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

Updated May 26, 2022 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: No More Confusion, Here's EXACTLY How It Works

COVID-19 Policy Update

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

Holiday Return Policy

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

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.

Why Won’t Amazon Let Me Print a Return Label?

In an effort to make your returns “easier” Amazon often doesn’t give you the option to print a label at home and box up the item yourself.

Instead they want to send you to Kohl’s location or a UPS Store and let them box it up for you.

If you’re like me, this is a pain in the butt as I don’t live near a Kohl’s or UPS Store and would rather box up my return myself and drop it off at a UPS collection station.

But a clever workaround is to start a Live Chat session and tell them you need a return label, they’ll email you one and make one available in your account.

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.

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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I returned a defective rowing machine and followed instructions I was given in Chat. I asked foe email confirmation which confirmed a refund. Amazon told me to pay for shipping and they would reimburse me when the product was received. I’ve spent hours with online chat to get resolution and representatives were all foreign nationals so the language barrier made it very difficult. After streams of chat, I was again promised my refund. And refunds began appearing through my email in the form of reimbursements for other items I had purchased. I was told this was how they will process reimbursement for $299 product and $158 shipping charges. I will never purchase a large product from Amazon again. As the famed owner of Amazon has said, this company will eventually be replaced by something better! And I’m ready for it!


Items can be returned through January 31 and it was shipped a week before January 31 but Amazon received on February 5 due to shipping time. Will I receive a refund?

Claudia J. Dupre

Has anyone returned a computer through Amazon that was made by or sold through a 3rd party? Were you able to return it if you used it and didnt like it?

Elise Diehl Hansard

My grandson recently ordered 8 large bags of candy, not realizing that these were HUGE. The sealed bags came today and we were shocked at how large they were. When we looked into refunds/returns, they were not eligible for return. I can’t see on the website where to ask for a refund without return. In a way I understand, because it is food, but the bags were not opened. Any thoughts? I am going to look into this again tomorrow to see if I missed anything.


Why should you get a refund without return? You received the product, although it was larger than expected.


I have several items I needed to return, that did not allow me to print a label at home, making me go to either UPS or Kohls. I started the return process, but it has now gone past the 30 day return window, but the QR code is still available to scan or print a label for the package to return in store.

My question is, if I returned these items would I still get my refund since it is outside the 30day window?

Canis Lupus

I’ve been an AMAZON.COM customer since 1999. For the most part is pretty good at honoring their return policy. It’s the third party sellers who ship their own product you must watch out for.

I was told to keep a $799 sink when the seller promised I’d get it overnight. I paid the super high overnight shipping fee too. I needed the sink to finish my bathroom project. Then the third party seller sent my item UPS GROUND!

Needless to say I was livid. The third party seller did not want to accept their responsibility for trying to cheat me. stepped in on my behalf. I soon got an email returning my money and saying keep the sink. They had cost me more than $799 staying home and booking a plumber for a sink that was never there to be installed.


Nice, you got a free sink. Pretty good haul for a bit of inconvenience.

Margaret F Deluise

My order was sent back to Amazon before it was delivered. Probably damaged. I received notice my card would be credited but will the reward points I used for this order be refunded too?


So I’ve had a couple of bad no customer service. First one was during the holidays I ordered a laptop backpack combo edit unbelievable deal but they excepted the payment Took the money out of my bank account and told me when the items were shipped a month and a half later because it did come from Amazon UK I’ll only received the backpack and not the laptop out of the combo and going back-and-forth with them they refused to provide the laptop at the original agreed Price. I told him they had a month and a half to contact me and tell me that it was a incorrect price listing or whatever the such they changed out the product page and try to eliminate it from being found and luckily I took pictures of everything still denied it. Over a dozen times of trying to speak to the proper person I’ve authority I was reassured that I could order the laptop at the same price I would get the laptop don’t worry about paying for it and that wasn’t on every interaction I had with them but still no laptop.

I’ve also had them deny my reviews for products and make claims that they go against the company guidelines like one of them was that it couldn’t show a logo of a product in the picture. No where was this found on their guidelines for posting a review and pictures and I also provided evidence of where they have numerous pictures with logos of the product it is being reviewed and also logos of other products that aren’t on there on listing page. Still denied the fact that they were making this all up and to put up the reviews that that I had provided.

Now onto this last incident, they told me that the last item that I returned was used damage not in its original package and that it went against their company policy for me too return an item that fit that description but yet when I looked at their policy it said nothing of the sort. And they also tried to tell me that oh I make frequent returns and and that is also against their policy. So for a good while I was looking for headphones or earbuds that would fit my ears I could not find a pair that fit good so naturally they’re going back and the item that they talked about that was damaged wasn’t damaged it was defective and it was a robot vacuum. I argued back that you know this definitely seems like it’s some harassment on your guys his part seen the other incidents I’ve had. They apologized and said no we just wanna make sure that that that your experience is the best that it can be and if there’s anything else that we could do two improve our jobs as a seller. I’m just like wow what a joke


After doing a live chat session to ask about what could be done about a gaming PC (purchased via 3rd party seller) that I had been having issues with coincidentally right after the 30 day mark (I stupidly didn’t think to return it at this time as I thought it was something that I was just doing wrong or overlooking due to my lack of knowledge of computers), and finally stopped working due to faulty hardware at month 7 after hardly even using it. I told the rep that I had tried contacting the manufacturer and seller but never got any responses from either and wanted to know if I could receive a partial refund at the very least as I had hardly used it.

Despite it being past the 30 day window, the rep that I spoke to approved the return request and emailed me a label. Shortly after I got a notification that my request had been approved by the seller, but then I received an email from the seller with the same “Please take this up with the manufacturer. If you attempt to return this, we will send it back to you” response. So I gave up and took it to Geek Squad for repairs but my mom apparently got it back before it could be fixed, printed the labels and shipped it. That was on the of 27th of august. I recently looked up the tracking information to see what was going on since I had not heard back from both Amazon or the seller, and saw that the PC had been delivered and received on the 9th.

It is almost October and I’m now without the PC and the $500 I paid for it. I just messaged the seller yesterday asking them to please get in contact with me as I now just wanted to know where the PC was, if they did in fact receive it, and if they were planning on sending it back to me like they said, mainly because 1. We just recently moved to a new state, and 2. Since it was returned without my knowledge, I still had a lot of work left on that PC and other personal information.(nothing important or super personal thankfully but still stuff that I’d rather not having floating around out there for anyone to access or potentially hack) At this point, I’m at a loss for what to do. Should I file an A-Z claim? I dont want to take advantage of anyone’s policies nor do I want to get the seller in trouble!


Great article thank you, but didn’t address my issue. Ordered 2 items beyond a value qualified for free shipping. Need to return one item which brings the other below the original order value. Will they deduct shipping for the retained lower value item because the higher value returned item enabled the free shipping?


I’m a seller- and in so sick of people buying my garment, wearing it for one day- and returning it- damaged.

Last edited 8 months ago by Heather

Refusing to accept returns on an account is false, legally they must provide returns on products within 30 days if it is not disclosed within the posting of a product as final sale.

They can however refuse your business in the future by banning the account at some point

Linda Tenhagen Tenhagen

So when it says must be returned in original packaging and more than one item came in that package; one for a Christmas gift. If I send the one back now and the second does not fit; I have already sent the original package away. Correct?? Now what? Do I have to hold the return of the first item until after Christmas when I will know if it needs to be returned as well?

Amy Trogan

Pretty pathetic to lay out a guide for how far buyers can push the line on abusing Amazon policies.
Amazon will send you a warning notice via email first.”
“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.”
Blogs like this encourage abusive behavior. No fair and honest seller appreciates BS like this. Abuse for sellers on Amazon is already rampant enough without people like you throwing fuel on the fire. Most 3rd party sellers are small time earners, not multi million dollar businesses. Pretty damn sad some low rate blogger casually wants to help screw over thousands of sellers for content


I have a coffee maker that I didnt notice was damaged but working until over 30 days of recieving it. I no longer have the original box it came in, can I return it for a replacement?