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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.