How to deal with bizarre Amazon return requests

By Sharon Fussell, October 27, 2016


One big bone of contention when selling retail products concerns the issue of returns.

Refunds are part and parcel of working with Amazon. And although it is frustrating to have to take items back and issue refunds (which you are most certainly going to lose money on), it is all in the game.

Lately, I’ve been contacted by buyers demanding refunds who claim an order hasn’t arrived. When I looked into their request, I found the orders were over 12 months old.

How has it taken so long to notice an order hasn’t turned up?

I always explain I maintain a 30 day return policy, in line with Amazon’s expectations. I would expect to be notified if an order has not arrived during the course of that period.

This allows the opportunity to chase up a delivery if a courier, has been used… but to be contacted a year after the order was placed is just ridiculous.

I do feel aggrieved if a buyer bypasses usual systems and requests a refund via their bank. It is almost certainly guaranteed the buyer will be given a refund despite not contacting you to inform you of any issues.

The same applies to A-Z claims (read more here): a buyer likely to keep the item they bought and receive a full refund if they use this system to make a complaint.

They often don’t give the seller any chance of redeeming the situation. Added to that, A-Z claims are held against you in your seller matrix.

Sometimes if a buyer contacts me in regards to an issue, I will offer a small refund to entice them to keep the item. In around 90% of cases this is accepted. At the very least, I always try to break even when offering refunds in this manner.

To be honest, no matter how hard you try, a return/refund is inevitable at some point in your selling career. It’s very frustrating but I stress again, it is really part and parcel of retail selling.

However, during the Christmas period, Amazon do expect you allow a longer return period than the standard 30 days.

You may already have received a notification on your account or an email in regards to this. If not, what they say is below.

“Amazon’s Extended Christmas Returns Policy – 24 Oct 2016

Amazon’s Extended Christmas Returns Policy allows customers to return orders shipped between 1 November and 31 December, for a full refund, until 31 January of the following year and subject to the return guidelines. Remember, you must process returns and refunds according to Amazon’s published return policy, which includes Amazon’s Extended Christmas Returns Policy, under your Participation Agreement.”

As you can see, should a buyer wish to make a return they have until the end of January to request a return – even if the order was made on November 1.

To be very honest, returns/refunds are not prolific. I do all I can to ensure buyers receive the item they order, within the time estimated at time of purchase (the faster the better), but it is not always possible to expect a perfect record of zero returns…

… Particularly since there is nowt so queer as folk with bizarre reasons as to why they wish to make a return. Check out as this recent request…

“Return reason: Incompatible or not useful for intended purpose Customer comments: I didn’t realise before ordering that a well used (but still in good condition!) second hand book might be too fragile for heavy use and lots of carrying it around that my studies require.”

Very strange. And it would not have made a jot of difference when considering the type of book it was whether it had been a new – rather than a used – copy!

Again: nowt so queer as folk. But no matter – onwards and upwards!



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