Apparently Amazon changed their return policy recently. It sucks.
It all started with some defective RAM.
We’re in the process of updating and upgrading AJnet Studios, and one of those upgrades was more RAM to assist with things like video editing (new YouTube content coming soon btw, subscribe to the channel now). While I’ve praised AliExpress for being way cheaper when it comes to decor and other cool knick-knacks, there are still some things I won’t order from there and RAM is one of them. So I turned to Amazon, like I’ve usually done for my computer parts ever since NewEgg went downhill in the last ten years.
I ordered the RAM Thursday morning, and received it the same day around 7 or 8 PM. Man I love convenience.
What I don’t love though is that one of the RAM sticks was DOA. Ugh, what a pain in the ass, but this sort of thing is prone to happening with computer parts and Amazon has never given me a problem about returning defective merchandise. Typically I’ll initiate the return, print the labels out, then our mailroom guys will hand it off to the UPS driver who comes through regularly. Amazon typically issues the refund or sends the replacement out right away. The whole process costs me no money and maybe a few minutes of my time if that.
Except this time, it didn’t go so smoothly.
I initiated the return like normal, except this time when it came time to get the labels to ship it back via UPS, I was greeted by a screen telling me to “reduce the number of trucks on the road” by choosing from one of three return options.
The first was to take it to my nearest Whole Foods, the closest of which was in nearby Jenkintown, PA. Sure, it was only 6 or 7 miles away, but for some reason every time I drive to Jenkintown it takes 45 minutes to an hour because of traffic. The second nearest Whole Foods was in Cherry Hill, NJ, and there was no way in hell I was paying a $3 bridge toll to return defective merchandise. The third nearest Whole Foods was on South Street in downtown Philly. Driving down there is debatably as bad as driving in New York City, plus I’d have to pay for parking. Hard pass on the Whole Foods option.
The second option was “Amazon Dropoff”, at what I’m guessing was an Amazon warehouse or something. The nearest address it gave me was some place that I had never heard off, and Google Maps told me it would have been an almost two hour drive one-way. Strange, considering we have multiple Amazon warehouses within 20 miles, but whatever, maybe those ones aren’t equipped to process returns? I have no idea, but fuck driving four hours to return something. Harder pass.
The third option was a UPS Pickup, which would involve scheduling the UPS driver to make a stop at our location and pick up the package. If he felt like it, that is. UPS has a terrible track record with this shit, it legit took the UPS driver four years to start delivering my packages to my actual address instead of whatever house down the street he felt like dropping them on that day. On top of that, they wanted me to pay $8 for this. Charging me to return defective merchandise? I bitched about this going as far back as 2010, and my stance on it hasn’t changed one bit. Hard fucking pass, go fuck yourselves for trying to charge me for a fuck-up that wasn’t my fault.
So I poked around Google trying to figure out what happened to just being able to print labels and hand off returns to UPS, and came across this article which states that Amazon is cracking down on returns by charging people a fee to return stuff through UPS if there’s a nearby Whole Foods or Kohl’s. Which is great, except the nearest UPS store is way closer than anything it suggested me. Also, I wasn’t even offered the option of returning it to my nearest Kohl’s, which while being 20 miles away is actually a very quick straight shot for me on I95, and is conveniently located near AJnet’s satellite office out in Langhorne, PA.
Obviously Amazon uses mileage when determining what the closest return place is, so instead of showing me the place that’s 20 miles away but only a 20-25 minute drive, it’s going to suggest the place that’s only six or seven miles away even though it’s a half hour to 45 minute drive. That gave me an idea.
I switched my address to the AJnet office in Langhorne. Sure enough, Kohl’s popped up as a suggestion. Excellent, I’m stopping up in Langhorne on Monday, I can return it then. My return was approved post-haste, with the replacement due to arrive the next day, on Friday. I breathed a sigh of relief, until I realized my mistake.
Amazon was sending the replacement to Langhorne.
I’m a busy man, I wasn’t going to be able to make it up to Langhorne until Monday. I needed the RAM ASAP. So I attempted to go into the order and change the shipping address. Apparently in the two whole minutes between the time I initiated the replacement and when I realized my mistake, the RAM had begun to enter the shipping phase. Which of course meant that I couldn’t change my address. This is nothing Amazon’s support team couldn’t remedy. There’s no damn way this thing shipped out in two fucking minutes, they can change the address for me to our main office in Philly.
Except when I went to initiate the chat, the page informed me that their customer service was currently down for maintenance. Oh you’ve gotta be kidding me…
It never came back up that night, I was forced to reorder the RAM to ensure I got it on Friday. Thankfully that RAM worked fine, and we were able to get some video editing done without Sony Vegas choking up every half hour.
Sunday, I recounted the entire story to my girlfriend. She looks at me like I’m on crack and says that Amazon always lets her return things at the UPS Store. I explained to her that they just changed this recently, but she still didn’t get it. Women, amirite guys?
So I pulled up Amazon and initiated a bogus return to show her what I meant. Except this time I was presented with more options:
Oh you’ve gotta be shitting me. Where the hell were these options three days ago?! And what happened to the location that was almost two hours away? Instead it was replaced with nearby Amazon lockers.
Just for shits and giggles, I tried switching the address over to Langhorne again to see if those options changed too. Son of a bitch:
Adding to the confusion, it now wanted to charge me $1 to drop off at the UPS Store or $6.99 to drop it at a UPS Drop-off Point. I guess because Kohl’s was closer? I don’t know.
I’m not sure what the hell happened on Thursday night. Maybe Amazon’s systems were fucked, which would definitely explain the Customer Service chat being down for maintenance. Honestly, that’s the best I’ve got here. All I know is, I’m pretty fucking pissed that Amazon, one of the top ten richest companies in the world, expects customers to basically front the cost of returning merchandise, be it in the form of shipping fees, or time and gas. What’s more, they’re touting it as being part of some environmentalist bullshit to reduce emissions by having less trucks on the road. Don’t insult my intelligence, Amazon. You don’t give two flying fucks about the environment, you just want to pinch pennies because you’ve probably been getting slammed with returns ever since you started letting Chinese sellers run rampant with their shoddy cheaply-made trash that can be found on AliExpress for literally half the price or cheaper (seriously guys give me a damn sponsorship already, I’ll be the best AliExpress shill you’ve ever seen).
There’s a happy ending to this story though.
Just like I didn’t need to know on Thursday night that I could in fact still return the RAM via UPS, I figured that Amazon didn’t need to know that I ever received the replacement package.
Even better, the driver had contacted me on Friday because he was an idiot who couldn’t find the clearly-marked building. Even more better (better-er?), the driver didn’t bother to take a picture of the delivery. The only “proof” that I ever received the replacement package was the driver’s GPS logs, which at best showed him in the same complex as the office. Guess what? There’s several other offices at that address. The driver was an idiot, who knows which of those offices he delivered the RAM to? All I know is I asked around and nobody saw any Amazon package anywhere. Especially not in my office, nor in my car, nor in my computer back at AJnet Studios in Philly.
I made sure to inform the nice Amazon customer service representative of this, while also informing them that I no longer needed a replacement and would instead prefer a refund.
And that’s how I got 32 GB of Trident Z DDR4 RGB RAM for only $63.
While I was chatting with the friendly Amazon customer service rep, I also asked him if I could change the location for dropping off the return. Within seconds I received an email with a printable UPS label. So now not only did I get an extra 16 GB of RAM for free, I also circumvented whatever horseshit required me to take my return to Kohl’s. I believe that makes the score as follows:
Protect ya neck Bezos, AJnet is coming and we ain’t pulling out.
The moral of this story?
Well, there really isn’t one. I should’ve paid a little more attention to where I was getting my replacement sent, but Amazon’s broken ass return system shouldn’t have tried to trick me into needlessly going out of my way to return defective merchandise. Amazon also shouldn’t be trying to charge customers to make returns, and they definitely shouldn’t be trying to use climate change as an excuse to do it. Considering how they’re screwing customers, I certainly don’t feel bad about taking them for $63.