Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Oct 9 2012 09:49:46

Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

As many consumers know, some retailers charge a restocking fee for returned merchandise. In today's Newsflash newsletter, EcommerceBytes looks at Amazon's policy on restocking fees for returns.

As for eBay, it implemented a new returns process last month - if a seller opts into managed returns, buyers are permitted to return an item for any reason - including if they change their mind.

We'd like to know what you think. If a shopper has a case of buyer's remorse (or if the buyer damages the item), should they be able to return the item they purchased from you? Do you have  different policies depending on the marketplace?

Amazon also asked (rhetorically, it seems) how much is a reasonable restocking fee (the amount you can charge the customer for returning a purchase). While Amazon itself won't issue a refund for opened software, it does give a 50% refund for CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, video games, cassette tapes, or vinyl records that have been opened (taken out of its plastic wrap).

Here's a cute cartoon from the buyer's point-of-view on Spacebase8.com.

What do you think of these policies as a seller, and do you charge restocking fees for your merchandise returns?




Comments (18) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 11:03:27 2012

Never had a problem with a customer returning an item, even if they just plain didn't want it any longer. The problem I have, is when the condition is not the same, or, the buyer takes their sweet-*** time in returning it. Buyers should also be required to provide tracking information and insurance, if needed.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: Susan Averello This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Oct 9 11:51:56 2012

Does buyers remorse include doesn't fit properly or it's just not what you thought it was - could be poor description or you didn't read it right?
I wouldn't expect a seller to pay return postage but I hate restocking fees. I bought a leather jacket on Ebay a few years ago. All it said was it ran small so I bought a larger size. Still when I bought it is was still too tight. When I asked for a returned she wanted a 25% restocking fee!!!! The jacket was $50 +shipping. It would be at least 15 to return it and about 15 restocking. It was just easy to donate it to the coat drive.

I missed it on the description. From then on, I always check on any site. If I see a restocking fee - not buying.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 12:21:08 2012

Amazon policy refers to new items. Nothing about used items and buyer ordered in error or no longer needed. Called and rep was very vague-suggested to follow new item policy. Amazon does not return 100% of fees when item is returned so they have nothing to loose by forcing 3rd party sellers to use returns for any reason at any time. They also force returns by allowing buyers to use A-Z claim. Claim damage when really buyers remorse. Then buyers get full refund. Sellers out $.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: roberts204 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 12:30:28 2012

We sell full retail box software on Amazon through FBA and our own warehouse.  Amazon constantly allows buyers to return open, damaged, and even registered software, and says it reserves the right to deviate from it's own policies in the interest of customer loyalty.  We have lost thousands of dollars because of this, and have spent countless hours opening support cases, to have each case adjudicated differently, using different reasoning.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

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

Tue Oct 9 12:43:35 2012

Noted that Amazon gives or expects someone to give back 80% for unopened stuff that is returned more than 30 days after the fact. For just how long after the fact? Can they find an unopened package under the couch when they go to move sometime that had arrived 2 years before and still expect to be refunding 80%? That is ridiculous. I do charge a restocking fee, at least from my regular sale venue as it is a pain in the neck and does take time to deal with buyer's remorse what with refunding, checking to be sure the item is still saleable, etc. I have a ne refund policy, but that doesn't stop some from just returning their items with a note inside to refund them. I even had a fairly high value book returned once in the same box and packing materials that I had sent it in with no note, nothing. I had no idea why this showed back up in my mailbox. Never even got an email either. Returns are a pain but I don't know why Amazon is more lenient time wise that B&M stores. That just doesn't make sense.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: Eagle This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 12:57:56 2012

Dealing with a customer damaged item claim right now. Doesn't seem to matter about restocking fee when chargeback claimed and credit card company takes full payment anyway.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: tb This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 14:31:13 2012

You know what? If you sell 10,000 items a year and 2 are returned, what's the big deal? I've been selling on Amazon for about 4 years now and have only had 2 returns. As long as things don't get out of hand, it's a non issue. There are some costs and headaches you have to endure in business that don't seem fair, and this one is minor in my opinion.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: retiredcatlady This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 14:49:47 2012

Yes I will not buy for a restocking fee also.  And I recently purchased an used item that reeked of cigarette smoke which gave me an asthma attack - the seller did let me return it but believe me because he did not disclose the cigarette smell nor would I be willing to pay a restocking fee on a used item. It's getting back to buying at brick and mortar stores again

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

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

Tue Oct 9 16:26:04 2012

I began my anti ebay rants circa late 2007 as an often ridiculed lone voice among all the hypnotized ebay cheerleaders.

The fundamental objections I have to ebay continue to be duplicated one announcement after the other by Amazon as well.

Today, it's tremendously gratifying to see that so many in both the buyer and seller communities (and we DO have a community here less a few shill posters in drag) understand just how fundamentally corrupt and vicious these online mega corporations are.

Their competition seems to be going nowhere although Etsy is starting to show signs of life.

However, in the end, most corporations will behave like the virtually unregulated, unchecked dictatorial entities that they are, and all you have to do verify this statement is to look at the anti seller behavior of both Amazon and ebay.

Personal websites are fine, but most sellers need a larger platform to drive customers to them which is why so many ebay and Amazon sellers even tolerate these flesh eating piranhas.

Ultimately the only answer is for sellers to form a non profit sellers co op site that vets BOTH buyers and sellers carefully with reasonable pro small business and buyer protection policies that treat all parties fairly.

Small sellers built ebay, and John Donahoe has unilaterally broken the oral contract Meg Whitman made with sellers when she encouraged us to quit our regular jobs and sell online full time.

Like Ebay, Amazon will continue to tighten its death grip on its 3P sellers until Amazon becomes no more profitable and potentially even less profitable than ebay.

Sellers must expect corporations to act like corporations: sociopathic behavior created by greedy clinical narcissistic sociopaths determined to wield their nearly unlimited power in ways that are lethally destructive to small businesses in order to drive up stock prices.

In some cases, corporations accomplish higher stock prices through illegal and/or grossly misleading bookkeeping manipulations such as ebay's quarterly GMV stats that analysts aren't smart enough to see through or choose to ignore.

It won't be long before Amazon has completed its transformation. What will that look like? Chances are most Amazon 3P sellers will no longer be selling on Amazon because Amazon has all your photos, product descriptions, and supplier names.

Amazon is no more trustworthy than ebay. Amazon 3P sellers: prepare yourselves.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 20:02:34 2012

Ebay CLAIMS that under the "new and improved" returns policy that Seller Can Charge A Restocking Fee.  While that is all fine and good--HOW do you actually CHARGE this and get to KEEP the money?

Now maybe if there is no sort of "claim" attached---and from what I understand there is NO notice to sellers on some of these!!!---then you get to decide whether or not to charge this fee when you issue the refund.  But since ebay has their fine hand in this till I am pretty sure that as soon as sellers start to take out this restock charge ebay will find SOME way to CHARGE for it.

Or to say it is not allowed--YEah we KNOW we said ya could but---we changed our minds.  Again.  Last night.  And we are telling you now.  So go change all of your 3000 listings before 8 AM Pacific Time or we will pull all of your listings.  

Just sayin'.  

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: Theresa This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 22:43:22 2012

I am fairly new to Amazon FBA, but a return/refund scenario happened this week that is really bugging me.

A customer purchased a fairly expensive set of eyeliner pencils from me for $50.  After receipt she emailed me directly and stated "I need to return these because I just don't like the way the liner glides on".  I advised her that as it was an FBA item to contact Amazon customer service directly (I think that is the right procedure?)  I also contacted Amazon customer service myself and advised of them of her exact "complaint".

Amazon gave the buyer a full refund and to my surprise, the item showed up today in my unfulfillable inventory.  Amazon stated that was because I  told them it had been used. (So why did Amazon even pay for the item to be returned in the first place?)  Regarding the full refund to the buyer with no Amazon reimbursement to me, I got the "yada yada yada" about sometimes you lose money in order to build customer loyalty to increase future earnings.  (As if I would want to retain a customer like that!)

So now I am out the product, out the money and will actually have to pay Amazon a fee to have the item removed/disposed from my inventory! I've been an online seller for 10+ years and I know that returns are a part of business and I am usually perfectly okay with that, but this situation seems a bit ridiculous.  I can't find it now, but I thought I had read that Amazon had a policy limitation or restriction for the return of personal items when hygiene/health concerns could be  a factor?  And irregardless, should "it does not glide properly" be an  acceptable reason for a full refund of a personal item? And furthermore (this is REALLY bugging me), if I had not shared that email with Amazon in which I told them the customer had used the product, would they not have inspected it upon return receipt?  If the exterior box looked okay would they have put it back in my inventory as fulfillable only to infuriate a future buyer?

Any insights or thoughts would be appreciated.....

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 23:13:17 2012

If I buy something and it needs to be returned ( and I don't care what the reason is ) the seller can charge all the restocking fees they want or try to make me pay return shipping and what they will get in return is RED.

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 9 23:13:44 2012

Restocking fees are nothing more than a scam

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: feline This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 10 03:31:51 2012

as I understand it restocking fees are illegal in the uk  

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 10 10:51:49 2012

Why should the seller be out money, that is postage, supplies, selling fees, and time because the buyer decided they no longer wanted or needed the item. Not to mention they just ordered the wrong item for whatever reason-usually failure to read entire description.. So what it comes down to-buyer makes a mistake - seller has to pay for it.  

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Oct 10 14:09:56 2012

I can understand a restocking fee on some kinds of items. Software and DVDs are easy to copy, so it makes sense to charge a fee on those. Not to mention, the value of an item goes down once it's opened. I haven't seen clothing subjected to restocking fees, though there are some items where returns are disallowed if they are removed from packaging/tags removed (bathing suits, underwear, etc...)  

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Oct 10 14:41:38 2012

It really makes very little sense buying anything online (or mail order, for that matter) that you might have to return. I probably wouldn't.  

Target takes online order returns at their stores.  JCPenney too.  So you have to take it over there if you don't like it at your expense. Your gas and time, waiting in line.

Compare this to ebay where people actually expect to be able to buy, try it, and if they don't like it have the seller pay for the returns!  

It's built into some sellers business models, like Zappos.  At their prices they can afford to pay for return shipping! A $180 pair of shoes for full price, with free shipping and even free returns.

If you want it cheap (like all ebay buyers) don't expect to get free returns, or returns at all if you ask me.

We sell tech items, used.  Mostly at large discounts from what a new one would cost, and we don't really ever get non-defective returns.  But we largely deal with professional buyers who know all about that thing.  So it's better for us.

Occasionally someone returns something that doesn't work and we repair or replace it if possible.

It is very costly for a company to take returns.  Ebay doesn't seem to recognize this, or if they do they don't care since they are not paying for it.

Often we end up scrapping anything we get back, unless it's very valuable.  

But clearly if we were selling a $2000 item for $2000 and someone wanted to return it unopened, that's way different from demanding to return a item that works as described, that costs $2000, but that you only paid $300 for.

That's what ebay buyers want, after all. They want cheap prices.  You can't expect to get fast free shipping, end to end tracking, free returns, and cheap prices too.  

Perminate Link for Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?   Are Amazon's Expectations for Returns Reasonable?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 11 16:02:42 2012

... restocking fees ... more lies from the same people.

Restocking fees DONT work. On ebay ... they suggested it to me to help stem the tide of returns after thier new ''return anything, anytime or face the mighty DSR''. ''Sure, charge the customer %15 maybe %20 - THAT should do it''. Want to know how THAT turned out? Negs, and low DSRs was the response from customers. They, because eBay promised them the world, feel they shouldnt have to pay for buyers remorse (we dont charge it for defectives - thats not a buyers fault).

I sell headphones and watches. NO ONE wants someone elses DNA on thier items - even used. Who knows how ofter ebays customers wash themselves!? Thankfully getting things back with out the correct packaging hasnt been an issue for me so far.

My returns in gnereral are low and I deal with them right away on eBay so ''Im holding my own'' and stemming the tide of ''I dont really think this earphone is RED, I mean the manufactorer says it is - but it doesnt go with my outfit!''.

Amazon? you are at thier mercy - too many bad scores and you are history - so I take EVERYTHING back when theres a complaint.
 
*** BUT - I dont get mad - I get even! ***

I simply wait a week after I get the item back and buy an IDENTICAL one from Amazon themselves, and switch the items out. I make Amazon eat it - shipping both ways n' all, ALL the time. If they want to stick me with thier cranky customers - OK fine - but I will use thier own policy against them and let them deal with it .. ''see how YOU like it!''. =)



Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.