As of earlier this month, Amazon has stopped refunding price drops on all products except televisions, TechCrunch reports.
Amazon has traditionally offered refunds if the price of an item falls within seven days after purchase and the shopper notifies customer service. Several, if not most, chain retailers offer to match competitors’ prices and typically allow 14 to 15 days to snag a refund if their own prices fall after a purchase.
The Amazon policy change comes at a time when several startups have developed mobile price-drop notification applications that helped shoppers claim the difference if Amazon lowered its price after they bought something, TechCrunch notes.
There are myriad ways that Amazon’s algorithm-based prowess has bested its competition, but the e-retail giant clearly doesn’t want to get snagged by a startup's algorithm that's figured out ways to swiftly alert shoppers that their purchase price dropped and that they’re privy to a refund on the difference.
An Amazon spokeswoman told Recode the policy was always limited to televisions, and that refunds granted on other products were "exceptions." There’s some evidence that it’s true, but it's clear that Amazon once made those exceptions on a consistent basis.
Amazon says its prices are dynamic, and certainly a price-matching policy interferes with that. Imagine if Uber, for example, offered to refund the difference between a surge-priced ride because the prices dropped later. The whole point of surge pricing is that algorithms determine when it makes sense for the cost to rise.
It’s unclear how much shoppers appreciate that philosophy, though, when they’re used to larger windows and more liberal return policies at brick-and-mortar stores. It be could be another indication that Amazon is not necessarily the low-price leader it was once. And that could be an opportunity for other retailers.