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Amazon Prepaid Return Labels mandatory for all returns

By Chris Dawson June 17, 2021 - 1:27 pm

Amazon have issued an edict that UK merchants will have to offer Amazon Prepaid Return Labels via a tracked service for all domestic returns requests as of the 5th of July. Typically, a return label will cost £2.75 via Hermes and this cost will be added to your Amazon invoice.

Your only alternative for low cost products that aren’t worth paying for Amazon Prepaid Return Label is to do returnless refunds meaning you never see the product again but it’s probably cheaper than paying for the return label. If a buyer requests a return that is eligible for a returnless refund, they will receive a full refund as soon as they submit their return request. Even though you will not need to do anything to complete the request, you can still find these return requests in Manage Returns. You will no longer have to process refunds for these returns manually. You can specify a price range for which returnless refunds will be automatically enabled.

The only alternative would be to use Amazon FBA in which case you’ll be paying FBA fees for returns (50% of fulfilment fee) rather than for Amazon Prepaid Return Labels.

There’s quite a lot to digest, so we’re reproducing the email sent to Amazon merchants below.

Amazon Prepaid Return Labels email

“Starting 5 July 2021, we will require all sellers to either offer prepaid return labels for a tracked ship method (domestic only) or returnless refunds for customer return requests that fall within the scope of the Amazon Return Policy.

Tracked shipping offers customers and sellers visibility of the status of the returned item, which also protects sellers against loss of items during transit. To ensure you are meeting this requirement and providing customers access to prepaid return labels, we will enable the Amazon Prepaid Return Label (APRL) feature for sellers with a UK default return address.

Once the APRL feature is enabled, customer return requests for items you sold on Amazon.co.uk will be processed as follows:

– All customer initiated returns requested via the Online Return Centre (ORC), that fall within the scope of the Amazon Return Policy, will be automatically authorized and customers will receive a tracked Prepaid Return Label (domestic only) issued through APRL on your behalf through Buy Shipping Services.

– A prepaid return label will only be issued if there is coverage by any of the third-party shipping service providers that support returns through Buy Shipping Services. Currently Hermes and Royal Mail are the only integrated third-party carriers that support returns within the UK.

– All customer initiated return requests that fall outside the scope of the Amazon Return Policy or items exempted from APRL will be sent to you for manual review and authorization. Certain product categories and sub-categories are automatically exempted from APRL such as Handmade, Amazon Custom, Sexual wellness, Certified Preowned Watches, Business, Industrial & Scientific Supplies (Professional Medical and Dental Supplies). In addition, you can request specific exemptions from APRL, such as High valued items that require special shipping and insurance, Non-physical items (warranties, digital software, or digital coupons), Large and heavy items that exceed carrier agreed weight and dimension guidelines, items that fall under non-returnable by law, dangerous goods and Hazmat (Hazardous Material). You can also request exemptions from APRL through the Returns Attribute Template. These exemptions will be sent to you for manual review and authorization.

– Currently, Royal Mail and Hermes provide all return shipping for Seller Fulfilled Orders through Buy Shipping services. By using Buy Shipping services through APRL, you agree to the participating service providers’ terms and conditions, in addition to Amazon’s Buy Shipping Services terms and conditions:

Royal Mail Terms and Conditions
Hermes Terms and Conditions

Note: Continued use of Selling on Amazon service constitutes your acceptance of the updated programme policies and carrier Terms and Conditions.

These carriers charge competitive rates, pre-negotiated for this service by Amazon. For more information, see Shipping costs for seller fulfilled returns. We are pleased to announce further reduction in Hermes return rate at 2.75 GBP excluding VAT, which started on 8 June 2021.

– The cost of the return label automatically issued on your behalf will be charged to your seller account when the item is received and scanned by the carrier. It is therefore important to review and keep your Amazon seller account details up to date, including your VAT information. For more information, see VAT information in your Amazon Seller Central account. We understand that there are times when the cost of return shipping is your responsibility or the customer’s responsibility. This process will not change. For a full list of customer-fault and seller-fault reason codes, refer to Return reason codes for Prepaid Returns.

To ensure returns are sent to your preferred return address, please ensure your UK default return shipping address is up to date. The requirement to issue a refund within two business days remains unchanged. To learn more about the feature, see Prepaid returns for seller fulfilled orders.

We understand that returns and automatic issuance of prepaid return labels may not be best suited for low priced items, where it makes better economic sense to offer returnless refunds to the customer. You can configure rules for returnless refunds (https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/G202174940) for specific products in your inventory by enabling a full refund to the customer (without the need to return the item) when they submit their return request through ORC. The Returnless Refund feature is available in Seller Central and you can always track these requests in Manage Returns.

We understand that these are key changes and encourage you to familiarize yourself with the above changes and return policies, and identify any exemptions you may want to set before we enrol your account into APRL starting 5 July 2021. You can also contact Selling Partner Support for additional guidance.”
– Amazon

  • Simon Everett
    6 months ago

    The Amazon forums are full of chatter about how to circumvent this.
    Apparently you can upload a flat file or csv of SKU’s that you don’t want to be “Freebies” and then add the reason.

    I think amazon just want to kill off all 3rd party sellers and leave their playground for them to play in.

    For us it will be another increase in price to the customer for the occasional returner.
    Why do Amazon persist in beating the normal, well behaved seller, that has a pretty good reputation, with this big stick.

    Most of our customers that have had a change of mind, don’t mind popping back in the post at their expense.

    Oh well, another nail in the old coffin! B-)

  • Stuart
    6 months ago

    We have just put £1 on all prices to cover this and this was on top of £1 we already have on prices on Amazon to cover A-Z disputes. Less and less are we putting much work in to Amazon and instead focusing on ebay or other smaller marketplaces.

    Certainly have the feeling unless you are on FBA Amazon don’t give a damn about you and it’s a shame as there are plenty of good businesses, like ours, that offer fantastic service to customers through the marketplace.

  • Toby
    6 months ago

    Good old Hermes, a bit like just giving stuff away anyway. We often find stuff returned through them has attempted delivery times of 8 or 9pm. We are a business in an industrial estate… Why would they think we are open? Sadly as it is often done through self employed people with cars, I can see why it happens.
    Thank god we left Amazon a while ago. Soon it will be just Amazon selling stuff on Amazon. Which is proberly the long term plan.

  • 6 months ago

    Don’t really see this as a massive change or negative.
    If someone changes their mind and wants to return an item or someone chooses to return an item that they claim hasn’t been opened/used but has you can still deduct the cost of the returns label from the refund and only issue a partial refund for the product if they have abused the returns system

    Unfortunately you can’t get round accepting returns if you sell online and we all know the tricks customers use to return a product so you just have to accept this and not get hung up about it.

  • Rob
    6 months ago

    Richard, the trouble is with the customer not having to initially pay for the return label and when the cost is deducted from the return fee they won’t understand or complain as they will think it is a free return.

  • Darren
    6 months ago

    I actually think this is both good and bad. The return cost for faulty or damaged items is cheaper than we can do with DPD returns – and from how I ready it when a customers says they have changed their mind then Amazon make them pay for the return and not us – so that is just how it is on ebay and our website currently.

    We all hate returns and there is no doubt the items coming back that cannot be re-sold as new are a big challenge, but this is how online retail has gone and you have to pass the job to someone else (like I have) so that it doesn’t wind you up as much.

  • WILLIAM MCILWRATH
    5 months ago

    I don’t know how to issue a prepaid return label. I have a Royal Mail OBA account but don’t have that option unless I get over 20 returns a week. I get 1 a month maybe.
    I’ve just had a return request on Amazon on the 10th of July. 5 days after they started this and there is no way I can give a prepaid label. I’ve told the customer that I will add return postage costs to their refund on receipt of the item but as always the new procedure is a mess.
    Amazon just flipping issue a prepaid label and be done with it. Then deduct it from my fees. Just like they do on Ebay.
    Free returns are sort of okay for us that don’t sell clothing where people order several different sizes, pick one and return the rest so please Amazon go and simplify this nonsense and just issue a flipping label and charge the seller.
    You’re so annoying. Do it and stop farting around.

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