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Amazon the online retailer putting small-town retailers out of business is continuing to investigate after high-value orders were switched for cheaper products before delivery. Items such as cameras, watches and mobile phones were replaced with cat food, condoms and balloons, a BBC investigation has shown. Some victims were denied refunds until the BBC put their complaints to Amazon. The controversial online store claimed it was ‘working tirelessly’ to make changes to processes so it could improve customer experiences.
More than 40 people got in touch with the BBC in response to the story of a Salisbury man whose £1,400 camera and lens were swapped for cat food.
Some of the items ordered – and received – by customers: Nick: Computer monitor, got a handbag. Heather: Graphics card, got face masks. Phil: iPhone, got cat repellent. Alex: Earphones, got toilet cleaner. Leo: Laptop, got Ikea lamp. One customer was Annabel Kesby, from Leeds, who ordered a Google smartwatch for £380 in March.
‘I opened the box to find condoms,’ she said. ‘I called Amazon to complain and they sent me an email saying that I had made a large number of refund requests so they were investigating my account. ‘I felt as though they were labelling me as a criminal and a liar.’ Ms. Kesby who has autism, said she suffered several panic attacks and sleepless nights, after being told she would not be getting a refund. After the BBC put their complaint to Amazon, they were offered a refund.
Sumit Malhotra, from London, received a pack of balloons and stickers after she ordered a £2,000 MacBook Pro computer from Amazon in February. ‘I really freaked out when I saw the balloons,’ she said. ‘I phoned Amazon to complain, but they didn’t take me seriously.’
Ms Malhotra contacted the Metropolitan Police and was given a crime reference number. She was told by Amazon she needed to wait until its own investigation was complete before she could be refunded. Amazon said it had since offered Ms Malhotra a refund.
Another customer, Harry Wilson, a doctor from London, ordered a Samsung Galaxy laptop for £500 in January. He received a parcel containing greaseproof bags and a children’s colouring book. ‘I sent multiple emails to Amazon, and they essentially concluded that they were not responsible because I had given the one-time passcode to the driver,’ he said. He also reported the incident to the Met.
‘Overall, I sent more than 30 emails to Amazon, and spent hours on phone calls,’ Dr Wilson said. ‘I am an NHS worker so I really do not have so much time to waste.’
Matt Haywood, from Cornwall, ordered an iPad and keyboard for more than £400 last year. He received a toy digger and some plastic toy building plates. ‘I was absolutely fuming and was left out of pocket while they investigated it,’ said Mr Haywood. ‘I eventually received a refund after lots of complaining.’
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