On Your Side: Amazon's Confusing Return Policies
I tried to return an IBM ThinkPad R50 notebook under Amazon.com's product satisfaction guarantee. When I bought the laptop, I noticed that Office Depot handled the transaction as a merchant for Amazon.com. But what I didn't--and couldn't--know is that Office Depot then handed the sale to Tech Depot (Office Depot's computers and technology store), which has a no-refunds policy on IBM computers. The Office Depot section of Amazon.com provided no opportunity to drill down to Tech Depot's well-buried return policies. I went through the cycle of contacting Amazon, then Office Depot, then Tech Depot, and back again. Any recourse?
Michael Desmond, Colchester, Vermont
On Your Side responds: Desmond, a writer and frequent PC World contributor, wasn't alone on this issue. Barbara Cole, Office Depot's director of e-commerce, says the company "received a handful of complaints from other customers." During our research, Office Depot combined the policies for Tech Depot and Office Depot on the Amazon.com shopping site. Nevertheless, the titles on every page refer only to Office Depot, so a shopper may erroneously assume the policies don't apply to Tech Depot. The bottom line is this: Office Depot and Tech Depot do not accept returns on any technology products unless they're defective or damaged, in which case you must return them within 14 days. After my inquiries, however, Amazon.com and Office Depot promised to give Desmond a refund.