How Amazon’s New U.S. Seller Returns Policy Affects You

As of November 1, 2016, Amazon has a new returns policy for marketplace sellers that it announced in the form of an email (listed below):

How Amazon’s New U.S. Seller Returns Policy Affects You

Image: Flickr

Dear Seller,

Starting on November 1, 2016, US seller fulfilled returns that are within Amazon’s returns policy will be automatically authorized, and Amazon will provide customers with prepaid return labels on your behalf.

We hope that this change benefits you, the seller, and your customers. With this update, customers will be able to return an item immediately, and without coordinating with you, reducing the time you dedicate to processing returns.

You will also have full visibility into the end-to-end returns process through tracking information located in the Return Details section of your Manage Returns page. And for the first time, you will have the ability to appeal return disputes directly to Amazon. We implemented these benefits so you can maintain visibility in the returns process, and to assist you in the case of an A-to-z claim.

We understand this may require you to make changes to your returns process, and that there may be products in your catalog that will need to be exempted from this requirement. Therefore, starting on October 1, you will be able to request an exemption for specific ASINs that meet certain requirements. Review the Prepaid returns for seller fulfilled orders help page below for details on how to request exemptions. Exempted returns, and returns that are out of policy, will continue to go through the existing returns process that you use today.

This demonstrates Amazon’s allegiance to consumer convenience, sometimes at the expense of sellers, but despite almost instant backlash from sellers, this change does NOT affect everyone.

An Amazon representative was quick to point out “This program only currently applies to sellers who have received an e-mail regarding the program. No actions are required if you have not received the program e-mail. If you have received an e-mail, the program is scheduled to begin 11/1/2016.”

This also does not affect FBA sellers, since those returns go directly back to Amazon fulfillment centers. Also, some Professional sellers can also request exemptions to this policy for certain SKUs, such as those that fall under categories like dangerous goods, items that require special insurance for shipping, digital items, etc. If you did receive an email regarding this policy change, you don’t need to panic.

What this does mean is that sellers will no longer be able to individually address return requests with customers; rather, they’ll have to appeal directly to Amazon if they feel that a return should not have been authorized. Restocking and shipping fees may still be applied, but no matter what, any return request from a customer under this new program will be automatically authorized and Amazon will provide them with a prepaid return label.

There’s a new help page on Amazon that should help you with most questions about this policy update, but if you are affected by this change, you aren’t alone. Here are a few things you can do to acquaint yourself with the new policy:

  • Read the email carefully and double check that you fall under the new rules.
  • Update your default return address.
  • Prepare for holiday returns — they are likely to increase right after Christmas.
  • Inform your staff (if you have any) of the new policy and update your training policy.
  • Monitor your Amazon account to avoid suspension.

Be sure to give us a call at 1-877-9-SELLER with any questions that you may have. Good luck!


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Featured Image: Flickr