Not “100 percent satisfied” with my new dishwasher. And what’s this $135 shipping fee?

When Scott Cady tries to invoke Abt Electronics’ “100 percent” satisfaction guarantee, he’s hit with a $135 shipping fee. Does he really have to pay to return the appliance?

Question: I recently ordered a new Bosch 18″ 800 Series Stainless Steel Built-In Dishwasher from Abt Electronics, an online electronics retailer. The company’s website clearly states, “Abt Electronics is committed to making you happy before, during and after every purchase. If you are not 100 percent satisfied with your merchandise, we’ll gladly exchange it or give you a refund for the full purchase price paid, whichever you prefer.”

I was not 100 percent satisfied with my dishwasher. In fact, I refused the item and never took possession of it. But when I returned it, I was charged a $135 shipping fee, even though the item had “free” shipping.

I have purchased other items from Abt, including a more expensive dishwasher, but that does not seem to count for anything. I’ve already tried calling and disputing the charge on my credit card. Can you help me get a refund? — Scott Cady, Minneapolis

Answer: Based on all the information you had from Abt, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect the company to take the dishwasher back without question.

Oddly, Abt’s returns page doesn’t mention anything about restocking fees or return fees for appliances like your dishwasher. There’s a lot of “free” talk on that page, including a promise that you can return your merchandise to one of its stores at no cost — as long as you’re in the Chicago area.

So here’s the problem: Abt not only gave you the impression that its return would be “free,” but it also did nothing to suggest otherwise in its disclosure.

Related story:   Help! I'm locked out of my Free Spirit Account

Now, I’m not saying Abt shouldn’t charge you a reasonable fee for a return; after all, it costs the company to deliver your product. What I am saying is that Abt should have told you right up front: If you return this dishwasher, we’ll charge you $135. Or, at the very least, we’ll charge you something.

Parenthetically, I’m baffled that you would want to return a Bosch. Those dishwashers have a solid reputation and are considerably more expensive than many other models.

I reviewed the paper trail between you and Abt, which confirms that the company really sprang this shipping charge on you. Now, it’s possible that it disclosed the charge in the fine print of the invoice you received, but even if it did, that would have been too little, too late. Abt needs to clearly disclose any fees before you buy your appliance, or anything else for that matter.

A member of my advocacy team reached out to Abt on your behalf. It refunded your $135 shipping fee.

Update: Abt responded to this post:

“We don’t charge return or restocking fees at all and we don’t hide the fact that the customer pays the cost to return an item if they don’t like it,” the representative said. “If an item comes damaged or is defective we will gladly cover the costs to ship it back. We have been in business for over 80 years and it is never our intention to mislead a customer.”

According to Abt, a manager reached out to the customer and “as a one-time courtesy” refunded the shipping charges.

Related story:   Clear Airfares Act of 2009 aims to expose hidden fees and taxes

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • KennyG

    It would seem from the facts as stated that there is no way he could have been dissatisfied with the dishwasher purchased and returned. First off, since he never actually had the dishwasher in his possession and attempted to use it, how could he be dissatisfied with it, but even more importantly, he never returned the dishwasher, he refused to accept the delivery. To me there is a world of difference between returning something [which requires that you had it in the first place], and simply refusing to accept delivery. Maybe $135 is a steep price to pay to learn that lesson. or maybe ABT is simply not in the business if having people order product only to have them simply refuse delivery as opposed to being unhappy with the item they bought. In addition, you quoted there website where it says it will refund 100% of the purchase price. Many companies will happily refund the cost of the item, and even ship it free to you, but you are expected to eat the cost of returning it. It is not that unusual if you do a lot of online shopping to be hit with at least the return shipping. Of course folks will now tell me how bogus that claim is by saying the words Zappo’s or some other web site that is truly 100% shipping free both ways, but they are, I believe in the minority.

  • Sue Smith

    He stated that he was not 100% satisfied with the dishwasher, in fact he didn’t even take possession of it. That sounds like buyers remorse. He wasn’t unsatisfied with it- he never even used it. I think the company should charge him a “fair and reasonable” shipping fee. Otherwise, they would be out that money for an item that wasn’t even used.

  • finance_tony

    Yea, the wording on that was pretty cagey. That seems to happen a lot.

  • AMA

    I think we need the reason why he refused it. Was it damaged? I received a refrigerator that had a big scratch on it and I refused it – told the guys to put it back on the truck and take it away. If it was damaged, he definitely should not have been charged return shipping.

  • PsyGuy

    The site says they will guarantee you being 100% satisfied BEFORE, after and during the purchase process. Buyers remorse would seem to fall under one of those.

  • PsyGuy

    I get the feeling the reason why is they bought a different dishwasher and didn’t want two of them?

  • The Original Joe S

    If you are not 100 percent satisfied with your merchandise, we’ll gladly
    exchange it or give you a refund for the full purchase price paid,
    whichever you prefer.”

    That includes shipping, unless otherwise stated.

  • The Original Joe S

    See AMA below. Maybe damaged? Can’t assume……..

  • The Original Joe S

    I get the feeling that I don’t know the reason……….

  • Bill

    These is in stark contrast to the way it used to be … I’ve been a long-time user of Kenmore appliances (as long as I knew the original manufacturer) and my last dishwasher purchase will be my last Kenmore appliance ever … for many of the reasons you state. The only “good” experience I had was with the service person, who was wonderful. While my historical experience with Kenmore appliances (manufactured by Maytag or Frigidaire for laundry and kitchen and Panasonic for vacuum cleaners) has been brilliant, the serious decline in their customer service has done them in …

  • LonnieC

    Good save, Chris. However, whenever I read about a “100% refund” on something, without more, I have to assume that I will have to pay return shipping. There are some sites which specifically say they will also assume the cost of return shipping, but unless that’s actually stated, you always have to assume that you’ll pay. Still, it was good that you got his $135 back.

  • LonnieC

    Actually, they’re probably being somewhat cagey. The billing likely states a “price” and a separate “S&H” charge. Therefore, they can point to the bill and say the shipping is not part of the “purchase price”. It’s a shame, but we have to read this stuff like lawyers. If it isn’t actually written there, it simply doesn’t exist if there’s a problem. Here is where Chris helps. He warns us about what can happen, what to watch for, and what to ask.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.