Monday, June 6, 2016

Amazon Doesn't Care About Sellers

I've made money off Amazon from selling books, but that doesn't mean they're perfect.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before their extremely lenient return policy that lets people read and/or download and copy your book and then "return" it for a full refund, thereby taking money out of my pocket.

Their "Marketplace" isn't any better, as I found out recently to my dismay.  I received a laptop a couple of months ago, but it was more laptop than I needed or wanted, so I thought I'd sell it.  It was pretty easy to set it up on Amazon and I hoped I wouldn't have to worry as much about scammers.

The laptop sold to some guy named Jose after a few days.  I shipped it and figured that would be the end of it.  Well a couple weeks later--the day before Amazon was going to pay me--the buyer decides he wants to send the laptop back because of a "broken button on the left side of the mouse."  Which seemed odd since he'd had the laptop for a couple weeks and it's a touchscreen laptop so it's not like you really need a mouse anyway.  But the first netbook I bought in 2009 has the power button mashed in and needed returned so maybe there was something wrong with it. 

Jose took another week or two to actually mail me the unit, during which time Amazon paid me the money for whatever reason.  Good thing I didn't spend it.  Eventually the laptop showed up on my doorstep.  I opened it up and turned it on...and there was nothing at all wrong with it.  Except that Jose had set up a Windows 10 profile in Spanish, practically bricking the thing without a password.

I contacted Microsoft about unlocking it and they were complete idiots.  The guy even suggested Microsoft isn't responsible for their own products--we're just the distributor.  Is that why you have that big Windows logo on your building and everything else you sell?  He was no help at all but looking some information on Google I got Windows reinstalled.

I was seriously pissed off so I didn't refund the jackass's money.  I figured I might as well let that asshole sweat it out.  A few weeks later he whined to Amazon with a claim under their "A to Z Guarantee."  Amazon then said I had to refund $1359 to the jackass, even though I only got $1241 from them after their fees.  So I'm supposed to lose money because this guy lied about the unit being broken?

Of course protesting to Amazon was useless.  Their drones actually told me I didn't ship the unit as advertised because I said it was new and I had opened the box to make sure it had all the parts.  So even though I never used it I'm supposed to classify it as used?  That didn't make sense.  Meanwhile they gave zero fucks about the buyer lying about the product.  Oh, no, I'm the liar here because I opened the box and said as much in the description.  That's the sort of "logic" they use.

Now if Jose had been truthful and just said he didn't want it anymore he couldn't have gotten a full refund.  By lying and claiming it was broken, he gets a full refund.  And I get used even though I didn't do anything wrong.

Shit like that is great for the buyer, but where's the protection for me, the seller?  If I'm a big company like Amazon or Wal-Mart or Home Depot I can absorb losses from assholes who game the return system.  But I'm not a Fortune 500 company with billions in profits; I barely have two nickels to rub together.  So while Amazon's lenient policies are great if I'm a scumbag "buyer" who wants to rent a laptop for a couple of weeks or steal a book, it winds up hurting the people who use Amazon to sell.

That's not even counting some of the other shit you have to deal with when selling a laptop or anything else.  I had one person call him/herself "amazon customercare" and tell me the unit had been sold and I should send it by USPS to someone in Denver.  Which at first I'm like, "Oh, good, it's sold."  Then looking more closely I realize that Amazon doesn't send you a private message when you sell something.  And they don't tell you to use USPS and that the buyer is paying an extra $75 for shipping.  Something's fishy...And for some reason I had a bunch tell me they're interested and I should send a picture to some email account.  I guess they want me to give them my email so they can try to sweet talk me into selling it off Amazon the way one person did, making up increasingly ridiculous stories for why they needed to pay for it with PayPal off Amazon.  Then there are just the regular folks who badger you with annoying questions like someone who apparently wanted an essay on why I was selling the item.  It makes it a real pain in the ass.

There needs to be some accountability and equality to protect both buyers and sellers.  If there were another bookselling platform that could generate the same cash flow for me, I wouldn't hesitate to use it, especially if there's more protection built in for me as an author.  Someone get on that.  As for the laptop, I'm selling it somewhere else.


  1. Ugh...what a hassle. Maybe sell it on Ebay and state that it only can be returned with absolutely no changes to operating system/software and no passwords...and in the same condition as when it left.

  2. I've not sold anything on Ebay, but would that work? Seems like it might be worth a try. Here in Salt Lake we have a classifieds on KSL that's free that you can list things on. That might also be better (if Detroit has a thing like that).

  3. I have no idea things could get so difficult for you as a seller. Good thing I've never tried to sell anything on Amazon, and after reading this I'll simply stay away from that possibility.



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