Amazon’s New Return Policy Will Be Great for Buyers, but Sellers Are Livid

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we’re all about the side hustle. For many people, that means selling a few things — or many things — through online marketplaces like Amazon.

Now, Amazon has made some sweeping changes to the way individual sellers process returns.

Starting Oct. 2, 2017, all products sold by private sellers will be subject to the same return policies as items shipped by Amazon.

So What Does That Mean for Buyers?

For shoppers, this means if you buy something through Amazon and don’t like it for any reason, you have 30 days to return it for a full refund without paying for the return shipping. You can simply print out a prepaid return-shipping label via Amazon’s Online Return Center and ship the item back.

No arguing your case with the seller. No worrying about getting stuck with something that’s broken, ill-fitting or just not what you wanted. Pretty sweet, huh?

The only thing the customer has to worry about is damage or loss during shipping. That part is the buyer’s responsibility.

I’m an Amazon Seller. Now What?

Some sellers may see this as an added convenience, but definitely not all of them.

For instance, if you have someone who purchased an item that has a slight scratch on it, you may not have the opportunity to negotiate with them.

In some cases, you’d rather give them a small discount than issue a full refund, right?

Amazon is also rolling out “returnless refunds,” which means a buyer may receive a refund for a product without sending the item back. For some items, this could be beneficial for the seller. For example, it can be expensive and pointless to ask a customer to return a large broken item. You can’t resell it, so why ship it?

Sellers can exempt some items from automated returns, and the returnless refund service is optional, according to a statement from Amazon.

The policy does, however, open the door to possible abuse by less-than-honest shoppers.

On Amazon’s seller forums, it’s clear that not everyone is on board with the change. Many sellers are speaking out about the new policies and the possible issues they could cause.

One seller posted, “And Amazon is going to assume that a buyer would NEVER lie about the reason for the return so they don’t have to pay for it.”

Hmm… that’s a good point. Remember, Penny Hoarders aren’t penny stealers. Amazon does track returns and may flag people who seem to have an overabundance of returnless refunds. What that number is, we don’t know. Returning too many items can even lead to a lifetime ban from Amazon.

The new policy may have some bumps along the way, but it could also make shoppers more confident in third-party sellers with better prices.

Buy with confidence, but use good judgment when returning items. If you abuse the honor system, you could hurt someone’s side hustle.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.