Following a more than two-month wait, Amazon has finally refunded more than $7,000 to a Georgia woman for an order that went awry.
On March 2, Barbara Carroll from Berkeley Lake, Ga. ordered three cartons of toilet paper on Amazon for her office. Days later, she noticed she’d been charged $7,543.17 ($88.17 for the toilet paper and $7,455 for delivery).
On Wednesday, she reportedly received reimbursement for the delivery and items, telling USA Today, “They even reimbursed us for the three cases of toilet paper!”
The incident was a perfect storm of online shopping mishaps, according to USA Today.
- More than half of what Amazon sold in 2017 was from third-party sellers. In layman’s terms it means that most items sold through Amazon’s marketplace come from other businesses that use Amazon to reach customers. “Amazon’s third-party marketplace has helped thousands of small and medium-sized businesses reach shoppers online,” Quartz reported. “But it also gets Amazon into trouble with both brands and shoppers over counterfeits and plainly inappropriate products.”
- Goods sold by Amazon are eligible for Amazon Prime delivery (two-day free shipping), along with some third-party vendors that ship their goods to Amazon fulfillment centers. Other third-party vendors ship goods directly to the customer. In this case, the third-party vendor was The Ideal Store.
- Carroll is reportedly an Amazon Prime member, and she likely selected two-day shipping, assuming it would be free. However, the toilet paper was not a Prime item, meaning the third-party seller can charge for shipping (within reason).
- When Carroll reached Amazon’s customer service, it agreed that the shipping fee was wrong, but said that she needed to contact The Ideal Store, where she left several messages but never heard back. “The hardest part is that Amazon doesn’t stand behind their-third party sellers,” Carroll told local station WSB-TV, which Carroll contacted with the story. She told the station that she was happy to pay shipping fees for non-Prime items, “but they have to be normal charges.”
- It turns out that Amazon, too, requires “normal charges” for its third-party vendors. In its policy, Amazon states that “sellers cannot set excessive order fulfillment or shipping costs.” So after emails to Amazon customer service and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and contacting the local news station, she was finally reimbursed. Amazon also told USA Today that it would look into Carroll’s interaction with customer service, so it can provide better service.
Amazon provided Fortune with this statement: “Amazon is always innovating to improve and protect our customer experience. We have selling policies that all sellers agree to before selling on Amazon, and we take action against those that violate them and harm our customer experience. Policy violations can result in cancellation of listings, removal of selling privileges, withholding of funds, and legal action, depending on its severity. If customers have questions about their purchase, we encourage them to contact us directly and we will investigate and take appropriate action.”
We also called the number listed for The Ideal Store on Amazon, but have not heard back.
Update: This article was updated from the original with a statement from Amazon.