How to handle refunds when selling on Amazon

By Sharon Fussell, April 5, 2012

From time to time you may be asked to issue a refund to a customer and the fact of the matter is that, unfortunately, you have to give that refund – Amazon operates a no quibble guarantee that as sellers we all agree to conform to when we join the ‘Amazon community’.

Being prepared to issue refunds without fuss is part of providing a good customer service and should make buyers happy and likely give you good feedback. The more good feedback you receive potentially the more sales you will make!

However, I thought we might explore the issuing of refunds as it does ‘stick in the craw’ a bit when you have to refund a buyer that, in your opinion, just does not deserve a refund. You may feel cheated and angry, often understandably, at having to give money back in situations that are completely out of your control.

Issuing a refund on Amazon:

You may not have had to issue a refund yet so I will go through the process of giving a full or partial refund and looking at situations when you would issue one or the other.

To issue a refund go to your sellers account and click on the link ‘issue a refund’ in the ‘Manage Your Order Section.’ You will be given the option of issuing a full or partial refund. Amazon will return money to the buyer’s card and return your fees.

You will be given several options to choose from as to why you are issuing the refund. Amazon can penalise you if you issue too many refunds in proportion to your sales, however, if a customer cancels an order this should not affect you, as – after all – this is beyond your control. I usually opt for this or buyers return.

One of the main reasons buyers return items is that they perceive an item has been described wrongly. Of course descriptions are subjective and come down to expectations. Unfortunately if a buyer has a different expectation of the product’s condition than the one you had when listing the product it is difficult to argue the point. In fact I would not recommend debating with customers at any time – despite the great temptation!

Luckily, most customers are happy with their products, they are realistic that they are purchasing a used product which may have defects that would not apply to a new product. So if you hate giving refunds then always try and mention any defects the books have in the comment box.

Defects it is essential to mention:

  • Underlining, comments etc
  • Gift inscriptions
  • Cover creasing
  • Tanning to page edge
  • Ex Library

Despite doing this it’s possible that some buyers won’t read your comments; and it seems unfair if they leave adverse comments relating to condition, but that’s folks for you. If this does happen, write to them and ask them to remove the feedback in many cases this does work, if not we have to put it to experience and move on. The fact remains that in most cases if you describe your product as honestly as you can you will avoid refunds from unhappy customers.


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