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Sat Oct 29 2016 21:44:47

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon has been making some big policy changes impacting merchants, and one unpopular policy impacts returns.

Effective November 1, 2016, US seller-fulfilled returns that are within Amazon's returns policy will be automatically authorized, and Amazon will provide customers with prepaid return labels on sellers' behalf.

Note that the prepaid return shipping policy does not impact sellers who use Amazon's FBA fulfillment service, since FBA returns go back to Amazon fulfillment centers.

We reported on the new policy in our inaugural issue of EB 411 (September 5). Amazon now a help page called "Prepaid returns for seller fulfilled orders" (seller sign-in required). 

As we had reported, Pro sellers were able to start requesting exemptions on a SKU level beginning in mid-October. According to the help page, if you are a Professional seller, you may request exemptions for SKUs that fall under the following categories:

- Products have special shipping or handling requirements (e.g. dangerous goods)

- You have less expensive shipping rates for specific products

- Items are non-returnable by law

- The item's cost is lower than the cost of return shipping

- High-valued items you have listed need special shipping (e.g. requiring special shipping insurance)

- It is a non-physical item (e.g. warranties, digital software, digital coupons)

Sellers who use drop-shippers usually have returns sent directly to their suppliers; with this new policy, they must supply a default address, and many expressed concern that they would have to deal with returns-processing at a non-warehouse location without storage space and without staff in place to handle the required 48-hour turnaround time Amazon requires.

Some sellers were concerned that Amazon's return shipping costs were too high (but as the exemptions above state, Pro sellers are able to request an exemption "if you have less expensive shipping rates for specific products").

There's a very long thread on the Amazon boards about the policy. One seller wrote, "I want the option to replace or refund WITHOUT paying for a return."

What do you think of the new policy - and are you ready?

UPDATE: Thanks to the commentor who pointed out there had been a response in the 21-page Amazon thread about this issue that came in after we published the original story. A moderator posted clarification on Sept. 11 including the following: "This program only currently applies to sellers who have received an e-mail regarding the program. No actions are required if you have not received the program e-mail. If you have received an e-mail, the program is scheduled to begin 11/1/2016." Thanks, VK.




Comments (28) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Oct 30 00:15:13 2016

I think Amazon will continue to squeeze as many non FBA sellers as possible using any and every means available to eventually force them into FBA and more profits for Amazon.

Follow the money. It' ALWAYS about the money. ALWAYS.  

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 30 05:06:38 2016

I agree with Ming it is always about the money. And, with Amazon it is always a double edged sword.

Pushing seller to FBA and at the same time eliminating for FBA sellers that one item of each ASIN free from monthly storage charges. This action will tend to eliminate much of the at one time desire to have at least one of everything.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 30 07:13:30 2016

Behind the scenes action on Ebay. They are trying to figure out a way to inflict this on their sellers also. Its a coming its just a matter of time.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: topdog This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 30 23:31:07 2016

How many of these returned items will be used, damaged, incomplete, or a different item completely? Once they are refunded, it's going to be very hard for sellers to get their money back. And why sellers should have to foot the bill for customers who change their mind, didn't like it, etc is completely beyond me. Guys, that's the downside to ordering online - people do it to save money, and it's the tradeoff which they have had to make (the risk of paying for returns) - until now, that is...

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: Toy Boy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 30 23:36:35 2016

Like every year for x-mas, Amazon kicks me out for not generating enough sales BEFORE the season starts.
In January, I will not list on Amazon anymore as I stopped listing on Ebay long ago. A big Eff u , the sales you generate for me are not worth the struggle.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Leafgreen

Sun Oct 30 23:40:41 2016

This is HORRIBLE news. Most of the products I sell are drop shipped from multiple manufacturers. That means that the returns will now go back to my office, and I'll have to pay for shipping to the manufacturer. Not only that, in the past most of the return requests end up staying with the customer after I explain how the product works. Happy customer, saves them hassle. SELLING ON AMAZON SUCKS.  

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: donald This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 30 23:53:03 2016




Dear Amazon,

Am here to make money so do not worry about a thing  I'll be increasing my prices to compensate for any loss.







Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 30 23:58:58 2016

I'll have to wait and see... a return from amazon is very very rare for me.  But this opens the door for penalty free reading and returning of books.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: MyLuxury1st This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Oct 31 01:58:08 2016

I think it's a horrible idea because now we as sellers will lose out knowing that customers can use an item and basically rent it if they want. Very ridiculous.  

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Oct 31 02:50:52 2016

On eCRATER, other than for my mistakes, I don't do refunds. The product I sell has historically in B&M stores not been allowed to be returned. There are reasons behind that and I have stuck to that policy. Why should I lose money (even if the buyer pays return shipping) on refunding a product that the buyer decides they don't need such as a costume pattern bought in anticipation of Halloween and then buyer 'changes' their mind and wants a refund a few days ahead of Halloween. What is the chance I can resell this item again. Zero until some time next Sept. assuming the buyer hasn't cut out any of the pieces or even unfolded everything and then crammed it back in the envelope so it can't be resold. I know others sell even more expensive things. Instead of making people be responsible for their own actions, we are so fast turning into a nation of people that expect everyone else to pay for our mistakes. Even making an order on other venues then canceling it causes a lose of 30 cents on PP. Doesn't sound like much, but to a small seller, all those charges add up.

I'm very frustrated with Amazon policies as they stand NOW. Not sure if I want to deal with them come Tuesday!  

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: vk This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 31 08:28:22 2016

One thing left out of this post is that this new policy ONLY applies to those sellers who received the email. This was also clarified by the forums moderator. We didn't receive an email so this new policy does not apply to us. Not yet, at least.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: Katie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 31 09:15:07 2016

Hardly matters.  Sales are non existent.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Mon Oct 31 09:38:26 2016

Thanks for pointing that out, vk. On page 17 of the thread, an Amazon moderator clarified that the policy applies only to sellers who received the email. I've updated this post.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 31 09:39:20 2016

I never got the email either but I am really worried about this.
The shipping that amazon is charging is high. Sorry I do not remember the cost exactly but think it is over 4.00 for a package that costs 2.60 to return.
This is why I never return anything to amazon that I bought there, they are making a killing on the return shipping label.
Not to mention all my heavy items fit in either regional or flat rate boxes so regular costs on these would be prohibitive to getting them back.
Another problem with amazon is that you have no idea what the listed weight is of some of these items, many original posters just put a pound in there so you are possibly paying a one pound rate or more for an item that is just a few ounces to mail.
This is a nightmare, I hope I never get the email.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

This user has validated their user name. by: TraderBoo

Mon Oct 31 09:47:16 2016

is it possible that Amazon become worse than ebay!?  ebay actually appears to be getting better for sellers after changing their defect policies.  

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: gregtoys This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 31 10:07:26 2016

This is infuriating that I have to hire additional personnel for my returns team and to start cases yet this isn't for all merchants?  I have to make up those costs somewhere.  Thank God there are better sales channels out there.  Amazon is pushing us all away.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 31 10:12:18 2016

No email???. Your word against Amazon.  Wonder who will win that one???

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 31 10:14:34 2016

I do not think that amazon has reached worse than ebay status yet.
Amazon will remove feedback that is wrong, always has and ebay still will not do that.
Amazon CSR will actually look at claims and side with seller, ebay will not use any common sense and has no rules to side with sellers even in their program supposedly meant to help sellers.
The new return policy on amazon supposedly can be opted out of for the most part so we will see eventually what happens. Amazon is responsive though, ebay is not.  

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Oct 31 10:28:30 2016

>>This is why I never return anything to amazon that I bought there, they are making a killing on the return shipping label.
<<

When the New tablet Kindle for $50 came out about 2 years ago, I got them plus extra flash cards for both that I bought. However the Kindles didn't work for us so they were returned (mine was defective). Since the flash cards were a separate order I went to try to return them. This item that weighed about half an ounce had no option for USPS (even though that was how it was shipped) and $15+ a piece for UPS return shipping - each!!!! I still have them and listed them for sale on line where they still linger.

This whole refund thing has my gut in a knot. I get maybe 1-2 refund requests a month, ALL for buyer remorse. I have no desire to deal with Amazon's way of refunding. I also can't remember if I got an email or not.

Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?   Are You Ready for the New Amazon Returns Policy?

This user has validated their user name. by: FEEbay

Mon Oct 31 10:59:16 2016

I cannot believe why ANYONE would sell on Amazon.... 15% commission? No support? Ridiculous Seller Standards? Having your money tied up for days and weeks on end? We got booted off two years ago, and it is the best thing that ever happened to us... Ebay is awful, but it is nowhere near as bad as Amazon. And I agree with Ming, they are slowly pushing out seller fulfilled product, as they want everyone to go FBA, which is another 5% or more on TOP of the 15%..... Not enough margin in my industry to give away 20 pts, that is for sure

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