Amazon Sues Over Return Shipping Fees During Vote on California Warehouse Eyes Union – Sourcing Journal

Ahead of a potential antitrust dispute with the Federal Trade Commission, Amazon is now in trouble for allegedly violating the terms of its own refund and exchange policies by charging consumers fees for returning items on time.

A class action lawsuit alleges that Amazon knowingly “fails to fulfill its promise of free, hassle-free returns” and re-charges customers who returned items within the return period, even though Amazon’s own records show that the company received such items has.

Amazon’s return policy promises that a customer can return most items sold or shipped by Amazon within 30 days for a full refund.

In certain circumstances, the e-commerce giant offers its customers the option of an “immediate refund,” where Amazon will refund the price of the item when the customer drops off the product for return but before Amazon physically receives the returned item.

If Amazon does not receive the returned item within the return period, Amazon will re-charge the customer for the entire retail price of the item.

Sourcing Journal contacted Amazon and the plaintiffs’ legal team, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.

In a filing in federal district court in Washington state, the four plaintiffs called the practices a breach of contract with consumers and “unfair and deceptive.”

Additionally, the complaint states that the practices “result in significant unwarranted financial loss to those who either do not notice these back charges or are deterred by the inconvenience of figuring out what happened and how to fix the problem.”

In the 41-page lawsuit, the plaintiffs sought contractual damages equal to the purchase price and taxes applicable to the returned items, as well as interest. The plaintiffs are also seeking treble damages under the Washington State Consumer Protection Act to award a prevailing plaintiff up to three times the actual damages or compensatory damages, in addition to other damages.

As Amazon grapples with the lawsuit, another potential union formation may be on the horizon at a warehouse in Southern California’s Inland Empire region. The company’s ONT8 fulfillment center in Moreno Valley, California, will begin the process of hosting a union election on Thursday, according to Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU). The former Amazon employee and whistleblower announced the news on Twitter.

“I am very proud of leader Nannette Plascencia and her team for fighting this trillion-dollar company every day for the last year,” Smalls told Sourcing Journal. “I am pleased to see the fight for unionization continue to grow and look forward to making history, especially for California. I can’t wait to be part of the election!”

The initiative revives the call for work organization at the California plant that began in 2022. Last October, a group of 800 Amazon fulfillment center workers who wanted to organize with the ALU filed a ballot with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but canceled the vote just two weeks later.

Momentum for union organizing appears to have stalled after Amazon workers’ initial victory in Staten Island, NY, last year. Two other Amazon facilities, a second warehouse on Staten Island and the Bessemer, Alabama, site that launched the push, found their union votes weren’t enough.

A third election last year at a warehouse near Albany, New York, failed to win enough union votes, but the NLRB recently filed a complaint accusing the e-commerce giant of anti-union tactics against violate federal law.

Amazon extends low-carbon shipping contract with Maersk

Legal battles and unionization news aside, Amazon has made progress toward meeting its Climate Pledge goals.

The company entered into an agreement with AP Moller-Maersk for the period 2023-2024 to transport shipments using the logistics giant’s low-carbon shipping “Eco Delivery”. This is the fourth consecutive year that both parties have arranged container shipping with low greenhouse gas (GHG) fuel options.

As part of the agreement, 20,000 40-foot containers of green biofuel will be integrated into the alternative shipping offering. Maersk estimates that this purchase will contribute to a reduction of 44,600 tonnes of CO2e compared to standard bunker fuel – or about the equivalent of 50 million pounds of burned coal.

“Amazon’s track record of ensuring sustainable shipping over the years, regardless of the business climate, is a testament to its contribution to building a better future,” Narin Phol, president North America, AP Moller-Maersk, said in a statement. “We share a common goal with Amazon to reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2040. As co-signatories of the Climate Pledge, we must continually create new opportunities to make this decade a decade of action. “Decarbonizing shipping is an important step that must be combined with many others to protect our future.” Amazon Sues Over Return Shipping Fees During Vote on California Warehouse Eyes Union – Sourcing Journal

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