Amazon overcharged many sellers’ accounts last week, and sellers are calling into question the way the company handled the overbilling incident.
Sellers discovered Amazon charged their account 600 pesos – approximately $37 – for fees to Amazon Mexico – even though they had never signed up to sell on the Mexican marketplace. (The amount varied slightly from seller to seller because of fluctuating currency exchange rates.)
Because of the way Amazon handled what it later acknowledged was a glitch, some banks cancelled the seller’s credit card either proactively or in responding to seller’s inquiries about the strange charge on their account.
Sellers discussed the problem on the Amazon boards. One seller wrote on Friday, “I had the same thing happen. This morning I called my bank and they issued a dispute and cancelled my card to send me a new one. A few hours ago I got a message from Amazon saying “sorry, we’ve issued a refund due to this Mexico charge.” Now I’m out of a business card for up to 10 days. Pretty frustrated right now.”
Another wrote, “I had the same charges but I didn’t even know about it. My bank called me and told me that it was flagged by their fraud department and that they had reversed the charge, canceled my card and a new one was on the way.”
Amazon customer service reps were initially unaware of the overbilling incident, adding to the aggravation. “I do not buy or sell on the Mexico site,” a reader told EcommerceBytes. “I called the Amazon US site and they had no record or knowledge of it. They asked me to call the Mexico Amazon site, and after talking to them for 20 minutes and them not finding anything, I was put on hold and then disconnected.”
The next day, Amazon sent the seller an email stating, “We have identified an issue in which you were incorrectly charged a subscription fee in our Mexico marketplace between September 28th and October 6th. We have since resolved the issue that caused the error and will be initiating a refund to your account by October 23rd, if one has not already been processed. It usually takes 3 to 5 business days for the funds to reach your bank account after Amazon has initiated a refund.”
However, the seller had already cancelled his credit card and disputed the charge. He remained concerned about possible fraud, “as nothing has been acknowledged on Amazon’s site or live on the phone with them.”
Further research shows Amazon was aware of the problem on October 6th, when a moderator posted a message on the discussion boards:
“I’m sorry to hear you were charged in error for Amazon.mx. I see you opened a case with Seller Support, and that was the right thing to do!
“I can understand why you reported it to your credit card company, and we appreciate you posted about it here and that you are not making a chargeback because we will resolve the issue for you.
“In order to assist other sellers, if you find you have been charged in error for Amazon.mx, please Contact Seller Support and open a case so we can ensure the erroneous charges are credited back to you.”
Despite the acknowledgement on the 6th, some sellers said they were charged on the 7th and 8th.
Many sellers were upset that Amazon was giving itself so much time before crediting back sellers’ accounts. “It seems odd that they would make me wait for a refund till the 23rd of the month when this happened on the 8th for a mistake they made,” the reader said. “Why make your customer wait this is against AZ’s very motto of customer first?”
And some sellers questioned the method by which Amazon was crediting sellers for its mistake. “If you have had this charge on your card and you did not authorize it, Amazon has to issue you a refund and the funds should go back on your card. Why they wanted to reimburse people who fell victim to these unauthorized charges by payment disbursement is beyond me,” one seller wrote. “That seems completely unfair and is possibly illegal. So now all these people have to wait two or more weeks to see this money? I suppose if you were to dispute the charge with your bank it could take 30 or more days, so either way you’re still getting shafted.”
Another wrote in part, “But the kicker was this: ss (Seller Support) rep told me that I was charged in pesos, 600 pesos which converted to the $36.38 US dollar amount I was charged. My next disbursement is Oct 20th. The ss rep told me that depending on the US/MX exchange rate the amount I will be refunded may not be the same (what??). I stated that has to be illegal. You can’t take money from an account (without authorization) and then refund an amount that depends on the exchange rate. That has to be illegal.”
It’s also unclear whether Amazon will compensate sellers for the foreign currency fees charged by credit card companies for the mistaken fee.