TONY HETHERINGTON: Amazon’s U-turn over 90-day limit on fakes 

0
44


Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.

C.C. writes: Consumers should be warned that if buying through Amazon Marketplace, you lose credit card protection. This is because it is not the seller of the goods, even though it is Amazon’s name on the invoice. It deducts commission and pays the balance to the actual seller. I got caught out with my purchase of a computer hard drive costing £164. I later needed to return it to the manufacturer under warranty, but it turned out to be counterfeit. Amazon was sympathetic, though the bottom line is that it made money out of the sale of counterfeit goods.

Response: Amazon offered a full refund on the counterfeit goods

Response: Amazon offered a full refund on the counterfeit goods

Response: Amazon offered a full refund on the counterfeit goods

By all appearances, what you got for your money was a genuine 4TB hard drive manufactured by the perfectly reputable company Western Digital. There was no way to tell that it was a fake until it went wrong and you needed to invoke the warranty – which was supposed to protect you for up to five years.

You complained to the seller but got no reply. When you complained to Amazon it told you: ‘You can file a claim under our A-to-Z safe buying guarantee up to 90 days after the order date if you provided payment to the seller via Amazon Marketplace, but the seller failed to deliver the item.’

You could also claim under the guarantee scheme if you received the item ‘but it was materially different than depicted in the seller’s description.’ Finally, you were protected if the item was defective ‘and you notified the seller within 30 days of receipt’.

Then came the sting in the tail. Amazon said that as your purchase was more than 90 days earlier, ‘these conditions have expired’. With no sense of irony, the writer added: ‘I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.’

You asked me: ‘How would anyone spot a well counterfeited product?’ The 90-day time limit was a loophole that made Amazon’s guarantee worthless.

As I only recently took up a complaint with Amazon Marketplace when a reader who paid £259 for an iPad received only a cheap piece of plastic, I went back to the company. I asked how your experience squared with the guarantee it offered.

The result was quick – and remarkable. Twenty-four hours later, you received an email from Amazon. Almost as if nothing had happened and you had not already been turned down for a refund, the email apologised for the difficulties with your purchase and assured you that full reimbursement had now been made to your credit card.

Amazon has given me a long-winded statement explaining what it does to combat fake goods and remove crooked sellers from Amazon Marketplace.

But from the point of view of consumers, the key passage says: ‘Customers are always protected by our A-to-Z guarantee, whether they make a purchase from Amazon or a third-party seller. If the product does not arrive or is not as advertised, customers can contact our customer support for a full refund of their order.’ Interestingly, there is no mention of a 90-day time limit, so perhaps Amazon has taken on board that spotting a fake is far from easy until it goes wrong.

Five months and my Isa hasn’t switched  

Mrs J.H. writes: You wrote about the problems a reader encountered in getting Barclays Smart Investor to transfer his Isa and said that two months was too long. The reader was lucky. My problems started about five months ago, when at my request Yorkshire Building Society asked Barclays to transfer my shares Isa. At the time of writing this has still not happened.

Another week, another problem with Smart Investor, the service that took over from the previously competent Barclays Stockbrokers. All you wanted was to switch your Isa to another provider, which should at most take weeks. What you got was a series of letters from Barclays, promising an update on your request by a later date. But when that date arrived, you received a fresh letter promising another future update. Finally, you received a letter from Yorkshire Building Society, saying Smart Investor had told it there were ‘various issues’ delaying the switch. You had to meet Smart Investor’s unspecified ‘requirements’ and confirm you still wanted to go ahead.

I tracked down one reason for the delay. Barclays sent a cheque to Yorkshire for your new account, but put the wrong name on it. An official told me: ‘We sincerely apologise to Mrs H for the delay in completing her request to transfer cash from the sale of her Isa investments. It does not reflect the level of service she should rightly expect from us.’ The transfer has been completed and the bank has sent you £350 to make up for the mistakes.

A gas bill for £2,564? There are no stars for this energy supplier

Ms W.T. writes: Green Star Energy says we owe £2,564. As pensioners, this is causing us great concern. I have spoken to a dozen people at Green Star. Each promised to return my call and resolve the problem, but no calls came. In April, a meter reader took a reading but we were told it was wrong. Another came and we were later told we owed £73 – but Green Star insists on more meter readings. We want to return to our previous supplier but it is understandably not keen until this is resolved.

I contacted Green Star, only to be told the company could not trace me. I explained I was not the customer – you were – and that I had provided your account number.

Next, Green Star sent me a stock letter, saying: ‘If we have not resolved your complaint within 40 working days, you can ask the Ombudsman to look at your case.’

I had to remind Green Star that this would be impossible for the same reason as before – I was not its customer.  Finally, this got through to someone senior. Green Star promised mandatory refresher training for its advisers and an overhaul of its complaints procedures.

It appears that right at the start, Green Star gave poor advice on the amount it could save you. Although your consumption decreased, your bills rose. There was also a discrepancy in the way gas units were calculated from your meter readings.

So, forget the £2,564 and the £73. You actually owe nothing. Green Star is now paying you £721 as a result of recalculated bills and compensation. That is more like it.

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.

Holiday villa fraud boss gets 13 years 

Two weeks ago I reported that five fraudsters had just been sentenced for running an investment scam exposed by The Mail on Sunday as long ago as 2011. 

Now their boss Michael Nascimento has followed them in facing justice after his sentencing was delayed because of a separate prosecution for money laundering.

Ringleader: Nascimento was convicted of money laundering

Ringleader: Nascimento was convicted of money laundering

Ringleader: Nascimento was convicted of money laundering

Between 2010 and 2014, Nascimento and his gang cheated investors out of £2.8 million by selling shares in a holiday villa development on the island of Madeira. In 2011 and again in 2012, I warned that the investment scheme was illegal and that none of the gang was authorised to offer shares to the public.

Nascimento has now been sentenced to 11 years in jail for the Madeira fraud, following a prosecution brought by the Financial Conduct Authority. At Southwark Crown Court, His Honour Judge Hehir praised the regulator for building a ‘formidable case’ against Nascimento, adding that many victims had suffered ‘life-shattering losses’.

Separately, a City of London Police investigation into a carbon credits investment fraud found that Nascimento laundered the proceeds that victims paid into two corrupt companies, Harman Royce Limited and Kendrick Zale Limited.

He was sentenced to a further two years in prison, increasing his total jail time to 13 years.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here