CNN - Amazon to charge (some) Customers a Fee for Return

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New York CNN —

Amazon is attempting new measures to get customers to return fewer of their online orders, including charging a fee to return items to UPS stores.

For decades, Amazon built its business by creating shopping that was fast, ridiculously easy and, seemingly, error-proof. You don’t like it, just return it.

But not anymore: so many customers have buyers’ regret, or simply bigger feet than they thought they had, that handling returns has become an expensive problem for the company.

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So, Amazon will start charging customers a $1 fee if they return items to a UPS store when there is a Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh grocery store or Kohl’s closer to their delivery address. (Amazon owns Whole Foods and Fresh, and has a partnership deal with Kohl’s.)
The Information first reported on Amazon’s fee.
Shoppers have become accustomed to endless free returns in recent years, but Amazon and other companies are trying to curb this customer habit.

Amazon also recently started flagging “frequently returned” products on its website. Amazon is adding the badge to product listings on items with “significantly higher return rates for their product category,” a spokesperson said.

Zara, H&M, J.Crew, Anthropologie, Abercrombie & Fitch and other chains are now slapping on fees of up to $7 to return items online; some retailers have tightened their return windows.

Customers sent back around 17% of the total merchandise they purchased in 2022, totaling $816 billion, according to data from the National Retail Federation.

That’s a strain on retailers: For every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $165 million in merchandise returns, according to the NRF.

Companies have to cover costly shipping fees in order for customers to send their products back. Those items sometimes wind up back in retailers’ warehouses or on shelves. Stores then have to mark down returned goods to sell them, further squeezing their profit.

More often, returned products can end up in liquidation warehouses or even landfills, which are an environmental threat.

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Customers sent back around 17% of the total merchandise they purchased in 2022

Wow, that is an insane number! :astonished:

It’s about time they’re trying to break people of the habit of sending everything back… and for free. :angry:

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Good! Get them people out of my UPS store when I go to drop off my FBA shipment (and yes, I always wait and get a scan receipt with a weight showing on it, never just do a drop off).

People show up there, item in hand, like they’ve never had a box or tape in their house. And very rare to get one of the staff to wave me out of the line just to do a 20 second scan and hand over.

Meanwhile I love doing returns at whole foods - super fast and easy.

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Yeah, the return fee part is so minor that is not worth much, but that 17% floored me.

I had to compare with mine, when I saw that.

My returns (not orders), but sales are.

2019 - 2.2%
2020 - 2.5%
2021 - 3.6%
2022 - 4.9%
2023 - 5.4%

I sell the same product line (for the most), same packaging, same everything.

Up 2.5 times because of Amazons lax policies, bad return procedures and recent promotion of ease of returns

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Complain all you want. I wish our products COULD be returned. Amazon stopped allowing returns in our category last year. What does that lead to you ask?

It leads to negative reviews blaming the seller for the inability to return something that didn’t work for them. Not our fault. Talk to Amazon.

We want to stand by our brands but can’t on Amazon.

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Come on now. That is a bit harsh.

I get it that you are suffering for the NO RETURNs policy on your product mix, but BOTH your situation, and the massive amounts of returns that have been occurring over the last few years, ALSO hurt 95% of the others of us, significantly - can be valid

I am curious as well, on your response about negative returns, as you sell exclusively on FBA.

When I have a negative comment and it is a FBA item, I have found they are always struck-out when I contest them.

Yesterday, I posted here about some Chinese seller asking on the NSFE about a hold on funds, and looked up his store, and saw 2 crossed out, for being FBA, though the comment remarked FRAUD.

Is this not the case for you??

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I’m speaking of Product Reviews, not feedback.

Didn’t mean to be harsh with the complain all you want. Was really directed at the statement not the author because what you’re talking about is universal.

Just wanted to point out the other side and how INSANE it is for Amazon not to allow returns for certain products that aren’t hazmat or adult in nature.

Also INSANE that Amazon doesn’t make it clear that the inability to return products is at their discretion and not the merchant.

Furthermore, saying an item is eligible for refund or replacement is misleading IMO.

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Just how insane that is is dependent on what the split between clothing and other products is.

Clothing and autoparts have returns rates which are over 20%., online and B&M.

My weird assortment of media and collectibles has a returns rate of under 1%.

CNN and most news services do not know whether such numbers are meaningful. And I would be willing to bet the National Retail Federation has a clothing returns bias in their numbers.

Much of the clothing returned to B&M retail still has tags and makes it back to the shelves or racks, perhaps steamed in between. I suspect the Amazon clothing returns might not make it back to inventory, because I can’t believe Amazon spends the time to make them saleable.

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image

For context, people should post their refund % and industry when discussing the this issue.

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Oh goodness I hate my ups store. I do the same and make sure I get a receipt but I’ve had a few times now where the receipt says 0lbs :unamused:

They only have one clerk and if they are doing the live scan for fingerprints it can take them like 20 minutes.

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???

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Our return avearge for the last 12 months is a little over 7% in clothing. Returnuary is the only month where we go over 10%

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In another utterly off topic and absolutely unrelated bit…

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/other/amazon-ceo-andy-jassy-says-his-letter-to-shareholders-follows-one-of-the-toughest-economic-years-in-recent-memory-read-it-in-full/ar-AA19OtlJ

I like the part where Andy is

all-in on large language models, describing generative AI as “a big deal” for Amazon and its customers,

I guess AJ has met Seller Support too, and thinks there must be a better way…

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They created the issue with their over generous policies.

The last batch of returns I had were all submitted close to the 30 day mark and all returned 2 weeks later.
One customer has even been placing an order every 30 days then returning the item.

So far amazon is responsible for 99.99999999999% of all returns for my business. Ebay I have had 3 returns in 20 years and my own website I have had 2 in 20 years.

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Shoes here and 17% sounds about right.

Now if they passed along the incorrect return packaging fees to the dumbass buyers, that would be something. Even free returns I hope are soon to be on their way out, not many large retailers even do it anymore.

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To be fair, Amazon tells you to just take the item as-is, with a QR code on your phone. And UPS just dumps it all into one large box. Every day, they have probably a dozen of the Amazon-filled large boxes to load onto the last truck stopping by and straight on to the airport just a few minutes away.

Easy for me, easy for UPS, easy for Amazon, and quick return for the 3P seller. #WinWinWin

Also to be fair, my UPS Store has a separate line for Amazon returns. One guy at a folding table, tossing your item over his shoulder into the box without a glance, as he scans the QR code, squints at the computer screen for 3 seconds, and then says “You’re good”.

He’s a pro. Heck, for all I know, he’s employed by Amazon, not UPS.

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I know, still annoys me! And most of them still feels like it’s their first time - like they don’t even have QR code ready.

I wish we had a dedicated person for that group. It’s all FIFO at my place. Same folks working there for years, not a care to make it more efficient I guess.

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Not Clothes or Shoes is all I will say.

Returns AF

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Of course knowing Amazon and UPS after all this time. We assume that their contract is several thousand pages and most of these issues are strictly prohibited. But like all Amazon contracts, agreements, terms, conditions, requirements, provisions, details, specifications, clauses, sections, bits, and particulars nobody knows or abides by them

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Inc. published an article today by Minda Zetlin titled, “Amazon May Be Making An Unpopular Change Very Slowly Is It Hoping Customers Won’t Notice

All in all, the new dropoff charge is a very small change, and that might be Amazon’s intention here. A minor adjustment that shouldn’t inconvenience most people may not raise a lot of ire among customers. But it also could act as the thin edge of a wedge, especially if rising costs continue to make shipping returns more expensive and a slowing economy puts pressure on the company’s profitability and stock price. According to PYMNTS, other online retailers, including H&M and Zara, have already pulled the plug on free returns.

Her (I assume, my apologies if I didn’t nail the identifier, ■■■■ it! They), concluded somewhat astutely,

At $1 per package, it won’t have much effect on Amazon’s bottom line. That invites another question. Why bother doing it at all, unless further changes are coming?

This may be just the beginning of Amazon’s sticking it to customers and Sellers.

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