Returning vs Exchanging Items on — Which is Better? | An Amazon Return Review

by Nindo Mom on October 15, 2011

Let’s face it: once in a while, the stuff we order from might not cut the mustard. Sometimes, we realize we should have bought a different item; other times, the item we ordered is damaged during shipping. In the cases where we purchased the wrong thing, the only option is to return the order for a refund, then place a new order–this time, for the correct item. But when the item was damaged during shipping–or comes damaged from the warehouse–we must choose whether to return the item and place a new order for the same item, or submit a request for a replacement.

Reasons to Exchange Your Item–INSTEAD of Returning, then Reordering

1. Exchanging items, rather than returning them, could save you money.

Your item could have gone up in price since you originally purchased it. If this is the case, returning and reordering would mean you’d be paying the higher current price for the item.

2. Exchanging items may save you time.

In my experience, when you request an exchange from Amazon due to a problem on their end, Amazon goes out of their way to get your replacement out to you FAST.  In one such recent incident, Amazon sent my replacement item via special holiday/weekend UPS delivery so that my item arrived ON SUNDAY! (Until then, I hadn’t even realized that UPS delivered on Sundays.) If you simply return your order, then place a new order for the same item, your new purchase would not be expedited–either in the order fulfillment process or the shipping.

3. Exchanging items may reflect better on you as a buyer–and on your account.

If you exchange your damaged item, there will be a record with Amazon that your items were damaged through no fault of your own. (You even have the opportunity to upload photos of the damage when you request your exchange–an opportunity which I strongly recommend that you take advantage of.) In contrast, if you simply return a damaged item without accepting an exchange, it may raise a red flag with Amazon that the claim of damage is only to obtain free return shipping for an item you simply changed your mind about.

My Call on Amazon Returns/Exchanges

Overall, my return and exchange experiences with Amazon have been EXCELLENT. (I’ve been a loyal customer for Amazon for many years, so of course, I’ve had my share of items to return.)  Amazon has never questioned my reasons for a return, nor have they ever questioned the damages to any item I returned. Amazon has always remained focused on providing me the best customer service possible during the return / exchange process.

Things to remember when returning or exchanging an item purchased on

1. Make sure to return all parts of items you’re returning–accessories, cords, batteries, etc. Although this has never come up for me personally, I know that if you fail to return all parts of your Amazon order, you could be charged for them. (This is only fair, considering Amazon can’t resell or obtain a credit for the item from the manufacturer without all its parts.)

2. Package returns carefully to avoid damage on the return trip. This way, you know you won’t be held liable for any damage that happened during return shipping. (Yes, it would probably be tough for Amazon to prove, but who wants to take a chance?) One idea: if items arrive damage, try to take photos of them before returning them. This way, you have evidence that the item didn’t simply become damaged during the return process. As mentioned earlier in this article, you should also upload these photos when offered the opportunity during the process of requesting your exchange.)

3. Don’t return items frivolously. If Amazon decides you are abusing their Easy Returns policy, they could restrict you from making purchases in the future.

4. Follow Amazon’s return policy. Video games, music, and movies that have been removed from their plastic wrappings are not returnable for a refund–although they can be exchanged for the same title if the copy you received is damaged or defective.

5. Only initiate the return / exchange process when you’re ready to pack your item up for shipment. There’s no sense in generating labels that you aren’t ready to attach to something–otherwise, the labels could be lost or damaged before you’re ready for them. Of course, you must make sure to initiate the return in the time Amazon allows–30 days for most items, up to a year for baby items.

6. To make sure your return is processed properly, enclose the appropriate portion of the return label INSIDE the packaging–the directions printed on the label will tell you which one. The other part of the label is attached to the OUTSIDE of the package. NOTE: for returns that are being picked up by UPS at your house, NO SHIPPING LABEL should be affixed to the outside of the box–just a copy of the same Return Authorization Label that you include inside the box.

Amazon reserves the right to alter their returns process: for current details on their return policy, visit Amazon’s Return Center.

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