Amazon return problem: Why am I being charged again for this scuba equipment?

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By Christopher Elliott

After Isabel Barne has a return problem when Amazon sends her a refund — and then charges her for one of the items again. Can she get this fixed? 

Question

I recently bought scuba equipment from Amazon. The items didn’t fit properly, so I returned them a week later.

Amazon instructed me to print return sheets and take both items to a UPS drop off. UPS accepted the package and gave me a receipt. Amazon promptly issued refunds to my account for both items.

A few weeks later, Amazon charged me again for one of the items. I called Amazon customer service and a representative assured me the issue was resolved and that Amazon would credit my account. It did not.

I placed a stop payment on my credit card and told Amazon why I was doing it. I received a series of odd emails from Amazon. In one, the company claimed I didn’t return the item. In another, it said I had returned the item outside the 30-day window for returns. And in my last message, Amazon insisted that I had to lift the stop payment but offered no proof that I owed it any money. 

I want Amazon to acknowledge a simple product return was completed, clear my account, and stop hounding me to pay again for no valid reason. Can you help me? — Isabel Barney, Hollywood, Fla.

Answer

Amazon first acknowledged the return of both items. But then it claimed that a rash guard was not in the box. 

That seems a little strange. Either Amazon received your rash guard, or it didn’t. Amazon can’t have it both ways.

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Packages sometimes get lost enroute to and from a retailer. There’s a standard procedure when that happens. Amazon will replace most lost or stolen packages under its “A-to-Z” Guarantee Protection. But filing a claim can take time, and Amazon may not offer a refund if there’s a third-party seller involved.

How to avoid an Amazon return problem with your next package

Don’t become a statistic. Here’s how to make sure your package doesn’t go missing in transit:

Use the Amazon return label

Never DIY this part of the return. Use the return label provided by Amazon when you send a package back. The label includes tracking information that can help monitor the package’s journey back to the retailer. (Related: Help! Amazon lost my Pixel phone and now it won’t refund me.)

Pack it securely

You need to ensure the item being returned is securely packaged. That can help prevent damage or loss, like having something fall out of the package in transit. (Related: Amazon lost return: What happened to my surge protector?)

Keep the paperwork

Don’t throw away that copy of the return label. Keep the tracking number and any receipts or documentation related to the return as proof of shipment in case issues arise. You may need them later.

Stalk your return

Track the status of your return package using the tracking number provided by Amazon. This allows you to stay informed about its location and estimated delivery time — and to know if something has gone off the rails. (Related: Amazon didn’t receive my return package. What should I do?)

Failed delivery? Let Amazon know

Get in touch with Amazon’s customer service department if there’s a delay in the return. Ask the company to clarify the status of your return.

By following these steps, you can reduce the likelihood of your Amazon return getting.

This Amazon return problem is weird

But your case is a little odd. I’ve never seen Amazon issue a refund for a return, then charge the customer again, and then fight over a stop payment. Knowing what I do about Amazon, I would say that this wasn’t human error. Instead, it was a series of automated emails sent by an AI. A real person shouldn’t have made this mistake. 

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Amazon executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. It looks like you tried to reach out to them, but that they referred you back to their automated system, which just sent you even more nonsense emails.

You contacted my advocacy team. I got in touch with Amazon. The company contacted you and offered you a “sincere” apology for the difficulties you experienced. It offered you a refund of the $38 it charged your card, plus a $50 Amazon gift card.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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