Here’s Exactly How Amazon’s Return Policy Works (Plus Insider Tips for Success)

Updated August 4, 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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Amanda

I just ordered something through a third party through Amazon. The item came and I didn’t like it as much in person so I wanted to return it. There was nothing in the packaging on how to return it, so I went to my Amazon account. I clicked on the item and the return link. It asked for a reason, then stated my refund was processed and I didn’t need to return the item. I feel like that’s stealing and want to return it. How or why was this processed this way? Any ideas?

Britt

The cost of shipping was greater than their cost on the item

John Canno

I bought an item for my C4 Corvette from RVinyl Tint and Auto and the item did not match the description and returning it was very difficult! First, I had to pay over $18 dollars to return it! They would not offer a Return Label. Then I had to dispute it. It took forever. Then they charged me a 20% Restocking Fee! All of this was their own fault. The item would not fit on my car. Never buy anything from this company out of New York! Amazon claims that their Return Policy is A-Z so I will keep trying!

Tyler

What if I don’t have the original box it came in how can I ship it back?

santhosh

Is it any pronblem if we miss the box of a mobile

Steve vicknair

Can I return a linenspa mattress that hasn’t been used and get a larger one

Eileen

Kyle, I think this changed today, 06/18/18. I’m a Prime customer and when I tried to return an Amazon.com sourced product today, the site said I would owe a return shipping fee. I called cust. svc. and eventually pried it out of the rep that they just changed the free return policy for everyone to No Go, unless the product or packaging was damaged, Amazon’s error, etc.

She sent me a free shipping label but left in great fanfare first to get it approved.

William

I was trying to order only fifteen balloons, not the big amount I received. There was not way to correct the order in the screen. I thought I had erased it.

Doreen Conlon

Why is it i return something and my visa isn’t credited for a week yet my son can return something and visa is credited the next day?

Jude

Thanks for the indepth informative article!

GH Langley

Why can’t find an address to send back item to amazon. By the way, I cancelled it right after I ordered it. So I shouldn’t have gotton the item!

Maureen

I have recently bought a Miele vacuum cleaner and realise it is far to heavy. I have used it once. Could I return it for a full refund.

Mark merritt

Can I return the item if I don’t have all the original packaging?
Thanks

Nae

I got something a year or two ago 4 Christmas and now doesn’t work right will it be easy a d cost

eilee gifford

I would like to return a Christmas gift without the giver knowing.

Eileen Hadlich

How do I return a heated mattress that does not work right

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