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Amazon: Sellers must pay for overseas returns

By Chris Dawson December 19, 2014 - 11:17 am

Amazon Returns smAmazon have been emailing sellers reminding them of their International Returns Policies. Basically they say that if you’re selling on an Amazon site other than your domestic country site that you either have to have a local returns address in the territory that you operate or that you must pick up the postage tab for all international returns.

The email that Amazon are sending out gives sellers until the 20th of January to comply, otherwise selling privileges may be revoked.

Of course if you use Amazon FBA to fulfil overseas orders then you don’t have to worry – you just made it Amazon’s problem to deal with returns. However if you fulfil orders yourself then you need to carry the can for the return postage costs.

One of the difficulties of trading overseas is that, whilst you may be able to negotiate great rates to send parcels, it’s significantly more difficult to arrange a reasonable contract for returning the odd parcel from random locations around the world on an ad hoc basis.

The chances are high that your customer will simply take the parcel to their local Post Office in whichever country they reside and the return costs will be many times the original shipment cost. One Tamebay reader has already stated “I think with the value of our products if customers want to return we will just refund and not bother getting it back“.

As with all aspects of trading retailers will need to decide for themselves, based on the number of historical returns they receive, if it’s worth getting the goods back, if they can arrange a international addresses, if they should switch to Amazon FBA, or if costs are too high if it’s simply not worth selling certain products into overseas territories.

Here’s the full text of the email from Amazon

Subject: Return Policies for International Sellers
Dear Seller,
If you sell on an Amazon marketplace website in a country outside your business location, you should be familiar with our international returns policies.
Customers buying on Amazon expect a consistent and straightforward product return experience. In order to create a consistent return experience, we require all sellers either to 1) provide a local address in their Elected Country for returns, or 2) pay for return shipping on all returns. For example, if you sell on Amazon.com, you must either provide a return address within the United States or provide free return shipping for buyers in the United States.
All sellers, including sellers shipping from a country outside of the marketplace on which they’re selling, must abide by this policy. Failure to meet this requirement by January 20, 2015 may result in the removal of your selling privileges.
To update your local return address in Seller Central, follow these steps:
1. On the Settings link, select Account Info.
2. On the Seller Account Information page, go to the Return Information section and click Edit.
3. Select an existing address as your default return address, or enter a new default return address.
4. Click Submit.
To upload a pre-paid return mailing label for a return request, follow these
steps:
1. On the Orders link, select Manage Returns.
2. Click “Authorize Request for the return request you’d like to approve.”
3. In the “Your return mailing label” section, select “I will provide a pre-paid mailing label for this request.”
4. Upload a shipping label, select the carrier used, and enter the Tracking ID if you have it.
5. Set the return label cost to $0.00 to ensure the buyer is not charged for return shipping.
For more information about creating return mailing labels, search for “Return Addresses and Mailing Labels” in seller Help.
You can find more details on this requirement and review Amazon’s additional policies for international sellers on the following Help page:
Important Information for International Sellers https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/seller/registration/participationAgreement.html?itemID=200404870&language=en_US
Thank you for taking steps to improve the buyer experience on Amazon.com. We appreciate your attention to this policy, and would welcome your feedback.
Please email us at international-returns-feedback@amazon.com.
Thank you for selling on Amazon.com.
Amazon Services

  • 3 years ago

    This could be a difficult issue for Amazon sellers looking to expand into the US as we have done and do good business there.
    Does anyone know of any services that will cover this situation?Royal Mail don’t offer international returns service from the USA.
    Package forwarding services would seem to be an option but a relatively expensive on the postage.
    Is there any other good solutions?

    • Rachael - Thingimijigs
      3 years ago

      I would also be interested to hear what solutions people have suggested for USA- Europe we can sort – it is USA that is the problem

      (at least given we have until 20th the main xmas – we want to return as its too late) will have been sorted

      So.. as we have low value items – usually sent Destination sort – what options are there?

      The freight forwarder does seem expensive and there are lots of different ones to choose from -but at least the customer is paying something

      Do couriers have a paid option back? (that is standard post not costing the earth)

      What has anyone else found?

    • Mike
      3 years ago

      I have looked into freight forwarders that offer consolidated shipments with photographic contents ie. bongous (US + Europe). Probem is, they charge per package received $5 USD. While this isn’t a huge amount it comes straight out of the margin.

      Optionally, Amazon do allow (for certain reasons) the charging of restocking fees: “Charging restocking fees and offering partial refunds” on their “Customer Returns for International Sales” help page.

      I think, the only viable way to make this work and I do think it’s lame to begin with since Amazon wants to be an international marketplace is to charge the restocking fees. I guarantee this won’t be for long as once customers start complaining about restocking fees (which do harm feedback as well), they’ll be pulling that. It’s just how they think.

      On a side note, Amazon (mainly US) is the only venue we are in that receives a decent amount of feedback extortion form customers where they threaten us to cover their return costs or leave neg. feedback. Amazon is just becoming a black hole. Fortunately, they now have lots of competition and people are wise to their tricks, scams and overall evil practices.

      mike.

  • Mike
    3 years ago

    While there are freight forwarding solutions as well as “Mail Box etc.” or hired box solutions available, Amazon is going about this completely wrong. Compare this to eBay which is much more intl. friendly. eBay is transparent about where an item ships from and about who the seller is, Amazon is not. We all can understand why Amazon doesn’t want to share these details about orders and sellers … but ultimately, it’s their constant growth in warehousing that will determine their being married to this policy. As much as they solicit and encourage sellers to sell globally, they are contradicting their own efforts here to restrict intl. sellers. Our companies who have had significant presence on most Amazon stores are sick and tired of constant goal post changing. Amazon isn’t a level playing field nor a true marketplace. The good news: independent sales are going through the roof. Our eBay and etsy sales are BOTH now larger than all of our combined weekly Amazon sales. Amazon now is competing against a world of competition and I’m happy to make a move against selling in their channels at the end of January. Sales are really just a fraction (take a zero off) to what they were and ultimately, they will be introducing listing fees to all listings as people (like me) are and will be using them as a form a showrooming to get people to our own websites and other channels. There is a completely “independent” shopping explosion going on and Amazon is making a poor decision of not adapting to markets but shutting sellers out. So, as much as we are all channel sellers, it’s time people! It’s time! You are free to build and sell on your own website and you WILL get orders and be successful. This is exciting times and I’m going down river and keeping the couple hundred thousand quid I paid Amazon most years.

  • Steve
    3 years ago

    This is clearly (and deliberatly) driving International Amazon sellers towards joining FBA.

    I wouldn’t be suprised if eBay do similar with their crappy Global Shipping Overcharging Service. Only issue is eBay still have to get the basics sorted. I pity anyone who signed up to GSS, many now regret it and apparantly (this is what Iv’e been told) you can not leave it once signed up – think Cartel practices!

    Long live the Revolution!! :)

  • Tom
    2 years ago

    Hi there,

    Its about 20 days till we must obey to this new rule and still we didn’t find any good solution.

    We sell mainly low cost items and wont care (ok, we care, but nothing we can do) to let the occasional buyers keep them in case of a problem with the order, but it seems that even this one is not an option! by their mail it looks like we must have either a local return address or provide a free return shipping label.
    We have neither of this so seems, unless we will figure out how, that we are going to close our Amazon US account. SHAME!

  • Mike
    2 years ago

    There are a few easy solutions like etsy, NOTHS, eBay and Rakuten. We now get more orders on ebay than our Amazon accounts combined. Amazon have dropped off the map. In 2006, we had 250-300 orders a day and Christmas, hit 1700. In 2008, we had 200 orders a day and Christmas hit 700. In 2014, we rarely break 100 orders a week (7-days) across any Amazon channel and we doubled numbers for three weeks of Christmas. Now, we range from 30-45 orders across 7-days in each Amazon channel and eBay is thrice as large as that! That’s pathetic. Needless to say, it isn’t 2006 any more, competition is fierce and it’s no longer viable to sell anything with a UPC or ASIN matching.

    Amazon was never really a marketplace and I’m a great proponent of indie shopping! Luckily, there is a revolution happening and 2015 will be the point of greatest backlash against the big box(es). People aren’t as naive as thought apparently and tired of corporate crap. Small business 2015 I say. Buy small, live big!

    • Chris
      2 years ago

      What do you sell?

    • Mike
      2 years ago

      Not telling you :)

  • 2 years ago

    Do anyone have found a reliable solution for US and Europe ?

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