There are a lot of you out there who do not like Amazon. They are trying to take over the world, they are putting the little guy out of business, and more of that. I respect that position, and respect anyone who would rather not do business with them. I am not in that camp. As someone who hates shopping and especially going to stores, Amazon has been a godsend to me. Yesterday my ex-wife gave me the list of presents that my son (the younger) wants for Hannukah and Christmas… it took me three minutes to purchase everything, and I did not even have to put my shoes on. They will be delivered to my door. Thank you, Amazon.
A few weeks ago, I purchased something from them for what I thought was a reasonable price. $230 was frankly less than I had expected to spend on a standing propane heater for my patio. It arrived in a couple of days. I assembled it, and it worked great. I was happy… or so I thought. The very next night my friend and I walked into Canadian Tire (a local retail chain in Canada) and they had an identical model on display. Regular price: $199, on sale for $179. I was not pissed off, but I was a little disappointed that I was $50 poorer than I could have been, had I done some research. That is also in part the price that we pay for the convenience.
This weekend I was sitting on my balcony, basking in the warmth of my more-expensive-than-it-needed-to-be propane heater, and was browsing Amazon for something else, when I came across the same item. It was now $194.48. In the span of less than two weeks the price had dropped significantly. This is not unheard of, nor is it unreasonable. Having had excellent experience with Amazon’s customer service, I decided to call them and see if they were willing to refund me the difference. It was still $15 more expensive than the retail outlet, but they were not part of the equation.
‘I’m sorry Mr. Garvis, but we are not able to refund you the difference.’ Okay, so what if I were to return the product for a refund, and then purchase the same item? ‘You are absolutely able to do that. Would you like for me to process the return and refund for you?’ I was very clear: I said that I was going to purchase the same item, and when it arrived, I was going to take the sealed box and return it to them. ‘Yes, we understand.’ Okay, so that’s what we did. The agent was extremely nice about it.
Once the transaction was complete, and he waited on the line with me to ensure I had received the return shipping label, I said to him that I understand that he has to follow their policies, but the shipping of a 45lbs box must cost at least $25, and they had to pay for it to go both ways. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to just refund me the difference? He explained to me that he agreed 100% with me, and that he hoped that a supervisor would listen to the call and recommend such a policy change.
I respect that the company has policies they follow. I also understand that a lot of people might not be in the financial position to purchase the new item before getting their refund for the old item. I even understand that if they had such a policy, every time a price dropped, they would be inundated with calls. Maybe those are some of the rationales behind the policy, or maybe it is that Amazon, hard as it may be to think of in such terms, is still really a young company, and evolving. It might also be a policy of Amazon Canada rather than Amazon Corp (I recently published this article in which I discussed the inferiority of the service in Canada as compared to the USA). I don’t know what it is for sure. I do know that sometime Tuesday (I am writing this Sunday evening for publication on Friday) I will be receiving what might as well be a 45lb box, because not only will it not be opened, in all likelihood it will not even come upstairs. It will go right into my car to be taken to the UPS Store to be returned.
I am not a cheapskate. Anyone who knows me will tell you I would rather eat the loss than undergo the inconvenience. If I had to disassemble the old unit, bring it to the UPS Store, and then assemble the new one then there is no way that I would have done that. Frankly, once Amazon issued me the refund, I could have even saved the extra $15 and shipped this one back, and then bought the cheaper one at the store. I am not doing any of that. If all that is involved is putting the box into my car and then driving 3km to the UPS Store, then for the $35+tax that’s what I’m going to do. As my grandfather z”l used to say: “Better the money be in my pocket than in theirs.”