Warning: This is a long post highlighting problem with return policy of amazon and you will get the gist only if you read till end.
Table of Contents
Amazon India did a lot of interesting advertising in 2016 promising its experience as good as ‘Apni Dukaan’. In India people generally refer to the shops of known people as ‘Apni Dukaan’ wherein they can buy easily on credit and return or exchange easily due to the personal relationships.
In its earlier years the shopping experience offered by Amazon was really good. Best part of the experience with Amazon was its return policies and customer care service. Return policies and friendly customer service was the only reason I moved completely to Amazon from Flipkart and other eCommerce sites.
How much I transact online
Giving snapshot of my transaction history with Amazon and Flipkart only just to give an indication of how much I buy on these sites and my historical return/exchange rates is less than 10%.
And then I felt cheated
So to my surprise I recently noticed that I am unable to return some of my purchases, whereas the product description nowhere mentioned it as non-returnable.
Below product is for physiotherapy exercise. What I received was not matching the product description, but when I tried returning it, system indicated it to be non returnable product. After a lot of email exchanges, seller agreed to return the product but i was asked to self ship the product to the seller. (WHY WAS THIS NOT MENTIONED ON THE PRODUCT PAGE).
I dropped an email to the Amit and Jeff’s available email ids and to my surprise I got a reply within 24 hours. I requested the person calling to update the product page as non – returnable and he assured me that he will look in to it, but it is not done till date.
Below product didn’t had the right fit for my head, so I tried to return it. But again, system indicated that it is a exchange only product. (WHY WAS THIS NOT MENTIONED ON THE PRODUCT PAGE)
Amazon, don’t make the promises you can not fulfill
After multiple incidents of products turning out non-returnable, I looked at Amazon’s return policy page.
WHAT I REALIZED WAS THAT AMAZON HAS QUIETLY CHANGED ITS RETURN POLICY SOMEWHERE IN 2017 WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT IT OR SHOWING THIS INFO EXPLICITLY ON PRODUCT PAGES. A LOT OF STARTUPS DO THIS IN THEIR INITIAL YEARS DUE TO LACK OF EXPERIENCE, BUT I DID NOT EXPECTED THIS FROM AMAZON.
Here is the link for the return policy page. According to this policy most of the products available on Amazon are non returnable and exchange only. Only exceptions to this are the products which are available as returnable on competition websites like Myntra and Flipkart.
So, I went back in to history to find out how this policy has changed over the years as I had not faced the non returnable issue earlier.
March 2014 – As per this policy all the available products can be returned within 7 to 30 days
March 2015 – Here again all products are returnable between 7 to 30 days
April 2016 – Here also most of the products are returnable between 7 to 30 days
2017 and onwards
I could not find a link to the policy page for 2017 but there was a change in policy somewhere around mid 2017 or end of 2017.
So if you see the current return policy page, most of the products are not returnable or exchange only. Though this fact is not mentioned on any of the product pages. Amazon assumes that you as a buyer has complete responsibility to go through the detailed policy page.
Who are you competing with?
If you are thinking that it is the way to go as eCommerce websites start getting mature but you would be surprised, If you look at the Amazon’s return policy in United States.
In US Amazon still refunds for most of the products.
So this course of action in India is due to the fact that most of other eCommerce websites don’t offer return policy.
But i do feel that competition for these eCommerce sites is offline shops. With offline shops, I can go and feel the product there before buying it. If return policies imposed by eCommerce websites are so restrictive then I would like to go out and buy the product from a physical store rather then buying online. Also, with reducing discounts due to bottom line pressure on these sites, there will really be no reason to buy online at least not if I am not sure about the product or brand.
What they should do now?
Well the return policy and other business decisions are completely up to them but what they should at least do is show the related return policy on every product page clearly.