Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer. There are millions of products across Amazon’s platform, with a huge range of sellers, merchants and brands to buy from.
In addition to this, Amazon has an inventory of about 12 million items across all of its categories.
With such a broad variety of items and products on offer, and the fact that the company makes over $638 million each and every day you may be wondering how on earth Amazon keeps track of its orders, returns and damaged goods.
If you read lots of reviews for different products, you may find that sometimes, people receive items that have been opened or used before.
Amazon has excellent customer service, so they will always allow you to return or replace damaged items or unwanted items, so there’s no need to worry about that.
But, how well does Amazon screen these items before sending them out to other buyers, and do they actively even check their returns?
Does Amazon Check Returns?
Have you ever ordered from Amazon, and received the box that looks a little tattered and if it has been opened and resealed before? It can make you wonder whether you’re getting somebody else’s leftovers, or items that they no longer wanted.
When you purchase from Amazon, you’ll want to ensure you’re paying for the quality and you’re getting a brand new, pristine product. So, do they even check returns, if we’re receiving items that may have been given to someone else already?!
We’ve done the research for you to see if Amazon checks returns. For the most part, it seems like there are mixed answers.
With so many products, sellers, merchants and items, it seems impossible for Amazon to check everything meticulously. It seems that some items are checked over before being sent out or reused, whereas others are not.
This could be because of the value of the item. A $3 phone case may not be worth the time it takes to pay someone to meticulously check over the item, whereas a $500 gaming console is worth Amazon’s time, because they don’t want to lose money.
You may have even seen videos where YouTubers purchase a mystery box of Amazon returned items for just a few bucks, to see what perfectly working and good condition products they can find.
Some people even do this as a business to sell items and make money. So, it’s clear that lower value, non fraud related items are often not checked by Amazon and could be just sitting in the warehouse to either be purchased again, or sold in bulk lots to get rid of them.
When asked about Amazon checking returns, a Process Assistant states that yes, Amazon does check returns, but the detail and severity of the check will depend on what the item was, whether it is a high fraud item, and whether the customer has a clean account, or whether they return items often.
For instance, some Amazon buyers will purchase a product, use the product and then request a return and refund saying that it is no longer needed, or it is broken or wrong in some way.
As a seller, this can be very frustrating as Amazon often wants to keep the customer happy, and will offer a refund straight away, giving the customer 30 days to return the item.
They may then return the used item, which you can no longer sell, or even send an empty box or claim the item went missing in transit.
If a customer behaves in this way frequently, then Amazon may make a point of checking the returned item, as fraudulent behavior on Amazon can get customers banned from using the platform.
Some customers will frequently return items for refunds or gifts, in which case Amazon will flag this up and check the item. However, sometimes, a computer tool will check the item for its condition and to see whether there are any issues.
Other high value items such as PS5s, iPhones, Xbox and other consoles and expensive items will be meticulously checked for any issues, and either sent back to the retailer, or if there are no issues, then they may be sent to other buyers.
If a customer has never returned an item before, or has never had any issues, then Amazon typically will return the item, and offer a refund before they even get the item back, to keep the customer happy. In this case, they may not even check the item when returned.
Why Don’t Amazon Check All Returns?
What it really all boils down to is the absolutely insane volume of products and items being sold by Amazon every single day. Returns are high in any business, but you can only imagine how many returns Amazon faces every single day.
The sheer amount of workforce they would need to hire in order to meticulously check in detail all of the products returned would amount to too much, and would result in losses.
Instead, Amazon makes the return process very simple. When you request a return, Amazon sends you a shipping label that is prepaid. Then, when that label is scanned by a delivery service, Amazon knows that you have returned the merchandise.
When the products arrive back at the Amazon warehouse, it is roughly sorted according to the department, so items will be sorted into categories such as books, DVDs, computers, electronics, clothing, CDs, accessories, homeware and more.
These are then sorted and loaded onto large crates and pallets. It is these pallets that are then auctioned off and sold.
Sometimes, these crates are filled with unwanted junk, faulty items, or products that have been broken in transit or through other means. The buyers of these pallets will then sort through the junk, and resell anything salvageable.
In addition to this, Amazon may conduct spot audits where they check items and spot check expensive products. They may also flag returns for an in depth inspection if you have an interesting return history.
If any issues are found, then they will take back the refund that they automatically give when a return is started. Alternatively, if your return history is flagged, or questionable, then Amazon will delay the refund until closer inspection.
Amazon may have looked through every single return in the past, and resold what was possible, but with the vast amount of products that they now sell, it is impossible for them to accurately inspect and deal with the huge amounts of returns.
The cost it would take to pay people to manually inspect and sort through the products is just more expensive than selling the returned items off in bulk.
To summarize, Amazon has a vast variety of items and products and sells millions of items every single day. Due to the incredible amounts of sales that Amazon generates, they often are not able to check in detail every single return.
The time, money and effort spent doing this, and hiring people to check all of the returns would result in a loss of funds. Instead, Amazon often does not check returns unless they are of a very high value, and will sell them off in bulk in pallets and crates for others to resell.