Amazon Refunds: how they work and how much they cost the seller

One of the reasons why Amazon is so appreciated by consumers is given by its generous refund policy. After all, it’s no secret that the marketplace is very sensitive to their customers’ needs and expectations, to the point of allowing them to return a product – either for a refund or for a substitution – in an easy way and without having to give any motivation.

Whoever buys a product on Amazon will be able to return it within 30 days from the date of delivery, thus exercising the right to withdraw well beyond the legal terms, that is 14 days. However, this rule does not apply to the list of goods for which the right to withdraw is expressly excluded.

But which are the products that buyers cannot return to the vendors? In which cases is it not possible to exercise the right to withdraw as per the terms and conditions that are otherwise generally provided for the other purchases made on Amazon? And how much does a return cost the seller?

When is the right to withdraw excluded?

In a dense page dedicated to its refunds policy, Amazon has written about the exclusion of the right of withdrawal, and states therein that the return of a product can be effected on any purchase, except in the following cases:

  • items that have been tailor-made for the customer, or customized at the buyer’s request, like Amazon Handmade items, or products that can expire or perish rapidly, so much as to no longer be usable by the vendor;
  • items that are sealed and that cannot be returned owing to reasons related to hygiene or to health protection, and those that have been opened or mixed with other goods;
  • supplies of alcoholic beverages with a price agreed upon at the time the sales contract was concluded,  but with delivery time only after 30 days, and whose effective value depends on the fluctuations of the market, beyond Amazon’s control;
  • audio-visual and software products whose packaging have been opened and seals removed;
  • newspapers, journals and magazines;
  • digital contents supplied on intangible mediums, already executed.

How much does a return cost the seller?

As you know, exercising the right to withdraw within 14 days allows the consumer to return the item without paying any charges, generally meaning, even the shipping costs.

Nonetheless, if the right to withdraw is exercised after the 14th day, but always within the 30 day limit set by the marketplace policy, or rather if the purchaser is a professional, the refund will be made only for the price of the product, and will not include the shipping costs incurred.

Based on the above it seems quite evident that, while the operation of returning an item is free of costs and expenses for the buyer, the same cannot be said for the vendor, who will be charged with a fee for each returned item.

In this regard, remember that Amazon calculates this fee on the basis of the handling costs for each single returned unit, and applies it to all the customer returns in the eligible categories (like clothing or watches, shoes or jewelry), unless the reasons for the return are attributable to Amazon’s responsibility.

When the seller does not pay the return fee

As we mentioned just a few lines above, the seller does not pay the return fee if the item is lost or damaged by a facility or courier managed by Amazon or on account of Amazon.

In order to be entitled to the exemption of the fees in question, the item must necessarily comply with the requirements of the product, and with the restrictions and inventory of Amazon, must not be defective nor damaged, and the state of the seller’s Account must be “normal”.

2021 return fee promotions

In such a scenario and conscious of this rather difficult period for sellers, Amazon has decided to postpone the update of the annual return fees until the 1st of June 2021, and as of the 1st of March 2021 has also reduced a few return fees (those pertaining to Clothing , Shoes and bags categories). Furthermore, the return fees for certain other categories (Jewelry, Watches) have been totally cancelled.

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