NEW 2017 RETURN POLICY - What Protection Do Sellers Have to Manage PROBLEMS


#1

NEW FALL 2017 AMAZON RETURN POLICY

  • Automatically authorizes returns (OK)
  • Charge us for return shipping (NOT DESIRABLE)
  • Drastically reduces the return handling window to 2 Days (NOT DESIRABLE)
  • Automatically provides Full Refunds (NOT OK)

PROBLEMS

This new policy does not allow us to properly manage returns that are problematic. One example, more than we like, receive items in return that are not the item we sent. This can occur when a buyer…

  • “SWAPS” an item on purpose for (cannot receive a return from original seller)
  • “SWAPS” an item on purpose for (returns a different item we do not even sell)
  • Returns an old used items for the new item the purchased.
  • Returns an order to the wrong seller.
  • Badly handles a return by discarding the packaging and cramming the item in a return vessel that is too small.
  • Alters an item and then decides to return it because “Its Defective/Does Not Work”.
  • Return empty shipments.
  • etc.

The new policy DOES NOT allow us to COMPLETELY REJECT a return. When any of the situations above occur it is our policy to…

  1. Not refund the order and do one of the following…
  2. Contact the buyer and allow them to retrieve their item.
  3. Contact the buyer and allow them to provide a label to forward their return to the correct seller.
  4. At our discretion simply return the item to the buyer.
  5. At our discretion refund at a 20% to 50% restocking fee.

The point being this new policy, especially the abbreviated processing window, is forcing us to refund items that we are not obligated to provide a full or partial refund for. This will only encourage more buyers to be less responsible with returns. We also notice that items returned to us as a merchant are in MUCH BETTER condition than items returned to FBA. this is because buyers know sellers inspect their returns. This will definitely change once buyers realize that they will be refunded no matter what the condition of the item. And Amazon offer the Seller no recourse to recapture wrongly automatic-refunded returns. Nor do we being given the time to manage a “Problem” return. Amazon will simply force a refund!

QUESTIONS

  1. We do not understand what ABILITY, TIME AND PROTECTION we will have to handle returns that are NOT AS STRAIGHT FORWARD?

  2. Will we be able to deny returns?

  3. Our current policy is to charge a 20% restocking fee on all returns. Can this be “programmed” in our account for all auto-refunds that will occur?

  4. Will we be able to DICTATE that buyers not use EXPENSIVE return services such as UPS? Our items will loose money if any service other than USPS is used.

  5. We also work VERY hard to keep our shipping weights within USPS FIRST CLASS pricing. How can we make sure that buyers are returning items in a manner that does not cause us to have to pay more postage upon delivery because they ship back at a weight over the weight of the label Amazon provides?

  6. Will we be able to deduct any additional return postage amounts due to buyer return packaging issues?

  7. Will promotional codes be reversed when returns are refunded?

  8. Will promotional codes be reversed when PARTIAL returns occur (Buy 1 Get 1)? If they return one that voids the discount.

  9. We do not refund Expedited shipping. How can we withhold expedited fees from refunds?

  10. We just had UPS deliver a shipment to a wrong address. Did not notice for 7 days after delivery when checking UPS invoices. The added UPS Return Cost escalated to $74.00 because the buyer instead rejected the original shipment! We shipped it for $25.00. What recourse do we have to RECAPTURE funds from the buyer? The buyer will never agree to be recharged as Amazon currently tells us we would have to obtain permission from the buyer. Of course Amazon does this for itself. But not for 3rd-party sellers. This is not fair.

  11. We have had un-tampered empty shipments returned. Can we REJECT refunds in these cases? Especially when we are up against an automatic 2-DAY forced refund clock!

CONCLUSION

  • The above anomalies are not frequent but they are frequent enough that when they occur they do affect our bottom line. It only takes one $350 problem or empty return box to wipe out hard-earned profit from other orders.

  • THIS NEW POLICY WILL SIMPLY FORCE US TO RAISE PRICES! We are going to experience a decline in sales due to higher prices. But, we are not in the business of being un-profitable. We will have to immediately adjust prices to spread out the cost of return shipping.

  • For the record we are already currently responsible with our return and policy. We offer EXPEDITED REFUNDS for buyers who provide tracking. But we also inform the buyer in our policy that this PRIVILEGE will not be offered in the future if returns are received in a non-compliant condition. This has been a time saver for us and a convenience for our buyers while still offering us leverage with buyers to help ensure that our merchant fulfilled returns are received in near original condition.


#2

When sellers leave, the marketplace becomes barren and the buyers move on the cheaper places to purchase their items, Amazon will wake up.

Prices WILL go up because of this. Amazon can’t control pricing on other marketplaces. Customers DO shop around. Customers WILL buy from places that sell the item cheaper.

If I were Amazon, I’d reconsider this terrible plan.


#3

And you just provided an entire tutorial for scammers on how to game the system.

You realize these forums are readily available through Google and because it is Amazon, tops the search list.


#4

Totally agree. This is not acceptable and we will be forced to raise prices or shutter our Amazon channel completely.
We actually have far more returns through our Amazon channel than we have through our Ebay store and our own website sales.
This is because on ebay and our site we have full 100% control over product description and all images. Not so on Amazon and therefore we experience an abnormal high return rate on Amazon sales (approximately 1 in 10 while 1 in 100 on our other channels).

Funny how the new returns policy email stated several times that sellers asked for this.
No we did not.
What Amazon is doing is brilliant though. Elevate the customer experience and let third party sellers pay for it.

Given that the list of brands and manufacturers who will not allow any Amazon sales is growing, this year might be a good time to split ways.

Edited by: Lockitt on Aug 1, 2017 8:38 AM


#5

There is not much difference in the return policy but a major change in the procedure.

+Will we be able to deny returns?+
Same as it is now. You can only deny returns that are no longer “in policy”. If the return is within policy, you will accept the return as it is now.

+Our current policy is to charge a 20% restocking fee on all returns.+
Currently not all returns qualify for a 20% restocking fee, this will not change.


#6

So this was actually forced upon us by surprise back in December. Amazon claimed they had notified us via email months earlier about the change that was to occur. We checked emails and had never received such heads up. We were able to convince them to give us an extension so we could better prepare for this. They gave us until July 1st. It still has not reinstated. The way I see it, we will likely have to just increase our prices across the board because of it. If customer contact us for any reasons pertaining to them being inconvenienced in any way by the new returns system or our higher prices, I have 0 qualms about throwing Amazon under the bus.


#7

Not much has changed.

The same reasons for whether a return is authorized as apply now will apply then.

You do not get the opportunity to misinterpret them.

No difference in the laundry list of problems and risks.


#8

This is the second time I’ve seen a post like this by someone who’s supposedly a long time seller. It makes me question your motivations because this statement is so clearly and blatantly false.

My very most recent request for return was a history book with the sub-title “40,000 to Present.” The book was published in 1993 - which was stated on the listing page - and is OOP. It’s a common homeschooling book used to teach ancient and world history - NOT current events. The customer requested a return stating I misrepresented the book as it was clearly not “to the present.” IOW, the return was allegedly due to my error instead of a customer who is perhaps lacking some brain cells if not at least reading comprehension skills.

That return was within policy and the customer has the right to return it. They do not, however, have the right to claim they’re returning because I made a mistake and thus should pay return shipping.

THAT is why this policy sucks. I could be stuck paying for a customer’s lying or stupidity when I have done nothing wrong whatsoever.

No one is arguing that returns within policy should be ignored. The problem is that it is automatic and that it gives customers the power to declare seller error when no such error occurred and thus we pay the price.

If you don’t understand this then I challenge both your comprehension of the problem and your over zealous loyalty to the great corporate Amazon.com


#9

+No one is arguing that returns within policy should be ignored. The problem is that it is automatic and that it gives customers the power to declare seller error when no such error occurred and thus we pay the price.+

How is that different from the way it is now? I have buyer now that claim an item is defective only to get free return shipping.
The new system will likely bring in more returns, but hopefully it may bring in more sells. It appears there will be less competition as many people claim they will leave Amazon.


#10

The most loyal Amazon customers do not shop around.

Many of the sellers who leave could improve the marketplace by departing.

Not every buyer looks for the lowest price.

Sellers who think that price is the only buying criteria are sellers who are more likely to detract from the Amazon buying experience.

Yes, Amazon is doing a lot of things which will make some sellers leave. Do not assume it is unintentional.


#11

All that differs from the previous policy is whether you make the buyer pay upfront to return and if they object have to defend an A-Z claim, or you pay up front, reduce the refund and if the buyer objects, defend an A-Z claim.

IMO no different except for a week of twos cash flow effect.

The problem is your attitude and perhaps your reading skills.

I do not have to like the change to know it is not a big deal.


#12

As a drop shipper I can’t have automatically generated returns. My returns have to go back to the manufacturer with their RMA number on it, if it has a random number on it then they won’t accept it. How am I supposed to be able to continue to sell with Amazon?


#13

Customer’s mistakes will kill us.

Higher # on Oops.


#14

I respectfully beg to differ. The other BIGGEST PROBLEM with the new return policy is the DRASTICALLY ABBREVIATED REFUND WINDOW which automatically provides full refunds.

For example, when we receive a return from a buyer that was sold to them by another seller we are not obligated to accept the return and provide a refund. The inventory is not ours. The buyer may have made a mistake. Or sometimes we notice that the buyer bought similar products from our store and another seller on the exact same day (based on the packing slip info). They keep our product which may be more expensive and return the cheaper unwanted item to us in order to receive the largest refund.

Our store needs time to contact the buyer and work with them to resolve the problem. Not everybody responds quickly to email or phone calls.

If a package is delivered at the end of the day on Monday, we have to provide a refund by Wednesday. We may not get to the return until Tuesday late or Wednesday. That does not leave us sufficient time to resolve a problem with the buyer.

** Even enormous yet efficient AT&T takes more than 2 days to process the return of your U-Verse receivers. That is why you see that $300 receiver charge still on your next bill and then removed 30 days later on the next bill. **

WE MUST BE GIVEN THE ABILITY TO CONTROL IF A REFUND IS APPROPRIATE. We have no problem accepting returns or refunding. As long as we can MANAGE buyer mistakes and PREVENT buyers who abuse the return policy.

Edited by: WA on Aug 1, 2017 11:08 AM


#15

> Here is the thing. Those are all your problems. Why do you expect Amazon to fix them? If 2 days is not enough time then hire more employees. Business markets change over time. They all do. Evolve or go the way of the Doo Doo bird.

It’s not the 2 days to process the return that’s the issue. It’s having 2 days to deal with the high amount of flawed/fraud returns otherwise Amazon simply refunds in full. You mentioned a few times you yourself don’t get many returns. Neither do we (except after Christmas).
But take for example, those selling electronics where they deal with enough abuse as it is. If you get an item back with a different serial#, you are still forced to refund the customer. You can’t even fight it. You are forced to refund it and then appeal using a process that we all know is biased and flawed.

Lake was correct in stating that the process is still going to be the same. However the little control we sellers have is being chipped away.


#16

It’s auto returns, not auto refunds. You have just as much control as before you just can’t drag your feet. The only difference now is greedy and unscrupulous 3rd party sellers can no longer try to refuse legit returns or try to bully the buyer into dropping the request. Thats what got us here to begin with. Sellers that fight every return no matter what and clueless sellers that think they are allowed to set their own return (or no return) policies. I hope now that some of the posters in here that like to tell sellers to fight every return will learn from this. First we lose live support for feedback removal because of sellers trying to get every neg removed weather legit or not. Now we get auto returns because of sellers that fight every return weather legit or not. You don’t have to look farther than some of the most popular posters in this forum to see why Amazon has done this.


#17

Here is the thing. Those are all your problems. Why do you expect Amazon to fix them? If 2 days is not enough time then hire more employees. Business markets change over time. They all do. Evolve or go the way of the Doo Doo bird.


#18

you hit the nail on the head

bad Amazon sellers are to blame for this policy introduction

Our returns are processed within 12 hours at all times of the year

And before you say I am just a small guy with nothing to do, I shipped out over 15,000 orders last year and we are up 35% this year. And I do this by myself, no additional help

we handle our customers they way we would like to be treated FAIRLY!!!

If all sellers had this attitude, we would not be having this discussion

1 bad apple can ruin the whole bushel, unfortunately this bushel has thousands of rotten apples


#19

Respectfully, the issue is NOT with providing refunds for legitimate returns. It is with being able to MANAGE RETURNS WITH PROBLEMS. I personally am not disputing refunding returns. We LOVE/PREFER it when a buyer simply states NO LONGER NEEDED OR WANTED as the return reason. We do not have any problems refunding returns that are received compliant with the Amazon Return Policy. We do however have a problem not being able to manage problematic returns.

For example (just one example) is it really OK or fair to you as a seller to have to provide full refund for an item that was not even sold by your store? Inventory you do not even sell.

What about the time and frustration you will waste having to mange a dispute with Amazon to correct the problem. Amazon will put you through way more checks and balances than your simply being given ample time to resolve the return problem directly with the buyer. With still no guarantee that they will resolve the issue fairly with you. Don’t you want some ability to make a business decision as to the appropriateness for handling a return.

UPDATE:
I just got off the phone with Amazon Support. I explicitly asked them “…What ability and control will we be allowed to resolve returns that have problems…”

In short…NONE.

We also asked “… After Amazon automatically refunds the buyer and we successfully provide information that the return was wrongly refund, how will we be reimbursed…”

The response was non-committal and not favorable.

This is not sustainable for businesses small or large.


#20

Here is an exert from the advisory that Amazon issued…

“…You are required to issue a refund within two business days of receipt of a return. If you do not take action regarding the refund request, Amazon may refund the customer on your behalf and charge the amount to your seller account…”

Paying close attention to the effect that non-compliant returns have on your bottom line is not “…Sellers that fight every return no matter what and clueless sellers that think they are allowed to set their own return (or no return) policies…” It is instead responsible business management.

Also, per the Amazon Return Policy they state “…While most sellers offer a returns policy equivalent to Amazon.com’s, some seller returns policies may vary. You can view the Seller’s return policy before you purchase an item by viewing the Returns and Refunds Policy section of the Seller’s profile page…”

A Seller’s return policy is allowed to differ from Amazon’s as long as it is more favorable to the buyer. We usually and routinely refund with a lesser restocking fee of 15% than the allowed 20%/50%/80% and offer Expedited Pre-Return refunds.

Edited by: WA on Aug 1, 2017 11:59 AM