PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some college students on a tight budget save money by renting textbooks online instead of buying them at the campus bookstore. A local family is sharing a hard lesson after a University of Delaware student was charged thousands by Amazon after she failed to return a rented textbook on time.
“I’m majoring in cognitive science, concentrating in speech language pathology,” University of Delaware rising sophomore Amelia SanFilippo said.
There’s a lot of options when it comes to college textbooks. You can buy new, used or rent. For SanFilippo, she turned to Amazon to get the biggest bang for her buck — or so she thought.
“You just go and click on the button that says rent the book and they just send it as if you’re receiving any other Amazon package,” she said.
The only problem is, she missed the fine print. If the book was not returned by June 4, she would be charged $3,800 to buy Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age, even though the book only costs $150 online right now.
SanFilippo was quickly reminded four days past the due date that her Amazon rental was late.
“Your rental was due June 24, 2019. We have not received it and as a result we have charged you for the item and it is now yours to keep,” read an email from Amazon.
For a whopping $3,800, the book was hers to keep — a charge her father, Anthony SanFilippo, won’t soon forget.
“To ramp that up to $3,800? That to me seems like extortion,” he said.
After returning the book and a nine-hour phone call with customer service, Anthony SanFilippo finally got a refund five days later. But he is still sending a strong warning to other college students.
“I think Amazon is taking advantage of college students, I do. I don’t think they’re alone. I think there are other companies that are probably doing the same thing,” he said.
Amazon said in a statement to Eyewitness News, “This was an isolated error that we quickly resolved directly with the customer and have issued a refund. We’ve apologized to the customer and are taking additional actions to ensure this situation does not happen again.”