Amazon.com have announced that from the 2nd of October they will automatically authorise returns for seller fulfilled items. The aim is to simplify the returns process and enable customer to print out a pre-paid shipping label without the seller being involved at this stage.
There are some exemptions you can apply to certain products. Those that are large or heavy and would incur exorbitant postage costs or for items where the merchant’s product cost is less than the return shipping would cost. In the second instance many sellers have requested the ability to simply refund without incurring the cost of having the product returned. Refunds without returns may also make a lot more sense for UK and EU sellers trading on Amazon.com through a fulfilment house depending what your fulfilment partner charges to handle returns.
If the return is the fault of the seller then the seller will be expected to foot the return shipping costs. However if it’s buyer remorse (they ordered accidentally or simply changed their mind) then the seller can knock the return shipping cost off the amount that they refund.
As this is Amazon.com, regulations on distance selling are different and restocking fees can also be charged to cover any damaged packaging or missing parts on returned items. This is something that wouldn’t be allowed in the UK (you have to pursue such costs after fully refunding which means that no one ever does!).
If you are a UK or EU seller trading on Amazon.com it will be worth exploring their restocking fee policy which allows for charges of up to 20% when a buyer changes their mind but the product is pristine and up to 50% if the product is returned used or otherwise damaged.