Outraged Sellers Say Small Business Will Be ‘Crushed’ By Amazon’s New Refunds Policy

A new Amazon returns policy that will make it easier for consumers to send back items at the merchant’s expense is at the center of dissent and opposition by sellers.

Starting Oct. 2, items that they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return, marketplace sellers who ship products from their home, garage or warehouse — rather than using Amazon’s facilities — were told this week.

That means that the merchant won’t have the opportunity to communicate with the customer as a buyer will no longer need to contact the seller before sending an item back. The seller won’t be able to offer help before being forced to pay a refund in case of a consumer returning an electronic device because it’s difficult to use, for example.

“Customers will be able to print a prepaid return shipping label via the Online Return Center instantly,” the email said.

Additionally, “returnless refunds,” a feature that the company said is “highly requested by sellers”, is being introduced by Amazon. Without taking back an item that may be expensive to ship and hard to resell, sellers would be enabled to offer a refund under the change.

These policies “will totally crush small businesses that fulfill their own orders”, said a third party seller to CNBC.

Angry sellers are already lighting up online forums.

“In other words, customers get things from us for free! Is this a joke?” Another said, “Amazon is going to assume that a buyer would NEVER lie about the reason for the return so they don’t have to pay for it,” one merchant said, on the topic of returnless refunds.

And yet another: “So, now, those `semi’ honest buyers are being encouraged to join the rest of the full fledged `scammers’ at our expense.” Amazon is forcing merchants to pay more for a service they don’t necessarily want because it also charges a premium for use of its return labels.

Amazon is allowing them to exempt a certain number of items from the automated returns process, some sellers noted in the forums.

Amazon the returnless service is optional and added in a statement that sellers can “receive exemptions to have specific inventory excluded”.

“These new features allow sellers to reduce time and costs associated with returns while providing customers with an easy and efficient return experience,” the company said in an e-mail. The company disputed the notion that it charges a premium for return labels and the statement also said that the rules only apply to in-policy returns.

Giving amazon customers are the first, second and third objectives of Jeff Bezos’ and this is no secret. But increasingly, sellers who have few other places to generate revenue and often build their businesses on Amazon are the sufferers of those upgrades for customers by Amazon.

Those sellers, who, instead of using Fulfillment by Amazon, choose to fulfill orders themselves are the target of the latest policy changes. And regardless of whether the products they buy come from Amazon or a third-party merchant, Amazon is making every effort to provide the same experience for customers.

(Adapted from CNBC)

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