POLL: Risks in Returning Amazon Merchandise

The Wall Street Journal broke the story and now everyone is talking about it.  Amazon has reportedly changed their algorithm to distinguish those customers who frequently return merchandise and has cancelled their accounts.

The natives are restless.  Amazon isn’t really talking about it, no one knows how many items returned is too many, people are taking to Facebook and Twitter to express their displeasure with the situation, and it isn’t known how many of Amazon’s 310 million active accounts are impacted, though suggestions are the number is actually fairly small.

“But it is a great shock to people because Amazon has been so lenient in general when it comes to buyers,” says Ina Steiner, editor of ecommercebytes.com.  Amazon has built a reputation on easy returns, a policy so satisfying to consumers that brick-and-mortar stores have had to emulate it to stay competitive. But there are those who have become serial returners, and Amazon has always kept a leery-eye on those shoppers, stepping in previously with cancellations when they have felt the situation warranted it.   “It’s a fine line for Amazon to figure out, because they want to attract shoppers, but if a person is costing them too much they will definitely suspend you, and it comes as a great shock to people, says Steiner.

Consumer experts remind people that Amazon posts the conditions for returns, and has the right to suspend and cancel accounts of people who don’t play by the rules.  There are accounts of customers who have been known to return obviously used merchandise, or return the wrong items and expect replacements, or return high percentages of their purchases.  Those are red flags.  Amazon is also pretty strict about posting paid reviews.  Play by the rules and you’re likely to avoid the pitfalls.

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