Until recently, I had used Amazon without issue for many years. Then…
After weeks of agonising, I decided to treat myself to an XP-Pen 22″ drawing monitor. Of all the Wacom alternatives, XP-Pen appear to have a good reputation and Amazon had the “Artist 22 HD” on sale for £500 – down from £800. It’s important to note that this is described as “brand new” – and the term “brand new” has a very specific meaning: “completely new, especially not yet used.”
So the item turns up and… it has very clearly already been opened and probably used. I say “probably used” because everything that was open was everything you would use to get the unit working: one pen wrapper had been opened, the screen protector already applied to the monitor, the power cable had been opened and untied, etc.
Note also that the item is described as “fulfilled by Amazon.” What this means is, Amazon hold on to the item in their warehouse and they are wholly responsible for it. They openly admit this in their terms and conditions, where it’s stated that they’ll respond to negative feedback about the experience by claiming responsibility for it – which they indeed did when I left negative feedback:
Let’s get one thing clear: This was no mistake. One or more Amazon employees consciously knew that this item was not “new” and tried to palm me off with it anyway. I was already in the throes of two weeks of bad luck with deliveries (things turning up late, being lied to by delivery companies, having to return faulty goods, etc) so when I contacted Amazon’s customer services, I wanted blood.
I told them – politely, but in no uncertain terms – that a) I didn’t believe this was a mistake i.e. that it was intentional; b) that I was insulted that they had even tried to do this, especially to a customer of nearly 10 years; and c) that I didn’t appreciate having my time wasted and I expected some form of compensation or “good will gesture” to make things somewhat right.
They offered me £5. Apparently this is the maximum the customer service agent was allowed to offer. I told him that £5 is an offensively low offer (he even admitted that it’s insignificant compared to the value of the item in question) and I suggested he go speak to his superiors and come back with a better offer before this turns ugly. He came back and reiterated that £5 was the most he was able to offer. I declined it.
So I had no choice. Over the next hour, I:
- Cancelled my Prime Video subscription. I’ll miss you, Lucifer, but it had to be done.
- Left the 1 star feedback on the seller’s profile. Note that the UK seller XP-PEN is XP-Pen’s official Amazon account. *
- Left a 1 star review on Trustpilot. Coincidentally, Amazon UK’s rating on there is an abysmal – but not surprising – 2 stars.
- Wrote directly to XP-Pen’s main HQ. Not through Amazon or the XP-PEN seller account, but directly to their main email address, through their company website.
- Dug up all of the blog posts and video reviews of the Artist 22 HD that had lead me to make the purchase in the first place, leaving comments warning people away from buying the item through Amazon.
* Remember that Amazon responded to the feedback. This also leads to it being “struck off” i.e. it no longer counts towards the seller’s overall rating – which is how sellers get to keep their shiny 4/5 star ratings, despite all of the negative feedback left against them. That’s something to think about.
Fortunately, XP-Pen themselves got back to me and offered me a much more reasonable £40 discount, if I decide to buy the item again – which I’m still debating. I’ll reiterate: I’m inclined to believe this whole thing was entirely Amazon’s responsibility. (If you’re wondering why buying the item again is even on the table, it’s because Amazon said that a replacement wasn’t possible and I could only be given a full refund. Therefore, if I still want one, I have to buy another.)
But my issues with Amazon don’t even end there. Just getting the courier to pick up the item was difficult. It was supposed to be collected within 2 days, but they never showed. A new collection was arranged and I was again told that I’d be called by the courier before collection. That call never happened; a woman just turned up at my house unannounced, at 8 in the morning. On top of this, it’s now 7 days since then – 10 days since I requested the refund – and Amazon still hasn’t given me my £500 back. I spoke to customer services again (for the 3rd time) and she said it could take 20-30 days for the refund to be processed. For me, that’s far too long for a company to hold on to such a significant amount of money.
One curious anomaly is that, a few days after I enforced my scorched earth policy, I noticed this little addition to the purchase options:
This wasn’t an option originally. Is this an admission of defeat? They’ve maybe realised that trying to flog used/reburbished items as “brand new” can lead to unacceptable levels of backlash? I’d like to think so.
As I was reading into other people’s experiences with Amazon – covering everything from slow refunds to Amazon Logistics being a dreadful courier service – I also uncovered some things I was less aware of, like Amazon’s treatment of its employees and its tax avoidance practices in the UK.
Add this all together and you see why I’ll be giving Amazon a miss from now on. They’re not the first company I’ve boycotted either; I’ve not bought from Ebuyer since 2012, when their rude customer services tried to deny me my basic consumer rights. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve found an item cheaper on Ebuyer than anywhere else and still refused to buy from them. Some of us actually stick to our principles.
Just to give a quick write-up on the Ebuyer situation: They refused to allow me to return an item, despite 2 different acts in UK law making this a legal requirement – and then when I was putting together a case with Trading Standards and requested that Ebuyer send me copies of all recorded phone calls, internal notes on my case, etc – this being my legal right under the Data Protection Act – they tried to charge me £15 in administration fees. Under the Data Protection Act, the maximum a company is allowed to charge in administration fees is £10 – so trying to scam me out of that extra £5 was veeery naughty.
Anyway. Amazon’s treatment of its employees:
Amazon UK on Trustpilot:
PS. Fun fact: Amazon owns the domains boycottamazon.com and amazonboycott.com; they just forward you to the Amazon website. The poor bastards.