Don’t buy Frontline from Amazon, or at least be very careful when you do so. I recently had an awful (and ongoing) experience with counterfeit Frontline Plus for Cats.
As some of you may be aware, we got fleas when we brought Dave to the new apartment. We dosed them all with Frontline before he came, but there were a few stragglers, which can apparently sometimes happen the first time you treat your pets with Frontline. We got some more Frontline Plus for Cats from Amazon to try a second round. The price was good – only $57.99 for six doses. So we dosed them all again and treated the apartment with some other flea stuff. Sounds typical, right?
Only the cats went from having a few fleas to having a full-blown infestation.
Dave, who has a flea allergy, was ripping himself to shreds. Jude, the oldest, got sick around the same time – vomiting far more than usual and having diarrhea. We actually thought for a while that we might have to have Jude put down soon, since he seemed to be doing so badly all of a sudden.
We gave it some time, but the Frontline never kicked in. We honestly thought we might have some sort of medication-resistant super-fleas. Finally, I got a bit suspicious and started looking up counterfeit Frontline online. I discovered pretty quickly that we had gotten a counterfeit product. If you think you may have gotten counterfeit Frontline or Advantage, check out these fact sheets from the EPA for retailers (which contains information for identifying real products) and for consumers (which includes information about how to alert the EPA to counterfeit products being sold).
Needless to say, I was upset about it. However, I didn’t really blame Amazon, because the medication came from a third party seller on Amazon, Bargain OTC. I contacted Amazon to find out what I should do about it. Their answer: contact the seller. Several days went by and I contacted Amazon again. They told me to give it another week and if by x date I still hadn’t heard back from the seller, then I could file an A-to-z Guarantee Claim with them. I waited until they said I could file the claim, then I did so.
A little while later I heard from them saying that I could ship the item back to the seller at my expense. I wrote back saying that I didn’t see why I had to pay for the return shipping and telling them that I only had the three doses left.
This was the response, “You have stated that the complete order cannot be returned. Please understand that we cannot verify that there was anything wrong with this item if you cannot return it. We also cannot ask the seller to reimburse you.”
First of all, I was supposed to ship it back to the seller, so how could Amazon verify anything anyway? Secondly, it was a counterfeit item! If you can’t get a refund on a counterfeit item from their “A-to-z Guarantee,” what does it cover?
The response I got back from the next email informed me that the seller’s policy was to not accept returns on opened items. My next question – why do the seller’s policies matter when they’re selling COUNTERFEIT items on your site? – was met with silence.
Today I called Amazon to figure out what the hell they’re problem is. The guy I spoke to was actually quite nice and he told me that I could still get the refund if I send back what I have left of the Frontline. So I printed a shipping label and was actually about to drop it in the mail when I got another email from the A-to-z Guarantee people (it’s never the same person – I think I’ve gotten responses from about 6 different people at this point). The email said this:
“Hello from Amazon.com.
We can certainly understand your concerns about this claim being closed. However, as stated in our previous message, we cannot verify that there was anything wrong with this item if you cannot return it. We also cannot ask the seller to reimburse you.
Amazon.com strives to maintain a marketplace that is fair to both buyers and sellers. Due to the fact that you cannot return your item or verify your claims regarding it, your claim has been closed.
We understand that you may not agree with this decision, but this claim will remain closed. Thank you for your interest in Amazon.com.
A-to-z Guarantee Program”
I can’t begin to describe the fury I felt when I read that. How can someone tell me that I can just send in what’s left to get a refund, then maybe 5 minutes later get that email from someone in the same company. Clearly they’re operating on different continents, but that doesn’t really improve my opinion of their customer service.
I called Amazon back and spoke to a woman, who was also very nice and clearly doing her best to help me. She told me to file an appeal on the claim and not to send back the Frontline until that has been approved, which will probably take 7 days if it gets approved at all.
My issue with Amazon isn’t that the product was counterfeit – they had nothing to do with that part of it. My problem is the morass of red tape and awful customer service surrounding the return when the product is clearly counterfeit. I’ve offered to send them photos of the packaging so they can see for themselves, but apparently they “can’t accept photos.” They also told me that they prefer it if buyers and sellers can work things out themselves, which I take to mean that they don’t really care if sellers in their marketplace are selling counterfeit products.
I’ve been an Amazon customer for years and have spend thousands of dollars on their site. I’ve been getting my textbooks from them since my freshman year of undergrad, I buy crafting supplies from them, I get electronics from the site, not to mention any household items I generally need. It has really been my go-to online shopping destination. Now I’m wondering if I ever want to shop with them again. Unless they make this right, I really don’t want to give them any more of my money. I need to order textbooks for next semester soon, but I think I’m going to go to another site for those. I might pay a few dollars more, but I’d rather do that than give Amazon another $500 of my money. I rather regret that I have a Kindle at the moment, and I think I’m going to take the Amazon items off of our wedding registry.