Sometimes big companies just have not thought their policies all the way through. Take for example Amazon's former Post-Order Price Guarantee that allowed customers to get the difference in price refunded when the price of an item purchased from Amazon dropped within 30 days of the purchase. The policy stopped on 31 Aug 2008.
Here is what it used to say on their website:
Amazon.com's prices for released items will change from time to time based on a variety of factors. If Amazon.com's price for an already-released item decreases within 30 days after we ship the item to you, we'll be glad to refund the difference in price if you contact us.
This refund used to apply only to items sold by Amazon.com directly and not by other sellers on their site. All you had to do before 1 Sep 2008 was to contact them by e-mail or request a call back or call customer service, and they would give you a credit equal to the price difference.
This post-order price guarantee policy made it very easy to decide whether or not to order an item promptly even if a rumor was around that an item was due for a price cut shortly from the manufacturer.
My son ordered a Nokia N95 8 GB unlocked cellphone on 3 Oct for $557.69 (which includes shipping because he is an Amazon Prime member) which was shipped on 6 Oct 2008.
The price today is $499.99 and so my son called for a refund where he was informed that the Post-Order Price Guarantee was no longer in effect. My son then said he was going to send it back under the 30 day guarantee and they said "OK".
So he printed his Return Authorization and ordered a brand new cellphone from Amazon. The reason for the return? He selected "Better price available." Return details? "Amazon.com. That's right. The reason for the return was that Amazon had a better price. Is that absurd or what?
Some items such as toys, jewelry, or electronics may have special returns policies but in general items should be returned in their original product packaging. Since we will be returning a brand new product in its original packaging we will have no problems.
When it comes in, he'll merely slap on the RMA and reship the exact brand new item back to Amazon at a shipping cost of $5.00. The result? His credit card is charged $499.99 for the new phone and when they get that back he'll be credited for $557.69 for a savings of $52.70. All Amazon did was incur a shipping charge and spent money on restocking the item at their cost and gained a little bad will. What maroons!
I'm sure some pencil-nibbler figured out that most people will not go through this shipping rigmarole if the price difference is ten bucks (or whatever amount) or less. But if that is their logic why not keep the old policy with the proviso that there will be no refunds if the price difference is less then $10.00? Certainly it's not worth the bad will when your customer sends something back for a 50 buck credit or more and is angry that he has to go through this unnecessary nonsense to get his refund.
If you are wondering who has the time to keep looking everyday to see if his Amazon items changed in price there are a number of websites that keep track for you: CamelCamelCamel sends you an email and RSS alert when a product's price on Amazon.com drops; let's you view product pricing history to make a more informed purchasing decision; and allows you to import Amazon Wishlists to automatically track unpurchased products. FlamingoWorld also tracked Amazon price drops but they foolishly discontinued the service (another set of idiots). RefundPlease tracks Amazon and other companies as well.
I am inaugurating a new category today "Stupid Business" for precisely these kinds of stupid business decisions made by supposed industry leaders on the Internet.
Related Blogs: ProBargainHunter.com has a list of other companies that offer refunds if the price drops.
Other merchants offer similar guarantee policies and if you make a pricey purchase I suggest you to check the merchant Terms of Service page to find more. Here are policies of some stores I often use:
- TigerDirect offers a store credit if price drops within 30 days (details)
- CircuitCity will refund 100% of the price drop within 30 days. You will have to come to the store with the receipt to claim your refund (details)
- BestBuy offers a refund of 100% price difference over a period of 15 to 60 days depending on the type of product (details)
A few days after I wrote this article, the new phone (at the reduced price) came in and my son simply sent it back to Amazon in the same box with his RMA and received a full refund on his original purchase. No problem.
UPDATE: 8 Dec 2008 **************
A few readers have emailed me that if one rep won't help you try calling back a few times until you find a rep that will give you the credit without the hassle of buying a new product.
Another email I got a few days ago (I should have posted it earlier) informed me that they will give a refund if the price change happens less than 7 days after a purchase.