If you spent Amazon Prime Day(s) spending like a drunken sailor, and you’re now facing the ignoble hangover of an empty checking account, do not despair: It’s shockingly easy to escape the consequences of your actions by returning items to Amazon—most of the time.
You can’t use the retailer as a “try it before you buy it” service, but if your items are unopened, and there’s a real reason for the return, you should be alright, as long as you don’t do it too much.
What is Amazon’s return policy?
Amazon is generous with returns, to a point. You can receive a full refund for most things you buy directly from Amazon in the first 30 days after they are delivered, usually without paying for shipping, “restocking,” or any other fees. You might not not even have to send the thing back.
To do this, go to your profile on Amazon.com, click “Your Orders,” find the item you’d like to return, and click “return or replace item.”
You’ll be given a drop-down menu of reasons for your return that cover just about every eventuality. For instance, I could return this 1:18 scale remote control shark because it is “no longer needed.” (I won’t, because believe me, it’s needed.)
From there, you’ll either be prompted to send the item back, or receive an instant refund and be told “keep it.” If Amazon wants you to return something, you can either print out the shipping label Amazon creates and drop it off at the shipper, or return it directly to an Amazon return center or Amazon Locker near you.
Exceptions to Amazon’s return policies
Amazon sells so many things in so many ways that there are certain exceptions to the above-stated return polices. The biggest “doesn’t apply here” is for orders that are fulfilled by third-party sellers, who determine their own return policies; but there are also special refund rules for Amazon Pharmacy purchases, items under a separate warranty, collectibles, and a ton of other kinds of purchases. Here’s Amazon’s list of return/refund “special cases.”
Why does Amazon let you keep products you return?
Amazon doesn’t disclose exactly what products it will let which customers keep after requesting refunds, but as a general rule, it applies to less expensive items purchased by established customers. If it would ultimately cost more to ship the item back and resell it, Amazon will just let you have it. I’m sure they factor in customer good will, as well.
For TVs, laptops, and other more expensive products, you’ll usually have to ship them back to Amazon, and Amazon may wait until the item is in its hands to issue you a refund.
What happens if you abuse Amazon’s return policy?
If you’re tempted to take advantage of Amazon’s return policy to get free things or use the retailer as a rent-to-own service, I applaud your initiative, but I don’t recommend it. First, because it’s dishonest and you are a good citizen, but more importantly, Amazon will probably catch you and could suspend or ban your accounts.
The company isn’t forthcoming about the specifics, but they are very good at capitalism, and if your account ends up as a net liability to the company, they will find out. From there, they’ll reportedly send you an email to “better understand the activity on your account and learn how to improve your shopping experience.” (You might read that as, “Cut it out, OK?”) If Amazon then determines you are not worth their time as a customer for whatever reason, they will ban your accounts.
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