Amazon promotes Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) as a set-it-and-forget-it model—a practical order-fulfillment service for sellers. From the time your inventory arrives in the fulfillment centers, Amazon handles storage, shipments, customer service and returns.
The conundrum is Amazon’s customer returns policy. It has virtually no constraints. A customer can return a product any time for any reason (even though Amazon says that’s not the case). One article from January reports that more than 20% of all ecommerce orders were returned in 2021, a tenth of alal returns processed that year were fraudulent..
For sellers, returns are a runaway train of wasted inventory, wasted time, and huge financial losses. So, can you ever get your money back from Amazon FBA?
Getting your money back?
Amazon generally allows a customer to return their Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) orders within 30 days of receiving the item. There are cases where this window will be extended, including during the holidays. There are certain categories of items—and special considerations—when Amazon’s customer service group makes exceptions.
Once a return has been initiated, there are several points along the process where Amazon may reimburse you for issues with buyer returns:
- The buyer never returns the item. Amazon allows 60 days after a refund is processed for a customer to return an item. If the item is not returned within 60 days, Amazon reimburses your account and issues a new charge to the buyer.
- The buyer returns an unsellable item. If an item is returned within the 60-day window, it is graded as sellable or unsellable by the fulfillment center. Sellable items must be complete and in good condition, as listed on their detail pages. Unsellable items are defective, damaged or in other conditions that make them unviable to sell again. A seller is reimbursed only when Amazon or the carrier is at fault. In such cases, the item will not be returned to inventory, and Amazon reimburses your account.
- The buyer returns an item that is not yours. It’s an unfortunate truth that sellers will occasionally receive an incorrect item in a return, maybe something they don’t even offer. If a customer returns a product and Amazon determines the item is not suitable for resale or reimbursement, you, as the seller have the option to do a removal order and inspect the item. Should you determine that the return is NOT your product (it may have a different serial, model number or be a different item entirely). You may file a reimbursement claim. IMPORTANT: Provide as much evidence that this is NOT your item. Be sure to include pictures of the box, packaging, and product. Take close-up pictures of the item, tracking label and License Plate Number (LPN) number.
What is Amazon reimbursement policy?
Amazon reimbursement policy is here. There are a few important caveats:
- Amazon does not reimburse for unsellable items that were damaged by the customer, are subject to a recall, or found to be defective or violating Amazon’s policies. These products are added back to your Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) inventory as unsellable. In most cases, you must initiate a removal order. If you believe Amazon is wrong, it’s time to contact Seller Support and/or file a case. You may also choose to dispose of the inventory, where Amazon takes the products and liquidates them. It is common to see FBA-liquidated products being re-sold on Amazon.
- Certain items are not eligible for return and may be automatically refunded by Amazon. These orders are not eligible for reimbursement unless Amazon was at fault. Some examples include Grocery items, certain Personal Care products, and items that may be hazardous.
- Items returned missing accessories or packaging are considered ‘customer damaged’ by Amazon and are not eligible for reimbursement.
- As much as possible, Amazon will prefer to reimburse you with inventory instead of a payment. If they have an identical unit in the fulfillment center, it will be transferred to you and marked as a reimbursement.
In most cases, Amazon should be filing reimbursements automatically. If you believe an eligible item has not been reimbursed, open a case with Seller Support.
What’s needed to improve reimbursement efforts?
The best starting point is to know Amazon’s customer returns/reimbursement policy BEFORE submitting any manual Amazon reimbursement requests. Amazon is increasingly strict and is denying requests. If it deems requests to be excessive, inaccurate or submitted in bad faith, your account is at risk for suspension.
Your best next step is wise counsel. Get advice and support to handle reimbursements. It’s not magical, but it definitely helps you master your approach. At Riverbend, we can advise you and even help research your reimbursement issues, organize your support documentation and write concise, fact-driven appeals. We have an entire reimbursements team to help you get your money back into your hands. Download our free eBook, “It’s Your Money: The Seller’s Guide to Collecting All Your Money from Amazon FBA.”
Contact us anytime. We’re here to help.