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Amazon Bans Buyers for Returns Abuse

The stated Amazon returns policy says, “You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon.com within 30 days of delivery for a full refund.” It’s a reasonably consumer-friendly and efficient policy that many shoppers, including this writer, have used to satisfactory effect.

But judging from a recent BBC Watchdog discussion, shoppers who utilize the Amazon returns policy too many times may find themselves with a canceled account. Amazon’s response to the BBC said, “In a tiny fraction of cases, we are forced to close accounts where we identify extreme account abuse. This decision is only taken after we have reviewed the account carefully and tried to work with the customer over an extended time period to resolve any issues.”

The company’s procedure on handling the shopper who returns too much merchandise apparently represents a long-standing policy. One unhappy Apple Computer aficionado noted back in 2008 on a Mac Rumors forum how being banned had greater impact beyond not being able to shop with the giant online retailer.

“I’m really really outraged because I also have lots of amazon credit that I got by using my Amazon.com credit card AND all my receipts are on my account so that I have no way of proving purchases anymore. I can’t even log on!” the banned user complained.

When it was suggested the aggrieved person might be able to work with Amazon’s customer service to possibly resolve the situation, the banned user avowed “(Amazon) told me I cannot contact customer service because they will not help me.”

More recently, in January 2015, a UK customer found that too many returns evidently spoiled the experience for Amazon with that shopper. Posting at Hot UK Deals, the shopper noted how their return of several items on the same day “may have flagged me for suspicious returns.” One respondent who was similarly banned took another approach: “I just made another account and helped myself to another 30 day Prime trial.”

Amazon offered a “no comment” response to EcommerceBytes when asked a more general question on the topic of how the company feels about its return policy, or its points of difference compared to others in the ecommerce industry.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.