/ Shopping

Amazon’s ‘refund without return’ is a turn up for the books

A parcel tied with a red ribbon

It’s not often you hear about getting something for nothing with an online retailer – or any retailer for that matter. But I’ve just had a great experience with Amazon.

We’re often discussing bad customer service here on Which? Conversation, but as I discovered last week, it’s not always bad news. In an interesting move, Amazon has decided to save some of its customers the bother of returning an unwanted product – by allowing them to keep it and refunding them anyway.

Amazon lets me keep my book

It happened to me just last week, when I used Amazon to buy a book called ‘The boy who was raised by dogs’. It was a recommended read for those training in child psychology, and my sister – who’s studying the subject at the moment – had urged me to buy it for her.

But to my annoyance, when my order was delivered, I had two of the same book! My farsightedness and sheer lack of attention might have been to blame and so, sulking back to my computer, I started the motions of organising its return. I logged on to my account, pressed the request refund button and then a screen popped up saying; ‘keep this item and receive a refund. It’s on us!’

Can you believe that! Amazon has saved me the trip to the post office, and refunded me the £7 expense of the book that I now get to keep! I’m left delighted and truly appreciative of this small gesture of goodwill on Amazon’s part.

When so many stories of bad customer service plague our lives, it’s worth mentioning these little actions that help illustrate how some companies find new ways to communicate how much they value their customers.

I’d love to find out what circumstances this gesture will be made in. Has anyone else experienced this with items that weren’t faulty, like mine?

Maggie Edney says:
6 March 2013

More in praise of Amazon, last year I sat on my Kindle and cracked the screen, I phoned to ask if there was a repair possible and/or available, the young man I spoke to explained there wasn’t but offered to replace it for £50 which as it was a 3G one made it less than half price, I was delighted and said so at the time, we are often quick to complain or criticise but not so quick to praise.

I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but it is possible that Amazon are still making a profit selling a Kindle at less than half price. When produced in bulk, electronics goods can be remarkably cheap.

On another Conversation we have heard of many Kindles that have died with screen problems. If all these are scrapped rather than repaired, this must be creating a lot of unnecessary electronic waste. The same criticism can be applied to other manufacturers of electronic products that are effectively non-repairable.

A couple of years ago I bought a recipe book from Amazon as a present. It took such a long time to arrive I had to chase them up and Amazon confirmed they’d re-send it. Low and behold, two books arrived a couple of days later. I phoned Amazon’s customer services and they told me not to worry, I’d only be changed for one book and I could keep the other, no need to return it.

Great customer service and I got a free recipe book for myself!

Amazon always do this, just yesterday i wanted to return an item, i had a message on screen asking me to call them (0800 and also a 020 number) and they said i can keep it and they would refund me, today had e-mail saying the refund had been done.

I too have been in this position! I ordered a product which didn’t work with the car we have – I contacted the seller on Amazon to send it back and they said they would refund me and not to bother returning the item! Perhaps they do this as it will just cost them more in return postage and paperwork?

I think, commercially, Amazon has its head screwed on very well and knows the cost of processing returns and the residual value of a used product. Millions of books end up in the remaindered category and eventually get pulped so it’s a smart move to gain a bit of customer goodwill. All credit to them.

I have come across companies that invite you to add an extra £1 to your order in return for which they will include a Returns label with the goods so that if you are dissatisfied you can then take them along to any one of the shops in the scheme and return them at no extra expense. What a palaver! [asuming you can locate one of these shops conveniently in the first place]. This applies even if the reason for returning the goods is because there was a picking error or a manufacturing fault. Most decent distance selling companies allow free returns via the Royal Mail, even when you don’t like the colour or it doesn’t fit [or, for books, you don’t like the ending].

Stephanie says:
8 March 2013

It would be nice if Amazon paid the taxes they ought to pay instead of the odd gimmick for a few thousand customers. I’d rather have functioning hospitals than an unwanted book plus a few quid – sorry and all that.

Looking around for alternatives to Amazon for books, I have yet to find one whose dispatch & delivery systems are as good; and the difference in prices makes me wonder whatever happened to market forces as the driving force of competition in the marketplace.

Competition does not work well when small companies are competing with large ones. In many cases small local shops have closed when supermarkets arrived.

When you support a local shop, and pay more, you are also funding the pay of the owner. Are they more deserving of support than staff in a supermarket? This is dimply a thought as to who we consider should be deserving of our patronage when it is a question of who takes the profits. Don’t misunderstand, I like local shops but if they sell proprietary items that I can buy cheaper elsewhere then my self interest (conserving limited finance) kicks in. Where local businesses can score is when they offer something unique.

Still, hairdressers, dentists and petrol stations are unlikely to go on-line with Amazon. Or are they…….?

gvb says:
1 March 2014

Amazon prices are so low because they only pay very low wages, to ensure a megaprofit with out paying taxes as mentioned earlier.

Goodwill gestures that is allowing people to keep items — as it costs in the region of £55.00+ for dealing with each returned item no matter what the cost. It really does make sense to not handle “unwanted” with very second hand low value items that may need to be scrapped or pulped.

Ben says:
28 April 2014

The same just happened to me! What an unbelievably pleasant surprise!

I ordered a gift for someone (a DVD) but turned out they already had a copy of it so went online to refund it. However, was greeted with the same message as yourself.

Over the moon!

What a wonderful experience says:
23 September 2014

What a wonderful surprise! We were expecting to have to print out the return slip, make a special trip to the post, etc. – it’s just “the way it works”… But not today! To our surprise, amazon said not to ship it back! What a great company to work with!

Thanks, Amazon!

Hi this has just happened to me! I ordered a book for my neice for Christmas only to later discover that she already has the book so I went through the process of organising a return. Or so I thought! I, like you received a message saying refund has been processed but I do not need to return the item to them! I’m actually gobsmacked! Cheers Amazon, you get very little for nothing these days!

Celeste says:
11 March 2016

I just ordered batteries and realized they weren’t rechargeable so when I went to return them they refunded me without having me return them!! So amazing!! I love Amazon

jackie says:
22 October 2016

same here, ordered a paire of skechers, which were too big, went to print return slip, then got message “full refund processed, no need to return item?

Lalit says:
20 December 2016

I had ordered 12 (6×2) pairs of boxer shorts off Amazon DE last week. After trying on just one of them I realized perhaps it was a mistake ordering 12 pairs of just one kind of underwear. I initiated a return of one set so I could buy briefs instead. But to my utter surprise Amazon refunded my money saying I don’t have to return the item.
The product was not disappointing or damaged so now I have freebies worth Eur 25. 🙂

And they say Amazon is pants!


svander says:
5 January 2017

Still valid today; bought a book that was duplicated as a Christmas present for my daughter. Initiated refund, which they say they will process and told us not to return the item. Unbelievable. We’ll donate the book to the school.

I found this page as this just happened to me so me. The size of a shirt I bought someone was too small. They emailed Issued refund without return.. saves me a lot of hassle 🙂

yes this also happened to me today , I ordered a Lakme product and on receiving I found item not satisfactory so I wanted to return even knowing item is not eligible for return so I sent a mail to amazon. And you know what happened they initiated a refund of my order without returning. I surprised

Nicole says:
6 July 2017

I just experienced something the same type of thing. I bought a coffee pot for $78 on Amazon and it was awful and produced the worst coffee. I tried so many different ways to make it and to no avail. So I went to the return section online and they started a chat with me and the representative asked what the problem was and then said he was sorry I had that problem and offered a suggestion that I already tried and said “ok, I will issue you a return-less refund”. I was shocked! Can’t believe the customer service they provided.

Robert says:
1 August 2017

Yeah it’s so great getting the “free stuff” — you’re just making it cost more for the people who actually pay for it. No man-made item is free people; time, labor, materials, all go into making something and all cost money.

You do know that most of the products on Amazon are sold by small independent companies and when you request a return and Amazon refunds you without having to return the item that its these businesses that are effected this policy.