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

Updated November 3, 2023 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

Dos Amazon Have an Extended Holiday Return Policy?


For 2023, anything bought between November 1st – December 31st can be returned all the way until January 31, 2024.

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

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

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’s the Deadline Once a Return Has Been Initialized?

People in the comments are wondering if items need to be “sent by me” before the deadline, or “received back at Amazon” before the deadline date they give you when you initialize the return.

It’s an excellent question, and the answer is your return needs to be scanned by UPS before the deadline or on the day of your deadline.

Are Returns Free on a Purchase I Try to Cancel?


If you try to cancel an order on something you just bought, but CANNOT, you should not have to pay the return shipping.

From commenter Wendy, she was able to start a live chat and “the response was our account will be credited for the shipping charges after we return it.”

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 sent them the item back in the time frame stated . They said it was used and no refund.! I am trying to Appeal but getting no where. Help! Please


Amazons return policy is that it needs to be sent back in the same condition it was received in as in unused or opened or damaged why do you think its ok to to use something and send it back?


Because you need to USE it to understand whether it’s in good condition or not? I received a faulty product and I found that out because I USED it. Of course, it should be perfectly fine to return it, then.


If I return a damaged item (damaged in shipment) to a Kohls store, is the item automatically resent? I don’t want to reorder it & then end up with 2 of them if Amazon automatically replaces it. Thank you.


How do I get my refund credited to my credit card and not a gift card?


I live in a rural area and order from Amazon almost daily. We were recently informed by the ‘UPS authorized outlets’ in our area that Amazon’s policy no longer allows these stores to accept QR codes for returns. They have implored you to set up UPS Authorized Service Centers to accept these return, but Amazon has been non-responsive. This is detrimental to easy and convenient returns. One of the main selling points of Amazon. I now have to drive 30 minutes to make a return at a UPS Store vs 10 minutes. It seems almost all of my returns anymore I am provided a QR code and not a Barcode Label. Can you please set up UPS Authorized Service Centers or allow Prime Members to have the option to print a label instead of a QR Code. This is would very much appreciated by your Prime Members.


“Free” returns are good for no one. Almost like a penny costing more to make than it’s worth. Write that article.


I have been a loyal customer with Amazon since 1999. On average i place around 200 orders a year rarely making a return and up until recently i have been very happy. Lately i have been getting electrical items that are faulty, necessitating 3 or4 returns. In the past after requesting a return UPS has collected the item from my home the next day. Recently Amazon has been charging $7+ for UPS to pickup the items or you have the option of driving to the nearest drop off point which in my case is some 34 miles away. They have instigated this charge even though all items are listed as free delivery free return. As a Prime member i have objected to this pickup charge but no-one seems to be able to void it. Aside from this issue is the current review policy which for no apparent reason will deny your review without notice even 5 Star glowing reports can now be denied and e-mails sent to request a reason go unanswered! Come on Amazon what the heck is going on ?


Same situation as you and I totally agree, My solution: Everything I now want to buy, I check Walmart first. If it’s sold there, I buy it there. Why? 1) They give 90 day returns on most items so… better than Amazon right off the bat and 2) they still offer free pickups AND it’s free for any reason. Although I generally only return defective, not as described or damaged items, it’s good to know that Walmart will pick it up free even if I just don’t like it. Congrats, Amazon. You’ve made a loyal family of customers who spent tens of thousands of dollars every year now only spend a few hundred a year for those rare items that can’t be found elsewhere. I feel sure we’re far from the only ones who find it completely unacceptable to be told we must now either pay for pickup of defective/not as described/damaged returns or waste our time, money, and gas to drive across town and stand in line to drop it off for return shipment. Nope! Not my fault you sent something defective, different, or damaged and I will NOT be penalized for it.


The manufacturers of these products have warranties so just reach out to them and they will replace it under their warranty no amazon return needed


Everything you wrote is already moot and totally changed. You really should update this article. The have changed the reasons for return for many items to include only two options:

Incompatible or not useful
Bought the wrong part

These are the only two choices now offered. There is no selection for defective, missing parts, etc..

ALSO, a BIG thing this story leaves out. For item ranging around 60 dollars or less, Amazon now charges $8 for UPS pickup which in the past was always free. EVEN for items defective or missing parts they charge this fee.

AMAZON SUCKS, so much for earths most customer based company.

Redd Panda

No free pickup options as of December 2022. It’s a racket. I’m moving on. Been an interesting decade. Amazon was like a special money saving secret in the beginning. Now its overpriced Chinese products made poorly that I have to pay or take time to return.

It isn’t personal, it’s business and they lost mine

Bez Nuts

Amazon is shipping too many opened items as brand new. If I buy something with a security sticker, once that seal is busted, it is not new anymore. There is no excuse. I am so sick of the idea that I might get a flag because Amazon is shipping so many inferior condition items!


What amazon will do if you return by mistake a different size shoe sold by Amazon.
For example, order same product A in size 1 and 2. Open return request for product A1 but in the mail sent A2. Product is returned new in box as received – size doesn’t fit!


I never get an option to return to a kohls store. I can’t figure out why and I have been a prime member for over 15 years. Also, I don’t know if UPS didn’t get the memo, but they won’t box up your item and you need to have a QRS code or they send you away to obtain this. I went to ups with my item in a zip-lock bag. I thought they can see my item and I have my QRS code. I thought I was on-top of it. However, they slapped the shipping label right on the zip-lock bag and that was the shipping.😶


It has to be a real UPS store. There are many Packaging stores that are associated with UPS but they will not pack your return and sometimes you will have to pay for the return as well.


I’m new to amazon. I returned three items all in one box from Amazon at the UPS store but they scanned only one of the items from my email and not knowing I didn’t do the process right for the other two items. What should I do? I’m so confused.

Ko Ma

I tried to return a Christmas gift with the packing slip (inside the box). There were a bunch of random codes on it but none of it was the order ID. Upon reaching out to Amazon customer service, unless I held onto the box my gift came in, they can’t help me and the sender will absolutely know I returned their gift because they need to contact Amazon. This is such a ridiculous return policy. I received over 50 Amazon packages during Christmas and there is no way I held onto all 50 plus boxes. The supervisor couldn’t do anything for me and told me to take pictures of all my boxes in the future. Really???


I’m in the same boat and am reconsidering my long time prime relationship with Amazon. They are losing a very active customer.

Michelle Wheeler

Hello. I just found out my account has been marked for “Possible concessions abuse”. The account is still usable though. I am not an abuser so I am not really worried about it but will this ever just go away? Or is my account ruined in terms of returning things now?


What about waiting BEFORE being able to request a refund or exchange? This happened to me today. I had a delivery of 11 S&S items and all were soaked in chemicals from a burst bottle. I spoke with a rep and requested a refund or replacement of everything in the delivery, but she said that I need to wait at least 48 hours after delivery before I that can be requested. I have to call back after the weekend and re-initiate the request. She said the reason is because they still have some ‘traces’ in their system but couldn’t explain what that meant. I have never had to replace an entire delivery, so maybe this is normal?


Also, is it just me, or has there been a significant increase in the number of damaged items in your Amazon shipments? In fact, I have even gotten refunds for items before they were due to be delivered, as ‘undeliverable’. I suspect that since there were liquids in each of these deliveries, that the handling resulted in leaking boxes. I have learned not to order anything carbonated in aluminum cans from Amazon, because even when they do get delivered, the cans are almost always either dented or bulging at the top, unopenable without a can opener, and sometimes leaking liquid. I hadn’t been bothering to return/replace/refund when it first started happening, but now it’s getting ridiculous, and I realize it’s my fault for not reporting.