All Amazon sellers have to live up to the high standards that Amazon has set for its customers’ experiences, so when it comes to their returns process sellers have to meet strict requirements and deadlines for responding to requests. We take you through how Amazon expects sellers to handle returns, the returns process, and how the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee works.
What returns policy do you have to offer Amazon buyers?
As a third-party seller on Amazon.co.uk, you have to match the returns policy that Amazon offers customers who buy directly from them. For most items, this means that your buyers have 30 days after the order is delivered to request a return, and they have to return the item to you (if you want it returned) within 45 days of receiving it.
Orders shipped between 1 November and 31 December will also have to match Amazon’s Christmas extended returns policy, with all items returnable until 31 January.
Who pays the postage for Amazon returns?
For returns of defective, damaged, or materially different items (when a seller clearly misrepresents ‘the condition or details of an item in a way that affects its value or utility’), the seller has to refund the original shipping costs, and any shipping costs to return the item. However, if the buyer just changes their mind within 30 days and wants to return the item, you only have to refund them the cost of the item and the original shipping costs; you’re not required to refund the cost of gift wrapping or cover the cost of return shipping.
Buyers who want to return shoes and clothing are entitled to a refund of the return postage costs, whatever the reason for returning them. Any copyable media such as CDs, VHS, DVDs and software cannot be returned because the buyer has changed their mind.
Find out more about Amazon’s returns requirements here.
Amazon returns process
When one of your customers wants to return an item, you’ll be notified by email that a return request has been submitted. The email will include the buyer’s reason for return, and Amazon will also tell you if the reason isn’t within Amazon’s returns policy.
You can view your return requests under the Manage Returns section of your seller account. Within this section there are four actions that you can take, depending on the status of the return request that you’re dealing with: authorise request, close the request, issue refund, and contact buyer.
- Authorise request: Selecting this option means that you are approving the return. Once it’s been authorised, Amazon will send the buyer a non-prepaid Return Merchandise Label.
- Close the request: If you don’t want to accept the return because it isn’t within Amazon’s returns policy, or for any other reason, then you can close the request. The seller is also able to close the return request at any time. Once you close a request the buyer is still able to make an A-to-z Guarantee claim.
- Issue refund: If you want the buyer to return the item, Amazon recommends that after you authorise the request you wait until you’ve received it before issuing a refund. If you don’t want the item back then you can issue a refund immediately.
- Contact buyer: You’re able to email the buyer back once they’ve made a request to find out more about the issue and try to resolve it. You can also use this function to send prepaid labels to the buyer if you want to pay for the return.
Find out more about the Amazon returns process here.
A-to-z Guarantee claims
As well as the standard returns process Amazon also offers buyers an A-to-z Guarantee that they can get their money back if there are any serious issues with their order or the product they receive. This covers cases where:
- The item hasn’t arrived, or it arrived later than the latest estimated date.
- The item is ‘materially different’ from how it was represented on the product detail page. This includes items that are damaged during shipping, defective, misclassified, misrepresented, or have parts missing.
- The buyer has returned an item but hasn’t received a refund from the seller.
- The seller has refused to accept a return request that was within Amazon’s return policy terms.
Before making an A-to-z Guarantee claim, Amazon requires buyers to contact the seller, giving you the opportunity to resolve the issue before it develops.
A-to-z Guarantee claims time frame
To file a claim for items not received, buyers have to wait until either three calendar days after the latest estimated delivery, or 30 days after the order date, whichever is earlier. The buyer then has 90 days from latest estimated delivery date to make a claim, but Amazon will accept claims after that period if necessary.
If an item is damaged or ‘materially different’, the buyer has to contact you within 30 days of receiving the item, and return it within 45 days.
Once you receive a claim, you can resolve it immediately by issuing a full refund. If you don’t want to offer a refund, you have seven days to respond to the claim and present your case. After seven days with no response from you, Amazon will automatically approve the claim, and the amount refunded to the customer will be deducted from your seller account.
Sometimes Amazon may refund the customer as soon as the claim is received, if the claim has been granted you can appeal the decision.
If you don’t believe that an A-to-z Guarantee claim is justified you should respond with as much information and evidence as possible to prove your side of the case. Information you can include with your response is:
- The shipment method you used, the tracking number and tracking details will help show when you shipped the item and if it arrived.
- Any correspondence between you and the buyer where they have acknowledged that they received the item, or that they were satisfied with the transaction.
Find out more about Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee here.