Left up the creek without a paddle by Amazon

Back in November, I was browsing Amazon when I saw someone had a second-hand Wii Fit available for fifty quid. (For people without a Wii, the retail price for this is £79.99, but supply problems mean they're selling for more than that.)

So I bought it.

As is my habit, having done so, I looked at the item's page again… and the alarm bells started ringing when I saw they were claiming to have more than one. Having one unwanted Wii Fit they wanted to sell was plausible, but having more wasn't.

A look at the seller's 'storefront' showed they were selling a mix of things, including some expensive stuff, but also some – to me – random junk. Perhaps it was a mistake on their part.

In any case, I emailed Amazon within minutes:

I saw Wii Fit was being sold by someone for £49.99 'used as new'. Oooh, I'll buy that.

But they still have some for sale… how many are they supposed to have?

I will be very interested to see what if anything arrives, but this is a 'heads up' that something dubious could be going on. One unwanted Wii Fit going cheap is plausible, multiple ones aren't

Within the hour…

… I got a 'we have taken your money, love Amazon' email.

Rather later, there was a reply from their customer services team:

Dear Customer,

Thank you for contacting Amazon.co.uk with your enquiry.

As this item is being shipped by our third party Marketplace seller, we are unable to say how many items does the seller has.

However, the seller may provide you more information about the numbers and condition of the item so we request you to contact the seller.

To contact your seller just click the Your Account link at the top of our site, access your order summary, and click the "View Order" button next to the relevant order.

About a week later, I emailed back:

I did send an email warning that there could be a problem immediately after ordering it when I saw that the vendor claimed to have more than one very cheap Wii Fit for sale, but got a bland 'we have no idea how many they have, contact the vendor' reply. (Why not? When I list something, I have to say how many I have – do you not have access to that info?)

Today, I see that "The homeguarduk Storefront is temporarily unavailable from the Seller. Please try again at a later time or search for the product on Amazon using the search above."

1) Am I right to assume that I will not be receiving the goods?

2) How long do I have to wait for a refund of the money that was taken by Amazon after I alerted you of a likely problem? (The 'we have taken your money' email is dated over an hour after I sent my email.)

3) How many other people have contacted you in regard to this vendor?

They said:

Dear Customer .. I checked with the seller and found that they have 17 quantities of "Wii Fit (Wii) [Nintendo Wii]". We expect sellers to dispatch their items within 2 business days of your order being placed.

Since the seller is shipping out your order, they should be able to let you know of its whereabouts.

To contact your seller just click the Your Account link at the top of our site, access your order summary, and click the "View Order" button next to the relevant order. Then click the "Problem with this order?" button. Please allow your seller three working days to respond.

We would request you to wait until close of business on December 18, 2008. …

If you don't receive a reply from your seller, or are not able to come to an agreement regarding a non-received order, you can use the following link to read the terms of our guarantee and to file a claim for reimbursement of your order cost, if necessary. You will be able to file a claim after December 18, 2008.

Seventeen?!? Come on, there was zero chance that any one would actually have seventeen unwanted used Wii Fits. It was an obvious scam, but I could not cancel the order or ask Amazon for a refund until today.

The results of Amazon's relaxed attitude can be seen here – there are dozens of victims.

Part of me actually hopes the scammer cleared out the account the payments went into – perhaps the loss to Amazon would mean some arses get kicked.

What will really annoy me is if this claim will count against my apparent lifetime total of five claims. I've only had to use it once before (and that was Amazon's fault – the .co.uk page said the DVD was PAL R2 format, but the vendor was based in the US and the .com page for the same ASIN was for NTSC format, and they, not unreasonably, reckoned that they had sent what they had said they would) and I don't want to lose another one.

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