Amazon's $50 Kindle Fire Savings Comes with a Shocking Return Fee
Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) is giving shoppers the chance to save $50 on its full-size tablet today.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9" normally retails for $299 (16GB Wi-Fi), $369 (32GB Wi-Fi), $499 (32GB 4G LTE) and $599 (64GB 4G LTE). The $50 savings applies to all models. This allows customers to purchase the 16GB Wi-Fi model for $249 -- $20 less than the Nook HD+ from Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS).
These prices apply to the "With Special Offers" option. To get a Kindle Fire without them, buyers will have to spend $15 more.
Amazon is limiting the discount to one per customer. Under the terms of the deal, the company said that it only applies to U.S. customers who purchase the tablet directly from Amazon. As usual, the company reserves the right to cancel the promotion at any time.
There is one final term that every customer should be aware of before making a purchase: "If you return items purchased using a promo code, we will subtract the value of the discount from your return credit."
In other words, Amazon expects its customers to keep the device they purchase today -- or pay a hefty penalty later.
This is significantly different from the company's normal return policy. Amazon has branded its website with a permanent "returns are easy" link that is used to reinforce the quality shopping experience that Jeff Bezos created. Bezos, who currently serves as Amazon's CEO, founded Amazon to make shopping easier and more convenient. This is why Amazon does not charge anything more than the return shipping fee for unopened items that are returned within 30 days of purchase.
By requiring customers to pay a $50 fee back to Amazon if they return the Kindle Fire, the retailer is imposing a harsh penalty not incurred by customers who shop at Best Buy (NYSE: BBY). Granted, Best Buy is not currently offering a $50 discount on the Kindle Fire. And if Best Buy customers return a product that provided a free gift card, the total of the gift card's value will be subtracted from the return fee. Best Buy does this because consumers are allowed to keep the gift card after the item is returned.
In the event of an actual discount, however, Best Buy does not employ any penalties for customers who decide to return the item. And since there are plenty of brick-and-mortar locations, customers never have to worry about a return shipping fee.
Unlike Amazon, most items purchased at Best Buy are not subject to a restocking fee after being opened. This includes most tablets and computers.
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