Helping You with Your Amazon FBA Business

Customer Returns are Normal but Not Fun for Amazon Sellers

Last January, I learned how easy it is to return an item back to Amazon.   It was the barcode scanner that my mom bought me for Christmas.  I was unhappy with the scanner because it kept disconnecting from my iPhone during my retail arbitrage trips and I had to continually stop and reconnect it.  So I decided to return it and buy a different barcode scanner.

Amazon’s return process is very easy.  All I did was go to their website, fill out a short form and print a shipping label.  Then, I boxed up the product and dropped it off at my local UPS store.  It was a very simple and hassle-free process.

See Amazon’s Return Page for Customers

Amazon’s return policy is very nice for Buyers but not so nice for Amazon Sellers when they have to deal with lost sales revenue, paying extra FBA fees and maybe even receiving a damaged item that can’t be resold and losing their buy cost.

As I’m writing this post, I’m going through my 10th return since joining Amazon’s FBA program one year ago.  At some point, each of you will get a return, so it’s good to read up on Amazon’s Return Policy.

See Amazon’s Return Policy for Sellers

In this post, I’ll go over how to find your returns and share with you a few of mine.

Finding Out What was Returned
For me, it always starts with the email.  Each time I get a “Refund initiated for order xxx-xxxxxxx-xxxxxxx” email, I head over to Seller Central and go to my Payments->Transactions View Page to see what was returned and how much was refunded.  Then, I go to the Returns Page to see why the customer returned it and get the current status.  Here’s how to get the Returns Report:

  •  Login to Seller Central
  • Select Reports -> Fulfillment
  • Select Customer Concessions -> Returns (from the left sidebar)
  • Select Your Event Date and Press Generate Report

Tracking Your Returns
If you read Amazon’s Return Policy for Sellers, you’ll see there are different scenarios on what can happen next and different deadlines to keep track of.   I recommend checking the status of your returns and taking any required action on your part so you don’t miss out on a potential reimbursement by Amazon or so you don’t have a bunch of unsellable inventory sitting in your account.

My tracking system is pretty relaxed because I have never had more than one return to worry about at a time.  I know in my head that I have one and then I just run the Returns Report once every couple of weeks to check the status of the return so I know what action (if any) needs to be done by me.

If you want a more formal tracking system,  you might track your in-process and completed returns in your email account, Excel, Evernote or whichever software that works best for you.  Or even just make a point of checking the report once a week on Mondays.

Now on to a few of my returns based on different scenarios that I encountered:

Customer Returns Product in Sellable Condition
This is an easy type of return because there is no further action required by you.  In each of my returns, the customer returned the product within 30 days, Amazon determined that it was still in sellable condition and returned it to my inventory as an active listing.  I later sold each item again and here’s a financial breakdown of two of them:

Progressive International GPC-5000 Cherry-It Multiple Cherry Pitter

042815 CP

Notice that I lost money with my fees – Amazon charged me $6.35 when the product sold, but only reimbursed me $2.39 when the product was returned.  Luckily, I was able to resell the cherry pitter for a second time and still make a $5.30 profit.  Losing a few dollars in FBA fees is normal with returns.

Zoomer Dino
042815 Zoomer Dino

This return scared me because there was a big chance that I couldn’t resell this product and I would have been out $75.99 plus fees.  Luckily, the customer returned it and Amazon determined it was still in sellable condition.  I resold it and made a teeny profit of $3.89.  I’ll think twice next time I get caught up with buying one of the “Hot Toys” of the season when the buy cost is high and the net profit is low.

Customer Returns Product, but Amazon Says It’s Unsellable
If Amazon takes responsibility for causing the unit to be unsellable, then they will reimburse you.  But if Amazon doesn’t take responsibility, your options are to either have the product returned back to you or disposed of.

At the time of this blog post, the current fees are:

  • Returned Item Fee: $0.50 for standard sized units, $0.60 for oversized units
  • Disposal Fee: $0.15 for standard sized units, $0.30 for oversized units

With my unsellable returns that Amazon did not take responsibility for, I chose to have Amazon send the products back to me.  Here are two such items:

GOGO Pillow As seen on TV

042815 GoGo Pillow

The returned GOGO pillow was still in great condition but the box that it came in was torn.  Because the packaging was damaged, I could no longer sell it in “new” condition.   I could have tried selling it as “used” but didn’t want to take the trouble to do so.   So, I asked my co-workers if any of them wanted it and one offered to buy it for $5.00.  I took him up on the offer, made a smaller loss and moved on.  Remember, returns are a cost of doing business.

Just Born Antique Chic Valance

042815 Just Born 2

With this return, the customer bought two valences and returned both.  When I received them, I found that one was still in brand new condition and the other was also brand new with torn packaging.  I sent the 100% new one back and resold it at a lower price.  I still have the other one at home waiting to be donated because I can not resell it on Amazon.  It’s listed in the Baby Category and only new conditions are allowed.  I lost money with the valences but my ROI was low to begin with.

Customer Does Not Return the Product to Amazon
Customers can return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon within 30 days.  But the seller compensation doesn’t kick in until 45 days have past without the customer returning the product.

Twice my products haven’t been returned on time so I opened a case with Amazon.  This is the main body of my letters to Amazon:

I had a customer return on MM/DD/YY and it’s listed as unfulfillable. However, I can’t seem to create a removable order to have it sent back to me. Can you help me with this?

Each time, Amazon responded to my inquiry and reimbursed me in less than 24 hours.  Here are my two items that I received reimbursements on:

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment, 1.35 Fluid Ounce

042815 Acne

Since the acne medication is in the Beauty category, I would not have been able to resell it if it was used.  So in this case, I’m happy that the customer didn’t return it and Amazon reimbursed me.  I was still able to make a $10.87 profit off of this one.

Linksys Powerline AV 1-Port Network Adapter Kit (PLEK400)

Return for a Linksys Product

I hate to admit that this return scared me away from electronics.  The customer stated “defective” as the reason for the return.  If the unit was really defective and I received it back, I would have been stuck with a non-working unit as my return period with the store that I bought it from was over.  I’m happy that the customer didn’t return the unit back to Amazon and I got reimbursed.

Also, please note that Amazon reimbursed me $37.56 which is the same amount I made after fees when I sold it.

Since I have always opened a case, I don’t know if Amazon will reimburse you automatically for products that weren’t returned.

Bad Returns
Other than the lost fees and sales revenue, I haven’t had any negative experiences with my returns.  But I have seen quite a few Sellers in the Amazon FBA Facebook Groups say that even though they sold a new item, that they received an obviously old, used or damaged item back.   Some of these same Sellers said that they took pictures of the item and opened a case with Amazon and received reimbursement.

Typically Amazon doesn’t reimburse Sellers for customer damaged items, but it sounds like that in some cases they will.  It doesn’t hurt to try.

Please let me know about your experiences with returns.  Were they good or bad?  Do you have a situation that I didn’t mention in this post?  I always love to hear from you and you can leave any comments or questions in the comment form below or on my Facebook Page.

Take Care,

Diana Poisson

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Debbie May 4, 2015, 8:50 pm

    I have had more returns than I would like to admit. And about half have been either buyer’s remorse or a toy that was demolished and then returned. My biggest “problem” return was a baby stroller, sigh, that I ended up paying for the return so that the buyer would not make any kind of AZ claim. I had it listed as seller-fulfilled and just as I was about to send it to FBA it sold. Then the buyer returned it! The original box did not hold up for shipping both ways and now the stroller is still new but no box. I have no idea what to do with that expensive return! Some of my returns have been able to restock, fortunately.

    Reply
    • Diana May 4, 2015, 10:03 pm

      Oh my, I’m sorry to hear about the demolished toy and the stroller return! It’s too bad that things like that happen. I was going to suggest selling the stroller on ebay, but without a box, it may be more hassle than it’s worth. Maybe you can sell it on Craigslist? Thanks for sharing your return story, appreciate it! Good luck with the stroller and let me know what you end up doing with it. Diana

      Reply
  • Debbie May 5, 2015, 4:19 pm

    Honestly, Diana, I think that the advice on the forum varies about how to handle returns. That’s why I paid for the return on the stroller.
    The buyer kept on asking me to pay, even tho it ended up costing $30 out of my pocket. I didn’t want anything negative coming out of the experience. What do you think?

    Reply
    • Diana May 5, 2015, 6:40 pm

      Debbie, I have never merchant-fulfilled anything so I’m really not sure what the return procedure is, but I think you did the right thing. I know $30 is a lot to lose but if that keeps you from getting a negative rating or lowering your seller metrics then it is worth it. It’s still unfortunate that it happened though.

      Reply
  • dbesh May 28, 2016, 2:05 am

    I had a situation (fortunately nothing expensive) where a customer claimed to receive the wrong item. I was selling this item FBA. The customer returned the item, also leaving me my first negative feedback. I contacted the customer (through Amazon) to find out if Amazon resolved the issue (obviously with an ulterior motive) and was surprised to learn that she was sent another wrong item. I could assume something was wrong at the particular warehouse. She gave up an received a refund at that point.
    I wrote the customer back and told them I was sending them a new product directly. I did that, and they responded very positive. I waited until I was sure if they received it by the tracking number. When I saw they had I wrote back and asked if they were happy with how I handled the situation if they would consider revising my feedback. This was just a day ago I don’t have very high hopes, but you never know.
    On the other side of the coin, a customer returned a game with everything just thrown in the box. Box would not even fully close. Amazon gave them a full refund but marked the item as unsellable. I had it shipped to me so I plan to put it back in order and hope no pieces are missing. Some days you just lose, other days you lose even more.

    Reply
    • Diana May 29, 2016, 11:15 pm

      That’s too bad about your returns. For the first one though, if Amazon sent the wrong item, you should contact Amazon Support and see if they’ll remove the negative Feedback. If it’s their fault, they usually do. I received a bad feedback once due to the product taking too long to be shipped and Amazon removed it.

      I hope that you can resell the game. It’s too bad that customers do things like that.

      Diana

      Reply
  • Habibi M September 5, 2016, 7:55 am

    What offends me is that (we do seller fulfilled) and the customer in an A-to -Z claim gets to keep the item and gets their money back when we are 100% right. I have written to the CEO to bring light that where in USA can you go to get a full refund and keep the item when you are seeking a return? No where! Not Walmart, not Target…. no store would tolerate that so how can Amazon get away with this illegal act? Last time I had to deal with a huge sale was not on Amazon and I had a big fight on my hands. We won but it was scarey. I do not agree with scams on Amazon and other competitors. This has to STOP!

    Reply
  • Trang November 18, 2016, 9:53 am

    Hello Diana,

    Thanks for your article, it is really helpful! I am doing a research on Amazon sellers service for the assignment. I am interested in the policy for reimbursement, how does AMZ count the rate for that? I cannot access help center for sellers to watch these simple details. Would be grateful if you could reply and send some information above via email.

    Thanks and best regards!
    Trang

    Reply
  • Greg March 31, 2017, 8:49 pm

    I recently sold a very expensive canon lens for $4880.00, shipping costs were $150, as I did not have the item at an amazon warehouse. 15 days after the purchase, the buyer has requested a return because the item was “no longer needed”. This lens is $500 to rent per week, before shipping costs from various rental stores. I’m going on week 3 waiting for tracking information to try to re-sell this “borrowed” lens. In this case, I feel like I was “dooped”, and am taking a substantial financial loss of $300 for shipping the lens both ways.

    Reply
    • Diana March 31, 2017, 11:52 pm

      Hi Greg,
      So, sounds like the buyer used the lens for a couple of weeks and then returned it. Are they able to get free return shipping back if they no longer need it? Doesn’t sound right to me, but I never did Merchant Fulfilled before.

      I’m sorry this happened to you especially on such a large dollar amount item.

      Diana

      Reply
  • Amazon Buyer July 16, 2017, 7:15 am

    I had an question , I order an used book, and the item was marked as very good condition, the spine of the book was damaged, now when the seller did refund me it shows up as an return, but I never returned the item, I asked the seller first for an replacement book, they didn’t respond to the replacement book amazon email, but they did reply back with the message saying they didn’t no the item was in an damaged state being that the spine was broken and they gave me my amazon gift card money back but from amazons message about the refund they marked it as an return, when I still have the book and the seller didn’t provide me with any return request on amazon, it would cost me more to send the book back then say keep the damaged item, plus the seller never asked for it back, can the refunds reading reason for refund Customer return cause me the buyer any problems in the long run using my amazon account I was wondering if somehow that could cause me problems buying from the 3rd party amazon sellers, if I keep getting damaged books when buying very good condition items, since clearly it was an lie the seller marked the item as customer returned when as I get back the money right away with the fact it was buyed using amazon gift cards I got from bing.com searches, I am an student who is buying books and I just happened to get an bad seller that sold me an damaged library book that was not in an very good condition and also happened to have an damaged spine where the book needs some fixing , it is readable but the
    binding was coming apart inside this book? that’s my question is it ok that the seller refund me but marked the item as if I had returned it which is not true at all, since its still in my home and an return was never requested by the seller and they didn’t provide me with any type of package to return the item in either, so I guess I am to keep the item, or just buy an new copy of this book and get ride of the damaged book since not really sure if you can repair books when the binding starts coming apart myself, below is apart of the email on amazon that shows show it displays an refund item when seller sold an damage item, again I didn’t have to return it at all, since the seller just emails you that they are giving you an full refund, they didn’t even tell me if they had an replacement copy to send me, right now this title costs more on amazon to buy again, the other 3rd party seller are charging more for the used item then they seller happened to sell it to me for, I guess that may of been a sign that their was something wrong with this item but from the text in very good condition, it said the book was in good shape, also the condition information never told me it was an library copy of this book, I was trying to buy an non-library copy of this book, but for some reason it looks like the 3rd party sellers don’t have to tell you if its either an library copy or ex-library copy’s only some 3rd party sellers tell you that your buying an library copy the rest of them don’t ever tell you that their used books are library books, which is sad for the buyers since you never no what type of used book the seller going to send you for whatever price they list it as.

    This refund is for the following item(s):

        Item: An Book
        Quantity: 1
        ASIN: 0000000000
        Reason for refund: Customer return

        Here’s the breakdown of your refund for this item:

            Shipping Refund: $
            Item Refund: $

    Notes: I apologize for the damage. I didn’t realize that the binding was coming apart. I have provided a full refund. Thanks

    We’ll apply your refund to the following payment method(s):
    Gift Card: $
    This amount has been credited.
    The amount credited to your Gift Card balance should be automatically applied to your next eligible order on our website.

    Reply
    • Diana July 16, 2017, 2:50 pm

      Hello,
      I’ve also ordered books and they arrived in “bad” condition and sometimes I’ve even received the wrong books because the ISBN was different. Unfortunately, this does happen quite often as I know of others that had the same thing happen to them.

      You were smart to report it and it’s good that the Seller refunded your money. In my experience, some will let you keep the book and refund the money. The others will send a prepaid shipping label for you to return the book. Once they receive the book, they refund the money.

      I don’t think that you will get in trouble from Amazon for not returning the book. The reason is because the Seller didn’t ask you to return it.

      I requested Returns/Refunds on several books and am not in trouble. As long as you are honest about it and accurately state what is wrong with the book, you should be fine. I also take pictures of the book if I have to ship it back to the Seller.

      Just as there are “bad” Sellers, there are “bad” Buyers out there that might claim something is damaged to keep it for free. As long as you don’t put in any dishonest claims, you should be fine.

      Diana

      Reply

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I am working towards creating a full-time income by selling on Amazon. It's a lot of work but very fun! If you're interested in selling on Amazon, be sure to follow my blog as I'll be providing you with lots of tips!

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