Amazon Restocking Fee Charging Guidelines for 2021

Some sellers on Seller Services forums state that collecting an Amazon restocking fee can result in having an A to Z Guarantee claim filed against your account. Although charging a restocking fee may upset a customer enough for them to file one, it doesn’t mean that you’ve violated any Amazon return policy guidelines.

In fact, an Amazon restocking fee is permitted within the Amazon return policy as long as you follow the rules.

Read on for a definitive answer on Amazon’s stance on collecting restocking fees and what you can and cannot collect on.

What is an Amazon restocking fee?

A restocking fee is a percentage of the item’s price, spending on the type of item and its condition upon return, not including shipping costs. On Amazon, a restocking fee is technically a “partial refund” because the fee amount is taken out of the refund. 

In addition, Amazon US has an interesting approach to restocking fees, or partial refunds, as it does allow sellers to charge a restocking fee under specific circumstances.

If a customer returns an item that’s determined by Amazon as damaged by the customer (or refunded past the returns window) sellers have the option to refund buyers a portion of the original item price

Are restocking fees illegal?

Laws about restocking fees differ from state to state. Generally, though, restocking fees are only considered illegal when:

  • The merchandise is defective
  • The buyer has been delivered the wrong merchandise
  • The retailer failed to deliver the merchandise within a certain time period
  • The fee exceeds 50% of the purchase price
  • The restocking fees are not adequately disclosed to the customer

Can collecting an Amazon restocking fee lead to an A-to-Z claim?

Although it’s true that a buyer may file one because they did not receive a full refund, it doesn’t mean that Amazon will take the buyer’s side.

If a claim is filed against your account, all you will have to do is represent that you followed the rules to win the complaint.

You are well within your rights as a Seller on Amazon to collect the appropriate restocking fee, assuming you follow the proper guidelines outlined in the Amazon return policy.

When can I charge an Amazon restocking fee?

You can charge restocking fees depending on the return request.

If the return is verified as the seller’s fault, sellers cannot charge a restocking fee. Sellers cannot withhold a refund when the items returned reason is:

  • Item not as described
  • Item received damaged
  • Inaccurate website description
  • Item defective
  • Wrong item sent

If the return reason is the buyer’s fault, sellers can charge restocking fees. Sellers can withhold a portion of the refund when the items returned reason is:

  • No longer needed/wanted
  • Bought by mistake
  • Better price available

Meanwhile, if it is not returned in the same condition as it was sold, sellers may apply up to a 50% restocking fee.

Amazon states that sellers are not required to accept returns beyond the return window. If you do decide to accept the return, you can charge an Amazon restocking fee for these return reasons:

  • The buyer changes their mind about a purchase and returns an item in the original condition within the return window
  • The buyer changes their mind about a purchase and returns a non-media item within the return window but the seller receives the item damaged or materially different than how it was originally shipped to the buyer.
  • The buyer returns a book within the return window with obvious signs of use
  • The buyer returns a CD, DVD, VHS tape, software, video games, cassette tape, or vinyl record within the return window has been opened
  • The buyer returns an item they received materially different from what they ordered
restocking fee

How much can a seller charge for an Amazon restocking fee?

According to the Amazon Seller Return Policy, it can be anywhere from up to 20% to up to 50% of an item’s price.

For example, according to the return policy below, a buyer changes their mind about a purchase, sellers can withhold up to 20% of an item’s price.

When a buyer changes their mind about a non-media item within the return window, but if it’s received damaged or different, sellers can withhold a refund of up to 50% of an item’s price.

When a book is returned with obvious signs of use, or a media item is returned after being opened, sellers can withhold a refund of up to 50% of an item’s price.

restocking fee

How do I calculate the Amazon restocking fee?

You can calculate the Amazon restocking fee according to the return reason and correlated fee (from above) before deducting it from the refund you issue to your customer. You must do so within two business days of receipt of a return. 

How to charge a restocking fee on Amazon

To issue a partial refund, which is the same as collecting an Amazon restocking fee, follow these instructions from Amazon:

  1. Locate the order you want to refund in the Manage Orders menu under the Orders tab in Seller Central. For more information about locating an order, see Search Orders.
  2. In the Action column, click Refund order. Alternatively, click the Order ID and then click Refund order on the Order Details page. Note: The Refund order button is available only for Shipped orders.
  3. Click Issue Refund button.
    • Required: Select the appropriate Reason for refund.
    • Required: In the Amount to Refund column, enter the refund amounts. You can also refund gift wrap costs.
    • Optional: Add a Note to the buyer.
    • Optional: Add a seller memo for your personal records in the Note to yourself input box.. This enables you to track the actions you’ve taken on an order, including reasons for concessions and reminders of promises to buyers.
  4. Click Submit Refund.

Meanwhile, the update for the data can take up to 15 minutes. Submitting the refund will automatically close any associated buyer return requests.

You can contact the buyer from the closed orders section of Manage Returns available in the Orders menu. The buyer has the option to open a new return request for the remaining amount.

The Takeaway

Amazon may automatically approve returns. However, sellers should know that Amazon’s return policy does grant them some protections against unwarranted returns. 

If you receive a damaged return or accept a return past the return window, don’t be afraid to withhold part of a refund. It is well within your right to do so if you meet the criteria outlined above. This is basically stated within the Amazon returns policy,

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