The non-story about Amazon’s price drop guarantee


There is a story from yesterday from Recode that’s gotten some traction in the news that says that Amazon has stopped refunding for price drops withing 7 days of your purchase. The information is based on a Reddit thread of what seemed like mostly unhappy customers.

The truth is, this is sort of a non-story. Amazon has experimented for years with dynamic pricing  (where different customers may see different prices for the same item). Prime Membership status has also been a factor. (You used to be able to see a different price if you logged in in as a Prime member and a lower one if you browsed under a non-Prime account.)

Amazon officially dropped the price adjustment on most items back in 2008.  Originally, the price guarantee extended to 30 days. The policy was then dropped, although some customers continued to be able to get refunds within seven days of a purchase. You can read a thread about it here on the Amazon customer forums. The thread has been resurrected several times over the last six months when customers started reporting that Amazon was no longer honoring refund requests.

According to the Recode article,

Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law told Recode the policy was always limited to televisions and that any customer who has received refunds on other products was granted an “exception.” But it’s clear that those exceptions were previously given out freely, and now they are not.

The Recode piece suggests that price-tracking companies like Earny and Paribus have played a role in Amazon’s change in their unofficial refund policy. While price tracking may be a factor, it is apparent that Amazon has  paying more attention to its bottom line. A few months back, we were seeing stories about serial returners getting their accounts banned for excessive returns.  One of the Reddit posters said they had asked for price drop refunds over 50 times in the last 3 years. That seems like a very high number – I’ve been an Amazon member for almost 20 years and have only asked for a price drop refund once. Given the cost of providing customer service, maybe Amazon is deciding that price drop refunds are just too expensive in the long run.

Does it matter to you whether Amazon does refunds when prices drop? Or, do you do like I do and watch prices before you buy?

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