Sunday, 19 September 2010

Dodgy internet buys


I'm not an ebay buff but have bought and sold stuff online through various websites.

I have never had problems until now, except the time we bought a faulty stroller from Gumtree (from a private seller). I have some dodgy purchases from high street retailers too but have complained and got results in all cases.
Now I can claim I have had the worst customer experience from an online retailer. I bought a child bike seat in June from a third party seller on Amazon. After two uses the attachment broke and I emailed the seller through Amazon to request replacement/repair.

The seller insisted it was my fault as I had tried to detach the seat from the bike, which (unusually as all seat are transferable) is not remarked in the instructions. I asked if they could send me a replacement as per guarantee. Amazon did some mediation but they couldn't help further as the seller didn't even want to recognise my right to a guarantee. (Amazon has a guarantee program but it doesn't apply to items that become faulty after delivery).

My partner, who fitted it was not happy about the safety of the seat as it has no safety standards and required constant readjusting (which also contributed to the fault according to local bike shop owner), so we emailed again requesting a refund. The seller didn't even reply. So I contacted Amazon again and they advised contacting the Office of Fair Trading and they said they would assist in any enquiry. Unfortunately they advised me to do what I had already done and if the seller would not oblige I could take the seller to the small claims court (which costs more than product).

I'm stuck with a useless product and I'm really annoyed. Furthermore my day job is product testing for a parenting website so the lack of any safety standards numbers (common in children's products) should have alerted me that it's not a suitable product.

I can't believe the seller's attitude. If I bought the product at any retailer they would have at least repaired, replaced it or refunded the money if I was unhappy with a product that wasn't properly presented in its description.

I might sound like a crazed consumer but I can't let go... So I have contacted Watchdog, posted on moneysavingexpert's forum, reviewed the product on Amazon (click Amazon to read the review) and are going to twitter this too!

Do leave me a comment if you had similar experiences!

Here are some useful websites if you want information on customer rights:
Office of Fair Trading
Consumer Direct

1 comment:

  1. Part of your issue lies with buying "blind" and I'm sure you're aware of the consumer rights. You don't mention if the seller is a private seller or an official business - your rights alter slightly depending on this.

    I think you're very lucky that Amazon have helped you out as they are only a sales platform at the end of the day - the same with eBay. If you buy something from a card in newsagents window and it becomes faulty, you wouldn't expect the newsagent to mediate for you, would you?

    Knowledge gained through reading the help boards on eBay does suggest that your only option is now to take it to the small claims court however this could leave you even more out of pocket.