How to Return Things on Amazon and Amazon Prime

There are different return method options like pick-up

Last updated on March 9th, 2023

Written by Ken Zhou

Amazon has made it more convenient to return orders provided they are returnable. However, not all items are eligible for returns and each product category would have its own return time. This article will discuss the different return policies namely: standard, international, and global. It will also list the return times of the different categories and how much returns may cost.

Returns for Amazon Prime vs Standard Accounts

Returning products in either standard Amazon or Amazon Prime accounts are the same. Return policies, however, differ according to product type and seller type rather than buyer accounts. If you’re a seller, do consider getting an Amazon agency to guide you with the different Amazon features.

Below are the considerations when returning orders: eligibility, different return policies, how long you have to return an order, and how much you have to pay.

Items that cannot be returned

Check if your product is eligible for returns. The product page usually tells you this. It is also in the options on the “Your Orders” page. Amazon listed the items and categories that CAN NOT be returned. Included in the list are grocery items, hazardous materials, pharmaceuticals, software, and more.

The different return policies

Amazon has several return policies in place. They are dependent on the type of item, the reason for return, and the seller.

Listed below are the current policies posted on the Amazon site, as well as their corresponding considerations.

A. Standard Process (Applicable to Most Items)

New and unused orders are eligible for FREE returns within 30 days of purchase.

  1. Go to “Your Orders” and select the items you want to return.
  2. Select the reason for return on the drop-down menu. 
  3. As well as your preferred return method: wait for pick up, ship the item or drop it off.

Amazon Hub Center Returns

If you choose to drop off your returns via the Amazon Hub center, follow the steps below:

  1. Create your QR code. Amazon will email you the generated QR code specific to your returns and further instructions.
  2. Take the item to an Amazon Hub Center and present your QR code. No need to wrap the item.
  3. The Hub will use a polyethylene bag, apply the return label to the package, and send your item back to Amazon.

Third-Party Seller Returns

If the 3P seller’s product listing is eligible for Amazon Prime, it is subject to the same return policies as those fulfilled by Amazon.

Most third-party sellers need to offer the following options: 

  • a return address based in the United States with a prepaid return label that you can affix to the item
  • offer a full refund without returning the item or items

Item Value

Depending on how valuable the item you want to return, there are also a few more considerations. If your item is worth $100 or more, you’d need to use a signature shipping service with insurance. If the item is worth over $35, you’d need a trackable shipping company. If the item is worth less than $35, USPS delivery with confirmation service is suggested. 

Remember that even if you were let down with a product, it still has value. You will be responsible for the losses incurred if the product is received in bad condition. Amazon may not be able to cover you by the A-to-Z Guarantee.

Item Weight

If a product (after you’ve packaged it) falls under the following categories, it will be considered heavy or extra-large. 

  • heavier than 90 lbs.
  • More than 96 inches in length
  • measure exceeds a total of 130 inches in length and girth Use the formula: [(2 x width) + (2 x height)]

B. International Returns

This refers to when you buy from international sellers and therefore need to follow the international returns policy. Amazon offers you the following methods: 

  • UPS Drop Off: for customers shipping to Canada, prepaid drop-off labels are provided  
  • DHL Express Drop Off: find the most convenient DHL Drop-off available to you and send the package from there
  • DHL Express Pickup: this is only available in select countries but you can have your packages picked up from a convenient location near you.
  • Return label provided at your own expense: but you will be refunded up to $25 depending on the country.

C. Global Returns

If you order from abroad, the Global Returns Policy is enforced. The returns take longer to reach Amazon; usually around 25 days. You’d be provided with a prepaid UPS label. This way you can ship the package to a  UPS drop-off point most convenient for you. 

Not all Global Store products are eligible for free returns. So, in some cases, you would shoulder the shipping expense. Refunds are processed for approximately 2-3 days and will not reflect on your account for another 3-5 days. Up to $20 of return shipping cost can be refunded upon receipt of the item. For damaged and defective items, you would receive a full refund.

how to return things on amazon - Returns can cause a surplus of unsellable inventory or Wall of Shame

How long do you have to return things on Amazon?

As mentioned before, most items are returnable within 30 days of delivery. But there are exceptions. 

For example, orders from Amazon Renewed, Baby Items, Amazon Birthday Gift List, and Amazon Custom Gift List are returnable within 90 days of shipment. But if you’re the registry owner, only 30 days are allowed

  • Orders from Baby Registry are returnable for up to 365 days upon receipt.
  • Purchases from Amazon Wedding Registry are returnable within 180 days of receipt.
  • Mattresses are returnable for up to 100 days after receipt for any reason. 
  • Defective automotive items sold by Amazon with a published manufacturer warranty are either refunded or replaced for the length indicated. Amazon will honor that warranty.
  • For e-books, you have 7 days to process a return. After that, you will lose access to the item. (Note that e-book returns are controversial, with many authors protesting it. Many readers can finish a book in a day or two. There are even “life hacks” posts showing how to abuse the e-book returns policy. So use e-book returns with discretion and honesty.)

How much do you have to pay?

Unlike physical stores where you return the items to the rack, the returns for online orders require shipping and sometimes restocking fees. Return shipping can either be: 

  1. Free - You don’t pay anything. The seller or Amazon provides a prepaid label for when you ship the item back.
  2. Refunded - You initially pay for the shipping costs of the package but would be later refunded by either Amazon or the seller.
  3. Deducted from your order’s refund - In other cases, the cost of return will be deducted from the total refund sent to you.

If you use the Return Label in cases wherein the reason for return is not Amazon-related, the cost of the return is on you. The shipping costs vary per shipment category.

Although there is a flat rate per category, each item in your shipment is subject to an additional per-item fee. The fee per item also varies depending on the product category. 

For example: 

You want to return two sets of shoes bought from the same seller. You will pay a flat rate of $3.99 plus $0.99 per item. In this scenario, there are two pairs of shoes, so you multiply $0.99 by two.

Click here for Amazon’s complete list of Return Costs that shows the different categories together with their corresponding flat rate shipping and per-item costs.

It is also worth mentioning that Amazon is encouraging Returnless Refunds. Returnless refunds are less hassle for all parties involved and less costly. It also aims to curb the environmental and financial impacts of returns

Conclusion and Resolutions: Combat the occurrences of returns

Returns cost millions of dollars and are hassles to both buyers and sellers. As a seller, a proper and detailed product listing helps buyers visualize the item better, setting more realistic expectations. Buyers must read the entirety of the product description to avoid specification-related returns (e.g. “I thought it would be bigger.”)

Better packaging and signature shipping can decrease the chances of logistics-related damages. Sellers should also consider brand account managers to address refunds and reimbursements.

Amazon has also set some return policy parameters to prevent return-scamming. These scams can be when a buyer returns a fake or different item from the one they ordered. And Amazon flags and suspends accounts that have applied for a suspicious amount of returns in their transaction history.

Returns will happen but it’s important to prevent as many unnecessary and wasteful ones as possible. Protect your account, protect your client and safeguard your brand better with Seller Interactive. Book a meeting with us through this number(1-800-820-3746) now!

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