Amazon insist on 3rd party seller 30 day returns

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Amazon are to align 3rd party seller returns policies with their own generous 30 day return rights. Amazon sellers will be required to have return policies that are at least as favourable as Amazon’s own return policies from the 6th of August 2012. That means up to 30 days to return a product which, dependent on category, might only have to be returned in “Best Possible Condition“.

Strangely Amazon’s Marketplace return policy doesn’t currently require sellers to fulfil their legal obligations. It states “If you need to return an item due to a fault on the part of the seller, you can request that the seller also reimburse you for return postage costs, however please bear in mind that the seller is only obliged to refund you the total cost of the order in these circumstances.“. If the buyer simply wishes to return an item because they’ve changed their mind then they are liable for return postage costs, however if it’s due to a seller fault (such as a mis-ship or a faulty item) then the seller should also be picking up return postage costs.

I doubt too many Amazon seller will be happy with this announcement. However it’s worth bearing in mind that most buyers will request an early return if they’re unhappy with a product – the longer time period probably won’t make much difference. Some retailers such as Zappos have always operated a 365 day no questions asked returns policy and it hasn’t put them out of business. Offering a longer returns policy can give more customer peace of mind without necessarily increasing overall returns rates significantly, although there’s always that one customer that tries it on.

Amazon play at the cutting edge of ecommerce, they’re already offering next day delivery and recent rumours are that even that’s not enough and they’re aiming to delight customers with a same day service. They’ll treat returns in the same manner and aim to be the best in the business.

Seller might not want to offer 30 day returns and there’s certainly a cost. While it may not significantly increase the overall number of returns it will almost certainly result in some later returns. If there’s no hurry why send an item back the next day?

Regardless if you agree with Amazon or not there’s not a lot of choice for sellers. The Amazon way is either to offer the same great service as they do, or don’t play at their party. In order to cut out work for 3rd party sellers (and to make sure no one decides not to comply), Amazon will update the returns policy on Amazon accounts on the 6th August to ensure that everyone offers 30 day returns.

Full Text of the Amazon Email

Dear Seller,

To ensure a consistent experience for buyers, Amazon sellers are required to have return policies that are at least as favourable as Amazon’s own return policies. To help provide the best experience for buyers, we will be updating the return information in the Returns section of your storefront page on 6 August 2012 to clarify that buyers may return products to you in accordance with Amazon’s return policies.

The updated return information will direct buyers to Amazon’s return policies and will continue to give buyers the ability to contact you for information about any more favourable policies that may apply. If your inventory includes Fulfilment by Amazon items, your Returns section will continue to reference the Amazon return policies.

See this Help page for more information about Amazon’s return policies:

If you have questions, please contact our Seller Support team by clicking the Contact Seller Support link at the bottom of any seller Help page.

Kind regards,
Amazon Services Europe

19 Responses

  1. Any opened amazon returns i just 0.99p auction on ebay.

    Like the big boys !

  2. Who wrote this article? “The Amazon way is either to offer the same great service as they do, or don’t play at their party.” What great service? Check their feedback on Google. Less than 95% positive. Most UK-based marketplace business sellers manage to maintain 97-99% positive feedback. No wonder Amazon don’t allow customers to leave them feedback. The myth of their great customer service would blown to pieces.

  3. I think given the size and scope of Amazon the level of customer service is pretty impressive. Just that you can actually get through and speak to someone within a few rings of the telephone puts it way ahead of most.

  4. Amazon is very big on providing their customers with the best buying experience they can.

    Why? – Because they want to keep their customers. An odd refund here or there is not going to hurt them at all, especially if the product was sold by a 3rd party seller, because they still keep their fees.

    I sell as a 3rd party seller on Amazon and I accept that customers will make returns. It is just part of the business model. Do I like it – NO I don’t, but I don’t like paying fees or tax, but that’s just a part of doing business.

    The lifetime spend of a returning customer must be phenomenal. Why do you think they promote Prime? It’s because they have loyal customers who return time and again.

    Having heard all the comments about the unfairness of feedback on eBay, which I totally agree with, why does any seller want to encourage the feedback monster? We should be looking to kill the monster not encouraging others to use it. Maybe Amazon would get poor feedback comments, but it’s their channel, so why do they need to expose themselves unnecessarily. I would love to abandon feedback on eBay completely.

    I consider the eBay feedback system to be flawed and dishonest.
    Now I know that we all have stories we could tell of feedback extortion and the lack of support from eBay and Amazon seller support. My personal experience is that eBay CS is run by idiots who haven’t got a clue and that every single enquiry with Amazon has resulted in an understandable reply. I haven’t always been happy with the Amazon replies but at least they know what they are taking about and more importantly they are consistent. Calling eBay CS is a lottery.

    Tidying up return policies on eBay and Amazon might just stop (or slow down) some of the cowboys out there.

  5. I had an interesting visit from trading standards a while back which was a bit of an eye opener in terms of the sales of good act. In short (and I kid you not)

    1. Customer can inform you within 7 working days of delivery, starting the day after item is delivered, that they want to return the item.

    2. They then have a ‘reasonable’ (totally unspecified) time to return the item

    3. The seller is obliged to refund the full value of the order including postage.

    4. The customer can return the item in any condition and the seller is still obliged to refund them. For example the seller can still return the item if it is a price of furniture which has been assembled.

    5. In fact the seller has the refund the buyers within 30 days whether or not they have returned item item.

    Officially, what the seller should do under conditions 4 and 5 is refund the buy and them sue them for breach of contract.

    Anyway, the reason I mention this is because when I exclaimed, “Well Amazon’s T&Cs don’t follow these rules”, I was told that as Amazon is based in Luxembourg, none of these apply to them. I am not sure how the rules apply to third party sellers

    Trevor – Hello Baby


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