Amazon Marketplace: key consumer protection void

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It has emerged that buying goods through Amazon Marketplace deprives you of a key consumer protection. When you make a payment it goes to Amazon, which subtracts its commission and sends it on to the retailer. This means that you don't make any payment direct to the retailer.

This, in turn, means that you're not covered by the Consumer Credit Act if something goes wrong.


The problem

The Consumer Credit Act is a vital tool-of-last-resort for consumers left out-of-pocket by a retailer. Section 75 makes the credit card provider jointly liable with the retailer, as long as the purchase cost between £100 and £30,000. It means that as long as you pay with a credit card, if the retailer goes bust, fails to provide the goods, or provides something faulty and refuses to replace or repair it, you can claim the money back from your card company.

However, The Guardian reported over the weekend that it had come across a number of customers of Amazon Marketplace who had tried to use this act to get their money back from Amazon Marketplace and been told that the way the purchase works on the site means that they don't have this protection.

A spokesman for the Financial Ombudsman explained to AOL: "It's to do with the set-up of Amazon Marketplace. One of the caveats in section 75 is that there has to be a direct link between the person with the credit card, the card provider, and the retailer. Amazon Marketplace puts an extra layer into this, so there's no direct link and the act doesn't apply."

Ironically, if consumers had bought direct from the sellers, rather than going through Amazon, they would have this protection.

He adds that it's important to note that this only applies to the Amazon Marketplace and not Amazon.co.uk itself. He also says that if you check the terms and conditions on the site, Amazon makes this clear. However, it doesn't stop consumers falling foul of the rule - and the Ombudsman has had to reject a handful of cases where consumers tried to use the Consumer Credit Act with Amazon Marketplace.

Your rights

Amazon highlights that it offers separate protection to consumers, the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee. A spokesman told AOL: "The Amazon A-to-z Guarantee provides additional protection for customers who buy from Amazon.co.uk's third party Marketplace."

"Amazon guarantees purchases from third party Marketplace sellers when payment is made via the Amazon.co.uk website in accordance with our A-to-z Guarantee Policy. This covers an item received being defective, damaged, not as described or received late.

If the item is not delivered, not as described or faulty, then Amazon will arrange a refund. However, this must be done within 90 days of the order being placed.

It's definitely worth bearing in mind if you are planning to make an expensive purchase from the site. If you decide to go ahead, it will be vital to check the goods carefully within 90 days before your rights elapse.

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