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December 15, 2011

Handling Post-Order Problems

Snowman The majority of holiday sales on Amazon.com go well, but occasionally you may encounter a problem. Let’s look at some of the most common things that could go wrong with an order and the ways to handle them.

I:  The buyer has made a mistake with an order and wants to fix it.

Below are the most common things buyers may ask you to do to fix an order and how you can respond:

Cancel the order

  • If you have not yet shipped the order, you can cancel it. Buyers only have a 30-minute window to cancel their own orders, but you can cancel them up until the time you ship them.
  • If you have already shipped the order, you can't cancel it, but you can ask the buyer to return it for a refund. It's best to wait until you have the item in hand again before you return funds to the buyer.

Upgrade the shipping

  • If you have not yet shipped the order, it is up to you to decide whether to upgrade the shipping at the buyer’s request. Sellers aren't obligated to provide a service that a buyer hasn't paid for or to accept promises of future reimbursement from buyers (sellers can't invoice buyers for extra costs, including postage).
  • If you have already shipped the order, provide the buyer with information about the shipping method you used, give them a realistic timeframe for delivery, and ask them to be patient. Here's the information Amazon provides to buyers about delivery expectations: Marketplace Shipping Times.

Ship the order to a different address

  • If you have not yet shipped the order, and the buyer says they cannot receive the order at the address they provided originally, you should cancel the order. The buyer can then return to Amazon.com to place a new order using the correct address. Amazon policy requires sellers to ship only to the address provided in their Seller Account.
  • If you have already shipped the order and the buyer states that they won't receive the package at the address they provided, you can’t cancel the order but it may still be possible for the buyer to get the package re-routed if they know the recipients. Packages should be routed back to you and you can then refund the buyer.

II:  The buyer hasn't received the item they ordered.

As you might expect, buyers are often anxious to receive their holiday orders and will contact you to check on the shipment status.

  • In many cases, the shipment isn't late but may not have arrived as early as the buyer hoped. It's possible that the package didn't arrive at the earliest estimated date. In the case of "slow" packages, you will often need to explain the delivery time frames.
  • If the outside delivery date has passed, the best solution is to refund the buyer. Compensating buyers for lost shipments is simply a cost of doing business.
  • In the case of a "lost" item arriving in an empty box, you should contact the shipper to report the issue and ask about the options available to you. For a "late" item that may be lost, you may want to engage your carrier for assistance in locating the package and moving it along.
  • For an item that never arrives and is truly lost, you may be still able to recover your costs if you purchased insurance originally. You will need to determine your own level of acceptable loss when deciding to insure packages.

III: The buyer has received the order but wants to return it.

Here are the basics on handling returns:

  • As per your selling agreement, you have to accept returns within the guidelines spelled out in the the current Amazon refund policies, even if the item was exactly as described and the buyer simply no longer wants it.
  • Returns of new items are different from returns of damaged/defective/materially different items.
  • Buyer returns should be postmarked within 30 days of the original shipment sent by the seller.
  • Returns should be posted to the address included on the outside of each package. It's a good idea to also include your return address inside the package and to confirm it with the buyer before a return is shipped.
  • In cases where there is nothing wrong with an item, buyers should cover the cost of return shipping.
  • In cases where an item is damaged or defective, or when it is materially different than the item described on the product detail page, sellers should cover the costs of return shipping. You can do this by issuing a concession to the buyer in advance of the return.
  • Sellers can charge restocking fees (up to 20%) for returned items that are not damaged, defective or materially different. These fees are meant to cover the extra handling costs to take the item back into inventory and relist it for sale.

We hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions about how to deal with order issues, please see our Seller Help pages.

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