Buyer beware

I’m sure that the vast majority of people who sell products via Amazon/eBay/insert-web-shopfront-of-your-choice are honest. Many people, myself included, have sold items that they no longer need and are keen to retain high customer ratings/feedback so will do whatever they can to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Of course, from time-to-time things can go wrong. I recently sold a book to someone via Amazon and thought the Royal Mail had lost it (because I’d sent it using the Recorded Signed For service but for some reason the tracking code didn’t work) – thankfully when I e-mailed the buyer, they were honest and told me that they had received the book already. That’s the basis of many web transactions – mutual trust.

It’s because of this that I was furious when a recent third-party purchase from Amazon turned out not to be as described. I’d bought a product from a merchant called “pixmania-uk”. Everything looked good, the price was fine, the order was confirmed, and then I received a strange e-mail that suggested my item was going to be a French specification (I live in the UK):

“Important information about your order from our Pixmania Marketplace:

[…]

Please read the following information carefully. If you have any question, thank you to contact us.

  • Your parcel will include at least one product which will come with an adapter plug free of charge.Be assured that this product will have the same specifications as a UK model.
  • If your product is not supplied with a hard copy of the manual in English; we would like inform to you that a PDF format of the manual is available. Please contact us in order we sent to you the PFD file.

[…]

Now, the whole point about the European Union (EU) is free trade between member states and I have no problem with a continental European product but I want a UK power supply – not a French one with an adapter! I also expect instructions to either be multi-lingual (as most are), or in English (because that’s what we speak here). I contacted Pixmania and asked to cancel my order. Too late – already shipped. Their advice was to refuse delivery once it turned up here.

Having refused delivery, I had to wait for over 2 weeks before my refund was processed and then Pixmania only refunded the item cost – not the £6.95 shipping charge. So I contacted Pixmania again and received this response:

“Dear Mark Wilson,
Thank you for your feedback, Unfortunately your request was refused by our accounts department.

In the case you missed our seller information on Amazon.co.uk, I would like to kindly inform you that; Pixmania warehouses are based in Paris France manufacturers here in France do not supply us with the UK power cable, an adapter plug should have been provided, this is stated on the Amazon website under the “sellers” information for Pixmania, please use the following link to see this information; http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/seller/home.html?ie=UTF8&isAmazonFulfilled=&orderID=&asin=B0007UATDG&marketplaceSeller=&seller=ACRTI4YR8LRR0

We apologise for the inconvenience and if you have any further questions, please contact us at amazon_uk@pixmania.com

Best regards,

Team Pixmania”

Luckily, third party orders paid for through Amazon are covered by Amazon’s A to Z Guarantee and they refunded the shipping cost. If that hadn’t worked then I still had the protection of having used my credit card for payment.

Now, turning my attention to the link that Pixmania had sent me. Did they really clearly state that this was a French product before I bought it? Well, yes, but only if I clicked through a few pages to find the information. First I would have needed to notice that the seller ID was “pixmania-uk” (suggesting they might be based in the UK…). If I clicked through on that, I would have seen their UK storefront (which uses a tiny font) and only then, if I clicked on a link at the bottom-right corner of the page would I have seen a Note for French spec. products.

Part of Pixmania-UK Amazon storefront showing feedback

Actually, before I got to any note about the products being shipped from France I should have seen that their shipping rates are not as advertised (how does £4 per shipment plus £0.50 per kg add up to £6.95?) but more obviously that their feedback is appalling. At the time of writing there have been over 70,000 shipments with an 89% satisfaction rate. 4% of customers (i.e. almost 3000 people) gave a neutral response and 7% (almost 5000 people) gave a negative one – mostly complaining about French products. 4 and a half stars may be fine if you are a tiny vendor with 10 sales and one complaint but when 11% of your customers are hot happy, that’s not good. (And why is Amazon doing anything about it? It’s their reputation too!)

All I can say is be careful who you are buying from when you shop at Amazon. Avoid Pixmania. And buyer beware.

One thought on “Buyer beware


  1. Ahh, the old pixmania-uk. I know it’s not their legal trading name, but I’ve always felt the ‘uk’ part slightly disingenuous.

    What I’d really like is for an option to only view products sold by Amazon UK. Does this exist and I’m missing something obvious?

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