Amazon sellers will be responsible for paying for overage costs on returns beginning Saturday, January 14th. According to the new policy, if a shipping carrier assesses a correction charge on a customer return, sellers must now pay it. The policy applies to seller-fulfilled orders, not FBA.
Sellers say customers don’t always return items in the original packaging, which can lead to carriers issuing corrections. In fact, several sellers discussing the policy shared pictures of their packaging compared to the packages they received back, some of them ridiculously oversized. One seller’s photo showed an outgoing box that would fit a small laptop being returned in a box that a shopvac was sold in – it was at least four times the size of the product’s original packaging.
Amazon had been absorbing any difference in costs, but it announced the new policy one month ago to take effect January 14, 2023.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed on Friday that the company was proceeding with the new policy, telling us, “In line with industry standards, Amazon is passing on return shipping correction charges and credits from carriers.”
The spokesperson said Amazon was also improving and clarifying customers’ return instructions to better communicate the importance of tight and light packaging.
“In the vast majority of cases, these carrier fees and credits are driven by incorrect weight and/or dimensions being used when purchasing the label. To help avoid these fees, sellers can confirm that their products’ dimensions and weight are accurate in their product listing pages and that the shipping dimensions are correct when shipping the product out.”
One seller posting in the comments section underneath the December announcement was particularly concerned about the policy. “It is infuriating that Amazon will not simply deduct the cost of extra size package from the customer refund. By doing so, sure it would make customers mad at first, however it would retrain them to not be abusive and be respective of the returns process. Amazon customers must un-learn the bad habits Amazon instilled in them.”
EcommerceBytes asked if Amazon was going to do anything if a customer returned an item in such a way that it cost the seller over a certain amount.
The spokesperson replied, “If a materially different item is returned to the seller, they may be eligible for an Amazon issued refund through SAFE-T claims. For more information, sellers can visit the SAFE-T policy page.”
One seller asked in the announcement board thread, “if the buyer uses a smaller box that expected, we will NOT be getting credited for the lower shipping cost, right?”
An Amazon moderator responded, “If the cost of a pre-paid label is greater than what the carrier has charged, the Seller will be credited for the difference.”
Sellers are still required to accept returns for items purchased from as far back as October 7, thanks to Amazon’s extended holiday returns policy.