Amazon Refused to Refund $7,000 After Shipping an Empty Box Instead of a Sony a1

A couple in Colorado was left shocked after Amazon delivered an empty box instead of the Sony a1 worth $7,000 that they ordered — and then refused to give them a refund.

As reported by PetaPixel and The Denver Channel (skip to 1:03), Bill and Kelly Chiles ordered the Sony a1 back in mid-March and waited patiently for it to arrive. Upon delivery, they opened their package and were confused to find two boxes for the Sony a1, both of which were empty.

Upon contacting Amazon, the company insisted that the product had been delivered and refused to offer a refund. This was despite the fact that when boxed the Sony a1 weighs 3.22 lb (1.46 kg), and the Chiles’ package was listed by UPS as weighing only 2 lb (900 g).

The Chiles filed a credit card dispute and made a crime report, and after The Denver Channel made its own inquiries and the Chiles tried emailing Amazon owner Jeff Bezos directly, Amazon relented and said that the $7,000 will be refunded once the credit card dispute had been resolved.

Given the risks associated with buying online, some customers are resorting to filming the process of unboxing expensive gear in order to create proof in the event that an order has not been correctly fulfilled.

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80 Comments

Carlos Dacosta's picture

Dont buy anything from Amazon. Further i find most of their stuff is overpriced when compared to retail store prices. Just check for yourself and you will see. It is even worse for camera equipment.

S Tamminga's picture

Prices highly depend on region. In the EU it's very different from the US, for instance.
But in general, I would avoid ordering such expensive gear from an online-only store. It's not unlikely that gear will need to be serviced at one point in time, and physical stores will always be more reliable when it comes to service.

David T's picture

Amazon has been excellent for me regarding Laptops, Cameras, Drones, Hifi Equipment. They just gave me a shipping label for repair centers and I got my stuff fixed. Physical stores always tried to downplay or refuse service.

Peter Perry's picture

That’s not really possible for many parts of the country. They simply do not have a camera store in their area, or the camera store will not stock something so expensive.

David Hutson's picture

There are better people to deal with online or in person than Amazon, fact!

Jim Bolen's picture

Yep, that's why the majority of my gear purchases are through B&H.

00rob00 Rob00Rob's picture

Many local stores sell through Amazon so what are you talking about?

Carlos Dacosta's picture

The really small stores or home businesses do. The larger ones dont from what I've seen. Btw, Im talking about Canada

W Mitty's picture

Not sure about up in Canada. But in the US, Amazon is an authorized dealer for both Canon and Nikon. As such, their prices have to be as dictated by Canon and Nikon. I think you will find that they are not more expensive, nor offer non-authorized discounts on non-gray market equipment. Local camera stores, if authorized dealers, also play by those same rules. So, i must disagree that Amazon is "even worse" or "overpriced" when compared to local shops.

Carlos Dacosta's picture

We agree to disagree about prices. Btw, Canon, nikon, Sony or other manufacturers are not allowed to sell independently on their own in Canada. They must sell through a store. Usa is different and has different laws

Darren Finlay's picture

Companies can sell there own goods directly via there own websites or there branded stores just like anywhere else. Sony's store in Canada shut down In 2015, they only had 15 in Canada anyway but they were not in a great financial spot at that time either. I can buy directly from Epson, Nikon, HP, Cannon and others via there web based Canadian store. You can buy directly from companies like Apple or Samsung both at there own stores or via there web based stores also.

Carlos Dacosta's picture

Thats right. Take Sony in Canada, you go on their website today, and it directs you to Gentec to buy their goods. Or it directs you to another Store for smaller parts. Canon does not sell directly to consumers in Canada, that Im aware of, bor dies Nikon, Panasonic, Leica, etc

Michael Krueger's picture

I'm gonna buy from Amazon vs local for a couple reasons.
First and foremost where I live it's cheaper than locally on most products.
Secondly since COVID-19 I've made a habit of doing a lot more online shopping. I'm in a Red State in the US. Locals here resisted masks, called lock downs communism, insisted bars were essential business and had to remain open, wound up with one of the highest death rates per capita globally, and our hospitals became so overwhelmed the federal government had to send us military nurses to help staff our hospitals. In response to all this the state government passed a law making state wide mask mandates illegal in the future.

So yeah, I'll buy off Amazon and save money while avoiding people.

Jim Bolen's picture

Sounds like you live in Idaho, where I live.

Wallace Thrasher's picture

Unfortunately the Amazon price is almost always the lowest price for items out there unless some other place is running a sale, which Amazon also does as well. Living remote we do end up buying almost everything from Amazon due to the price. They don't police their Chinese sellers very well though and we notice a huge falloff in reliability from what we get from those sellers, but Amazon always refunds everything without question and now you can just take your item to a UPS store and drop it off, they do the rest such as package it and ship it.

Other companies need to make life this easy, but they absolutely do not so whether you like it or not, Amazon will continue to remain the largest retailer on earth.

Mike Swan's picture

Not true anymore. Try stopping by retail stores. Costco, Walmart, Target, Best buy have great prices nowm

Dave Dundas's picture

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame DSLR Camera (Body Only)

BestBuy price: $3,299.99
Amazon Price: $3,194.99 (free delivery)

I would have checked on an a1, or a R5, but Bestbuy doesn't list either.

Billy Walker's picture

Try to deal with locals - Mr Bezos does not need more of your money nor does his ex-wife - Help the local guy stay in business if he/she takes care of you properly.

W Mitty's picture

The couple is from Alamosa, Colorado. I don't know if you are familiar with that part of the country, but local is not an option. That is more and more becoming the case in so many small and midsize cities. It is unfortunate, but true. While I spend most of my time in the mountain west, where camera shops are few and far between, I also spend time in Tucson, which is a city of one million, and there are no local camera shops there either. The closest is in Phoenix.

I choose to buy my equipment from Adorama, MPB, or B&H to at least support independent, if not local, businesses. But not everyone is familiar with these places and may be more comfortable ordering from Amazon.

The point being that it is easy to be elitist and tut-tut people for buying from Amazon (or Best Buy, or directly from Canon, Nikon, etc), but in many parts of the country it is the only option. We would all like it to not be that way, but it is reality. Amazon did not put camera shops in Alamosa, CO out of business. They do; however, provide a resource for photography enthusiasts in Alamosa, Tucson and hundreds of other cities and towns all over the country.

David Hutson's picture

Mike's Camera in Boulder is great to deal with online or in person

Mari Bryant's picture

That is a four hour drive from Alamosa.

David Hutson's picture

"online" or in person

W Mitty's picture

Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.

Mark Guinn's picture

Unfortunately, my area doesn't have a "local guy." The closest thing I have to a real camera shop is Best Buy, and that's over an hour away. Local camera shops, like most niche retail stores, are just nonexistent in smaller towns, so unless you live in a big city (or near one) you're forced to buy online. Sometimes you either buy from a major online seller like Amazon or you live without.

Loren Pechtel's picture

And even when there is a local guy they might not be worth dealing with. We used to have two independent camera shops here that I really respected. One moved, both changed ownership, now they're part of a chain and staffed by people nowhere near as knowledgeable about photography.

David Hutson's picture

No local options near me. That said, I'd rather deal with one of the many other private shops online than give Amazon my money. B&H, Mike's Camera, ProCam, even directly with Nikon etc... all better options.

Wallace Thrasher's picture

Before Amazon put local camera shops under, they all tried to mark up their equipment by 30% or more. That is why they died overnight once other options were available.

David Hutson's picture

Operating costs. 30% is not much in retrospect for the convenience of having a local shop that supports the community.

Rodolphe Huignard's picture

next time don't buy amazon ... just buy local shops in your city ! ;)

Fristen Lasten's picture

Absolutely shocking! Not the empty box part. But the part where Bezos refunded the money. He stole a $50 giftcard from me and will not give it back.

JEREMY MOORE's picture

While this isn't the reason, I've never and never will buy a thing from Amazon. I'll even pay extra to have things shipped from people that only sell through an Amazon store

Dennis Gerrity's picture

Sony will have the MAC address associated with the camera serial number. The device can be tracked if it is ever connected to or through the web.

Yin Ze's picture

why do u think bezos so rich? 7k x 2000+ suckers adds up

Peter Perry's picture

The man is rich because he practically pioneered the connected ebook movement and he simply made a better ereader than the others on the market at the time.

It’s like Elon, he made millions getting into the internet early and to this day his creation might be the largest online payment service in the world.

David Hutson's picture

Not to mention the stolen lands his family mined.

Mari Bryant's picture

Right. He's a billionaire from selling empty camera boxes and refusing refunds. :/

Yin Ze's picture

first off, i keep seeing these scams for $7000. the camera is available at BH for $6500 and no tax if you have payboo card. guess there's a sucker born every minute.

W Mitty's picture

The price of the camera on Amazon, per the receipt in the news story, was the MSRP of $6498.

Michael Krueger's picture

I usually see the same price at both, can't avoid the tax, but then BH throws in free accessories like the 4TB WD HDD they gave me a few years ago.

Lawrence Huber's picture

Should have bought the R5 and get a better product and have money left over for a new lens.
It would also not have had this problem.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

But, the R5 is a Canon, though. :(

David Hutson's picture

lol

Nena Williams's picture

Im not surprised around christmas time the scamming and schemes was at an all time high the delivery person logged that he handed a kindle fire directly to me and he actually left it on someone elses porch the mailman told me my package was around the corner which i had to run to get but amaxon said i could keep.it because i told them the truth which was it wasnt handed to me but im waiting so they refunded me the money which wasnt the point,i wanted my item and i ordered it to be on time,blame the workers there are some deceitful people in the world too many if you ask me.

Nena Williams's picture

Ley me add that they only way to get a refund is through jeff everyone else acts clueless,gotta love him for that atleast he do know what customer service is he need to teach his employees about it,i had to contact him personally as well

Mari Bryant's picture

Maybe true for you, but it is not the norm. I've been buying from Amazon for over 20 years, and have always had any issue rectified.

KL J's picture

Amazon is the easiest place to return items. When no issues and just a regular return, you don't even have to pack the item or lable it or anything. Just hand it to the UPS guys (or Kohls) and let them scan the return code on your phone and they take care of packing and shipping. For issues like not receiving something (even if it says delivered) they take your word and issue the refund, no questions asked (in one instance, someone in my building was stealing other people's pkgs and amazon even credited me for THAT which was not on them at all. The issue mentioned in this article is unusual for Amazon, but the pushback is likely due to the very high price, and sadly, many people try this shit when they actually DID receive the item.

Andy Day's picture

Hi KL J. Can you provide us with evidence that you are a real person? Thanks.

sam dasso's picture

Andy, I realize that you are british, but Alabama is 1400 miles (2200 km) from Colorado. Please replace Alabama with Alamosa

Andy Day's picture

Argh. Apologies. Thanks for flagging this.

John Newton's picture

If Amazon actually packed everything in plain brown packaging and didn't ship just in original product outer with customers details on then no-one would know what's valuable or not !!

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