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Amazon Charges College Student Over $3,000 for Overdue Rented Book

Amazon Charges College Student Over $3,000 for Overdue Rented Book

“it was only $150 to buy the book outright”

This is absurd. The student was unwise to not return it on time but $3,000? Really? At least they got a refund.

WVLT News reports:

Amazon charges college student more than $3,000 for overdue book

A Delaware college student tried to save money by renting a textbook from Amazon, but she got more than she bargained for when she didn’t send it back in time.

“I’m majoring in cognitive science, concentrating in speech language pathology,” University of Delaware rising sophomore Amelia SanFilippo told CBS Philly.

SanFilippo turned to Amazon to rent a book for one of her classes.

“You just go and click on the button that says rent the book and they just send it as if you’re receiving any other Amazon package,” she said.

But SanFilippo missed Amazon’s fine print. If the book was not returned by June 24, she would be charged $3,800 to buy Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age; however, it was only $150 to buy the book outright.

SanFilippo was reminded four days after the due date about the book.

“Your rental was due June 24, 2019. We have not received it and as a result we have charged you for the item and it is now yours to keep,” read an email from Amazon.

It was hers for $3,800–a charge her father, Anthony SanFilippo, said he won’t forget any time soon.

“To ramp that up to $3,800? That to me seems like extortion,” he said.

Her father said after returning the book and enduring a nine-hour call with customer service, they finally got a refund five days later.


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healthguyfsu | July 12, 2019 at 11:45 am

“Her father said after returning the book and enduring a nine-hour call with customer service, they finally got a refund five days later.”

Bide by the terms of the agreement and return your book…you poor little snowflake

    countrylaw in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 14, 2019 at 9:41 am

    The agreement is called an adhesion agreement. Unusual temrs need to be clearly disclosed or those terms can be ruled unconscionable and non-binding. A contract requires a meeting of the minds.

TheAbidingDude | July 12, 2019 at 1:44 pm

The book should automatically return on the due date without human intervention. That’s how electronic book checkout at your library works on Amazon’s platform.

And this is why Amazon refunded the money–because it would not stand even a cursory review in court. The amount charged is utterly unreasonable, the late notification is constructed to ensure the unreasonable charge is triggered, and there is no sane technical reason for doing it this way.

    Actually the automatic billing should be for another school term, with a purchase option. That purchase option might, or might not, allow the first rental to be used against the purchase price which might be the price at purchase time or the current price (hint, most textbooks do not change MSRP but the new edition can be higher). The most Amazon can lose in the short term is one semester’s rental as even if the book is replaced by a new edition it would not have been very rent-able after such a new edition came out. It is reasonable to fear that late returns might get in the way of the various checks to make sure the textbook is rentable to the next student and make that rental before the various college/university fall term starts.

    Milhouse in reply to TheAbidingDude. | July 14, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    This was not an electronic book. It can’t automatically return itself — it can’t pack itself in a box, stamp itself, and put itself in a mail box.

JusticeDelivered | July 12, 2019 at 1:55 pm

The why Amazon does this would be in how many outrageous charges they got away with.

That’s odd. Most rentals I’ve seen say once your late charges reach the “purchase price” (usually a high, but not totally outrageous, number) they stop charging you and the item is yours to keep.

Oversoul Of Dusk | July 12, 2019 at 11:25 pm

Only 9 hours on the phone with customer service? That’s remarkably fast for Amazon.

They seem to hire the folks who are so bad the cell phone companies let them go.

Huh? These numbers are nothing like what the Amazon site shows.

Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age (Second Edition) by Kenneth J. Guest
Buy new $107.50
Buy used $35.37
More Buying Choices
83 offers from $20.93
7 New from $103.36
71 Used from $28.58
5 Rentals from $20.93

Return by: December 16, 2019
Rented from: Amazon Warehouse
15-day extension $9.98
Semester extension $20.93
Buyout available: $400.00 $379.07

Return shipping is free and must be postmarked by the rental due date to avoid charges.

You will be responsible for any notable damages to your rental item. Normal wear & tear is acceptable.

You can manually extend your rental at any time.

Your rental can be purchased at any time and 100% of your rental payments will be applied towards buyout.

Third ed is for sale but not available yet, so 2nd must be the item at issue here.

Antifundamentalist | July 13, 2019 at 10:57 am

I wonder if she rented from one of the Amazon vendors rather than Amazon itself? You have to be careful because some of them are a bit…hinky, to say the least.

Reason #1 on Why To Only Use Credit Cards For This Stuff Instead Of Debit Cards.

Because you can call Visa and dispute the charges, which makes the $4k vanish out of the Amazon pirate’s account and held at Visa until the two of your hash out your differences and come to an agreement. With a debit card, it’s gone, and you may suddenly be faced with an overdraft and a very unsympathetic bank.

As an aside, this may have been a setup for Advanced Fee Fraud with extra peppers on it. If the pirate winds up getting forced to give the money back, they can mail a check for up to $3k above the value of the refund, then contact the sucker and say “Oops, we sent you too much money. Just go to Western Union and wire us the extra back after you cash the check.” Then a week after wiring the money, the check bounces, and the pirate has the original money AND $3k. (and most likely has closed up shop and vanished)

I’m majoring in cognitive science, concentrating in speech language pathology,
ok……wonder if she passed the section where brain processes the visual part (IE reading…) of cognition.