When an item develops a fault before it would reasonably be expected to do so, you have a remedy against the retailer, even beyond the warranty period. This is determined by the Sale of Good Act. You are entitled to a full refund if the fault is identified within 4 weeks of purchase. Outside 4 weeks, you are not entitled to a full refund but you are entitled to ask for a replacement or repair. This also applies to good bought in a sale - the only exception is any goods bought were fault or damage was declared at the point of sale.
So here is some advice on how to resolve the issue with Amazon:
Go straight to http://www.amazon.co.uk/contactus and select the yellow 'Contact Us' button under 'General Support'.
Skip Option 1 and select the issue and issue details. I selected 'Problem with an order or item' and 'Item does not work, is damaged or a part is missing'.
Then go to Option 3 and select 'start chatting'.
Don't be put off by the Live Chat feature. It is the best way to get the issue resolved. Before you start the chat, select the option to have the conversation sent to your email. This is really useful if you need to make a complaint later on - especially if the contact handler provides incorrect advice or information.
The opening gambit is to politely provide the order number, the make/model, when it was purchased and a clear description of the fault. After a few exchanges and a few minutes delay, the contact handler will tell you that the item is outside the 30 day return period and then copy and paste several paragraphs of text as follows:
"I've checked and found that return window has expired on [XYZ Date]. Rest assure your item is still under warranty. One option that we find often enables our customers to get to a quick resolution of their issue is by visiting the manufacturer's website or contacting them directly as they may be able to offer helpful troubleshooting and support for this issue. If you would like to do that we can send the manufacturer’s details to you. We'd suggest that you check with the manufacturer to find out whether this is a known issue. They'll have specialist knowledge of their own products and in many cases they may be able to diagnose and resolve the problem immediately. Of course, if they can't help you, please let us know and we'll be happy to help."The correct response to this is something like this:
"I know about your returns policy and that the 30 day window has expired. However, I am also aware of my rights under the Sale of Goods Act to return a product which develops a fault before it would be reasonably expected to do so directly to the retailer. Respectfully, I would prefer to send it back to you for either a replacement model of the same or higher specification, a repair or for a full refund."After this, they will still try again to suggest it is easier for you to approach the manufacturer but they should also offer to 'process a refund or replacement as per your choice'. Thank them very much and then they'll email a postage-paid returns label which you can print out and send back via collectplus.co.uk. I opted for a refund as they offered it but I'd have been very happy for a replacement.
If it doesn't go well, you can try mentioning 'Sale of Goods Act' again with the words 'I am aware of my rights' and 'My contract is with the retailer, not the manufacturer'. If you still don't get any joy, try mentioning that you've read the Which? report in the January 2014 issue and noted that Amazon only scored 1/12 'very poor'. Amazon are also reported by Which as saying:
"Products that become defective within 12 months can be returned for a full refund or replacement, irrespective of any manufacturer warranty. After 12 months, we advise customers to contact the manufacturer for support and troubleshooting. Thereafter, we will take into consideration all facts and circumstances on a case-by-case basis to provide a fair solution. Amazon.co.uk will review the instances highlighted by Which? as they do not appear to be consistent with the typical Amazon.co.uk customer experience."It is clear than Amazon have a long way to go if they are to remedy the poor score in Which? but I have found that if you follow this process, you'll not go far wrong.
Here is my customer feedback:
Once here, I scored the 'Ease of working with Amazon' as 'Average'. This is because, as expected, your contact person immediately threw in the standard paragraphs used to defer me to the manufacturer (just as the Which? report said would happen). I firmly quoted that I was aware of my rights under the Sale of Goods Act and was soon offered the chance of a refund and sent a returns label.
I scored your service rep 'Excellent' because, given his situation, he did what he was told but he was very polite and very quickly realised that the only sensible option was to offer the refund.
Can you please consider altering your returns policy and get rid of the loop a user of your site experiences after the '30 days' is up? Your quote in the Which? magazine clearly indicates that the company will give a full refund or replacement on goods returned within 12 months. Please reflect this in the website and retain the 'returns' buttons next to products for a full 12 months.