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When is “Sold by Amazon” Not the Same as “Bought from Amazon”?

Mouse Print* reader Chris L. recently purchased a $1,900 piano from Amazon and was offered three months of online piano lessons for free as part of the deal.

Amazon piano

When he didn’t receive an email with his promotional code from Amazon for the free piano lessons, he contacted customer service via chat. An hour and 20 minutes later, nine representatives later, and a bazillion bogus excuses later, he finally extracted a promise that he would be sent the appropriate promotional code for the piano lessons. But, he never received it.

Finally he received an email explaining the real reason he never got the free piano lessons — he got tripped up by the fine print.

The original offer and the terms and conditions used magic words that most people wouldn’t understand had a very specific meaning.


amazon piano

Piano terms

Although our consumer purchased the piano at Amazon.com, he did not buy it from Amazon.com. He bought it from a third party marketplace seller found on the Amazon website and the order was “fulfilled by Amazon” meaning that Amazon shipped it out for the seller. The promotion, however, required that the piano be “sold and shipped” by Amazon alone.

Would anyone ever catch that nuance? And why was it promoted on a page where the offer didn’t apply?

Fortunately for Chris, the actual company providing the free lessons, Skoove.com, provided him with three months of free lessons after he sent them proof of purchase.

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11 thoughts on “When is “Sold by Amazon” Not the Same as “Bought from Amazon”?”

  1. “Fulfilled by…” Should mean including the free lessons as part of the deal. Kudos to the company for stepping up to customer service where Amazon failed.

  2. This “fulfilled by Amazon” thing is apparently part of Amazon’s efforts to continue selling without charging sales tax. Amazon cut a deal with various states to collect sales tax after it became apparent its no sales tax thing was going down. The “fulfilled” thing allows it to continue sales with no tax (because the “seller” is out of state even if the Amazon warehouse the item is shipped from is in state}.

    Apparently, the “fulfilled” sales are as profitable for Amazon as items it sells itself–Amazon charges to merchant for “fulfilled” items is reputed to be around 20-25%.

  3. I’m not sure if Amazon.com has intentionally made their marketplace more confusing over time, but that has definitely been the result of their efforts.

  4. Better Terms and conditions would have been nice here. Should have been more direct on telling them to go to skoove.com for getting the free 3 months of piano lessons.

  5. I find this whole situation unfortunate.. One of the main reasons I am a long term Amazon Prime customer is the dependable, trustworthy customer service I receive from them (including free returns, etc.). When they begin to parse their words and cause customers to be wary of purchasing from them without scrutinizing every line of fine print it reduces their appeal.

  6. It is much much worse for computer parts. If it is something that is highly counterfeited, or something Amazon refuses to sell because they don’t like the competition (ie. Apple products), it is totally buyer beware.

    I’ve been burned by trying to buy a simple Apple charger on Amazon. Good luck getting a non-counterfeit version.

    Frequently 3rd party sellers have much crappier versions of the standard item, or lacks a warranty or some such.

    Make sure to look through *all* the sellers and find the Sold by Amazon price, and then you may have a chance, but just let them pick the “cheapest” 3rd party seller, and then its a total crap shoot.

  7. @Doug:

    What about the shared inventory issue that was discussed here a couple of weeks ago? Doesn’t that negate the possibility of getting the genuine article, or at least throw it in limbo.

    I try to buy sold by Amazon and Prime (for the shipping). Many items aren’t listed with the Prime designation.

  8. All the scumbag, degenerate, deceptive, lying, and misleading sellers who got kicked off ebay have found their way to amazon.

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