When Amazon changes, extends or revokes a policy usually there are people who view it positively or negatively. They have reasons for liking some things about the change and abhorring other parts. Though, the change that took place this past week seems to have most sellers on one side...the negative side.
Amazon announced as of May 4th, they are extending their “Refund at First Scan” (RFS) refund policy to all sellers who use the Prepaid Return Label Program. They cited wanting to provide a more consistent experience to customers no matter from whom a buyer has purchased an item they would like to return. People took this as, trying to make 3rd-party-sellers act more like Amazon FBA with how they handle all of their returns. Amazon continues to explain that, “With RFS, you will no longer need to rush to process a refund within the two business day SLA. Customers will receive a refund after the first carrier scan when they drop off or ship back their return using an Amazon prepaid return label. You will continue to be notified about refunds by Amazon notification emails for all refunds processed with RFS.” A refund will be processed once the first carrier scans it, whether you know if the item is slightly used or in a million pieces. To try to avoid this issue, Amazon has stated that refunds issued through this program will be eligible for SAFE-T reimbursements in cases where the customer sends something back damaged or a different item entirely.
While researching the reaction to this new mandatory policy, I was met with a lot of people who were very concerned. Some even stated that Amazon is not a good place for 3rd-party-sellers anymore. People are preparing for a high spike in returns and figure that buyers will start using them as a rental service where they are guaranteed to get their money back no matter what. Even worse, some believe some buyers won’t even send back what they got and get the refund and the product. Amazon does offer the SAFE-T reimbursements, but a lot of sellers have been having difficulty getting their claims approved.
All in all, this seems to be another Amazon policy that doesn’t strive to provide benefits to everyone. We’ll just have to wait and see if that return spike comes to fruition or not. At Avalanche we sell through our own warehouses and through FBA, so we’ll surely feel the refund sting, but our QA team has been on top of it since we got the update earlier this week. Let us know how you or your business are dealing with this new program. Leave a comment if you have faced any issues already, we love to hear other seller’s experiences.