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

Updated May 26, 2022 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: 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 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.

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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Helen

My order was placed Dec 27, 2021 and was shown as shipped but Tracking ID was not recognized by USPS or UPS. I received message it would arrive by 9 pm on 31st. No it didn’t. Then I got a message on my order page on Jan 1,2022, that it was late, arriving between Jan 1 and January 4. Frustrated I chatted on Amazon with a representative yesterday, Jan 3, and long story short I was given a refund I presume because tracking ID could not be found, and then my order disappeared from my order list. Now this afternoon about 4:50pm today, Jan 4, the package arrived and was posted as next day air. Now I have no order on my order page now to return it through ? So what do I do now? My order page doesn’t even show it as an order.

Helen

Problem solved

mike

Amazon returns are free…ONLY if you use UPS store. If you ship from a Mail depot, for example, they now charge $7.99. The wait at the UPS store is usually 40 minutes…too long for me. I’m done with Prime. Walmart has most of the stuff anyway.

mike

Sorry Kyle…has to be UPS store ONLY.

mike

…and they give you a scan code…no label. so you can’t ship from anywhere than UPS Store.

Lori

Or participating Kohl’s. You can take your product into participating Kohl’s stores and they will box and ship it, yes it’s still a free return if your purchase stated free return when you bought the product. You have to start the return at your Amazon account to receive the UPC (they email it) so the Kohl’s employee can scan it to complete the return and ship it.

Anna

They often allow returns at Whole Foods, depending on the item. I’ve found this to be significantly faster than going to UPS!

lily

Hi what to do i ordered 3 samsung S22 Ultra and 2 out of the 3 came out defective… they wont allow me to return the items and get my money back and they robbed me approximately 5000$

Dicj

The best is when you tell them a 500 dollar product didn’t arrive even when it said it did, play up the story and boom you get your 500 bucks back and the 500 item for free. Don’t do it too often and mix the dollar values around and smooth sailing. They are a multi billion dollar corporation that obviously was calluding with governments during the pandemic, didn’t you all notice no small stores could be open yet all the major corporations could be. IT IS IMMORAL NOT TO STEAL ANYTHING YOU CAN FROM THESE DISGUSTING CORPORATIONS. They have destroyed lives, jobs, decent way of life, trampled worker rights, destroy our environment and some even kill our lover ones, yet many will judge me as being the bad person for theft. You are the immoral one to stand for these rotten entities. Keep your head in the sand and or not.

Toast

It’s been fine so far. Though hope I never get that dreaded email.. I’ll admit I’ve made about 12 returns so far. (Though technically 13 as 1 was from a 3rd party seller.) Though I’ve kept everything else more of less that I’ve ordered. And 2021 was the year where I’ve had the most returns..

I’m still paranoid that with every return I make (which will most likely be clothes or cosplay) I’ll get closer to that email..

Though nowadays I try to just order stuff like food or hygeine stuff I can’t get in stores where I live.

Branch Whitney

I have returned about a dozens items over a ten year period without any problem. Today I tried to return an inexpensive Apple product and it is a hassle. I can only drop it off in a bad part of town that is not close to me. I even put in another zip code; it did not matter.

Darwin

Bought an item from warehouse in like new condition – item looked fine but no instructions or tool to install included. Opened up a chat and told them what I was missing, should not have like new and asked for an additional discount since missing items were not disclosed. No! Has to be to be returned. Supervisor would say the same thing. Set up return and was told ups would pick it up which they did. However, in the past return credit was started when picked up – now looks like it has to be received (and inspected?) before refund credit process started – MN to LA or MS – about 5 working days. $100 was on gift card so that should have happened immediately. Holding your money longer – need higher profits i guess.

DDD

Kyle you are a piece of dirt for telling people how to commit fraud !!!

Jay

Good info Kyle, but you left out what I am looking for:
Does Amazon have to receive the return by the deadline, or do we only need to drop it off at UPS or Kohls by that date? Thanks!

Peter

I ordered an item and delivered was promised within a couple days,then i got messages indicating a delay and eventually told to claim a refund. Why should I wait 7 days for the refund ,when I was debited the same day?

Gail

Thank you so much for this article. I inadvertently ordered over $300 of an incorrect sewing interfacing for my quilting business, and didn’t notice my mistake until after the return window closed. I was ready to take a loss, but after reading your article I tried asking for a refund via live chat, and they gave it to me. You really saved me some money, thanks! 😊

CHRIS WILSON

Amazon no longer offers free shipping on damaged or broken items to Prime members (in spite of increased fees). Customers now must pay $8.00 PER ITEM for returning products that arrived damaged. The only way to avoid this fee is to drive a Kohls or Whole Foods and wait in line to return the item.

Last edited 30 days ago by CHRIS WILSON
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