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Three common Amazon issues and how to avoid them

From Prime sign-ups to returns queries, watch out for these issues when shopping with Amazon

Feedback from Which? members has identified three common problems people encounter when using Amazon. 

Amazon has tried to make the process of online shopping as streamlined as possible. One-click ordering, a huge catalogue of products and Amazon Prime have made the online giant one of the most successful retailers of all time. Amazon has even enjoyed success with its own devices such as the Kindle ebook reader, Fire tablets and Echo smart hub.

With so many people using Amazon to buy everything from laptops to lychees, some problems are inevitable. We’ve sifted through our extensive member feedback and found three key issues they have experienced with the retailer to help you avoid them.

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Did I sign up for Amazon Prime?

Its fair to say that Amazon is keen for you to become a Prime member. During the process of purchasing something from Amazon we found the option to sign up no less that four times. There’s no pressure to become a Prime member and at any point you can decline Amazon’s offer of a 30-day free trial.

Here’s where you’ll find the sign-up messages:

1. When you’re looking at the product 

The first time you’ll see a sign-up message is when you’re pondering whether to add the product to your basket. Tick the box and when you buy whatever it is that’s caught your eye you’ll also start your 30-day trial. Don’t want it? Then don’t tick the box.

If you do tick it then you’ll get one final screen where you can confirm that you want to go ahead with your free trial. If you don’t want it then click the message that reads ‘Continue Don’t gain FREE One-Day Delivery’. You’ll see what that page looks like further down.

2. When you add the product to your basket

You’ll see this image if you add something to your basket and you aren’t a member yet. Clicking the ‘No thanks’ option means you’ll get fewer adverts when you’re adding your address and card details. This doesn’t pop up all the time, in fact we only saw it once when we were trying the different purchasing options.

If you do ask to be reminded of the trial you’ll find a pop up before you confirm your order. It’s a similar message to step one, so click the ‘Continue Don’t gain FREE One-Day Delivery’ options to finish your purchase without using Prime.

3. When you’re choosing your delivery options

There are usually four or five delivery options with an Amazon order and if you aren’t a Prime member the top one will always
be the same. If you don’t want Prime don’t select that delivery option.

If you do select the Prime delivery then, as with the other sign-up adverts, you’ll be asked to confirm whether you want your trial before you complete your order and you’ll need to select the ‘Continue Don’t gain FREE One-Day Delivery’ option to not be signed up.

4. Before you confirm your order

If you’ve said no at every other juncture then you’ll get one final message before you complete your order. It’s similar to the one you get to confirm your Prime trial and you need to click the same option if you don’t want to sign up.

If you did sign up but you don’t want to continue after the 30-day trial you can cancel the subscription in your account menu, which can be accessed from the top of the Amazon homepage.

Who do I return this to?

One of the benefits of online shopping is the generous returns period. You can even return something if you don’t want it. If you buy something directly from Amazon you have 30 days to return it, which is more than the 14 days given by law. You may think that if you buy something from amazon.co.uk you would return it to Amazon, but that isn’t always the case. Some of our members have encountered problems working out who to return an item to, and since Amazon doesn’t deal with the returns of all the products for sale on its site, it can be confusing.

To identify whether you’re buying something directly from Amazon you need to look out for the phrase ‘fulfilled by Amazon’. That means Amazon is responsible for your return. If you see another seller then it may have a different policy to Amazon’s. If you click the seller’s name you’ll be able to see feedback, returns information and delivery times.

For the most part you will still follow Amazon’s returns procedure, which means you initiate the return from your usual account view, but you will be dealing with the seller rather than Amazon. This could mean that the returns period is less than the 30 days offered by Amazon.

Head to our consumer rights page on refunds and returns to learn more about what to do when you’re shopping online.

What is available on Prime Video?

Free, one-day delivery is the main selling point of Amazon Prime, but it also gets you access to Amazon Video. The service works in much the same way as Netflix, but with a few differences, which has caused irritation for some of our members. If you’re browsing Netflix then everything you see is available to watch as part of your subscription. This isn’t the case with Amazon Video. Only certain films and TV shows are included with Prime while others will cost you a fee to rent.

If you’d rather not be teased with the shows you need to spend extra for you can choose to only see what’s included with your subscription. The option is on the main page regardless of what app you’re using. If you’re watching online, on a smartphone or on your TV just select the ‘Included with Prime’ option.

It’s a good idea to do this during your trial, so you don’t pay for a month’s or year’s subscription only to find that what you wanted to watch is going to cost you more money.

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