What is Amazon’s Return Policy?
Amazon’s return policy entails that most items purchased on Amazon can be returned within 30 days of receipt. However, certain categories may have different return windows.
Customers are expected to return items in the same condition as received, including all original packaging, accessories, and documentation. If the item is not returned in its original condition, you may be entitled to charge a restocking fee or refuse the return.
The responsibility for return shipping costs depends on the reason for the return and how the order was fulfilled. If the return results from the seller’s error (for example, an incorrect or defective item), Amazon typically requires you to cover the return shipping costs. The seller may also bear the shipping cost if registered as an FBM seller.
However, if the customer wants to return the item for reasons unrelated to the seller (for example, “no longer needed”), the customer usually bears the return shipping expenses. On the other hand, the customer is entitled to free shipping if the item was directly fulfilled by Amazon.
While most items are eligible for return, certain products have specific return restrictions. For example, due to safety concerns, perishable goods and hazardous materials are usually not eligible for return. Personalized or customized items may also have limited or no return options. Here’s a full list of items that can’t be returned.
MORE: How to sell on Amazon in 2023.
How to Deal with Amazon Returns
Dealing with Amazon returns as a seller involves specific steps to ensure a smooth and efficient process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to handling Amazon returns and refunds like a pro:
1. Keep a Record of the Return Notification Email
When you receive a return request from a customer, Amazon sends you a return notification email. Organize a record of this email for your reference. You can create a dedicated folder in your email account or use Amazon Seller tools like AMZ Tracker to organize and store these notifications.
2. Review the Return Request
Log in to your Amazon Seller Central account and navigate the Manage Returns section. Locate the specific return request and carefully review the details provided by the customer, including the return reason, comments, and requested refund option.
Double-check that the refund amount matches the order total and is returned within the acceptable time frame. Within this section, you have four options: either authorize the request, close it, issue a refund, or contact the buyer.
3. Communicate with the Customer
Customers frequently return products and leave feedbacks. Whether it’s positive or negative, it’s always a good idea to attend to this feedback as it helps to protect your seller feedback score. Use Amazon’s messaging system to communicate with the customer. Seek additional information, provide clarification, or address any concerns they may have.
4. Authorize the Return
Once you’ve reviewed the return request and determined that it’s valid, authorize the return through your Amazon Seller Central account. This action generates a return label for the customer and confirms your acceptance of the return.
If the return request does not meet the requirements, you can consider declining it or offering alternative solutions. And if the customer insists on the return or disputes your decision, you can escalate the situation to Amazon Seller Support.
5. Provide Return Instructions
Most customers don’t know how to go about Amazon returns and refunds. As a part of good customer service, you provide clear instructions to the customer regarding the return process.
Include instructions on where to find the return label, how to package the item, and any specific requirements or restrictions they must know. If this step seems tedious because of the customer’s inexperience, ask them to contact customer support for assistance.
6. Inspect the Returned Item
After processing the return, get the item back from the customer as quickly as possible. The item can be inspected at Amazon warehouse. While most buyers are honest, some may attempt to return used or damaged goods for a refund. But you can contest illegitimate returns with Amazon.
And if the item is truly defective but salvageable, you may repair it and relist it on Amazon. Otherwise, sell the item to a liquidator or wholesaler. You’ll get a lower price but can recoup some of your costs.
For heavily used or non-working items, donating to a charity or recycling the materials may be your only option. At least you’ll get a tax write-off.
7. Process the Refund or Replacement
If the returned item is in satisfactory condition, process the refund or initiate the replacement per the customer’s preference. Follow Amazon’s guidelines for refund processing and ensure it is done within the specified timeframe.
How Does the Amazon Return Policy Affect Sellers
The Amazon return policy can have both positive and negative impacts on sellers, depending on various factors. Here are some ways the Amazon return policy affects sellers:
- Amazon’s Prime returns policy, which generally offers a generous return window and easy return process for customers, enhances customer satisfaction.
- Sellers using Amazon’s FBA service do not have to go through the hassle of processing the returns as Amazon handles them on their behalf. This way, you can focus on more productive areas of your business like managing inventory, product listings, and so on.
- Sellers may experience an increased number of returns and refund requests.
- Amazon sellers may be responsible for covering return shipping costs if the return is due to their error, such as shipping the wrong item or a defective product. This cost burden can eat into a seller’s profit margin, especially for low-cost items.
What is Amazon’s Refund Policy?
Similar to the return policy, Amazon refund policy aims to improve customer satisfaction by offering customers refunds when dissatisfied with a transaction.
Almost all new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon are eligible for a refund if they’re returned within 30 days of delivery and meet the required conditions. Amazon will also handle the return shipping costs for you.
Once Amazon receives and inspects the return, you’ll issue a refund to the buyer’s account. Funds are typically deducted from your seller account within 3 to 5 business days.
How to Deal with Returnless Refunds
Returnless refunds can frustrate Amazon sellers, as customers are refunded without returning the item. However, you can do a few things to minimize losses from returnless refunds.
1. Enable Returnless Refund Selectively
Only enable returnless refunds for low-cost or non-replenishable items. This limits the amount you could lose from fraudulent refunds. You can enable or disable returnless refunds for each ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) in Seller Central.
2. Set a Low Refund Value Threshold
Establish a maximum refund amount for returnless refunds, like $20. This practice deters abuse since large refunds still require a return. You can also set custom returnless refund thresholds for each ASIN.
3. Review Returnless Refund Data Regularly
Check your returnless refund reports in Seller Central to spot any suspicious activity. Look for:
- A high volume of returnless refunds associated with a single buyer or item as this may suggest the possibility of fraudulent activity.
- Returnless refund spikes around Prime Day. Fraudsters often take advantage of the increased sales.
- Frequent occurrences of refunded items. This may require consideration of disabling returnless refunds or making revisions to the listings for these ASINs.
4. Contact Seller Support for Suspected Fraud
If you notice suspicious returnless refund activity that you believe is fraudulent, contact Seller Support immediately. Provide any details about the buyer, ASINs, and refund amounts to support your claim. Seller Support can investigate and take action against abusers.
5. Tighten Returnless Refund Policies Before Prime Day
In the weeks leading up to Prime Day, consider turning off returnless refunds for high-value or frequently abused items. You can always re-enable them after the event once the risk of fraud normalizes. This safeguard minimizes your exposure during this busy time.
During Prime Day, Amazon’s returns policy remains the same, but the volume of returns will likely increase. Be prepared for more returns in the weeks following Prime Day and have enough funds in your seller account to issue refunds promptly.
This way, you can ensure a smooth experience for your customers and protect your seller metrics. Remember, returns are a natural part of ecommerce and handling them well builds goodwill and loyal customers. Stay positive – Prime Day will be over before you know it.