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Mon July 31 2017 20:23:37

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon will soon automatically authorize returns for items fulfilled by sellers. Readers began sending us the letter they received today from Amazon. "Looks like seller must take back anything now at their expense," wrote one seller.

Amazon said the new policy would "simplify" the returns process and goes into effect on October 2: "Customers will be able to print a prepaid return shipping label via the Online Return Center instantly."

According to the policy, professional seller may request exemptions for SKUs that fall under certain circumstances, such as having less expensive shipping rates for specific products or in cases where the item's cost is lower than the cost of return shipping.

Some sellers may welcome one change that is part of the new policy that will allow them to issue a refund without requiring an item be returned. Why would some welcome what Amazon calls "Returnless refunds"? As Amazon puts it, "Sellers have requested this because, in many cases, it allows you to save on both return shipping and processing costs." But some sellers thought it was a head-scratcher, saying it would allow Amazon shoppers to receive products for free.

Amazon advised sellers that normal wear-and-tear could be accounted for by charging a restocking fee, something sellers are advised to explore if they haven't already.

Sellers were also concerned about which party would have to pay for return shipping. The policy explains it depends on the reason for the return. For example, "For customer-fault returns (e.g. accidental order, better price available), you may deduct the cost of return shipping from the refund. Further restocking fees are also allowed."

But if the customer says the seller screwed up by sending the wrong item or with missing parts, then the seller must pay the cost of return shipping. "In these cases, you cannot deduct the cost of original shipping or the return shipping, and a full refund must be provided to the customer," Amazon explained.

The news comes on the same day Amazon announced that over half of the items sold on its marketplace worldwide are sold by small businesses and entrepreneurs, who sold over 2 billion items on Amazon in the first half of 2017. It didn't break out how many of those items were fulfilled directly by the seller.

UPDATE 8/2/17: CNBC picked up on this story today, here's a link to its article.




Comments (35) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Jul 31 20:44:02 2017

Well I can't say that I like this upcoming change very much.  I haven't yet received the letter from Amazon on this subject.

The only returns I've had on Amazon have all been from buyers not paying attention to what they are buying.  Just as on other sites, sometimes buyers just don't read the title completely much less a description that is provided.  

I've had buyer argue that they did read the title fully and just thought it was a mistake on my part so they ignored part of the title.  The part that told them what they were getting opposed to what they wanted to get.  The titles aren't that long, but apparently there are many buyers that just don't read the entire thing.

Anyway, while some customers will accept that they made an error, there are more that refuse to acknowledge that they overlooked anything and are insistent that they did not make a mistake.  All the returns I've received to date were all Buyer's Remorse.  

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 31 21:04:16 2017

Overall I pretty much agree with Marie in her statement.

Plus it is just going to be more overall BS which the sellers will probably lose more than win in the ''yes it was'' - ''no it wasn't'' game that is played on Amazon and eBay marketplaces.

I've/we're been on Amazon since earlier 2000s or there abouts. When we started Amazon was practically begging 3rd party sellers to join up and provide inventory. Then, they wanted mostly at least one of everything.  Then by policy, they wanted us to go FBA and fill their warehouse which they have continued to build out more and more, and, now seem to want to fill mostly with just all the commodity common stuff and not so much anymore, the unique or the only one left stuff.

Also I get a good chuckle from Amazon -- it IS their customer until the customer complains and then the messaging from Amazon is ''Your Customer'' has a problem...

Make no mistake, Amazon is as much of a bunch of ''A... H...s'' as eBay, but they do give out more clear and unchanging policy --- until they don't want to. lol

We have made good money from them, but, just like eBay they can be tiring.....

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Jul 31 21:13:04 2017

Tom,

I LOVE this statement "it IS their customer until the customer complains and then the messaging from Amazon is ''Your Customer'' has a problem... "  Oh they don't get any better than that.  So VERY true !!!!!  And the same holds true for Ebay as well.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Mon Jul 31 21:39:12 2017

I saw this and first thought ''OH NO! NOW eBay WILL FORCE THE SELLER TO PAY RETURN SHIPPING ON ALL THEIR RETURNS TOO!!''.

Then I saw the Amazon policy. Yes, the buyer will receive a pre-paid shipping label. And the cost will come from your account.

But if the reason for return is buyer's remorse, an accidental order, etc., the seller can deduct the shipping cost from the refund, and also charge a restocking fee.

There will be a chance to appeal a return by filing a ''SAFE-T'' claim with Amazon, which would presumably allow a seller to report a liar buyer.

Being able to print a label does have its advantages- you know the tracking number, and when to expect the package to arrive. When a buyer purchases postage on their own, they do not always report the confirmation # when shipped. And this should ensure timely shipment to obtain a refund, because the buyer will need to mail the pre-paid labeled package quickly.

Whether this will work depends on how Amazon takes a stand against fraudulent buyers during a SAFE-T appeal. Will they review the facts before making a decision, or be like eBay and say ''Yes, we can see that the buyer filed a false Not-As-Described claim to avoid paying return shipping costs. But you still need to take one for the team and pay the cost any way. We need to ensure that our customers are happy. And this is just the cost of doing business, and you have to allow for these types of expenses''.

So, in other words, will Amazon follow their posted rules and policies, or be like eBay and look the other way, ignoring things that are clearly spelled out on their site??? TIME WILL TELL.....

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: sellerchick This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 31 21:44:10 2017

More ridiculousness... which is why I haven't put any new skus on Amazon for 3 years. Unbelievable how they are finding more creative ways for scammer buyers to get over on sellers. It's just like the airlines... When one company pulls out the stops, the rest will follow in lockstep. Just watch what Walmart and Ebay do in response to this.  

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 31 21:47:55 2017

Guess that means this Christmas shopping season we'll get ripped off even more by scam customers trying to get a freebie.. YAY!!

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Aug 1 02:31:12 2017

@extinctbay

Yes it does say that.  But like on Ebay, buyers aren't always filing for a buyer's remorse reason.  Some will swear it is false advertising, anything but their fault.  Sometimes because they want free shipping and sometimes because they just can't see that they might be at fault.  Either way, sellers will be eating the costs on many returns when they shouldn't be.

It is like Ebay's policy.  It is dependent on the buyer being completely honest when filing the claim.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Aug 1 07:08:41 2017

I think that Amazon have gotten so big that they feel empowered to do anything that they please. And they are doing it.

I really need to be buying and selling on sites that are not primadonnas.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Aug 1 12:41:57 2017

Rexford, I think you are correct.  In their effort to race to the top and stay there, they are allowing many sellers to race to the bottom and disappear.  The sellers that helped build the site.  Sound familiar ?!?!?!

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Aug 1 13:28:07 2017

Marie says "Sound familiar ?!?!?!"

Oh yes, and let me just say that the two large sales that I received today did not come from either of the behemoths.  And the two sites that I sold them on take far less in commission.

Build elsewhere. You will be glad that you id.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Tue Aug 1 14:17:48 2017

This restocking fee option must only be for the suckers paying $40 per month to sell there.  Looks like Amazon did me a favor trying to rob me earlier this year.  Pulled my listings and haven't bought anything there since.  Just hope I can make a few more bucks on eBay before those copycats force this on us.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Aug 1 15:54:28 2017

@rktoys

Yes, you are correct.  You can't charge a restocking fee nor can you charge Sales tax if you don't pay the $40 fee per month.  You can't adjust the shipping rates or item titles and I'm sure other things too.  I just don't remember them all.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 1 16:28:50 2017

This is criminal. Ebayou did this sort of and all the idiot buyers just chose item not as described. Thus all the cri.inalienable idiot buyers on amazon will choose whatever choice makes them not pay.

Look to sue these buyers.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 1 17:07:00 2017

It amazes me that so many of you guys give Amazon a free pass. The way they have become the last two years is FAR WORSE than Ebay EVER was. I just don't get some of you.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Aug 1 20:03:39 2017

I don't see any posting here that gives Amazon a "free pass".  What did I miss??

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 2 00:06:28 2017

You can count me in on the complaint side. This is terrible. I just got my letter tonight. I guess we will see how it plays out but certainly not happy about it.

I have no idea what costs will be shown to the buyer, most items have bad weights on them, either due to FBA sellers trying to qualify items for add ons by saying they weigh way less than they do or others wanting to keep other sellers off by inflating the weight. Its one thing to have to pay shipping, it is another to have the shipping wrong and have to pay to get a return that way. And what if the honest buyer wants to return it, sees a crazy return shipping price and gives you a negative for that because they feel they are unable to return it, how does that help? Customers who buy multiples of items and want to return one or just the cost by weight could be super inflated when you are actually using flat rate or shipped in multiple boxes.
So many issues with this my head is spinning!

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

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

Wed Aug 2 00:15:08 2017

Amazon is following the model that ebay has been doing for years. The buyer is ALWAYS right. The buyers know how to work the system by simply saying the item is not as described and ebay and amazon side with the buyer. Now amazon is forcing sellers to pay for return shipping when buyers don't read the description. Hmmm, shame on you amazon!!! Oh, you can adjust the refund amount based on the reason for the return, nice! What they don't tell you is Amazon will send the buyer a follow up email in about 1 week: How was your return experience with this seller?" And they have an opportunity to leave a Negative return review, which isn't visible to everyone, but it affects your seller performance and it's one of the criteria for winning the Buy Box time.

On Toucandeal.com, the buyer is the seller's customer, not ours. We don't force refunds and force sellers to pay return shipping, regardless of the reason. Sellers take care of their own business, we don't need to control them like puppets. That is WAY out of control on ebay and amazon.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

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

Wed Aug 2 00:51:20 2017

I'm still waiting for the sellers that asked for this to hold up their hands. I can't believe any small seller wants more power taken out of their hands and leave business decisions to a computer and a buyer. Other stores don't allow the buyer to set the refund rules. When have you ever walked into Wal-Mart and told them what refund policies they will handle you return under? Never.

I think this is an awful policy, but until I figure out a way to make more money on my other site so I can dump Amazon, I have to stick around. I rarely get refund requests, but that doesn't mean with this change that won't also change.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 2 01:01:48 2017

i had a buyer try to get a book for free on amazon last month.  they ordered one book then claimed that i sent them another that i had in stock.  and demanded a refund, saying if i was one of "those sellers that makes people return wrong books"  they would need a prepaid return before sending it back.  even though i knew i sent the right book, i checked anyway and the book they claimed i sent was still here.asked for a few pictures to see if they were confusing me with another seller.  cover, first page and shipping box.  the cover was very obviously a stolen pic, the first page was the wrong color for the book they claimed to receive.  suspecting that they didn't even have a copy of the book they claimed i sent, i told them to send it back and i would credit their account for the return shipping when i received it.  this is where it gets interesting....  they claimed to not be able to afford to pay return shipping (they can afford a $25 book though?) and that they put it back in my box, sealed it, and marked it return to sender.  no way the post office would accept that.  3 days later they file an A-Z claim, i fight it laying out all of my proof and amazon decides that i am not at fault, but they will refund them the money.  sounds good right, well amazon funded wins still count against the seller.

so they buyer got a free book and i got a black mark.  it's my second A-Z this year, before this year i'd only had one in 10 years.

Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy   Sellers Concerned over New Amazon Returns Policy

by: Coolstraps This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 2 05:10:42 2017

I was kind of surprised when I received the email on the return policy from Amazon because they had already instituted automatic return on my account about 3 months ago. I found out when a buyer wanted to return a strap and it had been automatically approved by Amazon. Even though the strap was EXACTLY as described he claimed it was not. I didn't want to fight with the buyer or with Amazon and just did what I could in comments to make clear that his reason for returning the strap was incorrect. In any case, this has been in place on my account for some time now and there's no way to opt out.

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