SAN DIEGO — "False advertising" are the words a new class-action lawsuit uses to describe Amazon Prime's one and two-day shipping guarantees.
On November 10, San Diego County residents Barbara Brittain and Linda Dial filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in federal court to hold the online retail giant accountable for what they say is "negligent misrepresentation."
The class action, which still must be certified by the presiding judge, accuses Amazon of breaking state consumer laws by using "same-day" and "two-day" shipping as a perk for those who sign up for Amazon Prime membership.
"Amazon’s labeling, marketing, and advertising uniformly involve multiple false and misleading statements, as well as material omissions of fact, concerning the product that has injured Plaintiffs and the class by tricking them into buying the product and paying extra fees for Amazon Prime membership," reads the lawsuit.
Those alleged "tricks" include extending the delivery date after an item is purchased, oftentimes while the product is en route to its destination.
"After completing his/her purchase, the buyer is provided with a longer delivery day or simply told that the item is delayed in transit and no expected delivery date is provided," says the lawsuit.
Attorneys Jacob Whitehead and Shalini Dogra are representing Brittain and Dial.
Whitehead says that a retailer as large as Amazon needs to follow through with the obligations they make.
“Amazon has a huge market share, and so when they make representations, they’re squeezing other people, other companies out," Whitehead told CBS 8. "When you go and purchase a product, you made a choice, maybe you didn’t use one of the other platforms because you said, ‘Hey, I’m already a Prime member I’ll get it within two days.’ They are making representations in order to squeeze out competitors, but they’re not actually following through with what they promised.”
As for the San Diego residents behind the lawsuit, Whitehead tells CBS 8 that they grew frustrated with paying for something they were not getting,
"Barbara [Brittain] is a sweetheart and she relies on a lot of these shipments to come on time and so she actually started tracking it herself. She had shipments she needed so precisely, she would keep refreshing the tracking page and she would see that they had the driver somewhere out there and then it would just stop.”
Added the attorney, “If you’re making these promises to people that they’ll be there within two days, then they should be able to rely on it."
In regard to the size of those impacted, who could eventually join the class action if certified by the judge, Whitehead said he and his co-counsel expect a very "large class, really large."
CBS 8 reached out to Amazon for comment on the lawsuit but did not receive a response in time for publication. We will update the article when and if a response is provided.
Attorney Whitehead tells CBS 8 that Amazon has responded to them about the lawsuit and he says it is working on a solution.
Meanwhile, legal expert, Dan Eaton, who is not involved in the lawsuit, told CBS 8 that if a judge certifies the suit as a class action, meaning enough people have similar experiences, then Amazon could potentially be on the hook for a sizeable amount.
“When you are talking about Amazon.com and you are talking about the largest state of the union," said Eaton. "You are talking about damages that will get into the tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.”