Ordering products online can be a gamble. With no opportunity to take a see, touch or use the item in person, it’s often difficult to find the right fit. Ordering clothes that don’t look right or electronics that don’t work how you expected is always disappointing, and you might not even need the product by the time you get it or find a better option elsewhere.

What should you do then? Embrace the purchase as a waste of money?

Online retailers are well-prepared to handle situations like the ones described above. On Amazon, there’s a specific return policy with its own kinks and peculiarities.

What should you keep in mind when returning items on Amazon? Here’s a complete guide to Amazon’s return policy to avoid confusion.

Can you return something on Amazon?

There is almost no product you cannot return. However, you should always be aware of the few items that you can’t return – let’s take a look at those.

  • Downloadable Software. A software product or a digital game bought on Amazon cannot be returned.
  • Gift cards. All the Amazon gift cards (eGift, delivered via mail, and print-at-home ones) cannot be returned.
  • Phone cards. There are a lot of phone cards sold on Amazon from different telecommunications companies. It’s better to think carefully about which one to buy seeing you won’t be able to return a phone card.
  • Jewelry orders. You have to be specifically cautious ordering a new necklace or a bracelet on Amazon seeing how you won’t have a chance to return your Amazon order.
  • Items missing the UPC. A UPC (universal product code) label is the barcode technology that’s widely used in the United States. Before getting a product on Amazon, make sure it has a UPC on it.
  • Health and personal care products. Healthcare items are personal and returning these after you’ve used them even once is against common policy due to their contamination.
  • Groceries. There’s no way to return groceries on Amazon. It makes sense, they could reach the expiration date even during shipping or otherwise become unusable.
  • Flammable items. These products are dangerous for a regular ship procedure, which is probably why Amazon decided to ban their return.

What are the main reasons to return Amazon items?

Seeing that Amazon made the return policy for its product somewhat stricter, it might be helpful to know what the most common return codes are for Amazon products. When filing for a return, Amazon will show you a list of the main codes and reasons for returning items. However, to save you some time, we compiled them for you here.

Reason #1. Accidental order

With so many households using Alexa as their smart assistant, the number of accidental orders has skyrocketed. You might be watching a TV series – and the mention of a product would be enough for Alexa to file an order for something you haven’t even considered. Or perhaps you clicked the wrong link on an item.

Most Amazon accidental packages can be canceled if you act quickly enough. However, if you weren’t on time, keep in mind that you can still return something you bought on Amazon. Shipping fees for accidental orders won’t, however, be refunded.

Reason #2. Better price available

Amazon doesn’t consider finding “a better offer” a serious enough matter to request a refund. Moreover, when something like this happens, Amazon can even support the seller by requiring a restocking fee.

In any case, if a different offer is worth the hustle, you can still return an Amazon package. Keep in mind, however, that the shipping costs might wipe out the difference.

Reason #3. The shipping box isn’t damaged but the product is

If you want to make sure no ban applies for such a return, be sure to describe the defects of the product in the best way possible. If a shipping box isn’t damaged, there’s probably no fault on Amazon’s side. That might make it harder to get a shipping cost refund since you’ll have to argue your case with the seller.

Reason #4. Missed estimated delivery date

Missed delivery date is one of the best return claim to issue for Amazon return. Seeing that, in most cases, the company itself is guilty of late deliveries, you will be refunded for shipping.

Reason #5. The item is defective

To make sure your reason to return things on Amazon doesn’t seem dubious to the company, here’s the info you should add to the return request:

  • A detailed description of the defect
  • Attach a few pictures or videos showcasing what’s wrong with the product

The other reasons for product returns can include:

  • Missing parts or accessories
  • The shipping box and the item are both damaged
  • The item that arrived is different from the one that was ordered
  • No longer needed/wanted
  • Arrived in addition to what was ordered
  • Unauthorized purchase
  • Different from website description

The timeline of Amazon returns

When can I return the item?

During most times of the year (except for the holiday season) you have up to 30 days (the countdown starts from the delivery date) to return an item to Amazon. During the Christmas period (items shipped from November 1st to December 31st), you have until January 31st to file a return.

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How much time does the return take?

According to Amazon, it takes up to 14 days to return things to Amazon. When it comes to refunds, you might have to wait a little longer, or 2-3 weeks on average. The good news is refunds rarely take more than a week. Most buyers get their money back within 3-5 days, Amazon’s official website notes.

How to return items to Amazon: a step-by-step guide

If you no longer need the item you ordered on Amazon, or if your purchase was a result of an impulsive thought, or the product itself was nothing but a disappointment — you don’t have to put up with having wasted money for nothing.

It’s easy to find out how to return amazon items — the whole procedure takes no more than 15 minutes. However, to make sure you don’t miss anything, take a look at the step by step process yourself.

  • Step 1. Sign in to Amazon and go to “Orders”.
  • Step 2. Find the order you want to return. All orders are placed in boxes.
  • Step 3. On the right side of the page, there’s a “Return” button you have to click.
  • Step 4. There are check marks to select orders you no longer want in your house. Choose those you need.
  • Step 5. From the drop-down menu, select a reason for returning an item.
  • Step 6. In a text box, write an explanation for your return reason. It doesn’t have to be long — yet be sure to be as explicit as possible.
  • Step 7. Click “Continue”. On the page you’re redirected to, there’s a “Refund” solution, which is normally the only option possible and is thus chosen by default.
  • Step 8. Schedule a pickup. To start with, you have to choose a pickup date from a drop-down menu.
  • Step 9. Choose your delivery address if needed. A default delivery address is displayed, but if you moved to a different address, click “Change address”.
  • Step 10. Click “Submit” to finish the return process. Amazon will send a person to pick up the item you ordered. All you have to do now is wait for a refund that goes directly to your credit card or payment method originally used for the item.

How many items can you return to Amazon?

Amazon has made its free return for most orders a huge selling point. It can seems as if you can return almost any item possible. However, it is not that simple.

Back in 2016, an Amazon user complained to The Guardian that the retailer had banned his account for returning too many items. Since then, many more users have spoken on social media about Amazon banning their accounts forever for returning too many items.

So, can Amazon ban you? The short answer is yes. With Amazon’s new return policy, it’s important to know the stakes as well as some tips to stay afloat.

Is there a return limit on Amazon?

Unfortunately, there is no data on how many Amazon products are considered “too many”. However, experienced Amazon users have learned that it can be any number of returns that are higher than 10% of all your orders.

Is there a way to fight back?

Amazon users have tried to fight against the system, contacting the support services and issuing complaints. However, in most cases, the retailer doesn’t bother suggesting a solution to your ban.

Are Amazon Prime users protected?

With a lot of premium bonuses, Amazon Prime users could expect their accounts to be protected from all kinds of bans. However, according to user testimonials, the wave of return bans have hit them as well. So anyone who walks the line returning a fair share of products is under this risk.

5 tips on how to not get banned

Seeing how Amazon keeps its ban criteria from the public, it’s difficult to know for sure what works and what doesn’t. The tips we collected are instructions from experienced Amazon shoppers who’ve managed a lot of returns while maintaining their accounts.

Tip #1. Keep all your returns in one place

As we’ve mentioned above, Amazon users assume that an acceptable return rate for Amazon is one that’s not higher than 10%. Hence, you can return 10 items for every 100 orders you make.

Keeping this math in your head can be difficult, so it’s suggested by many to create a backlog of all of your orders and Amazon returns. If needed, you can use it to prove your point to Amazon support in case your account does get banned.

Tip #2. Return if it’s Amazon’s fault

Sure, sometimes we have to return items because we don’t like them, don’t need them, never wanted them, or made an order by accident. These are generally valid reasons for Amazon.

However, if you have quite a few returns on your account already, it’s better to reconsider which products you return. It’s recommended to send back only those that are damaged by the seller or Amazon’s fault. Otherwise, your account just might get banned.

Tip #3. Don’t return multiple Amazon items at the same time

The number of returns you make per 100 orders is important. However, the time frame is another thing that matters a great deal. One of Amazon’s customers who got banned and managed to get back on the website suggested to CNET that this was exactly what got him on the wrong foot with the retailer – returning too many orders at the same time.

Tip #4. Stick to your guns

The perks of Amazon are hard to resist, especially if you are a Prime user. So if you did get banned, try to make the most out of it and prove the banner wrong. It’s important to note that the rate of those who succeed at fighting with Amazon is incredibly small. However, it doesn’t hurt to try in any case.

Final thoughts

Buying stuff on Amazon is easy and convenient — in a way, almost all of us depend on it and are already used to having an order at our front door in a matter of a few days. Still, however pleasant the experience might be, ordering online is a risk. An online retailer would thus need to have a return policy to protect its users. Luckily, Amazon’s is very easy to navigate.

  • Amazon returns are free and easy to set up. You can return almost any item except for downloadable software, gift cards, personal items, video games, products missing a UPC, jewelry orders, groceries, and flammable products.
  • There are a lot of reasons you might want to return a product. Bear in mind, however, that shipping costs will be refunded only if the reason for the return is in no way your fault.
  • You have 30 days since the delivery date to return the product. The return normally takes up to 14 days, and the refund may take 2-3 weeks in total.
  • Returning items on Amazon is fairly easy—all the procedure is done online and consists of 10 easy steps.
  • Users who return too many Amazon products can be banned from the website forever. However, there is no official return limit so you can only guess if you’re walking the line. No one is immune to the ban—not even Amazon Prime users.
  • You can still try to protect yourself from being banned. A few useful tips include keeping a spreadsheet of returns, following through with returns only Amazon or the seller are at fault, and not sending back a lot of products in a short period of time.
  • You can always fight for your rights by reaching out to Amazon support.

If you’re looking for more information about Amazon’s return policy and its impact on sellers and buyers, AMZ-Expert will help you out and protect your business or personal account from getting banned. Our dedicated team of experts is always here to ensure you know how to handle Amazon returns.

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