Amazon is changing its complaint process for returns and will pay customers up to $1,000 for products sold by third-party sellers that caused damage or personal injury.
The company announced Tuesday that it will deal with customer satisfaction itself and go after companies afterward if third parties are unresponsive or unwilling to compensate valid claims. Amazon said the changes begin September 1 for all products sold on its website.
Here’s how it works: Customers can contact Amazon’s customer service and they will notify the seller of the problem. If the seller doesn’t respond, Amazon said it will “address the immediate customer concern, bear the cost ourselves, and separately pursue the seller.” If the seller rejects the claim, Amazon said it might step in to help address the problem pay up to $1,000 at no cost to the seller.
“This streamlined process will save time, money, and effort for both customers and sellers,” Amazon said about its new “A-to-z Guarantee.” That represents a shift from the current process of having buyers contact sellers directly about problems.
In recent years, numerous products sold on Amazon have caught consumers’ ire. For example, hoverboards, carbon monoxide detectors and faulty dog collars sold on Amazon have caused problems. That has sparked a lawsuit, called “Oberdorf v. Amazon,” that questions if the company can be held liable for damages caused by goods sold by third parties.
Amazon (AMZN) said it’s not a seller, rather just a marketplace for other sellers.
“If you purchase any of the products or services offered by these businesses or individuals, you are purchasing directly from those third parties, not from Amazon,” according to its conditions of use. “Amazon does not assume any responsibility or liability for the actions, product, and content of all these and any other third parties.”
Now, to keep some customers satisfied and protect sellers from paying invalid claims, Amazon is assuming some of that liability.