Amazon refused to refund a customer who received putty-filled fake graphics card

midian182

Posts: 8,493   +105
Staff member
WTF?! Not for the first time, a large retailer refused to refund a customer after sending them a useless object instead of the PC component they purchased. On this occasion, Amazon sent a Canada-based buyer an RTX 3060 Ti that turned out to be a fake card stuffed with a putty-like substance. The company said it wouldn't hand over a refund until the "correct" item had been returned to its warehouse.

CBC News reports that Matthew Legault's parents decided to buy him the parts he needed to build a PC as recognition of his graduating high school in June. Tom's Hardware notes that it sounds like an impressive list of gaming hardware: an NZXT H510 case, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3600 memory, a Samsung 98 Series 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD, and an MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk motherboard.

Matthew also opted for an RTX 3060 Ti, a card we praised in our review. But when the $690 Zotac GeForce Twin Edge RTX 3060 Ti arrived at his Calgary home, he was shocked to find the box contained a fake card consisting of a plastic casing filled with something that looked like putty "to give it weight."

"It was actually a bit of a shock," said Matthew. "Everything looked pretty official up to the point where I pulled it out and took a second look."

Matthew's dad, François, contacted Amazon and returned the fake for a refund. The tech giant's response was to send an email stating that no refund would be given until the "correct" item was shipped back.

The administrator added that the fake item had been thrown away to protect Amazon employees. Maybe they thought it was a dangerous/hazardous material? If so, still taking the time to write an explanation email to the sender of this suspected bomb/toxin was certainly an exemplary example of customer service.

"It was absurd," said François. "It's just a piece of plastic so I doubt there's any danger to their employees. And secondly … now they've destroyed the piece of evidence."

As is often the case in these incidents, Amazon repeatedly claimed it had sent the correct item, and its decision was final, despite François sending photos of the fake item as evidence.

Amazon steadfastly refused to believe Legault for months. The family only received a refund and apology from the company after the incident appeared on CBC's Go Public program. The Legaults then bought a graphics card from a local retailer.

The situation brings to mind the person who bought an RTX 4090 from Newegg and was sent a box filled with weights instead of the $1,599 graphics card. Even Gamers Nexus had a similar issue when it returned a CPU (in an unopened package) that Newegg claimed had been damaged.

So, what's the best way to protect yourself when receiving fake items? Other than buying from local retailers, some gamers say they always video themselves opening an expensive piece of hardware as evidence of its contents. That might sound extreme, and there's no guarantee it'll even work, but it's easy to see why more people are doing this.

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BSim500

Posts: 929   +2,205
I've long stopped buying PC components from Amazon. Even without fake items / sticky fingered employees switching out the contents for something of similar weight, you still hear stories like Buy a Samsung SSD direct from Amazon, it arrives, yes it's "genuine" but then if it fails after Year 1 and you RMA it to Samsung complete with Amazon invoice as proof of purchase, they have responded to some people in the past with 'RMA denied. Serial Number not valid for this region', ie, Amazon were selling imported 'grey-market' items with no valid manufacturer warranty...
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 500   +865
The only time it's "USUALLY" ok is when it is bought and sold by Amazon directly from the Manufacturer. It can't be just shipped by amazon. You will see who supplied and shipped it on the purchase page. Make sure they BOTH say Amazon.

I've never had a problem following this rule. The whole problem with Amazon is it is a glorified Ebay, but it's easier to get a refund with Ebay. Imagine that.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
Over the years I have had a number of different items refunded. The "refund upon return" policy has always been applied and is well known, in fact the refunds are usually issued the moment the UPS store accepts it. Sounds like these folks simply did not read the policy but if they extensively documented the package, contents, etc. Amazon should issue the refund. Considering all the negative press, I'm surprised they gave this fellow a hard time.
 

bazz2004

Posts: 1,895   +310
"The whole problem with Amazon is it is a glorified Ebay, but it's easier to get a refund with Ebay. Imagine that."
There's a lot of truth in that. Amazon are brilliant though when you need something quickly. I did have an issue with an Amazon refund concerning a pair of damaged shoes but got my money returned eventually. It rankles that they removed all my carefully written product reviews. Some of the biased reviews from trusted or Vine reviewers are very annoying.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,352   +2,031
The only time it's "USUALLY" ok is when it is bought and sold by Amazon directly from the Manufacturer. It can't be just shipped by amazon. You will see who supplied and shipped it on the purchase page. Make sure they BOTH say Amazon.

I've never had a problem following this rule. The whole problem with Amazon is it is a glorified Ebay, but it's easier to get a refund with Ebay. Imagine that.
Necessary but not necessarily sufficient advice. What I think I've read in the past is that all "identical" SKUs are mixed together in one bin in their warehouses. So if Amazon is selling 3060s direct from say Asus with a SKU "1234", but another random seller is also claiming to be selling 3060s with that same SKU "1234" number, the inventory that seller sends to Amazon gets mixed in with the inventory that Asus sent to Amazon. So when you buy, you have no idea if you'll get the real part or the potentially counterfeit one.

btw I don't blame Amazon for not taking every one of these stories at immediate face value. It's not like people don't try to scam them all the time. What I do blame them for is not being specific and secure enough about whose inventory went to which customer and keeping out the fakes.
 

EdmondRC

Posts: 451   +657
Amazon has gone downhill, but it still has one of the best return policies. I have never had an issue with a returned and I have returned a lot of stuff. With this one, I would be suspicious too. You really can't blame them for thinking he might have sent the fake GPU back to them for the refund. That being said, they usually give you the refund anyway if you complain, as they cannot prove it one way or the other. Unless of course, you've already been flagged.
 
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I had this happen to me with Amazon Canada. I bought a psu, ended up not needing it, returned it and got the refund. 3 weeks later they emailed saying the wrong item was returned and that they will charge my credit card if not returned. They are cookie cutter emails and can never speak to anyone regarding this matter. The next ail threatened that if I were to do a chargeback then they would cancel my Amazon account! Needless to say I did a chargeback and got no recourse. They're greasy over there, and seemingly do this to more than just a few people.
 

b3rdm4n

Posts: 96   +76
Ahh, nVidia's new 3060 Ti 0GB
AMD love to capitalise and be slightly less worse wherever possible, maybe the 6300XTX with zero pci-e lanes, and no monitor outputs, that could steal this cards thunder?
 

StrikerRocket

Posts: 181   +145
This only seems to be a problem in the (North) America market with its truly crappy customer rights with online purchases.

True, online/mail purchases are much more protected in France/EU. You can return an unopened item, no questions asked, for 14 days after purchase.

But so far, I've had no problems for returns with amazon, probably thanks to this EU rule which they, fortunately, have to submit to!
 

Hotlynx16

Posts: 73   +22
Necessary but not necessarily sufficient advice. What I think I've read in the past is that all "identical" SKUs are mixed together in one bin in their warehouses. So if Amazon is selling 3060s direct from say Asus with a SKU "1234", but another random seller is also claiming to be selling 3060s with that same SKU "1234" number, the inventory that seller sends to Amazon gets mixed in with the inventory that Asus sent to Amazon. So when you buy, you have no idea if you'll get the real part or the potentially counterfeit one.

btw I don't blame Amazon for not taking every one of these stories at immediate face value. It's not like people don't try to scam them all the time. What I do blame them for is not being specific and secure enough about whose inventory went to which customer and keeping out the fakes.
I ran into that earlier this year, I was looking at a Motorola unlocked phone. The SKU on Amazon was one number different on the end than the one on Motorola's web site, I ended up buying it from Best Buy for the same price and the right SKU number!
 
Gamers Nexus returned a Motherboard with a damaged cpu socket, not a damaged cpu

Point still applies, but just wanted to clear that up (I registered just to say this... Lol)
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,392   +4,405
Isn't it funny how Amazon caved immediately when the CBC contacted them? They probably didn't want to show up on another episode of Marketplace. Sometimes, it's good to be Canadian because the CBC often acts as a consumer advocate and they're not the only ones. I've seen CTV do the same thing.

When you deal with a terrible company like Amazon, sooner or later, you're going to get burned. I'm so glad that I stopped doing business with Amazon. I'd rather pay more than support them. I hope that these people have learnt their lesson without having to learn it the hard way.
 
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Avro Arrow

Posts: 3,392   +4,405
Even Gamers Nexus had a similar issue when it returned a CPU (in an unopened package) that Newegg claimed had been damaged.
Just a little nit-pick here. It was an expensive "open-box" motherboard, not a CPU.
I've long stopped buying PC components from Amazon. Even without fake items / sticky fingered employees switching out the contents for something of similar weight, you still hear stories like Buy a Samsung SSD direct from Amazon, it arrives, yes it's "genuine" but then if it fails after Year 1 and you RMA it to Samsung complete with Amazon invoice as proof of purchase, they have responded to some people in the past with 'RMA denied. Serial Number not valid for this region', ie, Amazon were selling imported 'grey-market' items with no valid manufacturer warranty...
As bad as all that is (and it IS bad), for me, the biggest thing is how they treat their workers. If you support a company that treats its workers like enslaved robots, sooner or later you'll be in that same position because it will become normalised. That's bad for all of us.
The whole problem with Amazon is it is a glorified Ebay, but it's easier to get a refund with Ebay. Imagine that.
I use eBay all the time. I will never use Amazon. Jeff Bezos can suck it!
This only seems to be a problem in the (North) America market with its truly crappy customer rights with online purchases.
Well, at least in Canada, you can get the CBC on your side and they can be pretty savage to companies that try $hit like this. Just look at CBC's Marketplace on YouTube. Amazon knew that if they didn't capitulate, they'd have Marketplace's investigative reporter team all over them with hidden cameras and other recording devices. Since CBC is government-owned, these companies wouldn't dare try to intimidate Marketplace reporters.
Considering all the negative press, I'm surprised they gave this fellow a hard time.
It's because all of the negative press was from YouTubers. Once the CBC got involved, it's amazing how quickly they capitulated. The last thing that I bought from Amazon was an XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT and it will still the last thing that I ever bought from Amazon when I die.
btw I don't blame Amazon for not taking every one of these stories at immediate face value. It's not like people don't try to scam them all the time. What I do blame them for is not being specific and secure enough about whose inventory went to which customer and keeping out the fakes.
I dunno, but it seems awfully sketchy how they were steadfast until the CBC got involved. Their capitulation was almost immediate. It makes me glad as a Canadian that I can go to the CBC (or CTV for that matter) knowing that they'll be willing to go to bat for me.
So the correct way to go about it is to file a fraud case with the police. After that file a complaint with an amazon (but under no circumstances send the fake item back, that is evidence now).
You can file a police report, sure, but it probably won't yield results. This specific situation was resolved because it occurred in Canada. The CBC is publicly-owned and so they don't give a rat's posterior about the private sector and they will swarm them with investigative journalists from Marketplace. That's the ultimate PR nightmare for any company in Canada.
I had this happen to me with Amazon Canada. I bought a psu, ended up not needing it, returned it and got the refund. 3 weeks later they emailed saying the wrong item was returned and that they will charge my credit card if not returned. They are cookie cutter emails and can never speak to anyone regarding this matter. The next ail threatened that if I were to do a chargeback then they would cancel my Amazon account! Needless to say I did a chargeback and got no recourse. They're greasy over there, and seemingly do this to more than just a few people.
Well, now you know not to deal with them again. Fool you once, shame on them. Fool you twice, shame on you. Also, remember that you can always contact CBC's Marketplace and they'll go to bat for you. Look at how many people that the CBC has helped when the private sector decided to be predatory. I would have cancelled my account, told my CC provider to NOT allow a chargeback and let Amazon deal with it.

I just go to Canada Computers or Memory Express when I want PC parts. The prices are the same or better than Amazon, way better than "Best Buy" (more like Worst Buy), I can see what I'm getting and there's nothing sketchy about returns. Memory Express especially has amazing customer service. It's thanks to them that I have my R7-5800X3D.
This is just crazy!
The amount of scamming that has been taking place for the last 2-3 years is astounding...!
It's because people are dumb (and cheap) and keep going back to Amazon. The last time I was scammed was back in the day when those fake SD cards first showed up. The seller lost that fight and badly. Since then, I don't buy anything expensive online with the one exception of the RX 5700 XT. Never again though, especially not from Amazon.
I ran into that earlier this year, I was looking at a Motorola unlocked phone. The SKU on Amazon was one number different on the end than the one on Motorola's web site, I ended up buying it from Best Buy for the same price and the right SKU number!
Yup. Motorola phones are also available at Costco. That's where I got mine.
Gamers Nexus returned a Motherboard with a damaged cpu socket, not a damaged cpu

Point still applies, but just wanted to clear that up (I registered just to say this... Lol)
Yeah, it was a motherboard and an expensive "open-box" motherboard at that.