B.C. woman’s $30 online order with a 3rd-party seller on Amazon turns into $436 vehicle bill

A B.C. woman says it’s buyer beware when purchasing from third-party sellers on Amazon after a $30 purchase ended up costing her hundreds of dollars.

“I trusted Amazon that they would back their products, but now I’m cautious with what I buy online,” Jennifer Mannella told Global News, Wednesday.

The Vancouver woman’s online nightmare began when she went searching for a key fob shell case for her 2009 Mazda 5.

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She found one on Amazon from a third-party seller. The product description stated no programming was required.

“It said simply swap your existing electronics inside this key shell and install your original key to this key case. It was supposed to be as simple as that,” Mannella said.

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After buying two key fob shell cases, Mannella said she swapped the fobs as instructed.

“I hit the beeper and the lights went on and I thought it works. Then I had to go somewhere the next day and when I turned the car over it would not start,” said Mannella.

She was forced to have her car towed to a nearby dealership where a vehicle diagnostic test later determined she needed two new keys cut and reprogrammed for her car to start up again.

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The total bill for the inconvenience was $436.09.

“It wasn’t Mazda’s fault. It was Amazon’s fault. They shouldn’t be listing something like that on their site if they can’t back it,” Mannella said.

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She said she reached out to both Amazon and the third-party seller. She was eventually refunded for the two key fobs, but not for her car bill.

“I was refunded for the product, but not for the Mazda bill,” Mannella said.

“I asked them for what I wanted in writing and verbally and I couldn’t move that forward myself,” she added.

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David Ian Gray, founder and strategist for DIG360, a national retail advisory firm based in Vancouver, said when it comes to third-party sellers on Amazon, consumers are taking their chances.

“What attracts us to Amazon is how quick it is to click and get something. Amazon’s idea of customer service is really about making that easy and making sure the package gets to you super quickly.

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“But in terms of the quality of that item or any follow up on  after sale support it’s really buyer beware,” Gray said.

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“If you are in Canada and you are buying from a Canadian company you know that there are consumer protection laws here. You are not really covered when you are buying from anywhere in the world coming through Amazon, so shoppers should know that,” he added.

Consumer Matters reached out to Amazon on Mannella’s behalf.  Within days, she received a $500 gift card from the e-commerce giant as a goodwill gesture.

In an email, Amazon stated:

“We work hard every day to delight customers and are resolving this directly with the customer. If customers have concerns or feedback, we encourage them to contact our Customer Service, and we investigate thoroughly.” – Amazon spokesperson.

Since Amazon was notified about Mannella’s experience, the key fob shell case she purchased is now listed as “currently unavailable” and the product description of “no programming is required” has been removed.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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