Two “terrible” problems when shopping abroad and methods for solving them

  • Tutorial
Internet shopping is a profitable, interesting and very enjoyable activity, however, here, as in any other business, you can meet your pitfalls that you need to know about and that you need to be able to get around. Today we will talk about 2 non-obvious problems that arise even for experienced buyers, as well as about methods for solving them - in fact, quite simple and understandable, but, despite this, they still cause a lot of questions for visitors to US online stores and our users.

The first problem - the store sent the wrong product that you ordered (defective, fake, low quality)

Since we have not yet reached the fully automated stores where purchases are sorted and packaged by robots, the human factor cannot be completely excluded when shopping in the USA - where there is a person, there are mistakes. And despite all the quality controls, no one in any country in the world and in any store is safe from not getting their order - either a completely different thing, or a different color, or size. Although this is very rare, there is such a possibility.

But this is not scary! Due to the large volumes of sales and principled customer focus, American online stores, as a rule, completely refund money for their mistake without unnecessary checks and clarifications. However, no one will return the time spent, therefore, in order not to get into a mess and not waste a few weeks of waiting, we recommend checking all incoming parcels with special requests: taking photos, checking the operability of devices, checking with an invoice. This will allow us to detect a store error still in our warehouse, which means that we can quickly eliminate it by returning the purchase to the store in exchange for the right product. To do this, use the special return request and our instructions.

But there are more difficult situations. For example, a product may be wanted to be returned for other reasons - for example, due to its poor quality or defect. Or if it’s a fake at all - in the USA this, however, is also extremely rare due to harsh laws that control the quality and authenticity of products.

It may not be possible to detect a marriage, fake or poor quality with the help of a special request, and you will find out about this only when the parcel has already arrived at your home.

And what to do? Make up and just write off the money spent? Or send the package back to the USA for a replacement?

Both options are extremely unattractive. The first is because shopping in the United States should be fun, not pump out money, the second - sending from Russia to the United States (and then back) will cost a considerable amount and will make the exchanged goods literally gold. And besides, when we make purchases in the USA, we often collect them in a warehouse, then we wait for delivery across the ocean and only then we get the opportunity to carefully study things for marriage. Usually this process takes several weeks, and by the time we detect a product mismatch or defect, the time when a return is available is already over.  

Many beginners in such situations declare foreign shopping an enemy of the people and set a great and noble goal to inform the whole world about how dangerous this event is in principle. While this problem is not at all difficult to solve.

Any major American store (such as Amazon, Backcountry, BHPhotovideo or 6PM) aims to win customer loyalty, so it tries to resolve all disputes quickly and so that you, as a customer, are as satisfied as possible. This means that the store itself may violate its rules regarding the return in your favor, especially if you correctly and thoroughly describe your situation to the online platform support service. For greater clarity, we give an example from the practice of personal shopping, when on Amazon was lucky to buy a terrible quality Levis belt that fell apart after a month of socks.

The deadlines for return are over, and, it would seem, have to put up with 20 bucks thrown into the wind. But in reality, everything turned out to be wrong! After contacting Amazon, he fully and with great willingness compensated for the cost of low-quality items.

How to get money back on Amazon if you are disappointed in your purchase for one reason or another
We go to the “Help - Your Orders” section and there we find the ordered goods that upset you so much. In our case, it was a Levis belt:

Click “Return or replace item” and we see an unpleasant picture:

This item is no longer eligible for return. The return window closed on Sep 3, 2015. " And nothing more can be done. However, no need to give up! We go to the Contact section , put a daw in front of the problematic order, and if it does not appear, click "Choose a Different Order" and look for it there:

Then fill in the fields:

And select the communication option - "email". After that, Amazon will transfer us to the page with the letter sending form. It is here that we must state the situation in detail - honestly and in detail. A letter from our colleague to Amazon looked like this:

Literally an hour later, Amazon announced that they added a gift-card worth $ 19.5 to the account - this was the cost of the belt. And half an hour later an Amazon support officer contacted me with an apology:

After that, Amazon asked me to answer three questions regarding my opinion on the quality of their work with clients:

With this money, you can make any new purchase on Amazon - for example, buy a new belt or other product if the belt is still not to your liking.

The second problem - the store blocked the money and canceled the order

Stores cancel orders in several cases. The most common reasons for refusals in the USA are either that the store does not want to accept your card because it is not issued in the USA and your billing address is Russian; or the store does not send its goods to the addresses of the shipping companies.

The fact that the store froze money is not scary. Over time, they will return to you in the same amount without any fees and penalties, but until that time you will not be able to use them. The bank removes the automatic money lock after 9-30 days, it all depends on the bank itself. But few people want to wait so much time. What to do in this situation?

Do not fall into it.If you are not sure about the possibility of making a purchase in a particular store, it is best to first contact technical support and make sure if you can use its services.

Check our topic on the forum , where we have collected two hundred problem stores and continue to collect new ones from user reviews.

There are stores that de jure do not send to the addresses of shipping companies or do not accept foreign cards for payment, but yes, sometimes such orders are missed, and sometimes not. Then it is possible to encounter a blocking of money on the card.

And then a call to the bank will help. We contacted 15 banks with a question about the process of blocking funds and received answers from 10 of them.

The most detailed and understandable answer was given by VTB24, we quote their answer in full:

"Good afternoon!

Thank you for your interest in VTB24 Bank.

We inform you that when making a transaction using a bank card, the Bank provides a permission to conduct a transaction (authorization code) or a refusal at the request of a point of sale. If the authorization of the operation is successful, the Bank reserves the amount requested by the outlet. Only after receipt of financial confirmation by the Bank, the amount is debited.

In addition, we inform you that a request for confirmation of this operation may be sent to the acquirer bank serving the point of sale at which the transaction was made. The request is sent at the request of the client, the service is free.

If a response is received from the bank, the funds will be unlocked and returned to the client’s card account. We also inform that, in accordance with the rules of international payment systems, the amount will be unblocked automatically if the Bank does not receive a payment request for this operation within 33 days. Thus, 33 days is the maximum term for blocking funds without receiving confirmation of the need to be debited from the acquiring bank.
For further advice, you can contact the Bank's Customer Service Department by calling 8 800 100-24-24 (a call within Russia is free). ”

Tinkoff Bank
“To resolve this issue, you will need to contact the bank by phone 8 800 555-10-10 / 8 800 555-25-50 (a call throughout Russia is free, including from mobile phones) or by e-mail and within one of the calendar day, we will check the possibility of unlocking the amount on your card. If unlocking is possible, we will notify you immediately by SMS. Otherwise, the time for consideration of the issue may be increased, which we will inform you of. ”

Thus, the words of VTB24 are confirmed, and TB promises to meet literally in a day.

Russian standard
Russian Standard Bank reported that the amount will be credited to the account after a document is received by the Bank (in paper or electronic form) confirming the fact of the transaction from the settlement participants. If the confirmation document is not received by the Bank within 14 days from the date of the transaction, the amount will be unlocked without reflection on the account.

Raiffeisenbank, in fact, repeated the words of the Russian Standard, but clarified that even if the seller declares that the funds will not be claimed, the amount is unlocked anyway after 14 days

Gazprombank (Bank GPB)
Gazprombank (Bank GPB) could only say that the funds will be returned to the account in 30 days.

Alfa Bank
When making an expenditure transaction using a plastic card, an authorization request is received by the Bank. Upon successful authorization, the amount is blocked (reserved) on the account to which the card is issued.

If, within 9 calendar days, a confirmation is received for debiting (slip, check, etc.), the amount is debited, if not, the lock is removed and the balance is increased by the indicated amount.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to unblock the amount before the expiration of the specified period.

Thus, AB gives 9 calendar days to the reaction of any of the parties. However, the client cannot cancel the operation. But the term itself is quite humane.

Sberbank replied that the client can independently apply for a free hotline and cancel the operation, the funds will be returned in this case. But this will be done only if the sales and service point (simply, a store) does not send a financial confirmation for this operation.

BINBANK replied that the money will automatically be returned after 30 days to the account, however, in order to speed up the process of unlocking the amount, it is recommended to contact the bank’s office where the card is serviced and write a corresponding application. Based on a written statement, an investigation will be conducted and the funds will be unlocked.

FC Discovery
Otkritie FC turned out to have the longest return period - 35 days. However, you can return the funds earlier, for this you need to contact the bank office and write a statement.

The answers of other banks were, in general, the same: within 30 days, an automatic refund, but you can always call or write to the bank and request a refund earlier than that.


  • The blocking period is determined by the bank and can be from 9 to 30 days.
  • The ability to unlock by contacting the bank is not possible at all banks.
  • The conditions for blocking and unblocking funds are specified in the banking service agreement.
  • You can always clarify specific information using the free hotline available at each bank. If you want to get a card and plan to purchase abroad, it is better to check with all banks this information in advance and choose the most optimal one.

Instead of output

As you can see, any problem that occurs when shopping abroad can be solved! The main thing is to act wisely!

If you had any difficulties while shopping in the USA - share in the comments. We will try to find a solution to this issue together.

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