Amazon refused to refund a customer who received putty-filled fake graphics card

Not for the first time, a large retailer refused to refund a customer after sending them a useless object instead of the PC component they purchased. On this occasion, Amazon sent a Canada-based buyer an RTX 3060 Ti that turned out to be a fake card stuffed with a putty-like substance. The company said it wouldn’t hand over a refund until the “correct” item had been returned to its warehouse.

CBC News reports that Matthew Legault’s parents decided to buy him the parts he needed to build a PC as recognition of his graduating high school in June. Tom’s Hardware notes that it sounds like an impressive list of gaming hardware: an NZXT H510 case, 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3600 memory, a Samsung 98 Series 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD, and an MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk motherboard.

Matthew also opted for an RTX 3060 Ti, a card we praised in our review. But when the $690 Zotac GeForce Twin Edge RTX 3060 Ti arrived at his Calgary home, he was shocked to find the box contained a fake card consisting of a plastic casing filled with something that looked like putty “to give it weight.”

“It was actually a bit of a shock,” said Matthew. “Everything looked pretty official up to the point where I pulled it out and took a second look.”

Matthew’s dad, François, contacted Amazon and returned the fake for a refund. The tech giant’s response was to send an email stating that no refund would be given until the “correct” item was shipped back.

The administrator added that the fake item had been thrown away to protect Amazon employees. Maybe they thought it was a dangerous/hazardous material? If so, still taking the time to write an explanation email to the sender of this suspected bomb/toxin was certainly an exemplary example of customer service.

“It was absurd,” said François. “It’s just a piece of plastic so I doubt there’s any danger to their employees. And secondly … now they’ve destroyed the piece of evidence.”

As is often the case in these incidents, Amazon repeatedly claimed it had sent the correct item, and its decision was final, despite François sending photos of the fake item as evidence.

Amazon steadfastly refused to believe Legault for months. The family only received a refund and apology from the company after the incident appeared on CBC’s Go Public program. The Legaults then bought a graphics card from a local retailer.

The situation brings to mind the person who bought an RTX 4090 from Newegg and was sent a box filled with weights instead of the $1,599 graphics card. Even Gamers Nexus had a similar issue when it returned a CPU (in an unopened package) that Newegg claimed had been damaged.

So, what’s the best way to protect yourself when receiving fake items? Other than buying from local retailers, some gamers say they always video themselves opening an expensive piece of hardware as evidence of its contents. That might sound extreme, and there’s no guarantee it’ll even work, but it’s easy to see why more people are doing this.