Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Buyer beware! Amazon hides taxes on purchases

[UPDATED and edited...]

I had an gift card with enough funds on it to cover the amount for an Acer computer.  After adding the gift card to account, I found during the ordering process did not inform me the total purchase price was more than they had indicated...

Previously I had been very satisfied with purchasing gift cards, and ordering from them.  I've never had any issues I can think of to mention, and didn't expect any to arise that could not be easily resolved.  Until recently.

The computer costs $288.79.  The gift card had $290 on it.  I added it to my account.  The webpage for the Acer computer showed:  "Ships from and sold by".  As I was completing the order process, I chose "free shipping".  At the "Select a payment method" screen, when I click on "Continue", a message appears that states:  "Please enter your payment information to continue."

The computer costs $288.79...I have over $289 in my "available balance"...I chose "free shipping"...

I sent an e-mail message, and received a response:

"...After research, I've confirmed that there must be either a technical issue or a website default, which makes it unable to place the order.

"...I request you to retry to order the item and if still you are unable to access those features, you can request a call from our Customer Service department for the real time troubleshooting..."

Throughout the day I continued to try and place the order.

Late that night, I contacted Customer Service via live online chat.  The agent stated...

Amazon(Amazon): "Unfortunately, we are unable to place an order on your behalf. You'll have to place the order from your end".

The next day, I called via telephone.  Before I consider ordering ANYTHING from, I will seriously consider how unhappy I am after this interaction...

Based on the agent's accent, I assumed she was not in the United States of America.  Not a bad thing...initially.  But towards the end of the call I wondered if this all might have been a much better experience if, for sure, the agent been an American citizen.

She began to complete the order for me.  She was asking me to add my credit card information to this order.  I don't have a credit card.  Also...the computer costs $288...I have more than that in my "available balance".  (And, I'm choosing "free shipping".)

She continued to tell me to add a credit card, or an additional gift card (or a bank account) to the "More Payment Options" section of the "Select a payment method" screen.  I refused to add additional funds to this order.  After I did, she revealed to me that...until I did...I would not be able to be charged taxes on the purchase.

What taxes?  When I began to calculate the total cost of the purchase from, I was NEVER given any idea that the total cost for purchasing the computer would be more than $288.79.

I asked for the amount of the taxes for this purchase.  I was told it would be calculated...AFTER I added acceptable funding to the purchasing process.  So, I cannot know how much the taxes are...UNTIL after I have made enough money available to for the entire purchase to be processed.

I told her I will not consider making more funds available to until I know exactly how much the taxes are.  She placed me on hold, and began to investigate how much the taxes are.  Many minutes later, she returned to the call.  After she mispronounced the name of the city I was in, I was again convinced she must be in India.  She stated would need an additional $18 and some change to complete the order.  The smallest amount that can be put on an gift card is $25.

After all of this...I wanted my money refunded.  But I'm sure that's a much longer battle...that may need intervention from government agencies.



I was solicited for my last submission to rate the service I received from by an e-mail message I received.  It took me to a "Tell us how we're doing" page, where I was able to supplied the following comments.

DATE: 01/21/15 17:23:44 PST
COMMENTS: ...After adding the gift card to my account, I find later in the purchasing process I need to supply MORE funds because of taxes that are levied...WHICH WERE NEVER QUOTED TO ME DURING MY PLANNING PRIOR TO ATTEMPTING TO PURCHASE THE ITEM.

I was planning to need to wait until I could have money added to my "available balance" that would cover all charges, including the taxes.  Or...blow my balance on other items from  And later file complaints with any agency and organization that might be interested in hearing of my tale of woe.

That night...I received an e-mail message (which I have edited for privacy):


Message From Customer Service


I'm sorry for the inconvenience caused in this regard.

I've reviewed your previous correspondences and understand your concern regarding the purchase of "Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T1UU (13.3-inch Full HD, NVIDIA Tegra K1, 4GB)" through Gift Card. You had to contact us multiple times for this to be resolved and that's definitely not what we want our customers to experience.

Upon checking the item details on our website I see that the price of the item is $288.79.

To help compensate for the inconvenience, I've issued an $24 promotional certificate for the tax to be levied to your account as an exception, which will automatically apply the next time you order an eligible item sold and shipped by and doesn't require a claim code.

It is always important for us to hear how customers react to all aspects of shopping at Strong customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the selection and service we provide. We take this kind of information seriously as it is valuable to us in helping us to continue to improve our program.

Your understanding and patience is appreciated in this matter.

We are looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Best regards,


I placed the appears to be in process.  Watch this space...