Are You Being Scammed or Harassed By Amazon Buyers?

Are You Being Scammed or Harassed By Amazon Buyers?

You don’t hear much about this but eBay is not the only place with scammy buyers. Amazon has them too. The single, most simple, scam is when someone buys something and decides for no good reason they don’t want it. So they fill out a return request on Amazon and state the item was “defective.” That way Amazon pays the return shipping and charges it back to you. But there are other more nefarious scams as well. And, some are just plain weird buyers. Or, if you are merchant fulfilling, you will have to provide the refund.

One of my readers, Susan M., had a couple of interesting experiences with both. Here’s what she had to say . . .


In the past 2 weeks I have had horrible experiences with buyer’s trying to get ‘freebies’ or ‘gifts’ as I like to say by scamming me in one way, or another. Now, being a seasoned seller, not much surprises me but I feel buyers are more clever and creative in finding ways to outsmart even the most experienced sellers.

Last week an Amazon buyer told me his item was not delivered. He said he lives in South Carolina but the item was delivered to Maryland. Sure enough I looked at the tracking for the parcel and it did indicate that although it passed through SC and was scanned there, it eventually ended up in MD.

I took time out of my busy life to call the post office in SC and they agreed it had been there and were unsure why it ended up in MD. I then went a step further to call the supervisor in MD, where it was delivered. He informed me there was a forwarding order on file; the item had been forwarded to MD and then delivered to the forwarded address. I then called the SC post office back and gave her the name of the buyer, who looked up the address and confirmed for me there was a current forwarding order on file.

I, of course, wrote back to the buyer telling him all this and he was probably surprised I went through this much trouble but NEVER heard back from him. Now, of course, I wait for negative feedback.

I have had several buyers tell me their item was scanned as delivered but they did not get it. This is a difficult situation as they still can leave a negative even though the USPS scanned the item as delivered.

I have had buyers tell me the item I sold to them was the incorrect item but the box was labeled correctly, again asking them to request a return, only to never hear from them.

And I am saving the best for last. I have several distributorships for cosmetic companies who I deal directly with. I am familiar with all of the products and know the account reps well. These are highly researched products that I would use myself. I take care to make sure they are cruelty free and 100% vegan products.

I had sold a sealed lip balm to one Amazon buyer. The total cost of the balm was $3.99! She writes me days after she receives it to say it was past its expiration date and had mold on it and smells rancid. I immediately ask her to send it back to me for inspection by the company rep, who is in an uproar when I tell her what the customer said to me.

I ask her to go through Amazon return but the buyer is demanding I send her a self-address, stamped envelope, which I do for fear this may escalate to something more than just an accusation. At this point, I tell her that we can find no evidence of moldy balm in our possession and that my rep had opened up several tubes at the warehouse and they were pristine. I offer to send her another balm even before the other is returned to me and she tells me that it is a birthday gift for her niece — why would she open a sealed balm to give to her niece as a gift??? I also noted the balm going to a college dormitory!

Fortunately, I had another of the same balm in my inventory bearing the same lot number, again it being sealed. Both she and I are opening up balms randomly trying to duplicate what the customer is saying to no avail. Everything is perfect. Weeks later and I mean weeks (possibly 3-4) I get the balm back in the mail. When I open the envelope I can see it is ruined with balm smashed all over the outside of the tube and inside as well. There is absolutely no evidence of mold or rancid odor on the balm itself. Nothing is unusual about it except that it is totally ruined by being smashed into something.

Literally moments after I receive the item, I get an email from the customer saying her records reflect that I have it in my possession and she is demanding a FULL refund, which, of course, I give to her. Now, I ask what is the point of all this? At first, I thought she just might be looking for a gift, but this truly goes far beyond what most buyers would try to get some freebies. I have yet to decide what she had gained by all of this — maybe it was a game in her mind to feel powerful?

I know sellers love to complain about eBay but honestly I have had few problems with scamming buyers on eBay, possibly b/c my feedback reflects a larger number than my Amazon feedback. It is very difficult to get Amazon to remove feedback for any reason, so if my attempt fails by asking a buyer, I am pretty much stuck with the negatives.

Negative feedback hurts sales — we all know it — and I take great pains to avoid it whenever the fault is mine. I will go above and beyond what is necessary to correct a problem if it is my error but simply will NOT tolerate a scam from a buyer looking for freebies to resell or worse yet a competitor looking to ruin another seller’s reputation.

Have a great evening and it has been a pleasure reading your newsletters! Keep up the great work!

Sue M.”

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5 Comments

  1. Hi, is there a way to remove a “return reason”? I had a customer write “counterfeit” as a return reason. It was actually the brand owner and when I reached out to them they said it’s the only way they can protect their brand, they test buy and write it’s counterfeit. I tried to explain to them that they can only do that if it IS counterfeit and what harm is it for me to sell their genuine product? They didn’t seem to understand but a week later they called to apologize and asked how to remove it. I can’t figure out if there is a way to revoke a return reason. It hurts my metrics though, so I would love to resolve this. Thanks for all info you provide for us.

    1. Author

      Contact Amazon support – explain the reason and they have the ability to remove it. They will automatically turn down your first request so reopen the case and ask that it be raised to a supervisor

  2. As a seller on both Amazon and fleaBay, the mail forwarding scam is indeed new to me. Thank you!

  3. Tell the seller to tell the buyer that they are going to contact the postal inspector about the shipping problem and that the customer should cooperate with the postal inspector when they are contacted. I have done this in the past and that usually puts a end to the problem. Most buyers do not like postal inspectors especially the scammers. I have filled out the form at the post at the office and never heard from the buyer again. This gets their attention.

  4. To Allan Morris… Hi, such a great idea — mention POSTAL INSPECTOR to the scammer would beat any other way to end the problem. Appreciate for the tips.

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