If you pay Amazon and it passes the money on to the retailer, a loophole could leave you without redress
Shoppers using Amazon Marketplace to buy high-value items have been warned that their credit card company won’t come to their aid if there’s a major problem with their purchase and the retailer refuses to help.
For years consumers paying for any item costing more than £100 with a credit card have been able to hold the card provider jointly liable in the event of a significant problem with the item. This right, enshrined in section 75 of the Consumer Credit act, covers items bought in the £100 to £30,000 range.
However, it has emerged that shoppers buying through Amazon’s Marketplace service do not get this protection because of the complicated way the internet giant processes payments. The fact that Amazon takes the money then passes it on to the retailer – minus its commission – renders the protection invalid, Guardian Money has learned.
Robert Pert, of Skegness, Lincolnshire, is among those hit by this loophole. In September he bought a £150 exercise treadmill from an Amazon Marketplace online retailer called Health & Fitness Direct. After six weeks the item failed, and he discovered he was not the only buyer having problems with the product.
Repeated attempts to contact the retailer and then Amazon drew requests to send the item back for repair. However, given the host of negative posts from other buyers, some of whom had accepted returns and had still further problems, he decided the item was not of merchantable quality and demanded his money back.
Amazon refused, so he approached his credit card supplier, Lloyds Bank, for a section 75 claim. He was shocked when the bank wrote back saying that because he had paid Amazon for the item, the claim would not be met.
The Financial Ombudsman Service has confirmed that similar cases brought by other consumers have been turned down for the same reason.
It means that buyers wanting to gain credit card protection should avoid buying through Marketplace and instead go direct to the seller’s independent website and pay with their card there. Had Pert done this, Lloyds would have had to consider his claim.
A spokesman for Amazon said: “The Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee provides additional protection for customers who buy from the third party Marketplace when payment is made via the Amazon.co.uk website. This covers an item received being defective, damaged, not as described, or received late. We have contacted the customer in question to advise him to raise an A-to-Z Guarantee claim and will review on receipt.”
But Amazon’s small print shows that claims can only be made up until 90 days after the order is placed, meaning Pert is out of time. Other potential Amazon Marketplace users should note there is no protection if the expensive item fails after 90 days and the retailer will not help. Sometimes the manufacturer will honour a warranty. However, the Sale of Goods Act makes the retailer responsible, and they should always be you first port of call.
The good news is that Health & Fitness Direct has told us that at the start of Pert’s problem it offered him a full refund if he returned the item, and the offer still stands – although he has to organise and pay for a courier.