Questions of Cash: April 2015

Q  I was shocked when I looked at my American Express account statement to see a charge of £79 for membership of Amazon Prime.  This is a service providing film downloads and priority delivery of goods bought from Amazon.  I have not bought anything from Amazon for a long time as I do not like the company and I certainly have never subscribed to Amazon Prime.  When I tried to find out what had happened on the Amazon website, I got nowhere as it simply informed me that I do not have an account.  I eventually obtained a phone number for Amazon.  But when I phoned I was told that data protection law prevented the company from giving me any information about the Amazon Prime account as it was not linked to my address!  I tried to explain that the data protection law did not apply as it was supposedly my own account and that I was being charged for it, but I got nowhere.  Instead the customer service representative suggested that my children might have used my American Express card.  They deny this and that makes no sense anyway as they have the same address as me and they did not even know I have an American Express card.  I have logged this as a fraudulent transaction with American Express, which has credited my account as Amazon was apparently unable to provide any documentation supporting the supposed transaction.  But I would really like to know how this happened.  PG, Northern Ireland.

A   So would we.  Amazon responded to our initial inquiries by providing further contact information, which you used to phone them.  Since then Amazon has ignored our repeated communications.  We know that many Amazon customers have signed up with Amazon Prime without being aware that they have done so, but it seems your situation is different as you have not bought items from Amazon.  As Amazon has not answered our questions, we can offer no explanations.

Q. I bought my husband an England Rugby World Cup jersey from the Rugby World Cup shop online,, as a birthday present in November last year.  My husband wore it to watch three of England’s recent games and it was washed three times.  But I have now seen a hole in the back of the Jersey, which looks to me like a fault.  Given that it cost £65, I don’t think this is acceptable.  I have gone back to the RWC shop, which said this was not a manufacturing fault and that I should get it repaired through a local tailor.  I was not satisfied with this, so I went back to the RWC shop which said:  “unfortunately unless you can prove that the fault is a manufacturing fault then there is nothing we can do.   You are welcome to send us a photo via email and we can send it to the head of office and see what they say.”  I sent the photo by return, following it up with two more emails requesting that the complaint be escalated.  I heard nothing more for three weeks.  I then sent another email and I was told that as there were no problems reported with this item from anyone else “we cannot offer you a refund or exchange”.   It can’t be right that something costing £65 and worn only to watch TV would only be fit to be washed three times.  MC, Somerset.
A We had difficulty in resolving this as our first two emails to the company were caught by its spam system and therefore ignored.  The RWC Shop maintains that it has acted correctly.  Matthew Buckland of the company says: “The original purchase of two garments was placed by the customer in November 2014….  The fault was then reported to us in February 2015. Now although this is outside our returns window, [the reader], like all our consumers, have rights on the quality of goods they buy. However, by stating  that the garment had been worn and washed on three separate occasions – now unfit for resale or refund from our manufacturer – it seemed, and this remains [the case], to us this can just as likely be a fault caused by the customer rather than ourselves, which led to our decision to not replace the garment.  Obviously we appreciate that a top which gains a hole on the back after three washes and wears may seem faulty, but when we saw the picture of the garment, it was of our opinion that this could have been caused by a snag in a washing machine or another piece of clothing catching on the garment.  We had reviewed our stock when the complaint originally came to our attention, and could not find the fault replicated, nor could we find a complaint from another customer who had bought the same garment.  All that being said, we are a retail business, not in the business of ‘ripping off’ our customers and delivering faulty goods…. With that in mind, as a gesture of goodwill, would like to offer to replace the shirt from the original order with free delivery.”  You have accepted this offer.
Q   I ordered five dresses from Apricot online in February.  I returned four of the dresses, which Apricot acknowledged.  The company states that as these were sale items, refunds can only be made as an online credit, in line with its terms and conditions.  I refuse to accept that: Citizens Advice tells me I have a statutory right to a refund.   I have the right to cancel an online order and require the trader to make the reimbursement using the same means of payment.  A £50 refund should have been refunded to my account within 14 days.  But Apricot is digging its heels in.  MS, by email.A  We raised all these points with Apricot, but it did not respond to the detail of your complaint.  However, it tells us that it has now made a full refund to the account with which you made the payment.

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