While Amazon undoubtedly has many different variations of these, the main dispositions for receiving customer returns are generally sellable, damaged, damaged by the customer, damaged by the carrier, and defective. These each have a different effect on the overall returns, exchange, or refund process. Let’s look at what each one means, and what it can mean for your bottom line.
Items that are returned as sellable returns are automatically returned to your currently active inventory. There may be situations where you’re worried about the item actually being in sellable condition, but there is nothing else that you will need to do from here, Amazon will take care of the rest. If you are truly concerned that the item may not be completely sellable, in which case you can open up what’s known as a removal order, so that the item can be pulled and you can inspect the item yourself.
There are countless reasons that an item might be returned to a warehouse as damaged. It might be that the item was damaged while in storage at an FBA warehouse, prior to the item ever being shipped out. There are situations where the item may be damaged in transit to the customer, which would indicate a fault on the part of Amazon for neglecting to pack the items properly during processing.
Sometimes, Amazon will make a determination that the item was damaged in transit to them because they claim you didn’t pack or pad the items well enough. It could also be determined to be your fault if a damaged item was sent to Amazon by you by mistake. If Amazon reaches a decision that says it was your fault that the item was damaged, then you will not be reimbursed for the item. If the damage was Amazon’s fault, however, you can expect to be reimbursed for the product.
When an item is given a disposition of “damaged by customer”, it will not be returned to your inventory. Customer damage doesn’t mean that the customer broke the item purposely and is trying to return it, it means that the item was opened and damaged, meaning it’s no longer in a “new” condition.
Even if the customer says they never opened the item, it may be obvious that it was opened, even though the item may still be completely unused. The best way to handle these types of items is to open a removal order and get them sent back to you so you can personally inspect them. Sometimes you just need to personally examine the item to determine that it actually can be resold, either as new, like new, or in very good condition.
There are times when an item isn’t needed or is otherwise set up for a return in sellable condition, but the item becomes damaged in transit. Sometimes this happens because the agent at the shipping location doesn’t pack the item well enough. Other times it can happen during shipping if things get a little bumpy along the way. In situations like these, the items are given a disposition of “carrier damaged”, and you should end up being reimbursed for these returns since it was not your fault that they were damaged. Make sure you don’t open up any removal orders for these, or Amazon will not reimburse you.
Items returned as “defective” are either damaged or otherwise defective in such a way that makes them unusable by the customer’s admission. When this happens, if the item was bought via FBA, the customer is refunded once the return is on its way back, and when it gets back it is put into your inventory as unsellable. This is another situation where you should open a removal order so that Amazon can send it back to you.
There is a significant portion of the time where a customer says that the item is defective, even though it may not be, in order to get Amazon to pay for the return shipping. Once Amazon fills your removal order, you can inspect the items yourself to determine if they are actually defective or not. If the item is obviously not defective, or even unopened, ship it back to FBA and get it back into your active inventory.
An important note is that if you receive a “defective” item that isn’t actually defective, it is up to you to file the appropriate review request to help protect your seller account and buyer metrics. Too many defective products can put your account in danger.