Me Vs Amazon update (Small Claims Court)

Bunch of twunts

The court, no surprise, found in my favour on May 2nd. Amazon didn’t submit a defence. In fact, from what I can gather by the fact I’ve received an “Extract for Payment”, they’ve not responded to the court over the judgement either. I’m not sure what happens next, whether Amazon get in touch and send me a cheque or if I have to chase them. I’ve emailed the court to find out.

In the meantime, I posted the following to Amazon’s UK facebook page. Feel free to like/comment until they inevitably remove it. [and this one, as the “posts from others” seem to be hidden while this one isn’t – hell, post your own messages!] I wonder if they’ll block me the way Arnold Clark did as well when I posted that they were pirates and thieves?

Yay! My Small Claims case against you finally came through after you refused to acknowledge your responsibilities under the Sale of Goods Act to have my rather expensive tablet repaired. No surprise there as everyone under the sun other than your “customer lack-of-service” department knew you were liable.

Love how you sent me a “we won’t admit liability, but will give you the cash if you sign something saying you won’t tell anyone why we sent you money” letter during the case. That’s pathetic.

It seems you’ve not replied to the court at any point during these proceedings, either to put up a defence or to respond to the award being issued in my favour. Please don’t tell me I’m going to have to get bailiffs sent in…

Much love from an ex-customer.

UPDATE: A few people have asked for the address I sent the court papers to. This was 2014, but in case they’re still valid:
Patriot Court
1-9 The Grove
Berkshire SL1 1QP

Glasgow Sheriff Court case SA1024/14 – Mr Iain Purdie v

Amazon (Photo credit: topgold)

Feel free to check this one out on what I assume will be public record once it’s over. Amazon are trying to keep me quiet on this one with a bribe… erm, “out of court settlement”, one condition of which is not telling people why they gave me the money I requested.

Sorry, I’m not going to shut up. Amazon have acted illegally, are currently acting illegally and will continue to do so as long as it’s in their financial best interests to do so. The general public has a right to know that Amazon refuse to recognise their legal responsibilities under the Sale of Goods Act and that there are measures which can be taken to have goods repaired or replaced which have broken down outside of warranty.

Briefly, the tl;dr version:

  • You buy something expensive
  • It lasts 18 months – warranty was for 12
  • It’s a decent piece of kit (not a cheap knock-off), from a known manufacturer and you paid a fair bit for it. You – and any other person – would reasonably expect it to last for (say) 3-4 years
  • You can prove that the fault was inherent at the time of purchase and not the results of neglect, accidental damage, etc.
  • The retailer is liable to repair/replace under Sale of Goods Act
  • Amazon will deny this and try to foist you back at the manufacturer in the hope they may effect an out-of-warranty repair
  • It’s not the manufacturer’s responsibility – go to Small Claims Court instead
  • If you need to get a professional repair place to verify that the item did, indeed, have a faulty component then go ahead. You can claim any charge for this back as part of your case
  • Amazon will attempt to buy you off with an out of court settlement, but they will admit no liability while doing so. Accept or not, it’s up to you – but one of the terms is that you can’t tell people about how crap they’ve been.

Full version, including back-story:

In January 2012, I purchased an Asus Transformer Prime as a late xmas present for myself. It was a shade under £500, from a reputable manufacturer and their flagship product at the time. I’m not showing off – I’m justifying the fact that I’d expect it to last longer than a year and a half before packing in.

And pack in it did. In August 2013, it just died. It would boot as far as the opening screen and then sit there going no further. I tried a factory reset, reflashing the BIOS… nothing worked. I then looked online and found that this problem while not endemic wasn’t exactly uncommon. A faulty component on the motherboard caused it, and it was a “back to the manufacturer” job to get it fixed.

I checked and the warranty was the manufacturer standard (and legal UK minimum) of 12 months. I did enquire direct with Asus, but was told that even to have the fault diagnosed by their repair centre would set me back over £50 in courier fees – their repair centre is in Eastern Europe.

So I contacted Amazon, citing their responsibilities under the Sale of Goods Act; that if an item breaks down through an inherent fault present at the time of purchase, and has failed to last a “reasonable” length of time then the retailer is duty bound to organise a repair. That term “reasonable” is why I drew attention to the cost and brand of the tablet. If a knock-off £70 tablet I picked up on eBay that had been shipped from China broke down after 18 months, I’d chalk it up to experience. However, by buying a name brand I expected far better – and that’s reasonable.

However, and no small surprise, Amazon told me that as it was out of warranty it was of no concern to them and that I should try contacting the manufacturer who may choose to do an out of warranty repair out of the goodness of their own heart. I replied to this stating that they were having a laugh, re-directed them to the SoGA (which they’d failed to even address directly in their response) and got a reply I’ve had before: “send us the tablet and we’ll give you £75 of vouchers as a good will gesture”. And, of course, they’d probably refurb the tablet and have it on sale for twice that in a matter of weeks.

No, thanks.

Next stop was Trading Standards who told me that they’d had a ton of complaints about Amazon doing this, gave me a reference code, cited the regulations which Amazon were breaching and asked me to keep them updated. They also said I could go through my credit card company using the section 75 regulations by which they share the retailer’s responsibility.

I did start down this line, but gave up once I’d gathered further evidence as – damn it – it’s not MBNA’s fault that Amazon were being dicks. I don’t knw whether they would attempt to recoup the money from Amazon or just chalk it up. Either way, it was Amazon at fault, they’d not gone bust or anything and therefore I should be challenging them.

In fairness to MBNA, each time they came back to me it was to request more information or to say that some evidence I have given them wasn’t acceptable. And each time, it was for a legitimate reason which I could accept. For instance, I initially had a work colleague examine the tablet to locate the fault. However, as he was a friend and not a business, they wouldn’t accept his testimony. I get that, so I went to a shop who charged me £25 to tell me the same thing.

That’s the point where I just thought “screw this” and downloaded the paperwork to lodge a Small Claims case against Amazon. After a brief bit of research online, there seems to be a near 100% success rate taking this route and I know I’m in the right, so I sent the tablet off for repair so that I would be claiming back the correct amount.

This took almost four weeks (by now, we were into January…) and the repair bill was around £250. Add to this the cost of a registered post letter to Amazon with my initial complaint (as recommended by Trading Standards, the £25 diagnosis fee and the cost of lodging the case was £71. This I could also claim back. I also added to my claim interest at the “judicial rate” (set by the court and I have no idea how much it is).

After a bit of back and forth between myself and the court clerks who ensured I had the documentation spot on, it went to Amazon so that they could choose how to respond.

They did so with a letter stating that they’d refund all the money I was claiming for with the exception of the interest. But… they were accepting no liability for the actual reason I was making the claim. By accepting their cash, I would not be allowed to disclose to any third party the details of the settlement.

Basically, they’re like the rich kid in the playground who reckons he can get away with whatever the hell he likes by buying someone off.

Well, you know what? Screw you, Amazon. I’m in the right. You acted illegally. You continue to act illegally. You know you’re acting illegally because it’s cheaper for you to do so than treat people – your customers, the reason you’re rolling in cash – within the bounds of the law.

More people need to be aware of the fact that they have rights to refunds, repairs and exchanges; that they can claim these things direct from you and not the manufacturer; that they can go to Small Claims Court if they need to and know that the law is on their side.

And if I accepted your bribe – because, in my eyes and in my opinion (he stated very clearly – OPINION as permitted under libel legislation) that is what it is – I would not be able to tell people about these rights and option.

So I’m going to let it go to court. I don’t expect Amazon to send a lawyer – it’s too expensive and their bottom line is the only thing of interest to them. I don’t expect them to lodge a defence – they don’t have one. I expect them to be found liable for all the charges and for the reasons I set forward.

And I will then be able to tell you all that this works. That you don’t have to be screwed over by a big company just because it reckons it can ignore the law. More importantly I will be able to do it with a clear conscience because I went the right way about sorting it and ensured that a judgement was made at the end of the process.

Seriously, the Small Claims forms do take a while to fill in but it’s worth it to get the cash back. I’ve done the same with PC World in the past and got the same runaround and response. It’s cheaper for a company to fob you off than respond correctly. For every one person like me, there are a thousand who’ll just shrug and buy a replacement. And I bet a fair percentage of them will buy from the same retailer who just screwed them over.

I learned. I’m not buying any expensive items from Amazon again. Ever. John Lewis will be our first port of call for electronics now as they do a two year warranty as standard.

Thanks for the life lesson, Amazon. I hope a lot more people read this and take back from you what is rightfully theirs.

UPDATE: A few people have asked for the address I sent the court papers to. This was 2014, but in case they’re still valid:
Patriot Court
1-9 The Grove
Berkshire SL1 1QP

Downloading mp3s from Amazon without their bespoke downloader

English: A download symbol.
Grab those tracks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, it’s possible. The instructions are buried on one help page amongst dozens and you’re limited to downloading one at a time… but you can do it. Personally I’m just loathe to install a piece of software just to download one album every third blue moon, which is as often as I buy music from Amazon. One of the reasons for this is their insistence on making you install crapware just to get at the items you’ve legally purchased.

So, go to Amazon and purchase your album. Click the option to go to the Cloud Player not the one to download.

Locate and select one track to download by ticking its checkbox in the left hand column.

Click on the “Download (1)” button and you’re presented with the usual “Click this huge button to install the crappy download software” popup. Down at the bottom of this box is a little link to “Skip installation”. Click this instead.

You’ll now get your usual download dialogue allowing you to actually gain possession of the media you paid money for.

You can download more than one track at a time if you’re quick enough to uncheck one box, check the next one and click “Download (1)” again. This time you won’t get the annoying popup, instead just being presented with your web browser’s standard download dialogue.

Why Amazon have to make thing so bloody awkward, I don’t know. A simple “click to download ZIP” or similar would do the job. Regardless, I now have my free Nuclear Blast album downloaded so I can pop it on my phone and listen in the car. Happy now.

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Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1

ACTION - Pulse Pounding Tales
ACTION - Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1

Published today is Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1. Why do I mention this? Because I have a story in it!

It’s an anthology of stories based on action heroes. Harking back to the characters and tales of the 1970’s when political correctness was second in line to plot, explosions were bigger, bullets only caused flesh wounds in the good guys and everything screamed along like the finalé to a Hollywood summer blockbuster.

Authors include Matt Hilton and Stephen Leather, plus a smorgasbord of other established talent and a bunch of newbies like me.

It’s a bargain at £2.56 (Kindle only, I’m afraid), and for the first month of release Matt is donating 50p per copy sold to the rather worthwhile Help For Heroes charity.

Clicky links for purchase are as follows:

Amazon UK and Amazon US

Spread the word!

Enhanced by Zemanta – yet another dodgy retailer

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...
Cheap prices, no concept of consumer rights

I buy quite a lot from Amazon. I like them. Cheap, convenient, easy to find anything you want… but like any company, their true colours only come to the fore when you try to get money back off them. As I am now discovering.

In January 2011 I bought an Acer Aspire 5742Z laptop. I’m using it right now – just. I like it, still do. Except for one problem. It’s taken to overheating somewhat rapidly and shutting down if I do too much on it. By “too much”, I can mean watching 6 YouTube videos in a row. Or recoding an mp4 video as avi. Or re-encoding a pile of mp3s. Or playing a game. Or opening Chrome with 12 tabs to restore.

Up until around February, this simply wasn’t an issue. I started to notice the machine resetting a bit for no adequate reason. Then I noticed the fan was going mental more than it used to. I did the obvious and checked it for obstructions, gave it a blast out with air, ensured it wasn’t blocked externally, elevated the machine a little more from the flat, hard surface it was being used on and so forth.

None of this helped. In fact, it gradually got worse. I bought an external fan which the machine is currently sat on top of, and installed some core temperature monitoring software (Core Temp v0.99.7, if  you’re interested). This revealed that, while idling (ie around 25-35% CPU tending to background tasks), my CPU was averaging around 70 degrees C. This was with the external fan. It used to idle nearer 40 – 50 degrees without the fan.

Try and run anything processor-intensive and it rises into the 80’s. If it hits 90 the machine shuts down as it is meant to.

This makes it impossible to perform tasks such as video conversion as it powers off before it’s managed to make it through one file.

Basically, it’s broken. There is a fault within the machine that was present when it was purchased which has taken until now to manifest itself, and it is getting progressively worse.

I contacted Acer who told me “Sorry, but it’s out of the 1 year manufacturer’s warranty. We may be able to fix it, but it’ll likely cost you.” Fair enough.

I then contacted Amazon who said “Sorry, but we only give a year’s warranty on electrical goods. Take it to the manufacturer.” This is bullshit.

There’s a little thing called the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (amended 1994) which states that goods should be:

  • Of a Satisfactory Quality, i.e. of a standard that a reasonable person would consider to be satisfactory – generally free from fault or defect, as well as being fit for their usual purpose, of a reasonable appearance and finish, safe and durable
  • Fit for the purpose – as well as being fit for the purpose for which they are generally sold, goods should also be fit for any specific or particular purpose made known at the time of the agreement
  • As described – goods should correspond with any description applied to them. This could be verbally, words or pictures on a sign, packaging or an advert.

These rights are valid for 5 years (Scotland) or 6 years (England / Wales) from the date of purchase, and the responsible party is the retailer not the manufacturer. If an item has become faulty within 6 months of purchase, it’s a no-brainer. After that, it’s the duty of the customer to prove the fault was there at the time of purchase and isn’t the result of accidental damage, negligence, etc.

Of note is the fact that good should be expected to last for a reasonable length of time based on their value, branding and so forth. There is no hard and fast rule under law for that but (and I got this example from another website) a £600 TV should be expected to last more than 18 months, whereas a £12 kettle maybe not so much. I’ve got a £380 laptop that’s started to fail after 13 months and is now unusable for one of the purposes for which I purchased it after 15.
Also of interest is that if an item was bought using a credit card – even if part-purchased e.g. part cash/part credit – the credit card company is also liable. I paid with £60-ish worth of vouchers, but the balance on, ironically enough, an branded credit card. I’ll be talking to them tomorrow as well.

Now, I don’t expect a full swap out for a brand new item. I’d be happy with a replacement of the exact same machine. I’d also be fine if they repaired it and covered the costs – to which I am most definitely entitled. I will also insist that my rights are reserved in that should I accept the repair I do not waive my rights to future refunds should those repairs fail.

But in the meantime, I’m trying to talk to a brick wall at Amazon who stated that if I wanted to pursue the matter I would have to raise it via a solicitor.

A solicitor. For a failing laptop which is utterly, totally, in black and white their responsibility under publicly-available British law.

Amazon, you are seriously having a joke.

My jobs tomorrow:

1) Contact Amazon again as I don’t expect them to be back in touch though they said they would be
2) Contact Acer again to see if they’ll do an out of warranty repair – you never know. If they refuse to do it for free, then get a quote.
3) Contact the credit card company and inform them of the situation
4) Contact Citizen’s Advice and the Trading Standards offices
5) Get hold of some papers for Small Claims

… in that order.

So just a word of warning, folks. If you buy electrical goods via Amazon, don’t expect them to be aware of your consumer rights. In fact, expect them to lie outright to you down the phone and claim you don’t have any rights and that any attempts to utilise said rights will have to involve you paying for a solicitor.

Updates as they occur.


A lot of what I was going to mention was posted by Chris in the Comments. Amazon Europe is based in Luxembourg and therefore come under European Law. The Sale of Goods Act supercedes those regulations as it’s actually more restrictive and beneficial to the consumer, but should a retailer argue that they’re not within the UK (which is actually no argument at all) then they still fall within European legislation.

Amazon have already been “spoken to” by the Luxembourg government for being… well… **** as far as customer care is concerned. However, this seems to have had no affect, and the authorities don’t seem to have bothered exacting any of the punishments they legally could. As such, Amazon are continuing in their merry way, pissing on customers.

I wrote to Amazon and explained to them what I would do:

1) Check with Acer in case it was a known fault with the unit, in which case there was a chance they would repair it (outside of warranty) for free

2) Otherwise, check with a local repair shop as to the problem and any possible solution. Obtain a quote and expect it to be dealt with by Amazon as per my rights under the Distance Selling regulations

3) If no luck was forthcoming, take my quote to the Small Claims Court and just wait for them to sort it out

Amazon’s response was a strange one. They offered me £57 in Amazon vouchers or a £76 refund. I think, though this wasn’t made clear, that the refund option would involve me sending them my laptop. They claimed this was a good will gesture in recompense for a laptop that had been used for 16 months (the warranty is for 12), and in no way was them agreeing to my terms. They believed (my arse) that they had no responsibility within the laws mentioned to resolve any issues.

As it turned out, I could get the unit opened and fixed for around £65 (it was a fault with the unit, present as a result of manufacturing error), which I did and claimed the £57 in vouchers. I made it clear that I reserved the right to contact them again should further faults appear and that I was not accepting the vouchers in lieu of their responsibilities, but as payment for them as they were legally obliged to recompense me for the repair.

Amazon responded that they were mistaken with the original amounts and increased the vouchers to £76 which were credited to my account shortly thereafter.

I just don’t get this. They refuse to admit liability (although they are, in law, liable) and then give me more than I claimed as recompense.

Surely it would make more sense economically to give me the amount I claimed (cheaper for them) and from a business point of view to make a customer happy by saying “yes, of course” in the first place?

Like Chris, I am now wary about using Amazon for large purchases. A shame – for them – as I’ve never had such an issue before and, in fact, bought a lot such stuff from them in the past. Well done on being dicks and rattling a very loyal customer, Amazon. Seriously stupid.


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