The Sneaky Way that Amazon May Refund You Less Than What You Paid

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Here is a sneaky way that Amazon can end up refunding you less than your purchase price for an item that you have returned. Actually there are a couple of ways that you can end up being refunded less than what you paid, but one of them is particularly sneaky, and there is really only one way to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you, which is, unfortunately, not great for the environment.

Now, one of the ways that Amazon will refund you less than you paid for an item is by charging you for the cost of getting the item that you are returning back to them. This usually only happens when you ask them to have UPS pick up the item at your home (or office), and when that happens it’s pretty obvious, and even fair.

But the other way is much sneakier. With the other way, if your order contains two or more items, and if one of them was on sale when you placed the order, or has some sort of promotional discount attached, Amazon may attribute the discount to the item you are returning, even if it wasn’t the item which was actually on sale or discounted. Below is an actual transcript of a conversation between an Amazon representative, and an Amazon customer to whom this happened. The customer had placed an order that contained two items: a nail grinder for trimming a pet’s nails, and a bottle of vitamin D. The vitamin D was on sale; the nail grinder was not, and it was the nail grinder that they were returning.

Actual Transcript of Chat with Amazon Customer Service

Note that the name of the customer service agent has been changed and is not their real name

Messaging Assistant | Customer Service

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John: Hello my name is John, I will be assisting you today.How are you?​

Customer: Hello John! I am well, how are you?

John: I am good, thank you for asking.
Could you please elaborate the query so that I can assist you Accordingly in the best possible way?

Customer: Yes, I am setting up a return for an item from order # 114-1385243-7021139
It is the grinder
I was charged 29.99 for it, and I just noticed that the return is only going to credit me 25.19. Can you please help me understand why I’m being shorted $4.90?

John: Let me check this for you.

Customer: Thank you!

John: Still on it
please stay connected

Customer: Ok! Thank you for letting me know!

John: Let me explain

Customer: please

John: In this order
a promo has been used for
which is not refundable

Customer: What promo?

John: so the effective price which you have been charged was 25.19

Customer: The regular price is 29.99, and I was charged 29.99
If there was a promo it would have been on the other item (vitamin D I think) it is

John: these two items are ordered together
please on another window open the order details
Order Total:
Total Promotions Applied:

Order Total: $53.48

Customer: Yes, the promo is on the vitamin d!
Here is the link
Which I am keeping
The price for the vitamin d is regularly 22.70, and it’s on promo for 16.99
You can see it there in that link
Are you telling me that we have to order every single item separately in case we have an issue with one of the items, otherwise we risk having the sale discount from one item taken off a non-functioning other item that we return??

John: If you do the math you will find out that you have been charged exactly $ 25.19
for the Casfuy Dog Nail Grinder with LED Light – Upgraded 2-Speed Electric Pet Nail Trimmer Powerful Painless Paws Grooming & Smoothing for Small Medium Large
I am sorry for the confusion.

Customer: No, I was charged exactly 16.99 for the vitamin D
instead of the regular 22.70
There is no confusion.
I bought vitamin D on sale

John: You were charged $28.29 for the Vitamins
total for both the items you were charged

Customer: WHAT??

John: I am trying to explain you the invoice

Customer: You are now telling me that I was charge $28.29 for vitamins that have a listed price of $22.70? That is illegal, my friend, so I’m pretty sure that’s not what happened.
Please let me speak with a manager

John: If you can check the order details of this particular order

Customer: I’m looking right at those order details
So thank you for bringing that to my attention!

John: Okay do you see $53.48 charge ?

Customer: I hadn’t noticed that I was overcharged.
(for the vitamins)

John: You are not over charged I assure you that

Customer: Yes I do see the $53.48 charge
I see everything

John: That is the cumulative charge for the vitamins and the grinder

Customer: Yes, that is correct

John: $28.29 for the vitamins

Customer: No
It says $26.95 for the vitamins
I’m looking right at it

John: and the rest for the grinder
that is $25.19

Customer: Maybe on your screen it says something else…
On my screen it says I was charged $29.99 for the grinder, and 26.95 for the vitamins

John: $26.95 + $29.99

Customer: How can I send you a screenshot?
9:40 AM
John: = $56.94
-$6 promo
+ $2.54 tax

Customer: The promo was for the VITAMINS

John: total $53.48
okay let me issue a $5 promotional certificate
in that case

Customer: So again, the lesson here is that from now on we should order every item as a separate order. So in case something needs to be returned you will get full credit for the non-promo item
(that seems much worse for the environment :-( )

John: I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you
Promotional certificate has been issued.

— End of Transcript —

Unfortunately, it seems that the best, if not the only, way to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you is to order any item that you think you might possibly need to return separately, in its own order. We don’t really advocate for this, as it’s terrible for the environment, and also we don’t advocate for people ordering something with the expectation of returning it. But at least be aware of this and check the amounts when you return something to Amazon for a refund.

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