Holy Cow! FBA refunds customer a year later?

Normal Amazon sellers have an added level of protection - customers have 30 days to request a return or refund, and only 90 days to leave negative feedback or do a credit card chargeback.

However, sellers give up these rights under FBA. Today, we learned of a customer who read the book ELEVEN MONTHS after receiving it (yes, 11 months) ... didn't enjoy the book, and requested a refund.

FBA granted the refund without consulting the seller (they never do).

The good news is that they credited the seller for the cost of the book ($3.99). But this is bad for the seller: First, there is no limit to what FBA can do to your account - hold funds, issue refunds, not restock your returned items, etc. They don't have to credit the seller.

Second, this counts against your metrics. Every time a customer returns an item it hurts your merchant performance metrics. When you have low merchant performance, it's like a snowball effect - Amazon is less likely to remove inappropriate negative feedback, less likely to issue a credit for things like this, more likely to take the buyer's side on disputes, more likely to side against you on A-Z claims, and more likely to suspend your listings and/or your entire account.

This is not about the money - when FBA gives refunds, they blame YOU, no matter what the circumstances. Even if the item was damaged in transit, they blame YOU for selling items that are prone to damage in transit. If your performance metrics are not perfect across the board, you are in high risk for having your account yanked at any moment. Avoiding FBA, and taking control over your own shipping & customer support, is the best way to prevent this from happening.

New problem with FBA reported - once item is sold, the seller's description is GONE

This is a complaint we've heard from several FBA sellers:

A customer will order a used item (i.e., a book in good used condition, with some wear/tear), but will have forgotten the description of the book. When it arrives, and the customer sees the wear/tear, they get upset.

The problem is, when ordering a used book from a regular seller, you have lots of places to reference the condition of the book you ordered: your "order history" page, your email confirmation, etc. But with FBA orders, there is no place the customer can find the original condition/description of the book.

Let me repeat that: there is no place the customer can find the seller's original condition/description of the book. Not in the order history. Not in the email confirmation. Not even by contacting Amazon.

So, today we decided to hit two birds with one stone - we wanted to see if the Amazon rep could look up the condition of the seller's original description of an FBA book we ordered, and while we were at it, we wanted to measure the response time of the "click-to-call" feature.

Bottom line is this: the click-to-call actually called our phone in less than 5 seconds, but we were on hold for 6 minutes before somebody actually picked up, and another 19 minutes before they found an answer to our question. And, the answer was a resounding NO - there is no way for them to look up the seller's original description.

No wonder customers are getting confused - this particular problem affected us recently (read our other post here).


Delivery confirmation no longer a valid defense against Amazon A-Z claim?

Today Amazon granted an A-Z claim for an item which had delivery confirmation. In fact, the customer admitted (via email) that the item arrived *after* she filed the claim, but didn't know how to withdraw her A-Z.

Amazon subtracted the money from our account, and sent us this message:

"Thank you for your response. Unfortunately the tracking information you provided does not include signature confirmation of delivery. As a result, this is insufficient evidence of delivery to the intended recipient. Note that many carriers, including the USPS, use a delivery confirmation that does not confirm delivery to the recipient's address, but instead only confirm delivery to the zip code."

So now *signature confirmation* is necessary for every order, or less sellers are not covered by the A-Z guarantee? Makes no sense, because the A-Z program is insurance that ever seller buys into! (that's what the $1.35 variable closing fee allegedly pays for).

Fortunately, this does not affect FBA sellers. FBA sellers have NO A-Z coverage. They continue to be charged the $1.35 variable closing fee, but receive no benefits.