I revealed last year how it has become commonplace for Chinese
sellers to mislead customers on retail platforms like Amazon by using
trading names that suggest they are UK-based. But this latest extraordinary twist in the tale surprised even me.
Tess West told me on my LBC Consumer Hour show last week that
in November she began receiving Amazon parcels addressed to a
“Lucy Bullen” at her home in Gravesend, Kent. She initially put it down to
a simple labelling error, but the parcels kept coming – apparently being
sent by lots of different people but all addressed to the same person.
Tess began refusing to accept the parcels, thinking they would find their
way to their correct destination. However, after they continued arriving,
she discussed with her local postman about opening the parcels to ascertain their origins.
Once Tess began opening the packages, she realised the parcels were all Amazon orders being returned and contacted the firm in January. During a phone call, an Amazon representative told Tess it appeared that a Chinese-based seller was using her
address for its returns. Amazon told Tess it had contacted the seller to request the returns address be changed and a £50 credit was applied to Tess’ own Amazon account as an apology. It was also agreed the firm would schedule a follow-up call with Tess to update her, but this never happened and when Tess called again she received no response.
However, despite the firm telling her it had intervened, the parcels continued to arrive at her home via Royal Mail and Hermes (now Evri). She discussed with the couriers what
to do and they agreed the best course of action would be to simply keep rejecting them.
But this only worked when her usual delivery operatives were on a shift; when other people covered the area who were unaware of the situation, parcels would be left at her door, back gate, side of the house and so on.
Clearly this was becoming time-consuming and stressful for Tess, who estimates she had now received as many as 300 packages.
After a couple more months, with the parcels still arriving, Tess decided to try changing her approach by accepting them in the hope the seller would stop; This made no difference. Tess then turned to Amazon again. She called their customer services team and explained the situation and asked to speak to their fraud department. She was told she would get a call back within 48 hours – this never materialised.
Last month Tess sent an invoice to Amazon for storage costs of the parcels. She received a
very basic reply from an Amazon Customer Service Representative based in India on July 1.
On July 9, Tess sent another letter informing Amazon she hadn’t received a response and stressed how totally unacceptable this was. On July 12, Tess received an email from an Amazon Customer Service Representative in India stating they were still looking into the matter. It has now been more than six months since Tess reached out to Amazon for help and the problem still has not been resolved. Neither does it appear that she is alone.
I have heard that other consumers are likewise having their home addresses used by Chinese-based sellers as their returns address. I can only speculate that it is cheaper for the sellers to simply ditch the goods than have to pay for postage back to China.
Clearly, when this is happening, Amazon should be taking these sellers off its site and better policing such behaviour and I have asked Amazon to comment on this situation.
An Amazon spokesperson said:
“At Amazon we’re always looking to improve the customer and seller experience. When a new seller registers for an account we use industry-leading tools and expert investigators to verify their details. However, in this case, the seller incorrectly listed someone’s home address for deliveries and returns. We’ve taken action to address this issue, will contact the customer directly and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Not really the response I was looking for!