Amazon to pay $500,000 in California’s failed return delays

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has signed a complaint against Amazon

Amazon has agreed to pay $500,000 (£415,000) in fines in California after its delivery agents overstated the time it would take to deliver a package.

The deal with the state’s Office of Privacy Protection came after it claimed the world’s largest online retailer violated a law that gives people a minimum of two days to return returned items.

A company spokeswoman said Amazon would take “stricter measures to prevent this from happening again”.

The measure was passed to help protect Californians from identity theft and to protect people from being duped.

A lawyer for the government told the California Assembly in 2015 that agents working for the company gave “unreasonable representations” about a delivery target, but declined to give further details.

The attorney general’s office says that from January 2015 until April 2017, it received just five complaints about the claims.

At the same time, it received nearly 1,500 complaints about Amazon – also over misleading returns laws – from other Californians.

The bill in question, SB1047, allows retailers to mail unsolicited return packages with returns policies attached – without running the risk of it being returned.

Retailers could use this process to give consumers a document saying the date that they will send back a delivery.

However, it would need to be signed by both the return customer and the retailer.

“These documents should not mislead consumers into thinking that returning items will take an unreasonable amount of time to process,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

No details of what these new measures will entail have been published yet, the California attorney general’s office said.

Internet companies or retailers have had some previous run-ins with California privacy laws.

California’s privacy law prevents businesses from selling personal information that customers provide without their express permission.

Amazon was sued by Massachusetts in 2017 over a bill giving people more control over privacy on its website.

It has also attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for alleged violations of the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

The FTC is investigating Amazon over claims that it allowed users of its children’s site to access confidential information by searching for terms and then writing explanations about why their interests are “vulnerable”.

“We are committed to protecting customer privacy,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.

“This agreement ensures that Californians will continue to receive a prompt return notice about returns, and that Amazon will take steps to prevent this type of issue from happening again.”

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