In dealing with the internet commerce giant, Amazon.com, there are often many unanswered questions. One of the vaguest issues is the Amazon return policy. Exactly how, why, and when can products be returned? Well, this article aims to answer those questions in a comprehensive and simple manner.
General Return Policy
There really is a surprisingly easy method of returning items to Amazon.com. The first step is to go to the Online Returns Center to let Amazon know which item you’d like to return. Once there, click “Return Items”, and then select the order that contains the item in question. Once you have located it, click “Return an item from this order”. This will take you to a list of items in the order you chose. Now, simply choose the quantity and the reason for your return.
The next step, however, is where the process may branch out a little. You must then choose whether the item came from Amazon.com itself or from an independent seller. This is very important because, in all honesty, Amazon.com is very easy to deal with for most issues. If Amazon.com was the seller, then simply choose that option and pick your favorite return shipping method. Once done, you can print out return labels and be on your way to shipping the item.
Independent Seller Return Policy
Now, if you have purchased an item from an individual seller on Amazon.com, the return policy will be a little more complicated. Once you select that you purchased an item from an independent seller, you will submit a request for a return. The seller then has the ball in their court wherein they must reply to you, provide labels, and walk you through the return process. Amazon.com provides protection for you, however, because if you haven’t heard from the seller within two days, you can submit what is called an “A-to-Z Guarantee Protection claim”. This is a very simple process of making a claim against the seller, and then Amazon will refund you completely and immediately. They will then go after the seller themselves. It really does give some peace of mind. I have had to do this myself about a necklace. The seller claimed it had been shipped and had arrived at my house, so they refused to refund me. Amazon stepped in and gave me my money in full. This is a great step to remember because you can always pull this protection out if you are having problems.
Which Items Can I Return?
Now that we know the process, we now need to know the specifics about the items that can or cannot be returned under the Amazon return policy. In general, there is a 30-day window to return items, though there are some items that have different time windows. There is list of requirements in the Amazon return policy that shows which items can be returned. The item must be in new condition and still have its UPC or serial number. Without these two aspects, it cannot be returned. This means that just about anything can be returned as long as it meets these requirements, or is within a certain set of days. For example, a CD must be unopened, i.e., in new condition. For another example, clothes must have been unworn. This is also considered new condition. So, as long as you haven’t been using the product or as long as you haven’t lost the serial number, you can return just about anything. There are a few exceptions to this rule, however.
What Items Can’t I Return?
There are some items that cannot be returned no matter what, according to the Amazon return policy. Some of these items are totally obvious, such as wine, grocery items, and live insects. Some of these are only slightly obvious, such as gifts cards, downloaded software, and prepaid phone and game cards. Other items may not be so obvious, such as computers and kindles that are over 30 days old, items that are hazardous or use flammable liquids or gases, some jewelry, and some personal care products. This seems like a big list, but it actually is very small. What this means is that just about anything you purchased directly from Amazon.com can easily be returned with no problems. It is pretty easy to see if an item cannot be returned, as it is always denoted in the Online Returns Center beside that item.
Return Policy on Digital Media
With the advent of the digital world, there is often some confusion about policies having to do with digital media. The Amazon Return Policy makes it very easy, however. Kindle books can be returned for seven days after their purchase. I wouldn’t get any wise ideas to buy them, read them, and then return them within seven days because Amazon monitors such activity. Don’t bite the hand that feeds, I always say.
All other digital media, such as MP3s, apps, videos, etc. cannot be returned at all. This may sound unfair, but it makes it much simpler to set this standard than to mess with all the pirates and clever folks out there. Now, having problems with the digital media is different than simply wanting to return them. If you receive a faulty digital item, contact costumer service immediately, and they will make it right.
Return Policy on Gifts
Amazon will allow you to return a gift you’ve received, even if you do not have a gift receipt. It is very simple to return a gift, as you simply go to the Online Returns Center and select “Return Gift”. You will need the 17-digit order number that is on the packing slip, though Amazon will help you find the order if you do not have the order number. The rest is exactly like returning an item you purchased yourself. You, however, will receive an Amazon gift card as a refund, so don’t expect to get any cash.
Return Policy Fees
Returning an item is not always free. If you are returning an item to an independent seller, there may be a restocking fee as well as shipping costs. Amazon.com itself will not normally charge you restocking fees, but they will deduct shipping costs from your refund unless the return is the result of an Amazon.com error of some sort, such as wrong items, broken items, and the like. This is not the case with every return, however, as baby items, clothes and shoes, accessories, and jewelry and watches all feature free return shipping. Return shipping fees will obviously vary according to the size and weight of the item.
Amazon will indeed charge a restocking fee under certain conditions. If the item is broken, missing parts, has been obviously used, or is not in original condition, they will charge 50% of the item’s price. If the item is in original condition but is past the 30-day window mentioned above, they will charge an 80% restocking fee. So, basically, as long as you haven’t used the product and have returned it on time, you will get all your money refunded besides shipping costs.
Speaking of refunds, there are some rules about that, too. So, you’ve elected to return your item, now you have to decide if you want a refund or an exchange. As stated above, restocking fees and shipping costs may apply, but Amazon will happily give you an instant refund if you so choose. Yes, you don’t even have to wait for the item to be processed. In fact, the item might still be at your house, though you must return it within 30 days. So, as long as your item meets the return requirements, your refund should be instant.
If you have selected to exchange an item in the returns process rather than receive a refund, the same process applies. You will print out labels, and then send the item. However, Amazon will then process the item and send the new item without any need for placing a new order. If you wait longer than 30 days, however, you will be charged return shipping as well as shipping for the new item.
When you get right down to it, sometimes you just need a little common sense advice offered to you. If you are going to deal with Amazon, know what you want and always check it out immediately upon arrival. You don’t want to have to deal with the fees and costs of returning items late, so just make up your mind within a month. You can avoid the bulk of complications if you simply follow that one rule.
For another piece of advice, if you buy from independent dealers, do not hesitate to use the “A-to-Z guarantee”. It is there for a reason, and it can save you tons of time in dealing with sometimes shady sellers. Let Amazon do the dirty work, and you will get your refund instantly. You won’t have to give it a second thought.
Lastly, Amazon customer service is there for a reason. There are always going to be situations that cannot be covered under any lists of rules or policies. Customer service is generally helpful, and you may even convince them to give you an option that isn’t usually allowed. For instance, you can definitely get a refund for certain items that aren’t allowed to be returned, but you have to speak to customer service. Use them liberally, as they have often given me discounts and breaks that I never thought they would. I hope this article has helped you gain some knowledge about how simple the Amazon return policy actually is.