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.
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.