SellerSonarСustomer returns are a part of the buying and selling game and hold even for the world’s biggest and most lucrative marketplaces like Amazon. Unfortunately, when it comes to returns on Amazon, the blame happens to fall on sellers probably because they might have shipped the wrong item, color, size, or SKU. However, usually, it’s not your fault. But there’s the bitter truth: the marketplace still needs sellers to accept the returns – even when it’s the customer’s fault.

Let’s delve into the basics of what’s Amazon’s return policy, the details of the new Amazon Return Policy for both FBA sellers and individual merchants, different aspects of handling returns, how to change Amazon return method, charges for returns, and much more.

Amazon Seller Refund Policy

Products shipped from the marketplace, even including Amazon Warehouses, are eligible for return within 30 days in most cases. Nonetheless, a few items have distinctive requirements or policies associated with them.

How Are Amazon Refunds Processed? 

When a customer returns your item, the refund that they receive depends on three aspects:

  • Condition in which the product is returned
  • How was the item purchased?
  • How long has the client had the product with them?

When returning an item, a customer can choose their preferred refund method by checking the online Returns Center page.

If the customer opts to receive a refund after the seller receives the items, it might take up to 5 business days to process the return, followed by the refund issue.

Reminder: If Amazon refunds the client on a prepaid card and they no longer hold the physical card, it is still stored within their account. Buyers can use it for subsequent purchases with the same account.

Besides, if the customer places an order via Amazon Currency converter, then note that the refund will be issued in local currency and calculated with the same rate when the customer placed the order.

How To Issue A Return Request?

Amazon sellers can take different actions on return requests with the help of the Manage Returns option. 

1. Authorize the request

An individual merchant who prefers a manual authorization and a professional FBA seller who gets out-of-policy requests have an option to review a refund request manually. For this, follow the steps listed below:

Step 1: Log іn to your Amazon Seller Central account, choose Orders and then go to Manage returns.

Step 2: To authorize a single-return request, select the request you want to review.

Step 3: After doing step #2, you will need to use the RMA (Amazon Return Merchandise Authorization) number, which Amazon generates, or you will have to enter a custom RMA number. A buyer will see this RMA number by Amazon on their return authorization Amazon slip, just under the return label.

If the return is under manual authorization, sellers will be asked to choose a return address. You can add a new one or select one of your saved addresses for returns.

Step 4: To authorize several return requests simultaneously, select the request you wish to review. Then, from the page – Manage Returns – choose to Authorize all selected returns that you see in the dropdown menu.

Note: Since September 15, 2021, Amazon has started to automatically authorize all return requests that fall under their Return Policy. Return requests that are out-of-policy or category-exempt, Amazon sends for manual authorization. Sellers can find such return requests via the ‘Auto-authorised’ flag on the Amazon Manage Returns page (Orders > Manage Returns) in their Seller Central.

2. Close the return request

You can do it right away in case you:

  • Wish to issue a refund without asking for the product’s return
  • Decide not to accept the return (for example, when the return request isn’t compliant with the Amazon policies)
  • Select an appropriate reason to close the return request and explain it to the client. As soon as the request to return the items is closed, Amazon delivers the customer the message you have sent along with a reason for the closure.

On the other hand, a customer can also close their return request. In that case, the seller will get an email notifying them about it.

3. Issue a refund

A refund can be issued:

  • After the product has been returned
  • If you’re letting the customer keep your products

However, if you wish your product back from the client, Amazon encourages you to wait until you get it and issue a refund.

As soon as you get your goods back, the platform expects you to issue the refund within two days. But if you fail, Amazon has the right to refund a certain amount to the shopper and charge the same from your seller account.

Thus, to prevent a negative experience from the client, monitor your refunds actively and ensure that the customers receive them on time.

4. Contact the customer and discuss the issue.

However, rather than managing the return and issuing a refund, it is always a good idea to resolve the issue.

Amazon Return Policy for Third-Party Sellers

Amazon seller return policy

 

Let’s start with the Amazon third-party sellers’ return policy. Returns for sellers who fulfill their orders work differently from the FBA model. Amazon’s guarantee claim in their seller-fulfilled return policy states that FBM merchants must match or exceed Amazon’s return policy. It means you have to accept returns within the platform’s 30-day return window. 

In addition, all returns will be shipped back to the address indicated in your seller account, not to the Amazon marketplace. You need to refund the customer within two days of getting the return shipment. 

If you are a professional seller on Amazon, you will be automatically enrolled in the Amazon Prepaid Returns Label program. So, suppose a customer requests a return, and it falls within the accepted time frame. In that case, Amazon automatically sends the client a prepaid return shipping label on your behalf via Buy Shipping Services. Individual merchants must opt-in to the program. 

Furthermore, for any return requests made outside of Amazon’s return policy or those considered exempt, Amazon will send the return request for manual review by sellers. So how does it apply to FBM sellers? Unfortunately, it means they won’t have the option to communicate with the shoppers, for example, to fix the situation before the clients are automatically refunded. 

Amazon 3rd-Party Return Policy: Delivery with Services

Amazon shopper who have bought a product as a Delivery with Service option from a third-party seller, have to agree any returns with that merchant. Such services may include, for example, in-home unpacking, installation, assembly, and more. The merchant and the shopper should coordinate and plan the terms of the return. Once the seller’s staff has scheduled the return, they shall uninstall or disassemble the product, and collect it from the buyer.

In case a seller does not provide such kinds of services, or for any reason fails to contact a buyer to schedule an appointment and pick up the purchased product, a buyer can contact the Amazon Home Services team.

Another option is to file an A-to-z Guarantee claim. A shopper can file an A-to-z Guarantee in case they are unhappy with the product and aren’t able to settle the issue directly with the seller. When that happens, a shopper may file a claim to Amazon who is going to decide if a they are eligible for a refund.

There are cases when a buyer wants to return a Delivery with Services product that is broken or misses any parts, due to the buyer’s fault. If that is the case, the seller may charge a restocking fee depending on the item’s condition.

Fulfillment by Amazon Return Policy

With the FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) model, Amazon handles customer service and fulfillment on behalf of merchants, including customer returns processing. The platform operates by its client return policy when determining whether the product in question is eligible for a return. As an Amazon seller, you have no control over whether a product is accepted as a return, even when it is the buyer’s fault that an item is damaged or defective.

Clients can request returns within 30 days of receiving their order in most cases. But the marketplace can (and does) make some case-by-case exceptions and accept returns that exceed that 30-day limit. 

In the case of an exception, Amazon.com sends an email to the seller notifying them that they have started a return and deducted the cost of the order from the seller’s account balance.

What To Do Prior To Processing A Refund?

When a customer asks for a refund, there are several aspects Amazon recommends you to do before processing the refund:

  • When you authorize the client’s request to return the product, wait until you get the shipment from the shopper before issuing a refund. You can even let the customer keep or discard the item even if you issue a refund. However, it’s up to you to decide whether to go with returnless refunds. 
  • If the customer gives you the item damaged, or perhaps, in a different condition from what you sent before, you have the choice to issue a “partial refund.” If you choose to go with a partial refund, it’s essential to inform the customer about the same to avoid further misunderstandings.
  • Suppose you have listed and described the item correctly, yet the buyer doesn’t want it anymore. In that case, you can choose to refund the actual price and not the Amazon shipping cost. It is an advantage for the seller.

How Can I Protect Amazon Return Scammers?

In an attempt to defend themselves from customers with shady or bad intentions, a few Amazon sellers take photos or videos of their goods, especially expensive ones, before dispatching them. In addition, it serves as evidence to prove that they shipped the product properly if a customer claims that they haven’t received the order and asks for a full refund.

Sure thing, these safeguards require some more time than your existing heavy workload. Nonetheless, such protections will help you save money and keep your name intact even if a customer tries to scam you.

Apart from these, here are some additional safety measures to take into account to avoid further run-ins with scammers:

  • Ensure you get signatures on all the packages that you deliver
  • Get insurance on the packages with expensive products
  • Use a tracked delivery system
  • Give correct descriptions and images of an item
  • Cancel any out-of-stock order quickly
  • Keep the customers informed and reply to the emails promptly

How To Refund Tax To Buyers? 

As a seller, you might face situations when you need to refund the tax amount to the customer. It is essential to check if they qualify for tax-exempt status in such cases. In case they do, the client can request a tax refund.

A client asks for the tax refunds directly from the Amazon seller (you). To issue the tax refund, here is what you need to do:

  • Proceed to Manage orders and find the order you wish to issue the tax refund.
  • On the Order Details page, choose the option Refund order.
  • On the upper side of your Refund order page, select Refund tax only.
  • Select an order from an unincorporated area or Tax-exempt buyer.
  • If you select the order from an unincorporated area, you will have to select the jurisdiction you will refund.
  • If you choose a tax-exempt buyer, you will have to indicate an exemption reason.
  • Select the Submit refund button.

For some reason, if you cannot refund the tax, check if your order was carried out through FBA or sent to a place where the Amazon marketplace manages tax calculation, tax collection, remittance, and refunds.

Amazon Seller Return Policy: Restocking Fee

If a customer returns

He/she receives

Products in their original condition that go beyond the return window*

80% of the item price

CDs, DVDs, vinyl records, cassette tapes, or VHS tapes that were opened (from its original plastic wrap)

50% of the item price

Products with missing parts, damaged goods, not in proper condition, or have signs of use

Maximum 50% of the item price

Open software or video games

0% of the item price

*Keep in mind that the return window period is only thirty days from the date the goods were sent for most products. To check for a product’s return window, customers can navigate to their orders page and choose Return/Replace Items.

Suppose you have fulfilled the item as an Amazon seller. In that case, you can charge the customer a maximum restocking fee of 20%, even when the item was returned to you in its original condition within the period of 30-days.

An Amazon seller can decide to charge the client with a restocking fee only when the following conditions apply:

  • The client finds the same product but on a different site.
  • The customer decides to change their mind (the situation is known as Buyer’s Remorse).
  • The client returns the item impaired, damaged, or considerably different from the originally delivered one.

Final Thoughts

If you wish to sell on the Amazon platform, you need to follow the marketplace’s rules—whether you consent with them or not! As we have mentioned, customer returns are a common part of running an eCommerce Amazon store or any retail business for that matter. So to help limit the share of returns, try focusing on offering high-quality goods and fully optimized product listings with as much info as possible.

Both FBA and FBM Amazon sellers with a great stock that lack the helpful tools to manage customer returns might get themselves slammed by negative reviews or lose the Buy Box. 

To help you address the issue, SellerSonar offers Amazon tracking to develop your product strategy. You can also benchmark product detail changes and get out-of-stock alerts to operate the business smoothly. Sign up for a 90-day free trial right now and benefit from automated listings monitoring.