Today 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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
If not, click here:
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.
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.