Customer returns are inevitable. While it’s not a pleasant experience for sellers to manage returns, it’s not always favorable for customers since sellers can charge them restocking fees for returned items. At least, if it falls under Amazon’s restocking fees guidelines.
In this blog post, I will explain what Amazon restocking fees are and Amazon’s guidelines for charging restocking fees. I’ll also discuss Amazon’s return policy and how to process returns. In addition, you’ll learn how to issue refunds on Amazon and some tips on handling Amazon returns properly.
Be sure to read until the end to learn how to protect yourself from customers trying to scam you.
What Are Amazon Restocking Fees?
Amazon restocking fees are fees charged to buyers who return their orders. However, not all returns are subject to restocking fees, especially when the items were returned within Amazon’s return window and are in original condition.
Restocking fees can vary between 20% to 100% of the item’s price. However, it’s very rare for sellers to charge customers 100% of the restocking fee not unless the buyer returned an opened video game or software because they changed their mind about the item.
Amazon’s Guidelines for Charging Restocking Fees
Sellers can charge a restocking fee depending on the item’s condition when it was returned and the type of product. Please note that shipping cost is not included when calculating restocking fees.
Sellers can only charge a restocking fee for returned items. Below are Amazon’s guidelines for charging restocking fees.
|Reason for Return||Restocking Fee|
|Customer changed their mind about the order but returned the item in its original condition and within the return window.||No restocking fee|
|The customer refused the delivery due to damage during shipping.||No restocking fee, and the seller will shoulder the return shipping. However, the seller can file a claim with the carrier.|
|The customer received a damaged or used item.||No restocking fee, and the seller will shoulder the return shipping. However, the seller can file a claim with the carrier.|
|The buyer returned the item because the item received was materially different from what was listed on Amazon.||No restocking fee.|
|The buyer returned the item because they changed their mind about the order and returned the item in its original condition but is outside of the return window.||The seller can charge up to 20% of the item price.|
|The buyer returned a non-media item because they changed their mind about the order within Amazon’s return window, but the seller received the item damaged or different from how the order was originally shipped to the buyer.||The seller can charge up to 50% of the item price.|
|The buyer returned an opened DVD, CD, cassette tape, VHS tape, or vinyl record within the return window.||The seller can charge up to 50% of the item price.|
|The buyer returned a book within Amazon’s return window but has noticeable signs of use.||The seller can charge up to 50% of the item price.|
What is Amazon’s Return Policy?
Now that you know Amazon’s restocking fees, let’s move on to Amazon’s Return policy.
- Customers can return orders shipped by Amazon.com and Amazon Warehouse within 30 days of delivery.
- Some sellers offer the same return policy as Amazon. However, it can still vary depending on the seller’s return policy.
- If the seller-fulfilled listing is eligible for Amazon Prime, it will follow the same return policies similar to Amazon.com fulfilled orders. To learn more about returning orders to third-party sellers, check Returns to Third-Party sellers.
- To learn about items that cannot be returned on Amazon.com, click here.
- Some orders from Amazon.com may be entitled to a longer return window. This includes baby items, purchased gifts from a Baby Registry, birthday gift lists, and custom gift lists.
You can check out the complete guidelines on Amazon’s return policy here.
How to Process Amazon Returns?
All FBA returns will be processed and handled by Amazon. If the returned item is still in sellable condition, a refund will be given to the buyer, and the seller will be charged the same amount. However, the seller may be refunded with some or all of the variable closing fee and referral fee.
If in case the returned item is no longer sellable, Amazon takes full responsibility. The seller will be reimbursed with a replacement value based on the terms and conditions within FBA Lost and Damaged Inventory Reimbursement Policy.
Processing FBM Return Requests
For FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) orders, the process is quite different when processing returns. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to process FBM return requests.
- The first step is to authorize the return request. To do this, follow these steps:
- From your Seller Central account, choose Orders, then click on Manage Returns.
Choose the return request you want to review. You will then be prompted to use the Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number. Amazon usually generates the RMA number, but you also have the option to provide a custom RMA number.
- The customer can find the RMA number on their return authorization slip below the return label.
- You can authorize several return requests simultaneously. After reviewing all return requests, click on Authorize all selected returns.
- After reviewing the return request, you have the option to close a return request immediately. Some sellers do this when they want to offer a refund without asking the customer to return the item. You can also close a return request if you don’t want to accept the return. For example, the request is outside the return window.
When closing a return request, make sure to choose the right reason for closing it and provide and provide an explanation to the buyer.
- Once the item has been returned, take time to inspect the returned item for any damage or signs of use. If everything looks fine, you can now issue a refund. Be sure to process the refund within 48 hours of receiving the returned item.
If you fail to process the refund within 48 hours, Amazon has the right to refund the specific amount to the customer, and you will be charged the same amount from your seller account. This is why it is important that you regularly monitor your refunds to make sure you don’t miss out on any.
How to Issue a Refund on Amazon?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to issue a refund in Seller Central.
- After logging in to your Seller Central account, click Orders, then choose Manage Orders.
- Find the order you wish to issue a refund and click on the order ID number.
- From the Order Details page, click on Refund Order.
Tips on Handling Amazon Returns
Here are some tips on how you can better handle and manage your Amazon returns.
Have a System in Place
Make sure that you have a system in place when managing customer returns. Have someone who will manage all returns and ensure this person is well-versed with the policies and guidelines on returns.
This will help prevent missing any refund deadlines and minimize any costs related to processing returns. Best to have a database on return authorization, claims, unfulfillable inventory, outstanding refunds, removal orders, relisted FBA items, and more.
Check each Returned Item
Make it a habit to always check all returned items before issuing a refund. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Some customers may return an item that is different from what you actually sent them.
- Sometimes, Amazon may mark your item as Customer Damaged and relist your item. But in reality, it should be marked as “Defective” and considered unfillable inventory. If you want to check the returned item, you may request a removal order and have the item sent back to you.
- If you signed up for Amazon commingled inventory, you might be accountable for another seller’s damaged or fake products.
How to Defend Yourself From Shady Customers?
There are indeed customers that take advantage of Amazon’s return policy. They will request to return the items and ask for refunds even if there are no issues with their orders. To protect yourself from shady customers, here are some things you can do.
Take Photos and Videos
For FBM sellers, if you have the time, take photos or videos of the item before you pack and ship them and send them to the customer. This can serve as proof that you packed and shipped the correct item. This can also lessen the chances of customers scamming the sellers.
Track your Shipments
It would also be wise for FBM sellers to track their shipments. This can protect them from customers who claim that they never receive their orders. So, when a customer claims that he did not receive the package, and your carrier says otherwise, you can show the customer the proof of delivery.
Investigate Return Request Right Away
When you receive a return request, make it a habit to check it and investigate immediately. Try to contact the customer and ask exactly what the issue is and try to resolve it first. Sometimes customers will try to file false claims on their items, and if you’re not vigilant and quick, you may end up issuing a refund for an order that has no issues at all.
Knowing how to manage Amazon returns and Amazon’s restocking fee guidelines can help prevent losing some money on customer returns. As long as it is within Amazon’s guidelines, you can charge your customer the necessary restocking fees.