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Sunday, 12 December 2010

The down-side of ordering textbooks online

My textbooks order arrived from Amazon.com a couple of days ago, so I'll have lots to read while I visit my parent's farm for the holidays. Unfortunately the cardboard box had been broken in transit and 'repacked' by simply dumping the entire contents and box into a soft 'tote bag'. Obviously that didn't provide much protection for the books as they travelled airmail from the US to Australia, so all the books arrived with some damage. The heavier, hard-cover textbooks (costing over $100 each) arrived with damaged spines and covers. I emailed both Amazon.com packaging feedback and their customer service, but the response so far has been underwhelming. The customer service department responded within 24 hours of my complaint, but all I got was a boilerplate response offering either a refund or replacement books if I send the damaged books back to Amazon.com

That would be fine if I lived in the US (so postage costs and delivery time wasn't an issue), but sending the damaged books back for replacement would cost at least $50 postage, plus I'd have to wait two or three months for the replacement textbooks to arrive.

Since I want to start reading the textbooks NOW, I've emailed again reiterating my original request for some compensation by way of a partial refund. A small amount of compensation by way of an Amazon.com gift card would appear to be a win-win solution. I'd be able to keep the damaged books and start using them immediately, have some funds to use towards buying additional books from Amazon.com in the future, and avoid having to pay expensive postage to return the books to Amazon.com. And Amazon would win by the gift cards costing less than the cost of mailing replacement books out to me (which could get damaged again!), and would also benefit by my next order using the gift card most likely being for more than the value of the gift card.

We'll see if I actually get a "human" responding to my second email, or just another stock standard response to return them for a refund or replacement.

One especially irritating feature of the customer feedback process was that the customer feedback form doesn't allow attachments (so I could not include the photos of the damage to the books and packaging that I had sent to them using the packing feedback form), and the reply (with photos attached) I sent to their initial customer service reply bounced - so I had to reply using the same customer feedback form that doesn't allow attachments!





UPDATE: Amazon came back very quickly with a refund of the shipping cost plus a "goodwill refund" of part of the cost price of the books. In total I will get $146.46 refunded out of the $585.84 originally paid. Part (~2/3) of the refund is being credited back onto the CC I used to make the purchase, and the remainded will be credited as 'gift card' value onto my Amazon.com account (and will be automatically deducted from the total of my next order). Overall, I'm happy with Amazon's response as I don't have to wait for the books to be replaced and I get some compensation for the books not arriving in good condition. Although the box used for the shipment of 7 books (which included three hefty hardcovers) was obviously not strong enough in this case, my previous orders from Amazon had all arrived in excellent condition. So the problem could have been caused by excessively rough handling of the package through the postal system, rather than the standard of packaging - in which case it was not really Amazon's fault.

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1 comment:

mOOm said...

At least you got everything! On one of my moves around the world the express courier box I used for some critical stuff broke open and stuff was lost. I did get some insurance compensation in the end.