Return runaround by Amazon makes Alberta woman feel like a ‘criminal’

Click to play video: 'Alberta consumer says Amazon made her feel like a criminal following a return'
Alberta consumer says Amazon made her feel like a criminal following a return
WATCH: An Alberta woman says a return runaround with retail giant Amazon made her feel like she did something wrong, when she hadn’t. Tomasia DaSilva reports. – Mar 27, 2023

An Alberta woman said online retail giant Amazon Canada made her feel like a criminal after she sent back a defective product earlier this year.

Okotoks resident Rachel Turnbull contacted Global News after Amazon refused to honour a refund for a sound system she said sounded “off.”

“The speech didn’t match the sound,” she said. “There was something wrong with it.”

Turnbull said she returned the item by following all of the retailer’s policies and procedures, but two weeks later, she received an email with a surprising response.

“They essentially told me that the item that I had shipped back was not the item that they had shipped me,” she said. “They had verified this by the serial number.

“I was shocked at that. The item I had sent back was the one that I had received.”

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Turnbull said she asked for proof, which Amazon said it had. But it still refused to budge, adding that information was confidential.

To add insult to injury, the company also told her the item she had sent back had been “discarded.”

“So now you’re telling me that you’re taking an item that doesn’t belong to you?” she questioned. “That is wrong, and you’ve just tossed it?

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Turnbull also questioned the chain of events starting from when she purchased the item to when Amazon received it back. She said many hands had touched it from start to finish.

“Maybe (Amazon is) not wrong,” she conceded. “Maybe the serial number on the one is not the one that they sent me. I’m willing to admit that that’s a possibility. But I’m not the one that did that.”

Global News reached out to Amazon, which said it would investigate Turnbull’s case. It did not respond to any of our other questions about not disclosing the proof or discarding the item.

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However, shortly after our inquiry we received word from Turnbull that Amazon was now going to refund her for the product.

Returns made easier as e-commerce explodes

Online retail return experts say the explosion of e-commerce has meant many consumers click “buy” before reviewing a retailer’s policies.

“It’s easier than ever to buy, especially online,” Rob Domagala with ReturnBear told Global News.

“We need to be careful as consumers with establishing a true understanding of a brand’s return policies — even before that, a brand’s products. The nature of the products.”

ReturnBear is an end-to-end reverse logistics service working with consumers and retailers to facilitate returns.

Its online portal enables merchants to automate and manage returns, exchanges and store credits and its package drop-off network allows consumers more convenience.

Domagala said while returns for the most part are pretty easy, consumers should ask themselves some important questions before it gets to that point.

“Is this a reputable seller? Is this a reputable brand? Is this perhaps something that has been mass produced overseas?” he said.

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Turnbull said she had no reservations about buying from Amazon, as it is a reputable site she had purchased from before. However, she’s not sure she will ever buy from Amazon Canada again.

“I feel completely wronged,” she said.

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