Amazon Return Policy: No More Confusion, Here’s EXACTLY How It Works

Updated August 27, 2020 by Kyle
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There’s been a lot of confusion recently on how the return policy at Amazon actually works. Are all returns free? How often can you return something? Do you have to be a Prime member to get free return shipping? All questions that aren’t clearly answered by Amazon. So I figured is was time to do the research and find the answers to these questions. After several phone calls and live chat sessions, here’s how their return policy currently works.

Amazon Return Policy: How Exactly Does It Work

COVID-19 Policy Update

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon had extended it’s return policy to both U.S. and Canadian shoppers bit has since gone back to their original policy.

But it’s worth noting that if you start a live chat and politely ask if you can return something beyond the 30-day return window they will allow it in many cases, especially if the item is damaged or defective.

What Exactly is Their Return Policy?

Amazon Return Center

Here are the important details:

– You have 30 days from date of delivery to return items for free for a full refund if the item is defective, damaged, or the incorrect product.

– Items must be sold and/or fulfilled by Amazon directly, otherwise the customer has to pay for return shipping, MAYBE. See below for details.

Return policy does NOT apply to international shipping.

Any Exceptions to the 30 Days?

Yes, there are a few important ones…

– 3rd Party Sellers – Sellers sometimes have their own stated return policy which ranges from 7 -30 days.

I recently was denied a return from a 3rd party as they told me I had to deal with the manufacturer directly. It came as quite a surprise to me.

This is a relatively new change. Because of this it’s smart to be aware of their policy before you make the purchase.

Wedding Registry Gifts – These come with 180 day return policy from the date the item is delivered.

Baby Registry Gifts – You get a generous 365 return days for most items purchased from your registry.

See Also: 8 Brilliant Ways to Save Money on Amazon

Do I Have to Pay Return Shipping Charges?

If items are fulfilled by Amazon, you typically won’t have to pay return shipping charges.

If items are sold by a 3rd party and you try and initiate the return through the Amazon return page, you’ll probably have to pay return shipping fees.

But…if you start a live chat and initiate the return that way, you stand a great chance of NOT having to paying return shipping fees.

Your chances of success rise greatly if you’re a Prime member and order quite a bit every month.

To prove it, here’s a screenshot of this exact scenario. I was going to be charged return shipping until I started a live chat and then the operator gave it to me for free.

Amazon Free Return Shipping

What if the Item is Opened or Used?

Easy Returns

Doesn’t matter.

If the item had been opened or used they’ll take it back within 30 days. Plus, they’ll pay for the return shipping charges.

Keep in mind that the item must be sold and shipped directly by Amazon and not a 3rd party.

Can You Abuse Their Return Policy?

Absolutely, YES.

If you tend to return a lot of the stuff you buy, Amazon will take notice and could flag your account and not let you make any more returns for a certain amount of time.

Also, if you ask for a return, but never actually return the item, Amazon reserves the right to take action against you although I think you’d have to do this a lot for them to notice.

The action they’ll take is to check the “concessions limit” of the seller.

For example, it could be a $1000 limit, or it could be $500. Amazon actually has a team that researches your returns and comes up with the specific dollar amount for policy “abusers”.

If you cross this limit, Amazon will mark your account as “concession abuse”.

In other words, if you typically only contact Amazon for a refund or discount, and abuse their policy frequently, you’ll fall into this category.

Once your account is marked “Concession Abuse”, no returns will be accepted on any orders made by you in the future.

Worried about getting banned? Amazon will send you a warning notice via email first.

If you keep abusing their policy you’ll get your account banned permanently.

How Do You Return a Gift to Amazon?

Gift Returns

Returning gifts to Amazon is slightly different than a normal return.

Start by visiting the Gift Return Page and enter your order number which is the 17-digit code found on the packing slip.

Next, follow the online prompts and you’ll get a free shipping label which you can print and attach to the box.

If you DON’T know the order number you can either ask the gift giver or contact Amazon customer service at 1-(888) 280-4331.

When calling, make sure you have the”gift giver’s email address, phone number and the package tracking ID ready (if you have it).”

Is the Policy Different for Prime Members?

No, it is not.

Amazon Prime and non-Prime members get to use the same return policy.

Do You Need a Reason to Return an Item?

Yes, you need to state a reason.

It could be you just don’t need or want the item and that answer is perfectly acceptable.

You’ll be asked if it’s broken or the wrong item, but you’re under no obligation to answer.

Does Amazon Limit Your Returns?

As long as your issue or problem with the product is genuine, there is NO limit on the number of returns you can make.

What’s the Return Policy on Electronics?

You can return consumer electronics and computers to Amazon within 30 days of purchase.

If the reason for the return is a defective product, incorrect description, or wrong item sent, you will not have to pay the return shipping fees.

Be aware that you may get hit with a restocking fee if the item is damaged due to misuse, missing parts, or unauthorized tampering.

Can Amazon Ban You For Making Too Many Returns?

Amazon has never come out and said that they can ban your account, or limit your returns, because you made too many returns.

But it goes without saying that they track your return history and absolutely reserve the right to take action if they feel you’re abusing their policy.

I’ve heard of account holders being warned via email if they return 15-20% of all their Amazon purchases but have yet to find any concrete evidence of a specific percentage that triggers a warning.

Can Any Sized Item be Returned?

Yes, any product on the Amazon website can be returned.

It doesn’t matter what size or weight, it can be returned within 30 days.

What About Returning Items Bought via Alexa?

Items bought through Amazon Alexa voice shopping can be returned just like any other non-digital item you buy on Amazon.

Also, if you accidentally buy a digital song or album with Alexa you can request a return and refund within 7 days of date of purchase.

Just contact Amazon customer service and let them know you’d like a refund.

What Items Cannot be Returned?

Because Amazon sells so many different products this list is quite long.

– Grocery/Prime Pantry products – Perishable produce, dairy, and meats are not eligible for a return.

– Live Insects – Unless your lady bugs or ants show up dead you’re stuck with them.

– Downloadable Software – This keeps people from downloading the program then returning it.

– Gift Cards – Fortunately these are basically like cash.

– Online Subscriptions – This includes Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, and Prime Student.

– Hazardous Materials or Gas – You’ll need to contact the manufacturer directly.

– Some Personal Care Items – Not sure what items specifically.

– Pet Food – Not returnable but you’re eligible for a refund if there is something wrong with the food.

– Live Plants/Fresh Flowers – Make sure you really want that house plant before you order it.

– Some Jewelry Items – Think personalized jewelry that can’t be resold.

– Stuff Missing the UPC or Serial # – If an item is tampered with and this information is removed you’re stuck with it.

If you order one of these non-returnable items and it arrives damaged or defective you should contact Amazon to get resolution to the problem.

Can I Make a Return to Amazon Brick & Mortar Stores?

Yes…in most cases.

If you’re lucky enough to live close to an Amazon store you can take “eligible items” bought on Amazon.com there for a full refund within 30 days.

According to their website, items that are NOT eligible for an in-store return are really large items, or stuff that doesn’t meet “safe to ship standards”.

Keep in mind that you can also take your return to your nearest Kohl’s store and they will process your return for free.

No box or packaging supplies required.

What About Holiday Orders?

Any purchases you make between November 1st and December 31st have an extended “Holiday” return period.

You have until January 31st to return any items bought within this 2-month time period.

Will Amazon Ever Give Me a Refund But Let Me Keep the Item?

Yes.

If you order from Amazon regularly this has probably happened to you. They’ll give you a refund, but tell you there is no need to mail it back.

Personally, I’ve had it happen when I was sent something I didn’t order, but it can also take place if they send you too many of an item, or for any random reason…they’ll tell you to keep it or donate it to charity.

Ask the Reader: Have you ever returned anything to Amazon? Was it a smooth process, not worth the hassle, or somewhere in-between?

 


By Kyle James

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DONNA TANNER

I just received an email that i would be charged for a wrong item if i did not return the item by 8/2/ 2019. i checked and i have a tracking number that shows that the returned item was received by Amazon on 7/12/19 at phoenix, AZ. Am i going to have problems with this. i printed the proof of delivery to Amazon. i do not want our company credit card charged again. We do a lot of business with Amazon and we will stop if this happens. i would like an answer. Thanks Donna

Trevor

When shipping back a couch to amazon, and they are picking it up, does it need to be boxed up when they get it? I no longer have the box.

Vanja

I bought something on amazon and didn’t use it right away. It doesn’t turn on now that I’ve actually tried the product. Can I return it? It was an ovulation clear blue test monitor

Jen

Anytime you reach about 10% of what you spent at amazon being returned you will get a notice from them saying that from here on all sales will be considered final and if you choose to return at your expense there will be a restocking fee of 50% of the items cost. I know, because this just happened to me. I have been a loyal Amazon customer since they started. The past few years I have been receiving damaged junk, stuff tried to pass off as new that is not,etc. So I returned them. Funny how amazon says they are doing this because the items I return are in nonsellable condition when I return them to Amazon in exactly the condition I got them in. Buyer beware! They can also go further and close your account, which my understanding also includes anything you have on kindle, amazon fire, alexa, etc, any account you have with amazon. Really upsets me because I have probably spent well into six figures with them over the years and this is how I get treated. There are better alternatives than amazon out there. I hope you will choose them.

Fred

Can you ship amazon books COD?

Louise

If I kept one comforter and return other 2 .do I have to use same box size box or one smaller to fit
Thanks

Denise Oats

Can I drop off return in original shipping box and will ups affix the postage for me.

Kay

Amazon typically has a great return policy and customer service.

I shop on Amazon A LOT! I would say easily 200+ orders a year. I ONLY buy items that are typically sold by Amazon and state free prime shipping & returns, and I return quite a bit. I am always terrified I’ll be considered abusing the return policy, I certainly don’t mean to, but I hate shopping in stores. I do keep some items, and almost always any household items, tech, furniture etc that I buy.

Recently I had a few issues with being charged return shipping for items that stated they were free returns- after setting up the return labels through amazon that stated free return shipping.

The customer rep told me that it was because I chose the reason “No longer needed”, despite the fact that for non clothing items they only give you a handful of options and “Style not as expected” or “Fabric not as expected” is not among them. Those only apply to clothing items.

In this case it was a pair of curtains that was prime free shipping & returns, and the color didn’t match my bedroom, after seeing it in person. So because I had stated no longer needed as the choice, they charged me for shipping. I explained that amazon’s free return policy for this item states that it can be returned FOR ANY REASON but they kept saying ONLY if its amazon’s fault.

So then I spoke with a rep on the phone (US based) and she said that its a total glitch (that they wont fix) and to choose inaccurate website description or something, which is so weird to do because you have to write in comments about it.

Sandra Houck

Trying to return an item (at the post office/which refuses to take it) and post office says there is no return address on the package….at the top of the package is an address Zerhunt, Lexington , Ky 40511 (United States) IS THIS NOT THE RETURN ADDRESS

Pauline

I purchased a tablet from Amazon. Received it Friday 1st May. I returned it Sunday 3rd May (unused just opened to check it) I am still waiting for my refund so I can order a more appropriate tablet

Bill

I bought a XBox One game system, I returned it because I found another one cheaper elsewhere. They sent me a Free mail back label and they had the UPS guy come pick it up the following day. As soon as the UPS guy picked it up by scanning it, My account was instantly credited on my charge card for 100% value. I made the purchase Holiday 2018. What Amazon does is all returns comes back to their warehouse and they don’t even open and check them. They put the products in pallets and then auction them to the highest bidder thru Barton’s Discounts – 2222 Hillside Ave., Indianapolis, Indiana 46218. See “Amazon Pallet Auctions” on Youtube. Then the bidder can buy a whole pallet for like $300 for a $3,000 value pallet. Which then you can resell on EBay or other places for nice profit.

You can get the pallets delivered but you have to pay a trucking company extra for.

gino moujik

I returned a faulty item. Amazon said they would refund me the postage. The seller refunded the initial payment but ignored the return postage.
I’ve been trying to get a postage refund for over a month now. Every time I contact them, they offer me a ‘special alternative’ of gift card instead, so ‘I don’t have to go though the hassle’.. and do some kind of internal ‘inquiry’. Nothing changes.
Shall I contact a lawyer?

gino moujik

you sound just like their customer service.
I paid with money and expect to get refunded money as they promised, not an opportunity to shop with them again.

John

and so, you would actually spend the to “contact a lawyer” for something so small, then? Yes, sounds legit (see: sarcasm)

  1. No lawyer would even entertain something so trivial and petty. 2. It would cost you 10x the amount of the shipping that you paid just to file the paperwork alone. Then take that amount, and add in the lawyer fee that you have to pay UPFRONT just to get him started. 3. Compare your low to mid level budget lawyer, against amazon entire legal team, and tell me if you’re being irrational or just hoping for a (david vs goliath) moment.
P M

Tried to return items at Kohls last week (within the return time frame of return) and was not allowed to return some of the items. They said that I had to have a qr code to return at Kohls. When I submitted for returns I did not receive a qr code. So I had to pack up the items and print out the return paper, and drive to Staples (who has a UPS desk) to find out I couldn’t return it there either. So drove to an actual UPS store and finally could return…..

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