Amazon revolutionized the way we buy things. We used to go in a physical store to purchase items, until this online retailer rose in prominence. It also boasts strong customer-oriented service policies. Amazon’s aftersales support may be wobbly, but you can never blame the firm for not having a speedy delivery and return policy. In fact, you can return an item 14 days after delivery, for any reason. Amazon also pays for shipping costs of specific goods. Its business model has become so reliable that people living in rural areas depend on it for purchasing rare items. In the end, Amazon has somehow proved that buying things online is legit and customer friendly.
Now, every firm reaches a point where it thinks people are abusing its system. Returning items might be convenient on the part of the consumer, but is bothersome for Amazon. An abnormal amount of returns costs money, which goes beyond the budget. Hence, Amazon has been banning accounts for that reason, since 2006. The retailing giant has been reported to even block accounts of family members living in the same area as the initially blocked person. It does not matter whether you purchased products worth thousands of dollars from the firm. Worse, most of these banned accounts go down along with their Amazon Prime and gift certificates. Let us explore some circumstances of these people.
A Blocked Customer’s Tale
Greg Nelson had purchased hundreds of items from Amazon, for several years. However, the site blocked his account after returning 37 out of 343 items he bought. He lost his gift certificates, granted these are not transferrable outside the site. He insisted his returns are legitimate, as the products were either defective, damaged, or not matching with the ones he ordered. Nelson also pointed out that the retailing giant’s policy of banning accounts is unfair. This is because the site does not publish limits on how many returns users are allowed to do. He also questioned its policy of forfeiting his unused gift certificates. Amazon simply replied that its decision is final. He was barred from buying until he gives a proper explanation.
Some used the accounts of their partners, until Amazon blocked the accounts of everyone in that home. Amazon explicitly states that you cannot use other’s account when your order. It happened to Tuan Do, after experiencing a temporary ban on Amazon, for returning 18 items out of 104 orders. Fortunately, he had his accounts reopened, after pleading his case to an Amazon specialist.
For Kindle users, you can still view digital books you already bought, and buy some more.
The firm also sends to the banned customer a web link to his previous purchases on the site. Checking whether their items are still in warranty or not also remains possible. However, losing your account is really inconvenient. Your freedom to order aside, Amazon’s warranty policy does not cover your items once you are banned. There were reports saying that customers were advised not to contact the firm’s channels again, as they won’t be able to assist them anymore.
The wonders of technology gives Amazon the ability to collect your buying history. You may return goods and receive refunds, but not without being marked. Remember, no business wants to transact with a person that makes it lose money. No one knows the tipping point of Amazon’s account banning for excessive returns.
Luckily, it initially sends a warning when the system deems you are sending back too many goods. Amazon does not state if there is a cooling-off period before you resume returning items. Several users also note the absence of guidelines, as far as this is concerned. There are sections dedicated for returning items, but Amazon is silent about banning accounts. Nonetheless, the site has been banning users since 2008.
Ultimately, the firm will just send a letter saying your account was blocked. And recovering prepayments is incredibly hard, if not impossible. The pattern unravels that Amazon is more particular with the number of returns than with the value of your shipments. Hence, you will more likely get banned if you return ten $100 items, than two $2,500 items in a month.
Amazon explained that this is a part of delivering excellent customer service. They state that they are forced to close accounts after detecting extreme abuse in their policies. Moreover, this is only done after careful reviews. They also work with the customer for an extended time period, to resolve issues. Nonetheless, it is said that Amazon’s customer support and CIS do not normally communicate with each other. There are people who claim to have even called a customer representative to explain their reasons for the return. They had their accounts blocked the next day, despite that.
On a positive note, this policy of Amazon might prove helpful for suppliers. Sellers incur losses whenever they receive a returned item, especially if it was sent back for no sound reason. It was reported that retailers lose $1.75 trillion annually, due to these needless returns. Most of these items are now considered a loss, because they still need to convert them to cash. On a larger scale, this will force manufacturers to sell goods at a higher price in the future. They have to hurdle the breakeven point, after all.
How to Prevent Your Account from Being Blocked?
The warning email from Amazon should be a signal for you, so think that you are probably returning too many items in a short period. Check your buying history and look for any unusual activities. If you think you are having a bad month with the items you receive, do not forget to take pictures. Then you must send your explanation, as to what went wrong with your order, at email@example.com. However, there is no guarantee that whoever reads your mail will accept your reasons. Customers who had this situation, appealed before and after their accounts were blocked. Amazon only replied that their decision is final.
The best way to avoid this inconvenience is to monitor your purchase-return ratio. Keep it below 10%, regardless if you receive a defective item, or just doing it on a whim. Do some thorough research before you buy goods online. You cannot just buy five different laptops and return four just because you found the best. However, the real dilemma appears when you receive defective items one after another. Will you just keep the faulty items or return them with the risk of being blocked?
What’s your experience with item returns on Amazon? Tell us in your comments.