As Amazon sellers, we’ve gotten to know Amazon returns from the seller’s perspective pretty well. But a few poorly received gifts over the holidays left us scratching our heads as we tried to figure out the Amazon return policy for buyers.
How long, exactly, do you have to return a product? Do you need tracking or insurance? What are the differences between returning a product to Amazon and returning a product to a third-party seller?
After looking through the labyrinthine results on the official policy page, we decided to put together this guide—as much for our own benefit as for yours.
You can find Amazon’s full instructions for returning an item here. Here’s the short version:
Please note that you must return each item in a separate box.
Returning a gift to Amazon works much like returning an item that you purchased yourself. The key difference is what you need in order to return it: your order ID, or information about the gift giver.
Your Order ID appears in the upper-left of the packing slip sent with the order, as shown below:
Of course, the packing slip also has the price of your gift on it, so it’s not always popular to include it when giving a present. That means that if you don’t have it, you’ll have to get it from the gift giver. Good luck!
They can still find it on their Amazon account. They just need to log in to Amazon, mouse over “Your Account,” and click on “Your Orders.” The order ID will be in the upper-right of the order in question.
In that case, you’ll need to get the giver’s name and phone number, as well as the email address they use for Amazon. Contact Amazon once you have this information and they will try to locate your order ID for you.
You can find Amazon’s gift return instructions here. Here’s our version:
You may still be able to return the gift. However, you’ll have to get the giver involved and ask them if they can file an A-to-z Guarantee claim. That can be a painful experience for everyone involved, so only turn to that option if absolutely necessary.
You just had to ask, didn’t you? It’s complicated—it depends on what you bought, when you bought it, and whom you bought it from. It sometimes even depends on what you bought it for!
Look for the statement that most closely matches your situation below. The amount of time you have to initiate your return appears in front of it.
You have to admit: shipping your can of propane, bucket of nightcrawlers, bottle of fancy wine, or World of Warcraft card was probably a hair-raising experience for the delivery guys the first time around. And if you try sending back a live plant or insect, it’s just not likely to survive another three days bouncing around in the back of a delivery van.
Returns for these items are out of the question. However, if you get a box of dead crickets when you have a house full of hungry lizards to feed, or someone clearly used your oxygen tank to fight off Jaws, you might be able to get a refund. Learn more here.
Digital products specific to Amazon (such as Kindle or Fire downloads) have their own return policy.
You generally have 14 days from the time a cellphone is shipped to cancel service and 30 days to return the device. Rules can vary from one company to another, so I recommend reading the full policy here.
You have 30 days from the time you receive your purchase to return it to Amazon.
Amazon goes easy on everyone during the holidays. If your item was shipped between November 1 and December 31, you have until January 31 to return it.
Did everyone at the baby shower give you boy-themed stuff, only for a daughter to join your family two months later? No worries—with the exception of baby clothes (which follow the normal 30-day rule), you have 90 days to give back your baby items.
The Amazon Elements line may not be very large, but their one-year money-back guarantee sure is nice! You have up to 365 days after you receive the product to report that you’re not completely satisfied.
If you buy something for your vehicle and it doesn’t work or suffers from another failure covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, you can get it replaced by Amazon or get a full refund.
Sellers can define their own return policies, but they should always be as good as or better than the return policy for Amazon. You should therefore have as much time as in the cases above under most circumstances.
However, we give you 14 days for a third-party seller because you must contact them within that timeframe. Failing to do so means you won’t have the option to file an A-to-z Guarantee claim. If there’s a problem and you don’t contact the seller in those first two weeks after you receive the item, there’s no way to force them to refund you, even if you ordered a laptop and they sent you a broken abacus. Don’t put yourself in that position.
You must also send your product back within 30 days of receiving it.
If you follow those rules, you’ll have a total of 90 days from the time your purchase arrived at your doorstep to file an A-to-z claim.
We’ve all opened a box and found that the thing we’d bought didn’t work—or that it just wasn’t nearly as cool as the commercials made it seem. Can we still return it? Or have we already lost that opportunity because we opened it? Do we need to also have the receipt, or the warranty, or . . . what?
Here are the answers you’re looking for:
TVs that were not shipped using Enhanced Delivery, new and fully functional computers and tablets, breast pumps (obviously), and cellphones with service must all be unopened in their original packaging. Graded and original government packaged coins must be delivered inside their original packaging.
While most other things can theoretically be returned after you've opened them, you might get hit with penalties like restocking fees, and you'll almost certainly have to pay the return shipping if the item arrived in new condition. Third-party sellers may also have their own rules about what you can and can't open before starting a return.
Note: If you ordered a TV using Enhanced Delivery, it just needs to still be in like-new condition.
Sports and entertainment collectibles, fine art, Handmade at Amazon products, jewelry, and watches all need to be returned with their original packaging, certificates, tags and anything and everything else that came with them.
Taking a picture of the product in the condition in which you received it is a great way to prove that it was in good condition before you sent it back, or that it was broken when it arrived. Amazon therefore requests that you photograph all sports and entertainment collectibles, collectible coins, and fine art items before returning them.
You cannot return any jewelry, watches, fine art, or collectible coins that have been damaged or changed in any way since you received them. You may be able to return things from other categories but there's no gaurantee.
New computers and tablets can be returned if they didn’t work or were damaged when they arrived. However, if you broke them or popped off a lid and fiddled with the innards, you won’t be able to return them.
Amazon suggests that you use the USPS delivery confirmation service for returns of all items priced at or below $74.99 when dealing with a third-party seller. This will prevent disputes if you return an item and the seller claims they never received it.
An item valued at $75 or more must be returned with a trackable shipping service if it was purchased from a third-party seller and/or falls under one of the following categories:
Items returned to third-party sellers must be insured during shipping if they:
That’s a topic for another article! For now, you can find the Amazon refund policy here.
The Amazon return policy has a lot of rules and can certainly be confusing. However, you can almost always return an item, whether it was a gift or something you bought yourself. We hope that by rephrasing it here, we made it just a little easier for you to understand so you can get the refund you deserve.
"About Our Returns Policies." Amazon.com. Amazon, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
"About Our Returns Policy." Amazon.com. Amazon, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016. <https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201077650>.
"Return a Gift." Amazon.com. Amazon, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.
"Return Items You Ordered." Amazon.com. Amazon, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2016.