Whether it is an honest mistake or a deliberate scam from the buyer, online return fraud on Amazon and other online shopping platforms is always a messy business.
Find out what will transpire if you are discovered ripping off an Amazon seller.
Here’s What Happens if You Get Caught Returning the Wrong Items to Amazon:
In cases of return scams, Amazon has systems and teams in place to detect, investigate and stop such fraudulent activities. Sellers could file reports against you, first with the marketplace and possibly, with the local police station. Your account could be restricted, suspended, or banned.
Likewise, Amazon could flag your account and prohibit you from returning items for a particular duration if you are a serial returner.
Amazon will notice and flag your account and not let you make any more returns for a certain amount of time.
Return fraud occurs when a buyer returns an item that is different or damaged. In Amazon, this often happens, particularly with costly electronics.
Some of the most common deceitful return practices include sending empty boxes filled with rocks similar in weight to the product and waiting to return the items very close to the date return period to apply.
This way, sketchy buyers can quickly force the seller to process the refund.
Another recurring return scam is when they switch new products with broken or cheaper versions of the original.
If sellers submit a dispute, buyers can claim that what they bought was fake or that the product was not as described.
Amazon vows to pursue all measures to hold fraudsters accountable. All suspected returns can be reported. Return specialists may escalate fraud concerns with FBA orders or those fulfilled by Amazon.
Exploitation may also be acted upon by the customer service representatives or the fraud detection team.
Sellers will consider different options that will be most effective for other fraud cases. The first route will be to report buyers to Amazon and let its reps handle the situation.
There are also some cases when law enforcement is involved. The local police will likely handle the issue with return frauds instead of the federal authorities.
Will Amazon Reject a Return?
Definitely. Amazon and its sellers reserve the right to decline requests for returns at their sole discretion. This is part of the company’s conditions.
There are several reasons why your return claim can be denied.
If the seller can refute your claims of an item not being the same as described, your return request will be rejected. The same happens when you fail to respond to the seller's request for further information.
As a buyer, you should always check the seller's return policy. This can be observed in their seller profile. If there is no return policy specified, you can always look at the return policies on the Amazon website.
If the return experience does not match the policy issued by the seller, you can file an A-to-z Guarantee claim to open an investigation.
The A-to-z Guarantee is helpful when you cannot resolve the issue directly with a third-party seller. If you are not happy with the item's condition and the delivery time, you can file a claim directly to Amazon.
Upon receiving your request, the Amazon team will decide if you are eligible for a return and a refund.
Meanwhile, returning items too often could result in your returns being restricted. If the situation escalates, it could also get you banned from Amazon.
Does Amazon Actually Check Returned Items?
Yes. Sellers are required to check returned items as part of Amazon’s guidelines.
When an FBA item is returned, the buyer is instructed to ship it back to an Amazon fulfillment center.
The product will be inspected to check if it should be returned to the warehouse to be sold again. If not, it will be classified as unsellable.
If Amazon deems the item unsellable, it will create a removal or disposal order, so the seller will not be able to peddle it again.
The damaged items will stay in Amazon's storage until the seller has them sent back to inspect and decide what to do with them themselves.
Sometimes, sellers will routinely ask for items to be disposed of immediately rather than going through all the trouble.
All the returned merchandise on Amazon is to be liquidated. One way to do this is to sell the products on Amazon Warehouse or other e-commerce liquidation websites.
The goods are made into pallets that consumers can put a bid on. Most of the buyers make money by refurbishing and reselling these merchandise.
There are instances when Amazon workers misclassify items due to the haste of processing returns. This results in used or damaged items being put back on sale.
When these items are sold and the new buyer files a complaint, this will trigger red flags in the Amazon system that detects counterfeits.
Such cases warrant serious violations for sellers, so they always take extra precautions when handling return requests.
How Strict Is Amazon’s Return Policy?
Amazon’s policy on returns is quite reasonable. In most cases, items should be returned within 30 days of receipt of shipment. Some products have different policies, so you should always check before buying.
When requesting returns, you must make sure that you enclose the correct and complete item. Faulty returns will not merit a refund.
If you accidentally sent the wrong item, there is no guarantee that you will get it back. Amazon does not store products mistakenly shipped. Instead, those are either donated or recycled when appropriate.
You will also receive no compensation from Amazon for incorrect items sent.
As soon as the correctly returned items are received at the Amazon fulfillment center, you will have to wait two business days for the refund to be processed.
The refunded amount will show up in your account in three to five business days.
With Amazon Global stores, most items are eligible for prepaid returns. This means all the shipping fees involved in returning the product will be shoulder by Amazon.
For those not covered by the return policy, you need to return them at your own expense. Once Amazon receives the item, it will automatically reimburse up to $20 for return postage costs.
If the cost exceeds $20, you may contact Amazon's customer service to request a refund of the outstanding postage cost.
For non-FBA items, third-party sellers can either provide a prepaid return label or offer a full refund without requesting the item to be returned.
If they do not offer these methods, you may file an A-to-z Guarantee claim to help process your return.
You should know that if you failed to return the item after asking for a return, Amazon reserves the right to take action against you.
Moreover, the company has a team explicitly formed to research how many returns you made in a certain period. If you cross the limit set for your account, you will be marked under concession abuse.
This category also includes those buyers who predictably only contact Amazon for refunds or discounts and frequently abuse the policy.
Once you are flagged under concession abuse, you will no longer be allowed to return items that you will buy in the future.
If you take advantage of the Amazon return policy, you will get your account banned perpetually. But before that, you will receive a warning notice from Amazon, usually sent through email.