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Amazon FBA Returns: Issues and Solutions

By Last updated on: May 6, 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Amazon FBA returns can eat away at profits and time. Returns can threaten the profitability of your company in the long run. Also, too many returns or defective items can negatively impact your Seller Rating.

Amazon’s Buyer Return Policy

All customers have the right to open a product, try it and send it back to Amazon if they please. Amazon fulfillment and most sellers on Amazon offer returns within 30 days of receipt of shipment. The return period can extend during the holidays. For example, in the 2020 holiday season, items with a shipping date between October 1 and December 31, are eligible through January 31, 2021.

Amazon’s FBA Seller Return Issues

When a customer requests a refund of an FBA-fulfilled item, Amazon notifies the seller via email. Funds from that transaction are put on hold pending the customer’s return of the item to the fulfillment center.

Subsequently, Amazon inspects each item to ascertain whether the product is:

  1. “Sellable” and returned to your active inventory, or
  2. “Unsellable” due to damage or defect, thus removed from inventory

If your product is returned and deemed “unsellable” due to being defective or damaged, Amazon will decide the party at fault. Amazon then uses this information to determine whether the customer or the merchant is reimbursed.

Merchants are eligible for reimbursements:

  • if the customer fails to return the item to the fulfillment center
  • if the customer damaged the item before a return
  • or if the item damage occurs under Amazon’s control.

“Bait and Switch” Amazon Returns

Another common Amazon FBA return to watch for is the “bait and switch.” The bait and switch for FBA products occur when a customer purchases an item but sends back a different product. We call this a bait and switch return, and entitles the seller to a reimbursement. Unfortunately, this requires more documentation and more complicated than other issues. The complication for bait and switch amazon refunds is because it is not readily apparent from the data available in Seller Central. Bait and switch amazon returns monitoring is difficult, but we can help when a seller experiences one. We recommend sellers take picture evidence. If you find yourself a victim of a return bait and switch:

  • take pictures of the received item
  • send documentation to Amazon or our Amazon FBA reimbursement representatives
  • provide an example or evidence of a legitimate item
  • open a case in Seller Central as soon as possible (or allow us to open one for you)

Used Product Returns

Often, a buyer will return an item that has been used or contains a portion of the original contents. For example, a half-empty bottle of vitamins or shampoo. What happens if a buyer wears a brand new pair of shoes for two weeks then decides to submit an Amazon FBA return?  

In the case of used product returns, there are a few tips to help your case. 

  • Keep track of dates (i.e., customer requests, purchase date, and arrival date)
  • provide a complete timeline of all communication. 
  • take pictures of the returned product for documentation. 
  • File a claim as soon as possible

Amazon FBA returns can truly turn a successful seller into an unprofitable seller. Keeping track of your Amazon FBA inventory life cycle is crucial. Signup today and start seeing Amazon FBA inventory reimbursements on your account.

Brian Gibbs

Author Brian Gibbs

More posts by Brian Gibbs

Brian Gibbs | President of Refund Retriever

Brian Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever's primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he then graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce and more. Learn more at www.refundretriever.com or call (800) 441-8085 for more information.

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