You shouldn’t be paying for Amazon’s mistakes. Here’s how to check if you are paying more than you need to, and recover what you’re owed.
For Amazon sellers, FBA is hugely important. It lets you store your inventory in Amazon’s fulfillment centers while Amazon take care of shipping your orders and providing customer service. This streamlines your operation, making your business more streamlined and efficient. It also makes your products eligible for Prime, helping you grow sales.
Amazon are known for their industry-leading processes and sophisticated technology, so you are in good hands with FBA. But even Amazon make mistakes. With more than 2 billion marketplace items shipped through FBA per year, even a tiny percentage of errors really adds up. Those could be overcharging of FBA fees, lost inventory, incorrect customer refunds and more.
Amazon pick up some of those mistakes themselves, but others slip through the cracks. You could be owed money for issues that you know nothing about.
So how do you go about finding them and getting a refund? There are a number of methods, and we will cover them all here, including third-party services that automate the whole process for you.
When can I get a refund from Amazon FBA?
Amazon make mistakes all the time. Unless you’re diligently calculating your outgoings every day, you might never know. Essentially, you could be entitled to a refund if Amazon are responsible for events including:
- Items destroyed without your request or permission.
- Customers refunded more than they originally paid.
- Orders for which the weight fee or dimensional fee has been overcharged.
- Items lost or damaged in Amazon’s warehouse that have not been reimbursed.
- Replacements sent to the customer, but the original item was never sent back.
- Amazon saying it has reimbursed you for a return when in fact it has not.
Some of these might sound unlikely, but they really do happen! Amazon do sometimes lose or damage items in storage, and they do refund items which are never returned, for example.
The scale of Amazon’s operation is enormous, so losses and damages are bound to happen from time to time. These errors, if undetected, lose you money and impact your bottom line. Remember that using FBA makes you Amazon’s customer, and you are well within your rights to be refunded for any losses or miscalculations.
Because these problems happen out of sight, and can only be found by downloading and cross-referencing various reports, it’s very easy to miss them. Many small losses really add up and over the course of the year you could be owed thousands of dollars or more.
How do I claim a refund for Amazon’s mistakes?
There are a number of methods you can use to look for FBA errors, and claim a reimbursement from Amazon:
- Do it yourself
- Hire a virtual assistant
- Use an automated tool
1. Do it yourself FBA fee refunds
The cheapest method is to do it all yourself, manually – without any software automation. The main downside, of course, is that it can be time-consuming, complex and easy to get wrong. You don’t want to spend hours cross-referencing reports, then end up sending invalid claims into Amazon.
Unless you are very proficient in understanding Amazon’s reports, and how they relate to each other, it is best to follow a guide that explains exactly what to do, such as this $39 eBook by Ryan Grant.
A good guide will walk you through each step and provide expert advice. You will download reports from Seller Central, then cross-reference them in Excel, so you will need at least a basic level of proficiency in crunching data. If you hate dealing with spreadsheets and lookup formulas, this is probably not the right method for you.
2. Using a VA to claim FBA refunds
The second option is to hire a virtual assistant. This is somebody who you can potentially outsource all the manual work to, from downloading the reports and cross-referencing the data, to making the claims via Seller Central.
The big benefit here is that you don’t have to do it yourself. All the repetitive tasks can be handled by the VA.
The obvious downside is that you will have to pay them! They will also have to understand how to find FBA mistakes, and claim the refunds in the correct way. If they don’t know to do it, you will have to train them thoroughly. This is not a job to be done in a slapdash way – it’s all about accuracy.
You could use a VA just to analyze the reports, and give you the data on potential claims, so you can submit cases through Seller Central yourself. That way you can look over what they have done before you take the intimidating step of asking Amazon for your money back. You might also not want to give your VA that level of access to your seller account.
Using a VA to find FBA reimbursements can be cost-effective, but it’s most suitable for sellers who already understand how to do it themselves, but would like to outsource the time-consuming data analysis. If you want a more hands-off method, an automated tool might be a better fit.
3. Using FBA reimbursement tools
Automated FBA refund services are the easiest way to get reimbursed for Amazon’s mistakes, but can also be costly.
These services also vary in the level of involvement you have. Some focus on the data analysis work and leave the claims to you, while others take on the entire process including claims submission.
Usually you give them access to your Amazon reports, then they crunch the numbers and calculate the potential FBA fee refund you are entitled to. If you like the idea of being completely hands-off, you can use a service which makes the claims as well. If you prefer to have more control, look for a service that gives you the data so you can make the claims yourself.
Your decision depends on:
- How much you are willing to spend
- How much time you have to spare
- The level of confidence and trust you have in the service
If you are busy, and find a service you really trust, you might want to let them handle everything. If you have the time to file claims yourself, and want full control over what’s in those claims and how they are made, you only need a service that cross-references the data and tells you what it finds.
Prices vary, but usually these services are commission-based so they take a cut of the reimbursement. Some want to be paid upfront, while others only charge after you have received the refund.
What tools are available for FBA fee refunds?
1. Refunds Manager
Refunds Manager is the veteran of FBA refund tools, established in 2012. It has secured reimbursements for Amazon sellers of all shapes and sizes, up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Refunds Manager is very easy to use, as it finds the refund cases and submits the claims manually using its own in-house team. It’s completely hands-off for the seller, but that means you don’t have much control over the process.
It’s free to get started with Refunds Manager. After signing up, you enter your MWS IDs and authorization token, then Refunds Manager downloads the reports it needs from Amazon. Cases are identified automatically, but then reviewed manually, for both efficiency and accuracy.
You can check on progress through the Refunds Manager website. Once submitted to Seller Support, each claim is given a Case ID which allows you to check when the refunds go through. You can also track your refund claims through Seller Central, by looking at your open support cases and account statement.
Refunds Manager waits 30 days for lost shipment cases, and at least 45 days for other Amazon reimbursement claims. There is no commission to pay on reimbursements that Refunds Manager did not claim themselves. It only submits support cases when Amazon have missed the issue themselves.
There is a 25% commission rate, billed after the reimbursement is deposited in your account by Amazon, so you only pay for successful claims.
Browse the directory for more information on Refunds Manager.
2. Seller Locker
Seller Locker is a relatively new service, having started in 2017. It does not submit claims on your behalf, so it is not completely hands-off, but that does mean you have more control over the process.
Initially, Seller Locker works much like Refunds Manager. You register, then provide your MWS API credentials so Seller Locker can download your data. Once the download has finished, a number of tools are provided to help you manage your reimbursement cases.
Although Seller Locker does not file the refund cases itself, it helps you submit claims by providing all the text and data required. It then tracks the cases you submit, so you can see the progress of your reimbursements.
Seller Locker also has a Pick and Pack Fee Manager. This is unique to Seller Locker and compares your actual product dimensions against the dimensions calculated by Amazon’s warehouse scanners, when an FBA order is shipped. It can then identify overcharging and help you file refund claims.
Finally, Seller Locker also provides a free, accurate FBA fee calculator so you can check the fees and estimate your profits, before sending products into FBA.
Seller Locker charges a 25% commission, billed after reimbursements are received.
Browse the directory for more information on Seller Locker.
AMZRefund operates differently to Refunds Manager and Seller Locker.
After downloading your data from Amazon, it identifies all the potential reimbursement cases and calculates the total refund you can claim. This data crunching takes less than 30 minutes.
You can then purchase a report with all the details needed to make a claim, including instructions, at a price of 8% of the total reimbursement calculated. It’s an upfront payment for the data needed to make your claims, rather than a higher commission after the refund is received.
Once you have purchased a report from AMZRefund, it is down to you to submit claims through Seller Central yourself. You will need to satisfy yourself that the claims you make are accurate before proceeding.
It’s rather like the option of using a virtual assistant to do all the data analysis for you, but on a commission basis rather than an hourly rate. Crucially, you don’t have to train them on how to do that work. They are already the experts.
Of course, an 8% commission looks attractive next to the 25% level from Refunds Manager and Seller Locker. But paying 8% upfront for refunds you can potentially receive feels very different to paying 25% commission on refunds you have already received.
AMZRefund says they will pay back the commission on any claims that Amazon turns down, so you won’t be out of pocket. It should work out a lot cheaper in the end, but some sellers will still prefer to pay a higher commission after the reimbursement rather than a lower one before.
Browse the directory for more information on AMZRefund.
Which FBA reimbursement method is right for you?
There are different ways of getting your money back for mistakes that Amazon makes while your inventory is in FBA. You can do it all yourself, but there is a lot of data to process and cross-reference. Accuracy is key and this approach will not be right for sellers who are not comfortable working in Excel.
Outsourcing FBA reimbursement claims to a VA could work, but it might be better to use someone who is an expert with this process rather than a typical VA used to simple tasks like data entry. An expert will cost more, and might be hard to find, but they should get the job properly.
You could instead use one of the more automated FBA refund services. The three we have covered – Refunds Manager, Seller Locker and AMZRefund – vary in how they function, but the principle remains the same. They automate the process of analyzing 18 months of data from your seller account, to try and find problems that occurred but you have not been compensated for.
Always remember, that as a user of FBA, you are the customer. You pay Amazon for a service and if they have got it wrong, you are fully entitled to have that money reimbursed.
Amazon are a big, intimidating partner to work with, but even they have to play by the rules.