The Experience That Turned Me Off Kogan (And Has Me Looking Forward To Amazon)

The Experience That Turned Me Off Kogan (And Has Me Looking Forward To Amazon)

A purchase through online retailer Kogan reminded me why Australian retailers could fall behind Amazon when it launches its local retail arm this month.

I recently bought an electric pet feeder on Kogan. As the device was marketed under Kogan’s in-house label, delivery was free and there was a 14-day money back guarantee.

Great, I thought – a no-risk purchase. If it doesn’t work the way I want, it would cost me nothing to return and get a refund.

Unfortunately, on first use it was obvious the unit wasn’t what we needed. The feeder was not specific about the animal it was designed for, and it was apparent in practice that it was designed for large dogs.

We have a cat.

Millie is a pretty large cat, but the machine’s smallest dosage was four times what she should be eating each meal. Leaving her with the auto-feeder would have been dangerous.

I contacted Kogan to invoke the money back guarantee. But I was surprised to receive a reply that, despite the incoming delivery being free, the supposed “money back” did not include return postage.

“If your item is under 1 metre and 20kg, we will provide a link for you to purchase a prepaid AusPost label for a flat fee of $12.88. Otherwise, you can return the item via post or courier at your own cost,” said the Kogan staffer.

The $12.88 return postage is almost 12 per cent of the purchase price.

Amazon built its success internationally by killing off all the reasons why a customer would prefer to visit a physical store over shopping online. Two of the biggest factors are not being able to inspect and try an item before handing over your money, and not being able to return an unsuitable item.

In the US, Amazon long ago removed these obstacles by allowing customers to purchase a product then return it for a refund if they’re not satisfied, within 30 days for a full refund and partial refunds for periods beyond than that.

And many Amazon-fulfilled items are marked “Free Return”, which means there are no postage fees on returns.

Earlier this year, Amazon even reportedly introduced the concept of “returnless refunds”. This new policy allows a dissatisfied customer to receive a refund without even returning the product — if the item is deemed too expensive to mail back or of the merchant would find it too difficult to resell.

This “no risk” refund culture has even been adopted by some Australian online merchants – like fashion retailer Asos Australia — but most, like Kogan, still deter customers from demanding refunds with an onerous return postage cost.

Industry analysts have predicted Amazon Australia could start trading before November 24, which is a big sales day known in the US as Black Friday. The site has in the past fortnight published computers, electronic accessories and household items in its catalogue, although they’re not yet available for purchase.

Kogan founder and chief Ruslan Kogan has previously publicly indicated he would look at selling on Amazon Australia. It will be interesting to see if Amazon has any influence on the return policies of its Australian third party merchants.


  • I have always had great experience on kogan. Their customer service team is quite understanding. I will compare both kogan and amazon though i doubt kogan or others would be able to keep up with amazon. anyhoo customer wins

  • Never bought, or intend to buy from Kogan. But I share the view that aussie retailers are totally clueless and delusional.

    I just bought a pair of walking shoes from Mountain Designs online, as I wanted it urgently. Website says orders can’t be changed because they ship promptly. Email said deliver 3-5 days. Great so I went ahead even if it was more expensive than overseas.

    Shoes were sent TWO days later, and tracking had an ETA of another 12 days or so. WHAT???

    So I cancelled the order. I ordered same shoes from the UK, including express shipping onThursday night, and got it next Monday my mid day. I also save $23.

    Stuff you aussie retailers. I welcome Amazon, and if they stuff up too I continue to buy from overseas.

  • For the record Millie is not in my house and does not currently have a gun to my head and is not telling me to say she wants the pet feeder and four times the food

  • I had a similar experience with Kogan. My returning package was an office chair that turned out to be extremely uncomfortable to use. I paid for the $12.88 return slip and then had to lug the large, heavy box to the post office?!

  • Similar to the Kogan experience. Recently bought a lounge and rug from Harvey Norman. Rug was filthy when it arrived (like it came from a 2nd hand store). Response from HN “customer” service “It’s floor stock, take it or leave it.”
    Told them we’ll leave it thanks and we’ll take it (our business) elsewhere.

  • I had a pair of Bose QC 25 headphones from Kogan. Within a year, one of the cup holders below the hinge snapped through.

    Now, I work in an office, so the headphones might leave there once a month if I need them at home (I use a small wireless set for travel, gym, etc). I had treated the Bose ones like fine china, and knew people with the same model who hadn’t encountered this problem. Naturally, I assumed a manufacturing defect.

    After a week of back and forth emails, including photos of the breakage, Kogan refused to replace the units despite their obligation to do so under consumer laws. Consumer Affairs were helpful but told me in a case like that it’s hard to prove wrongdoing on the retailer’s part. I dropped the matter and bought a new pair from JB Hifi, which are still going strong.

    The twist is that the new pair, which were the same model, came in completely different packaging. The old pair came in a plain cardboard box with the Bose logo stencilled on, whereas the JB ones came in a printed colour box with an image of the product. There were minor differences on the headphones themselves- slight embossed features that weren’t on the Kogan model, for instance.

    Now, these could have been running changes in manufacture, and even the plain box can be explained as a deliberate measure (Kogan gets plain boxed stock at a discounted rate as that stock will never have to sit on a top shelf). However, it’s made me wary of using Kogan again (I haven’t since). I didn’t report it as counterfeit as I’d wasted enough time on them and, really, I don’t know whether they are or not.

  • So, you buy a product that was in no way damaged unfit for purpose, you change your mind and you expect Kogan to cop return shipping? How about you quit writing attention seeking articles and do your research next time.

  • The bottom line is that returns cost and someone has to pay, somehow. If it ain’t you, it is someone else. Who do you want to pay? This sort of business is cut-throat and margins are slim as can be seen from the number of retailers who are no longer with us.

    It’s tricky. Free returns enhances sales, but each return might wipe the margin on the next like three sales. Personally, I’d prefer more of a buyer beware scenario and cheaper prices. Something like zero cost returns on products that are actually broken or don’t meet the advertised specs, and a 20% (guess?) restock fee plus freight at cost on anything you decide you don’t like, or didn’t research properly. I’d be better off financially with this because I research stuff and I wouldn’t have to pay for the losers who don’t. But I doubt that would work with the way most people. Free is BS but it sucks people in.

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