Beware – Amazon.com Offers NO Price Protection!

Deal or No DealToday my love affair with Amazon.com diminished by a sizable notch. In one fell swoop they moved from my preferred shopping site to being on par with everyone else. It happened when I learned that Amazon.com offers customers no price protection whatsoever. And that makes it not such a good deal after all.

You see, after weeks of searching for a new printer I finally settled on the Brother MFC-9840cdw Color Laser Multi-Function Center with Wireless Interface. Basically everyone had it for $649-699, but I decided to get it from Amazon.com because they have been my favorite retailer for a while since I paid the $79 per year fee to become a member of Amazon Prime, which gives you free 2 day shipping on all your orders.

Well, even though the printer doesn’t arrive until Monday, I saw ads from two different major retailers this weekend that this printer has dropped to $549.99. Instead of being upset, I was actually glad because I figured that Amazon would match the price! But when I contacted them my joy turned to disappointment.

At first I sent in the following e-mail request to their customer service department:

—————
11/30/08 09:55:23
Your Name:John Pozadzides
Order Id: XXXXXXXXXXXXX
ITEMS: Brother MFC-9840cdw Color Laser Multi-Function Center

Comments:I have not yet received this printer, but I now find that it is on sale for $100 less than I purchased it for at both Costco and Office Depot. For example, you can verify the price ($549.99) on Office Depot’s site:

http://www.officedepot.com/catalog/txtSearchDD.do?jopa=X9VGHKxyebJtOj7bXUOeWw8&norefinement=true&searchTxt=470975

I would like to know if you have a price matching policy that protects me, or if I need to return the printer and purchase it elsewhere.

Thank you.
—————

The cryptic response that came back appeared as though they either didn’t read my message correctly, or didn’t understand what I was talking about. As if I was dealing with someone in a country like India which doesn’t have any such thing as a “low price guarantee”.

Greetings from Amazon.com.

I would like to sincerely apologize for any disappointment this may have caused.

However we are not responsible for prices or savings posted without our permission on other websites.

As you may know, the price and availability of items at Amazon.com are subject to change. Please note that placing an item in your shopping cart or finding the item on another website does not reserve the price of that item. It also will not reserve your copy of that item.

Prices of items at Amazon.com will necessarily change on occasion, as the discount we are able to offer for any item can also depend on availability.

Also, there may be times when Amazon.com runs out of stock of an item that is also offered by one of our partner merchants. You may see it displayed on our website as available, but from a different merchant and with a different price than you saw previously. Our merchants set their own prices.

If you have further questions, please visit our online Help pages:

http://www.amazon.com/help

Again, we are very sorry for any inconvenience you have experienced.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We value your business and hope to see you again at Amazon.com.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

If yes, click here:

http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-y?c=XXXXXXXXXXXXX

If not, click here:

http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-n?c=XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Vikram Loganathan
Amazon.com Customer Service
==============================

So, when I selected the link that I was NOT satisfied, it gave me the option to receive a call back – which I did, and I was promptly speaking with a customer service agent. An American one by the way.

I explained the situation, at which time he informed me that Amazon has no price match guarantee. He went on to tell me that not only did they not match other stores prices, but they do not even protect purchases made on Amazon.com against price drops.

He told me that up until September of this year, they did have a policy that if you bought something from Amazon and the price decreased, they would refund the difference. But that even that policy had been removed.

So, although I have not received the printer yet I informed him that I wanted to cancel the order and I’d purchase it elsewhere and save the $100. The guy I talked to did some research and then told me that he was making a note for the returns department and that they would get back to me once they figured out how to accomplish the return. The tricky part is apparently based on the fact that the printer is being shipped via a special carrier or something…

Oh well. I guess that everyone should be cautious about purchasing any high dollar ticket from Amazon, because if the price has a significant drop you are going to be SOL. This makes BestBuy, Costco, and other retailers a much, much better alternative. For this reason, I will be buying a LOT less from Amazon until they decide to modify this archaic policy. The only business I suppose they’ll be getting from me will be when I see an unbeatable deal. But that won’t do their margins any good…

EDIT 12/2/2008: So, the saga actually continues.

As I stated previously, the guy who I last talked to was supposed to have someone get back to me about canceling the order. However, no one ever had the courtesy to do so. As a result of not hearing from them, I haven’t ordered the printer elsewhere because I didn’t want to get stuck with two of them somehow.

In the meantime one day after the guy refused to give me a price match, Amazon actually dropped their price on this printer to $599! AND they have someone selling brand new ones including free shipping for $530! But again, no one contacted me about price adjustment or canceling the order, and meanwhile I’ve been checking the delivery date in my Amazon account every single day. It has been due to arrive on December 2 for well over a week now.

So I come home tonight and guess what. No printer! But, and here’s the kicker, when I log into the site it now says that the printer was delivered yesterday – 12/1!

So I call the Amazon customer service department (the number is 866-216-1072 since they make it impossible to even freakin find now), tell my whole morbid story all over again to a nice young lady, who eventually informs me that she really doesn’t know if it was delivered, or if it was canceled! Meanwhile, she says that the guy who I previously talked to only put the following note on my order: “Customer wants to cancel.” That’s it! Nothing else!

But wait, it gets better… you see, after all of that, she apologizes and then informs me that she can’t help me. You see, I have to call back tomorrow and speak to someone in the “hard lines” department about the order. And they only work till 5pm CST.

(And for the record, I have not been issued a credit on my credit card though I disputed the charge now and Citibank will take care of me).

This is the worst experience I’ve ever had with Amazon, and is second in “badness” only to my miserable experience with Abe’s of Maine.

Oh well, I will take solace in the fact that this article now ranks number 10 or 11 on Google searches for “Amazon Price Protection“. At least I’ll spare some other shoppers from the headache.

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Comments

  1. tariq says:

    I was an Amazon fan till today but the recent experience has changed my thinking and i will be very careful in ordering anything at Amazon. They are nothing but price gougers.

    I selected an acer laptop – it was priced at 399 $. I placed it in my basket and next day when i am trying to complete the order lo and behold the price has jumped 100 $ to 499 $. Since i needed the computer i still ordered it and also complained to the customer service and got the standard reply – price is nto guranteed.
    Okay, i accepted it. But to my surprise when i loked at the price a few days after the arrival of the computer, it had again dropped to 379 $$
    All my complaints to the customer service are getting the boiler plate, response given in your article above. I dont know if AMZON is legally allowed to do this?

    Most other stores in the world gurantee prices and also do not vary prices so rapidly up down up.

  2. Nassim Sabba says:

    The policy is still the same as of today, Feb 7, 2010. The price dropped 20% and no adjustment is available. “sorry for the disappointment”. Micro Center had same product, at the same price, with 30 day protection. So, do Frys, and Newegg.

  3. verbal says:

    I’m going through this with Amazon right now on an HDTV. The price dropped 25% within two weeks after ordering, and this is not from a Marketplace competitor but Amazon’s own price! In order to realize the savings I have to order a new same HDTV and send it back the old one to them. It’ll cost $50 for shipping from me, but 25% of $$$$ is a lot of difference. Luckily their ‘white glove’ service has them come and pack the HDTV for return.

    But it seems silly to go through this charade when they can simply match their own price. Isn’t this costing them not just money but respect? It seems they don’t have sound business judgement.

    Verbal

  4. Chris H says:

    Hello John, I’ve been following your website for quite a while now, mostly from school. You’ve quite an interesting site here.

    After reading this article I am start to doubt the capabilities of Amazon. I ordered several items a week ago, and I am start to get concerned. Although they are rather low cost (and I also doubt if the prices will drop for these items), my family is in a tight spot (due to the recession), and we would like to save every bit of money we can.

    To the point, then. Do you trust any other sites other than Amazon.com to do online shopping at? No specialty stores, just a regular online shopping site where you can buy virtually anything.

    – C

  5. mailia says:

    I purchased an at Amazon.com for $64.99 (U-Dance game) and within a few weeks it was only $20.00 that is $45.00 cheaper. I called they refused to budge. I was also hung up on a few times. I returned the item and brought the item from Wally world for $20.00 with .97 cent shipping. There are so many other stores with better return policies and great customer service. I will take my money elsewhere.

  6. That is terrible. I am not sure why, but I have always just had a bad feeling about Amazon, so I have generally avoided them. Now I actually have a reason for avoiding them. I have had similar issues with customer service with Yahoo!. They froze multiple accounts for no reason whatsoever and they didn’t try to solve the problem they just tried to close the ticket. They completely avoided my questions and then just finally said that they would not give me my accounts back. They didn’t even tell my why they froze them!

    Shawn Horwood

  7. John P. says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience Julia. Indeed my own experience with trying to get this printer just keeps getting worse and worse. I’ve found that the customer service people at Amazon are no longer interested in solving problems. They only seem interested in closing tickets.

    I think that once retailers get to the point where their revenues are measured in the $Billions, they have little incentive to actually solve customer issues. After all, what is one more customer?

    John

  8. Julia says:

    I will never use Amazon again due to the extremely poor customer service. The concept is great but Amazon’s customer service is so bad that it negates the experience. Not only did I use Amazon personally in the past, I started using it to order items in quantity to use at work too. This is where my most recent and frustrating experience occurred. At a glance, here it the issue. I ordered 30 digital photo frames to use as holiday gifts with plans to load customer photos. I placed the order and right away called customer service to change the ship to address–I was of course assured that they change the shipping address and this is supposedly noted in my record even; however, the 30 frames were sent to the original address instead which is in Colorado and these were to be sent to California.

    So far, I spent a total more than 4 hours of time trying to fix this situation and get these asap to California in order to still use them for the holidays without spending more money personally to get them there. I even requested that they arrange pickup of the boxes and send overnight to the address requested. I was informed that to get new UPS shipping labels to do this would take 4 weeks. I ask how does this help me for the purchase I made to use for the holiday gifts. Wow, amazingly bad bad customer service! Now, I wait on hold at 8:30am for 40 minutes already for a customer service supervisor–still no answer so far but thankfully I have a speaker phone. I will not encourage anyone to use Amazon simply due to poor customer service.

    I hope others read my story and learn rather than going through this same experience.

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