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

Updated June 9, 2021 by Kyle

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 6/08/21

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon had extended it’s return policy to both U.S. and Canadian shoppers, BUT 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.

See Also: Is It Possible to Make an Amazon Return After 30 Days?

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

2020 Holiday Return Policy

The VAST majority of stuff bought between October 1st – December 31st, 2020 can be returned all the way until January 31, 2021.

This is great because it allows you to start your Christmas shopping now, knowing that the gift recipient can return items up until the end of January.

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 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?

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

As noted above, this starts on October 1, 2020 which is convenient for shoppers.

You have until January 31st to return any items bought within this 3-month time period.

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


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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Judith Diamond

Would like to return unworn Ugg slipper delivered Sept15. Just learned that returns must be made within 30 days from delivery . Allowance for making returns to other online shoes sellers is much more generous. Assumed that Amazon would be competitive on this issue. I am a long time customer. I would be satisfied with a Amazon gift card.

Inez robles

I ordered puma men’s enzo cross trainer shoe size 10.5 and received a size 7 today Dec.2 2017, I need to return them but i dont understand the return policy.. I need a phone number to talk to a real person. Thank you

Inez robles

I need a phone number where I can talk to a real person, this return policy is difficult. I ordered a size 10.5 shoes and you send me a 7


ABSOLUTELY Not TRUE! Only items fulfilled by Amazon are eligible for free return 12/7/2017.


Brought a pair of headphones for 17 returned them because mic quality was terrible it was about 5 days after I purchased when I get my refund I only got 8 dollars back. Why Is that

Ed Yu

Probably because the item was no longer new when you returned it. (Damaged Packaging and such).

Robert Schdoonover

I have two Fitbit Alta trackers to return how ever I am having a difficult accessing the return webb address

PLease help


Ojus Mohan

Do not trust when they tell you they will pay for return shipping. They promised me return shipping costs. But after shipping the item back they told him “we are sorry, we are not going to give you the money”. Nice customer service #cheated


If you break something why do you think you are entitled to return it? and for free? If you change your mind or don’t like an item why do you think you are entitled to free return shipping? Why do you think you are entitled to a price adjustment if the price goes down after you bought it? Is it okay to charge you more if the price goes up? Yes it can be inconvenient to return an item even if it is their mistake but that is the risk you take shopping online. All I see on this thread is a bunch of entitled whinny people. A lot of the 3rd party sellers on Amazon are small businesses just trying to feed their family. Stop with the whining and the lying to get free return shipping. Act like adults and own your actions. Absolutely ridiculous.


I think there needs to be more honesty in HOW the items are listed. If you have a shirt for sale and the shirt says 100% cotton then you get this cheap polyester junk , then you were misled into buying it..Like I said before , we cant see, feel or try on these items.Everyone is built differently and some have curves where others do not , Just because someone wears a medium in one brand does not mean they will necessarily fit a medium in others.One size does not fit all. also look at Amazon garage items…if you type in your vehicle and it say This fits your car you expect it to actually fit your car. As for 3rd party items…people REALLY need to look at the seller. If it says just launched there is a REALLY good chance that you’ll get wrong items or possibly not get them at all.Always look for sellers with high numbers in ratings. Same for products and their ratings. The higher amount of reviews combined with high stars will give people the most accurate information. If something has 5 stars and only 1 or 2 reviews steer clear. And as far as broken items, if it arrives broke because Bill the mail man or joe the UPS driver threw the package around then NO, the customer SHOULD NOT be responsible for those items.The customer should also not be responsible if the carrier left that package on the porch and someone walked off with it. The carriers should know their areas and be able to tell if its a shady neighborhood. Sadly all of the scenarios happen way too often and now people are trying to scam Amazon as well. The scammers and liars are coming out of the wood work and Amazon has no clue who is who these days. Looks like the majority of people are all holding out their hands expecting something from Amazon, when to avoid the problems they can simply leave the house and go shopping.


Then stop buying online wildbear. If you cannot see the item, yes there is a risk of it being diff. or not fitting. That is risk you take for online convenience of shopping. Go to a store. Pay the higher price.


Contacting them through their online chat is a great idea, you saved me! Thanks so much!

richard bale

Your comment below is not completely true, and misleading:

“Yes, you need to state a reason. It could be you just don’t need or want the item and that’s perfectly acceptable.”

FACT – Its NOT “perfectly acceptable.” “No longer want item” is no longer an option. Any return you make which is not directly Amazon’s fault is charged for shipping. This now is Amazon policy. The problem is that Amazon never informed its customers of this important change. Check the internet for the many complaints. And please change your advice here.

Ed Yu

“This now is Amazon policy. The problem is that Amazon never informed its customers of this important change.”

Except there it is, in black and white.

Arun Kumar

What if I have applied for return and refund but no any come to pick the product . After the failure of the day given by Amazon may I use that product, is Amazon pay my money in my account without receiving the product. I mean ‘agar Mai return refund k liye apply kr du or Amazon k taraf se diye Gaye samay me Koi product le kr nai gaya to Kya hoga, Kya jb tk product le kr nai Koi jata tb tk Kya use use kiya ja sakta hai ‘. Refund to tb milega jb product pick up ho k amazon ko nai milta, lekin agar Koi return file karne k bad v product nai le gaya to paise refund hone me late hoga uska compensate kun karega.

Sergio Alonso Villegas Mejia

HELLO I bought a product on December 16 and my expected date to arrive was on January 11 but it didn’t came that date, so I asked to Amazon why was it taking so long to arrive to my place and after that they simply refund me and told me that they are expecting the return of the product. And yesterday on February 11th the product had arrived to my home and I don’t plan to return it because it was a gift for my girlfriend. What should I do? I mean I don’t want to be banned from Amazon because I didn’t return the product.


If you don’t return it they will usually recharge you but since it arrived so late maybe they won’t.

Sheri Reinstedler

My question concerns a Xmas gift from my adilt son. He purchased a Nexus cell phone for me, I just recently within 2 weeks activated it because I wsnted to change providers at the beginning of Feb as my then provider was paid up until end of January 2018. I have already replaced with Verizon the sim card. (In less than 2 weeks). I was told last week when I replaced this something card (not cheap), that it’s possible that the s card reader in phone is going bad. My son and I have googled this issue for this phone and this issue cannot be repaired. We are quite sure the seller had to without a doubt aware of this but continued to sell which is fradulant. Can this issue with proof be a exception to the return policy for consideration ? Thanks I await a reply


Hello Sheri, was this an Amazon fulfilled product? If so, they will have you contact the maker of the phone after the return policy date passes. If this is a third party seller, you can reach out to them and ask them for a refund or replacement (if it is within their return policy) If you cannot come to an agreement and you are within the sellers policy you can ask Amazon to file an A to Z guarantee claim on your behalf to try to get your money back. Worst case scenario, file a dispute with your bank and let them know exactly what the situation is. Keep in mind, if you dispute the transaction, Amazon MAY flag you and send the amount you disputed into collections for non payment.Thus making your Amazon account unusable until the money is paid back


I think Amazon need to sort this mess out when it comes to Amazon Prime. They shouldn’t slap the Prime logo on items only for the returns policy not to be up to Amazon’s own standards – it weakens the Prime brand and causes confusion.

I find it silly that customers are supposed to educate themselves as to the differences between who’s selling and who’s fulfilling – too complex.


It is ultimately up to you to do your homework. In this day and age one would think a person would educate themselves as to where they are buying items from. You wouldn’t go into a mall and go to H&M menswear to buy a Victoria’s Secret bra…so why go into the virtual Mall of Amazon and not know. You may as well go to ebay if it’s too much.That way you can almost guarantee the item will take months to get from China and not have ANY info provided to you.
Also for those confused about terms and words :
Shipping:the transport of goods by sea or some other means.
Delivery: the action of delivering letters, packages, or ordered goods.
Prime has free 2 day SHIPPING, not Delivery.


I’m a seller, the item was returned in worse shape and missing accessories. Can I issue a partial refund without a further dispute (currently an A to Z claim)