Greg Nelson, a ‘self-confessed Amazon addict’ who has ordered about 340 products from the site, said his account got banned permanently after returning the 37th item. The man who is an IT expert said that all the returned items were faulty or did not match the descriptions.
Amazon closed his account for good and told him he lost his unused gift-card balance. The user was not allowed to provide an explanation to the company for why he had returned so many of its products. Nelson said he had never tried to abuse the system.
Amazon, on the other hand, argued that the account was abruptly closed down because of ‘extreme account abuse.’ The e-commerce giant said that such measures are taken only in a ‘tiny fraction of cases.’
According to the company, the situations are carefully reviewed before closing the accounts, which is a last resort after all other attempts to work out the problems with customers have failed.
Nevertheless, the company’s return policy does not state that returning any number of bought items could result in a lifetime ban. The part detailing the returns and refunds speaks only about how to do them for every category of items purchased.
In a recent interview, Amazon declined to tell how many returns could get a client blacklisted. But several tech sites say that Amazon and other online retailers have made a habit of silently banning heavy returners if they abuse the return policy.
Retailers, however, lose big money due to people making a habit of returning bought products. According to a 2015 report, retailers lose $1.75 trillion every year because of return policy abusers, overstocked or out-of-stock items. The sum accounts for 1.7 percent of total revenue.
This may be why, several online retailers are no longer eager to comply with all no-questions-asked return requests. REI Inc no longer accepts returns more than a year after the transaction. The sports gear giant cited one case when a member wanted to return a backpack he had bought several years ago because it got ‘old and dirty’ and the user ‘didn’t like it anymore.’
But Amazon’s doesn’t police repeat returners equally. Another Amazon customer said he returned seven percent of purchased items and never got his account suspended. Nelson got a lifetime ban at 11 percent.
Another user, however, said he got a temporary ban for returning three items in the last two months, while another said he got his account suspended but also a full refund of his gift card balance after returning 18 of 104 ordered items.
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