Amazon Return Policy | How to Return Amazon Items?

Both buyers and sellers need to understand Amazon refund policy if they want to avoid unpleasant surprises. Yet the system is immensely complicated, filled with one what-if after another. Who wants to spend hours reading through every detail?

We decided to spend the time studying how Amazon refunds work so you don’t have to. 

What Is Amazon’s Holiday Return Policy?
Like many retailers, Amazon slightly alters its standard return policy over the holidays to allow shoppers extra time to return gifts and other purchases if they’re not happy with the products. Generally speaking, you have until Jan. 31, 2020, to return any items shipped by between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. This policy varies a bit for certain categories of purchases — or for items not shipped by, as outlined below.

How Big Are Amazon Refunds on Returns?
Sizes of Amazon Refunds

You can almost always get a good refund on an item you return to Amazon. However, returns are complicated before we even get into the refund process. I recommend reading our Amazon return policy article first.

Returned on Time and As Received
Good news: You will generally get a full refund for items returned on time and in their original condition (as in, you didn't open the box).

Bad news: You may need to pay the return shipping, possibly along with a restocking fee and taxes. 

“Amazon Return Policy Explained” covers how long you have to return an item to Amazon—usually 30 days.

Returned Late and As Received
It’s not always the end of the world if you’ve gone past the return window. If the item is still in exactly the condition you received it, you may be able to return it for 80% of the price.

Returned Opened
Physical copies of movies and music (such as records or DVDs) can be returned for a 50% refund. When you add in the cost of the shipping, restocking, and so on, this refund can be too small to be worth it. The lesson: don’t try to use Amazon like it's Netflix in 1997. We have streaming now.

If you open software or a video game, you will get no refund at all, even if you return it. Make sure you check those system requirements first!

For policies on other opened items, see our Amazon returns article.

Returned Damaged or Used
Amazon will give you a full refund if they are at fault for any damage to an item. If you’re at fault, though, then you’ll get no more than 50% of what you paid, and often less. This applies to anything that you’ve clearly used or that has lost parts.

For more information, see Amazon’s About Refunds page.

How Do Third-Party Seller Refunds on Returns Work?
If the item you bought came from a third-party seller rather than Amazon itself, then the seller will have to provide at least as good a refund as Amazon would. However, they can decide to offer a better return policy than Amazon’s if they want.

Always contact your seller first. They may decide to give you a full refund without requiring a return or otherwise make the process easier for you.

Note to sellers: Providing a relaxed refund policy is a good way to get a great Amazon seller rating. Having simple rules will also cut the time you spend on customer service almost as effectively as integrating Amazon with a professional helpdesk.

What Can’t You Return to Amazon?
In spite of the generous return policy, Amazon does have a fairly extensive list of items that can’t be returned, including the following:

  • Amazon Fresh and grocery items
  • Purchases from the Amazon Digital Music Store, Amazon Appstore or the Amazon Video store
  • Gift cards, except where required by law
  • Hazardous materials, including flammable liquids or gases
  • Live plants or insects
  • Pet food
  • Pre-paid phone or gift cards
  • Theme park tickets
  • Any product missing the serial number or UPC
  • Downloadable software products
  • Online subscriptions after they have been accessed
  • Prepaid game cards (World of Warcraft, Xbox 360 Live, Wii Points, etc.)
  • Some jewelry orders
  • Some health and personal care items
  • Open software
  • Items with special shipping restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (as indicated on the product detail page)

What’s the Bottom Line on Amazon’s Return Policy?
Amazon’s holiday return policy is more or less in line with that of other major retailers. Essentially, you’re given until the end of January to return any eligible items purchased from Nov. 1 until the end of the year, which should be more than adequate for most holiday shoppers. As always, be wary of the list of prohibited returns and mind the restocking fees that apply to specific situations.

How long do I have to make up my mind? and most sellers on offer returns for a full refund for items within 30 days of the day you receive the shipment.

After the holidays…

Amazon extends the return window, so anything you’ve purchased from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 can be returned through Jan. 31, 2019.

Do Amazon’s third-party sellers give me thirty days too?

Amazon claims that almost all of their third-party sellers have adopted Amazon’s 30-day return policy. But don’t take their word for it. Always read the fine print on the seller’s site, or if you’ve already received the item, it should be on the packing slip.

Is there anything I can’t return?

Yes! Gift cards, digital downloads including apps, personalized items, theme park tickets, hazardous materials, groceries and pantry items, pet food and insects. If you change your mind about that praying mantis, you’re out of luck!

Commonly Asked Questions.

Q1. How do I return a kindle book?  
Simply go to Manage Your Content and Devices, find the item you’d like to return, select the Actions button, then select Return for Refund. If it was a gift, you’ll receive an gift card on your account.

Q2. When will I get my refund or exchange?
Once Amazon receives your item return, what you’ll receive and when you can expect it depends on the payment and reimbursement methods.