Amazon updated its FBA return policy on 5 September 2018 in an attempt to reduce refunds and improve customer satisfaction. Amazon now allows customers to return and replace an item free of charge while Amazon foots the shipping bill.

In an email to sellers, Amazon said it was updating its FBA return policy to:

“reduce the effort required to manage your returns and decrease your customer Return Dissatisfaction Rate (RDR), thereby improving your ratings.”

Seller Central Announcement

Here’s how Amazon announced the changes in Seller Central:

Free replacements for customers—at no cost to you

Getting a replacement for an FBA item just got easier for customers. As of September 5, 2018, a customer returning your item can ask to have a replacement sent to them free of charge—and there will be no cost to you.

For you, this means less time focusing on payments and refunds because the sale of the original item is unaffected. For customers, this means more convenient FBA returns, consistent with Amazon returns as a whole.

This change is automatic. No action is required on your part.

How it works:

  1. To get a replacement item, a customer starts a return through the Online Returns Center or Customer Service.
  2. If a customer requests a replacement, Amazon ships one from your inventory and asks the customer to send the original item to one of our returns centers. If they don’t send it back, or if the original item is returned damaged, Amazon will reimburse you according to the FBA customer returns policy. See the Replacements section of the policy for more information.

To qualify for a replacement:

  • The item must be in new condition.
  • A replacement must be available in your inventory.
  • The product category must allow returns.

Is the New Policy a Good Thing for Sellers?

The new process essentially cuts the seller out of the equation. By allowing customers to replace items with no additional fees, they’re making the Amazon shopping experience smoother.

Some sellers are worried the new policy will mean more customers return items without a valid reason. Buyers could also potentially receive free replacements for products they have broken or misused.

There are advantages and disadvantages for sellers for this new policy. Time will tell if the new policy benefits sellers more.