Amazon Faces Class Action For Recharging Instant Refunds On Returned Goods

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


Amazon customers file proposed class action lawsuit alleging the company wrongfully recharged them for items that were properly returned on time and in original condition

Amazon customers lodge class action over charges for returned goods customers sued the online retail giant in U.S. court in Seattle, claiming they were charged for purchases that had been returned on time. customers sued the online retail giant in U.S. court in Seattle, claiming they were charged for purchases that had been returned on time.

Four residents of Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri said in the proposed class action lawsuit on Tuesday that Amazon "wrongfully re-charged the purchase price and applicable taxes" for their returns.

Amazon had "knowledge of its systemic failure to deliver on its promise of refunds for timely returned items," they said...

...Amazon's customer return practices have resulted in "substantial unjustified monetary losses by those who either do not notice" they have been charged or were "deterred by the inconvenience of having to figure out what happened and how to fix it," Tuesday's lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs, represented by law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, are seeking class action status on behalf of millions of U.S. residents over the past six years who were allegedly charged by Amazon after returning purchases on time and in their original condition.

The plaintiffs are asking for triple damages under Washington state's consumer protection act, in addition to other relief.

At issue is Amazon's "instant refund" process which provides a credit in advance once the buyer has dropped off the return at UPS Store, Kohl's, Wholefoods, or other authorized Amazon return location - with the caveat that the buyer may be recharged if Amazon does not actually receive the return within the given timeframe.

Amazon claims that its goal “is to make buying online as easy as possible” which includes offering “free, convenient returns on most items delivered in the U.S.”

Accordingly, “Customers can buy with confidence knowing Amazon has great selection, fast shipping, low prices, and easy, hassle-free returns.” Amazon Vice President of Worldwide Returns & ReCommerce Gopal Pillai recently boasted that Amazon “work[s] hard to continue to raise the bar in offering a hassle-free returns experience to [Amazon’s] customers.”

To return an item to Amazon, a customer navigates to “Your Orders” on the website and selects the item she wishes to return, or clicks a link contained in the customer’s order confirmation email from Amazon, enters an explanation for the return, and then chooses a drop-off location. Amazon emails the customer a quick response (“QR”) code that the customer presents with the item to be returned at the authorized drop-off location.

Customers may drop-off returns at over 18,000 locations at physical Amazon stores, Whole Foods Markets, participating Kohl’s and Staples locations, and The UPS Store.

Items to be returned can simply be handed to an associate of the drop-off location without a box or label, who will scan the QR code containing the return information and pack and ship the return for free.

From there, the return is transported to one of Amazon’s return processing
centers, such as those located in Phoenix, Arizona; Hebron, Kentucky; Shepherdsville, Kentucky; Las Vegas, Nevada; Dallas, Texas; and Houston, Texas.

In some circumstances, Amazon offers its customers the option of receiving an “instant refund,” whereby Amazon will refund the item’s purchase price before Amazon receives the item to be returned. If Amazon does not receive the item to be returned, Amazon recharges the customer the sale price of the item.

If the return is eligible for instant refund, the refund will be processed as soon as the customer drops off the product at the authorized drop-off location. Otherwise, the return is processed after the product arrives at the fulfillment center and the refund is approved.

The plaintiffs allege on various occasions were issued "instant refunds" when they dropped off items to be returned at authorized return locations but were then later recharged for the items despite having clear evidence they followed the proper return procedures.

Plaintiffs attorneys also allege these experiences are "typical of Amazon customers nationwide."

Read the full complaint:

Have you ever been wrongly recharged by Amazon for an item you returned and received an "instant refund" on? Let us know in the comments below!


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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!