A Seller's Guide to Amazon Return Policy In 2024

A Seller's Guide to Amazon Return Policy In 2024

insights |  | 9 min read

There has been a recent surge of confusion surrounding the Amazon return policy. Many questions have arisen: Are all returns free? How frequently can items be returned? Undoubtedly, "Returns" are integral to the Amazon selling landscape.

This year, Amazon has introduced significant updates to its return policy, leaving many sellers questioning how to adapt and thrive in this new environment.

Therefore, we’ve conducted thorough research and uncovered their return policy's current workings. Continue reading this guide as we explore the updated Amazon Return Policies for individual and FBA sellers. We'll also delve into the complexities of processing return requests, examine the associated return charges, explore the various reasons behind returns, and much more. So, let's dive into the details.

How Amazon Return Process Works?

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For professional sellers on Amazon, returns are seamlessly authorized as long as they align with Amazon's return policy. The exception to this automated process is if the return request falls outside the policy or is exempt from prepaid return options.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to handle a return request:

  1. Go to the "Manage Returns" page to assess, authorize, or decline the request.
  2. Alternatively, you can access the "Manage Returns" page by selecting "Orders" from the drop-down menu.
  3. Once you approve a buyer's return request, Amazon promptly dispatches a return label to the buyer, along with the necessary address details.

Note: By default, return labels aren’t prepaid. However, you can upload a custom prepaid return label, provided you cover the return shipping costs.

Amazon Refunds: Issuance Process

The refund a buyer receives upon returning a product depends upon three key factors:

  • The condition in which the item is returned.
  • The duration the customer has possessed the product.
  • How the buyer purchased the item.

Moreover, buyers can select their preferred refund method through the Online Returns Center page when they initiate a return.

Amazon Return Process: Individual Seller (Non-FBA)

When a buyer places an order with an individual seller, returns will be directed to that specific seller rather than Amazon.com. While most individual sellers align their return policies closely with Amazon, some variations may exist. Therefore, buyers are advised to review individual sellers' Amazon.return.policy before making a purchase. A third-party seller should provide one of the following options for returns:

  • A valid return address within the United States.
  • A prepaid return label.
  • A full refund without requesting the return of the product.

If an individual seller fails to offer these three methods, the buyer can file an A-Z Guarantee Claim to seek assistance with their return. For items valued at $100 or more shipped within the US, buyers should ensure the package is insured and shipped with a signature confirmation service.

For items valued at $35 or more, returns should include a trackable link from the shipping service. Amazon recommends using USPS delivery service for items below $35 in value.

Responding to an A-Z Guarantee Claim

If Amazon requires additional information during the investigation of a claim, they’ll send an email notification, which should be responded to within 3 days. Failure to respond within this timeframe may result in the claim being granted in the customer's favor, with the claim amount debited from your account.

To respond to the claim notification, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the "Performance" menu and select "A-Z Guarantee Claims."
  2. On the "Action Required" tab, locate the relevant claim and click "Respond to Amazon."
  3. In the provided text box, provide detailed comments and information to clarify the claim situation.
  4. After completing the above steps, click the "Submit" button.

Amazon encourages sellers to monitor their emails regularly and respond promptly to claims, as this also impacts their Amazon ODR.

Amazon Return Process: FBA Seller

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Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sellers must act swiftly upon receiving a return request in their account. Failure to handle returns properly could result in additional expenses. Consider these three scenarios:

Possibility 1

Suppose the item was sold through Amazon, which determines that the returned item is in sellable condition. In that case, it’ll be automatically added to the inventory and marked as "Fulfillable" once more. If applicable, FBA credits your account with a portion of the referral fee and pays the Variable Closing Fees associated with the item.

Possibility 2

If Amazon believes the item is in damaged and non-sellable condition and takes responsibility for the damage, the item won’t be returned to your inventory. If applicable, Amazon credits your selling account with the item's selling price, a portion of the referral fees, applicable taxes, and the Variable Closing Fees.

Also, if you want to remove inventory of some items from Amazon but don’t know about it, read our guide on how to remove inventory from Amazon.

Possibility 3

If Amazon determines that the item is damaged and non-sellable and doesn’t accept responsibility, the item will be returned to your inventory and marked as "Unfulfillable." In this case, if applicable, Amazon credits your selling account with all or a portion of the referral fee along with the Closing Fee.

FBA Returns Processing Fee

amazon holiday return policy 2023

The fulfillment fee for each unit includes various services such as order packing, pick-up, customer service, shipping, and product returns. The fee structure for standard and oversized items is as follows:

Standard Size Items

  • Small (10 oz. or less): $2.41
  • Small (10+ - 16 oz.): $2.48
  • Large (10 oz. or less): $3.19
  • Large (10+ - 16 oz.): $3.28
  • Large (1-2 lb.): $4.76
  • Large (2-3 lb.): $5.26
  • Large (3-21 lb.): $5.26 plus an additional $0.38 per lb. after the initial 3 lb.

Oversized Items

  • Small yet oversized (about 71 lb. or less): $8.26 plus an extra $0.38 for every lb. after the first 2 lb.
  • Medium yet oversized (about 151 lb. or less): $9.79 plus an extra $0.39 for every lb. after the first 2 lb.
  • Large yet oversized (about 151 lb. or less): $75.78 plus an extra $0.79 for every lb. after the first 90 lb.
  • Oversized (special): $137.32 plus an extra $0.91 for every lb. after the first 90 lb.

Return Policy Amazon: Amazon Restocking Fee

These fees are an essential consideration for sellers using Amazon's FBA service, and they may vary based on the size and nature of the items being handled.

In certain scenarios where a customer requests a return outside of Amazon's established return policy or when a product is returned in a damaged or unacceptable condition, sellers can impose a restocking fee.

This fee evaluation is done by calculating the percentage of the item's price, excluding shipping costs, and its amount depends on the condition of the returned item. As a seller, you may decide to apply a restocking fee in the following circumstances:

  • The buyer no longer wants the purchased items and returns them in their original condition within the specified return window. In this case, no restocking fee is applicable.
  • Buyer no longer wants the purchased item and returns them in their original condition outside the return window. You can apply a restocking fee of up to 20% of the item's cost.
  • The buyer refuses to receive delivery because of visible damage during shipping or caused by the carrier. In such a case, no restocking fee is applicable.
  • The buyer no longer wants the purchased item (non-media item) and returns it within the return window. However, the seller receives the item damaged or materially different from its original condition. So, a seller can charge a restocking fee of around 50% of the item's cost.
  • The buyer who returns a book within the return window with apparent signs of use has to pay a restocking fee of around 50% of the item's cost.
  • The buyer returns an opened CD, DVD, cassette videotape, or vinyl record within the return window. In such a case, a seller can apply a restocking fee of up to 50% of the item's cost.
  • The buyer who returns open software or video games has to pay a restocking fee of up to 100% of the item's price.
  • If a buyer returns an item different from what he ordered, he’ll be charged no restocking fee.

Amazon Updated Return Policy of 2024

Amazon’s changing its return policy to cut costs for its sellers. Here are some essential updates you need to know about Amazon's return policy:

  • Free Returns: Most Amazon items can be returned for free within 30 days of delivery if you reside in one of the 50 United States. Look for the "free returns" label next to the price when purchasing.
  • No Label or Box Needed: When dropping off returns at Whole Foods, Kohl's, or UPS, there's no need to box up items or print labels. The app provides a QR code for store associates to scan.
  • $1 UPS Return Fee: Amazon may charge a $1 fee for UPS returns if a closer free drop-off location is available. Free returns remain possible at Kohl's, Whole Foods, and Amazon stores.
  • 30-day Return Window: Amazon reverted to its standard 30-day return window for most items after extending it during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exceptions may be considered via Amazon's live chat. This involves items sold only by Amazon, not third-party sellers.
  • Third-Party Sellers: Third-party sellers often follow Amazon return policies, especially if their inventory is Prime-eligible. However, returns are sent directly to the seller, and return shipping costs may apply unless negotiated via live chat.
  • Extended Return Windows for Gift Registry Items: Gift registry items have extended return windows. For gifts purchased from a baby registry, you have 365 days, while self-purchased registry items have a 90-day window. Birthday registry items follow the same rules. However, wedding registry gifts are allowed to be returned within 180 days.
amazon return policy
  • Extended Holiday Returns: Amazon typically allows returns for holiday purchases from mid-October to January 31st, benefiting Prime members and general customers.
  • Return Policy Abusers: Returning excessive items may lead to account suspension or restocking fees in the future.
  • Returning Gifts: You can return gifts from Amazon by initiating the return from a gift return page and following prompts to obtain a free shipping label. Funds can be credited to your Amazon account without the gifter's knowledge.
  • Non-Returnable Items: Amazon lists non-returnable items, including hazardous materials, customized products, live insects, and more. Some items, like gift cards, have restrictions.
  • Refund without Return: In some cases, Amazon may issue a refund without returning the item, especially if processing the return isn't cost-effective for them.
  • Amazon-Branded Items: Items from Amazon's brands have a generous 365-day return window starting when you receive the product.

Also, if you want to earn high profits from Amazon sales, read our guide on the top 9 most expensive items on Amazon.

How to Protect Yourself from Amazon Return Scammers?

To safeguard yourself from potential scams or fraudulent returns as an Amazon seller, it's crucial to take proactive steps. Amazon advises third-party sellers to consider the following precautions:

  • Respond to Customer Emails: Timely communication with customers is essential. Ensure you respond promptly to customer inquiries and issues. If you fail to do so, it can cause disputes and claims.
  • Proactive Refunding: Investigate and resolve return requests promptly and proactively. If the reason for the return is legitimate, consider issuing a refund promptly. This approach can reduce the likelihood of buyers filing claims against you.
  • Conscientious Shipping: Use trackable shipment methods, require appropriate signatures, and package items carefully to prevent non-receipt and damage claims. Ensure you provide valid tracking numbers for shipments within the United States and only ship to addresses provided by Amazon.
  • Accurate Product Descriptions: Maintain accurate product images and descriptions to prevent misunderstandings and disputes. Ensure your offers match the correct ASINs to avoid listing errors that could lead to claims.
  • Keep Buyers Informed: While Amazon handles order and shipping notifications, it's important to engage with buyers directly to address their questions and concerns about the product.
  • Promptly Cancel Out-of-Stock Orders: If an item becomes out of stock, promptly notify the buyer to avoid expectations of delivery. Cancel the order if necessary.

You might be unaware of another Amazon scam in which customers abuse the return policy to get free products. To know more about this fraud, read our guide on Amazon refund trick without return.

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We hope this information and guidance on Amazon return policies for sellers will help you guide the right path. Amazon's return policy emphasizes customer-centricity and ease of returns. Sellers must be well-prepared for increased return requests, which can affect their overall sales performance. Moreover, understanding the intricacies of the policy changes and proactively adjusting your business strategies will be crucial for your success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Amazon's Return Policy?

Amazon return policy says that items shipped from Amazon, including those stored in Amazon warehouses, typically have a 30-day return window.

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