims
Amazon’s stated goal is to “make buying online as easy as possible,” a mission that the company has said includes offering “free, convenient returns on most items delivered in the U.S.,” the filing relays. For some items, Amazon offers the option of an “instant refund,” meaning the company will refund the full cost of a product when the customer drops it off at one of over 18,000 drop-off locations to be returned, the case explains.
If Amazon does not receive the returned item within the designated return window, it will re-charge the consumer the total sale price for the item, the suit says.
To return an item, a customer need only navigate to the “Your Orders” section of Amazon.com or the Amazon app and select which products they wish to return. A customer can also click on links within the confirmation email for an order, explain the reason for the return and choose the drop-off location, the case says.
For items tagged as eligible for an “instant refund,” Amazon will process a customer’s refund as soon as the product is left at an authorized drop-off location, the complaint shares. Otherwise, the return is processed when the product arrives at an Amazon fulfillment center, after which a refund will be approved, the case explains.
However, the lawsuit contends that Amazon regularly re-charges customers who have returned instant refund-eligible items, even when its own records indicate that it has received the returned product.
Included in the complaint are the alleged experiences of two unnamed Amazon customers, identified as Customer 1 and Customer 2. According to the lawsuit, each consumer received a “return reminder” email from Amazon after they had already returned an item, followed by a “charge confirmation” noting that they had been charged the full sales price and tax since Amazon had apparently not received the initial return. Each customer attests to having documentation that they dropped off their items for return at a designated Amazon drop-off location, the suit depicts.
After noticing the mistake, each customer was forced to engage with Amazon’s customer service chat bot in order to secure their rightful refund, the case relays.
“On information and belief, the experiences of Customers 1 and 2 are typical of Amazon customers nationwide,” the lawsuit alleges.
Who’s covered by the Amazon returns lawsuit?
The case looks to represent all consumers in the United States who, according to Amazon’s records and within the last six years, were charged by Amazon for failing to return a product that was, in truth, timely returned in its original condition.
I have been re-charged by Amazon for an instant return. Can I join the lawsuit?
At this time, there is nothing Amazon customers need to do to join or sign up for the proposed class action detailed on this page. It’s usually only if and when a case settles that the people who are covered by the suit, called class members, may need to act. This might involve filling out and filing a claim form online or by mail. In the event of a settlement, class members may be notified directly, by mail or email, about the next steps and their legal rights.
Keep in mind that class action cases can take months or years to be resolved.
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