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Amazon Is Banning People For Making Too Many Returns ( 272

Amazon -- which for years has maintained the standard for free returns online -- might now ban users for making too many returns. From a report:The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday documented complaints that the e-commerce giant had barred customers who had returned items. Amazon apparently failed to alert the customers that they had returned too many items before the bans. The Journal spoke with two people and cited dozens more online who said they had been barred from Amazon, as well as others who received emails from the company after returning some items. The two people who spoke with The Journal seem to be part of a wave of hundreds of people who were barred from Amazon in late March and early April, as previously reported by Business Insider.
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Amazon Is Banning People For Making Too Many Returns

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:03PM (#56655760)

    Use new lines, not carriage returns!

  • Hopefully this includes the people who replace new PC hardware with old fraudulently.

    • They already track serial numbers for big ticket items.

      • Do they track all the components in the big ticket items?
        Take out the new RAM put in old RAM. It doesn’t need to be compatible just as long as it fits. Then sell the new ram at its market price.

        • I doubt it, but whenever they figure out that's happening, they'll find the person in common among all the serial numbers involved. It's traceable even if it's not discovered right away.

  • Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:04PM (#56655768) Journal
    I've read of some people buying and returning the same item every month so they never had to actually pay for it since Amazon kept giving them a full refund.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unless you buy something that is legitimately defective, there is no reason to return it. I'm pretty old and I can count the number of times I've returned something on one hand, and have fingers left over.

      • yeah me too, but then I don't buy clothes and shoes over the internet. I imagine people that do would absolutely need to do a lot of returns.
        • They do. I know someone that will buy 3 sizes of an item knowing full well at least two will be returned. This is the nature of buying clothes over the Internet where you cannot 'try before you buy' in a dressing room.

          If people are getting the boot for that, then Amazon is inviting everyone to not buy clothing or shoes from them ever again, and may as well shut down sales of clothing.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          Depends. I buy shoes online and have never had to return them, well apart from the pair where the sole starting coming away after two days, but that was not for fit, they where faulty.

          On the other hand I am only on my third style of shoe (well main every day ones that is) in over 30 years now. I can still also purchase the older two styles if I wanted. So new pair of shoes, hop on the Clarks website order them up for delivery to store. In a couple of days pop out at lunch and pick them up. Basically I know

        • by e3m4n ( 947977 )

          My wife does this and it drives me absolutely insane. She is constantly ordering shit from catalogs and then having to return them. Sometimes the damn return packaging sits around for weeks upon weeks because she forgets to return them. To further add to my frustration, she pays the return shipping and the restock fee's amount to, when combined, nearly 50% of the original cost. She might as well have a habit of buying scratch-off tickets if she's going to throw her money away like that. With all the textile

      • I agree to a certain extent, but there are times when you order something thinking it's going to be what you need, but it turns out to not do what you need it to do, even if it isn't defective. For example, a guitarist might order a certain overdrive pedal based on rave reviews, but when it shows up, it doesn't produce the sound that particular guitarist wants to get.
      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        Yeah, but you probably don't buy things you aren't sure about.

        Suppose you buy clothes or shoes though, people will order two sizes with the intention of trying them on and keeping just the one that fits better.

        Other times, the material is thinner than expected or quality is otherwise lower than expected, so they just get returned it outright.

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Unless you buy something that is legitimately defective, there is no reason to return it. I'm pretty old and I can count the number of times I've returned something on one hand, and have fingers left over.

        I wish the number of times I bought something that was legitimately defective was small enough to count on one hand (even in binary). I once bought the Stargate SG-1 collection on DVD, and the discs were so badly scarred right out of the box that it took... I SEVEN sets just to successfully build one sing

        • Re:Good (Score:4, Funny)

          by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @08:22PM (#56656338)

          The DVD issues were a result of them attempting to ship the discs through an unstable wormhole.

        • Ah the good old days when they thought that they could send DVD sets with the discs mounted in the box instead of sending each disc in a paper sleeve.
          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            I'm pretty sure a paper sleeve wouldn't have helped. It looked like they didn't let the resin on the discs harden adequately before putting them into the cardboard slots, so part of the plastic came off when you pulled them out, and part of it got scarred while they were sliding them in. Either that or they didn't use enough hardener in that batch. Either way, it was pretty clearly a plastic fabrication mistake, and they would have stuck to a paper sleeve just as easily. :-/

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Same experience, it's surprising how often stuff from Amazon is junk. 3rd party sellers seem to be the worst - maybe they just keep sending stuff out rather than processing it on the first or fourth return.

          A lot of stuff isn't as described either. This seems to happen when some 3rd party starts selling a popular item but shipping something different. They rely on good reviews if the genuine one.

      • Re:Good (Score:4, Interesting)

        by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:49PM (#56656024)

        Of course there is.
        I ordered a blanket online, for my wife, the pictures and description both stated that it's brown with white spots. Beagle-style colors, to be more precise.
        What we received though was a purplish+off-white blanket, similar in design but with different colors.

        Now, does this qualify as defective? It worked perfectly, did what a blanket should do, but the colors were wrong.

        If you include things such as lower quality materials, improper size (for clothes), wrong colors, then I apologize. However I don't consider these as "defects", but still worthy of returns.

        With that being said, yes I agree there are abusers and they need to be swiftly banned.

        • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

          by YukariHirai ( 2674609 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @08:10PM (#56656308)
          If it's not what was advertised/described, that's effectively defective from a consumer viewpoint: either way you're not getting what you think you're getting. Australian consumer law actually codifies this.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        Unless you buy something that is legitimately defective, there is no reason to return it. I'm pretty old and I can count the number of times I've returned something on one hand, and have fingers left over.

        There are lots of legitimate reasons to return a product that's not defective -- maybe you don't like the size, or the color, maybe it doesn't work well for the intended purpose, maybe it came in too many pieces and you don't feel like assembling it, maybe it's not compatible with the accessory you were going to use it with, maybe you just bought the wrong product (or made a duplicate order) and didn't realize it until it arrived.

        The drawback of online ordering is that you don't always know what you're buyi

      • A picture and minimal description is often insufficient to make a purchasing decision. I have returned a few items where I bought the wrong thing, or where it simply didn't fit. But, I generally keep the things that I knew going in were likely to be crap, but I needed a retail therapy fix or something.

        "failing to meet needs" is a reasonable justification for returns. If you return 2x what you keep though, you might expect some repercussions.

      • Another legitimate problem is if they don't ship what you ordered, like when I ordered green tea and they shipped black tea.
      • That may be your limited experience. Not mine by a long shot.

        Specifically, I was recently trying to buy a pair of wireless earbuds. Turns out there's a bug with iOS - the volume is too high. I went through about 4 pairs trying to find one that worked. Couldn't buy these brands locally, so I'd search reviews, ask a question "does it have this bug", order, test, email the vendor, return, and try again. The ones I settled on don't QUITE have the issue, but 1 volume is still a bit too loud.

      • There's an old TV ad about a Internet bubble startup that's only going to sell products to people who have a laser-focus on what they want to buy. The point of the ad was to remind folks that they can hold the item in their hands before having to pay money at a brick and mortar store.

        There are lots of items where you can't be sure it's what you wanted before you actually have it in your hands. Clothes and parts that might not fit right. 80% confidence of compatibility. That sort of thing. Without generous r

    • Re:Good (Score:4, Funny)

      by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:16PM (#56655826) Journal

      I've read of some people buying and returning the same item every month so they never had to actually pay for it since Amazon kept giving them a full refund.

      It's on the internet, so it has to be true!

      • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:31PM (#56655918)
        But would it surprise you?

        There's always a few assholes who ruin a good thing for the rest of us.
      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        I am sorry I don't have the details to hand, but several months ago I read of a clothing store that had to stop taking returns. I believe their clientele were mostly Jewish Orthodox women who would buy something to wear to a celebratory event (wedding, bar mitzvah, etc.) and then return it.

        That kind of of crap happens.

        • by e3m4n ( 947977 )

          as long as 'spite' is not your reason for returning an item, then clearly they wont take the return then.

    • I bought from Best Buy with the extended warranty. The things are notoriously fragile and it keeps dying on me. I'm following the instructions to clean and maintain it (it's not that hard) but about every 6-12 months it dies. I'm on #3 right now and Best Buy keeps replacing them.

      I don't _want_ to replace the thing. It's a pain to drive all the way to BB every few months. The thing is so bloody convenient when it works I don't want to give it up though.

      My point is there's a lot of nice but fragile/sh
      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        I don't think this was about Amazon banning people for having items replaced, but people returning items.

        And only those returning a large percentage of their purchases, compared to most customers. I have little sympathy for greedy fucks who intend to game and exploit the system, because it's everybody else that pays the price.

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:09PM (#56655792)

    Amazon is acting rationally.

  • Free returns? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lab Rat Jason ( 2495638 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:10PM (#56655794)

    This seems at odds with the bold face type that says "free returns" on many clothing items and other things that must be seen in person to decide if you really want it. It would almost seem like they are enticing you with a no-risk proposition with the transaction... only to ban people who are actually utilizing it.

    • They also didn't expect people to go and buy 50 items and return all but one. But the fault lies with them for not being clear about what they want to offer. And they have plenty of profit to just own up and announce a policy change rather than blame their customers.

      • Re:Free returns? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @07:01PM (#56656078)

        But the fault lies with them for not being clear about what they want to offer.

        I suspect part of the problem is the rules are "soft."

        If you bought 500 different things from Amazon over the year, and returned 50 of them, that's likely fine.

        But if you bought the same thing every month, returned it, then bought it again - In effect "renting" it for free, then you might get banned - Even though you're doing four times fewer returns than the first example.

        Their systems are looking for people that are 'abusing the system,' and that's a lot harder to write into a clear policy.

        • If you can't write it into policy, then your employees can't follow it, implement it, or enforce it. Policy interpretation follows a lowest common denominator theory. Every side with a stake in the implementation will push the interpretation as far as they can get away with.
          • Re: Free returns? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @08:49PM (#56656456)
            Your explanation is too simplistic - When you have advanced software systems looking for people engaging in 'fraud' or 'gaming the system' those systems are looking for a wide-ranging set of behaviours which aggregate together to indicate something.

            If a rep from Visa calls me up and asks me to confirm a few purchases, he likely can't articulate the policy that caused Visa to suspect fraud - Other than in general terms. Likely it's the same here.
    • Re: Free returns? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kenh ( 9056 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:22PM (#56655860) Homepage Journal

      So 'Free Returns' means 'Infinite number if Free Returns'?

      Non-defective returns cost retailers money, retailers are not in the business of loaning out their products.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

        So 'Free Returns' means 'Infinite number if Free Returns'?

        Non-defective returns cost retailers money, retailers are not in the business of loaning out their products.

        Obviously, the people banned did not get infinite number of free returns!

        The point is that there is no limit discussed in Amazon's terms of service for either their Prime membership OR their Free Returns section. So if there IS a limit, there is a reasonable expectation that customer would be made aware of that limit before they exceed it and get banned for life from Amazon.

        That said, Amazon appears to disagree. Here is the termination section of their Prime Membership terms

        Termination by Us:
        We may terminate your Prime membership at our discretion without notice. If we do so, we will give you a prorated refund based on the number of full months remaining in your membership. However, we will not give any refund for termination related to conduct that we determine, in our discretion, violates these Terms or any applicable law, involves fraud or misuse of the Prime membership, or is harmful to our interests or another user. Our failure to insist upon or enforce your strict compliance with these Terms will not constitute a waiver of any of our rights.

      • But free returns are specifically offered on things that have a lower likelyhood of suitability based on product type. I've never seen it available for electronics, appliances, tools, etc. But I see it all the time on clothing and housewares. I'm not sure how they decide when to offer it and when to not offer it, but it is clearly used as an advertising tool to increase the comfort level of a buyer who's "appreciation" of the product will certainly be dependent on the details that can't be captured in a p

      • Non-defective returns cost retailers money, retailers are not in the business of loaning out their products.

        On the other hand not having physical stores all over the country where customers can actually see the goods before buyig saves them vast amounts of money.

    • by Aereus ( 1042228 )

      I'm going to assume the people banned were doing a truly excessive amount of regular returns, but it would be nice to see the actual numbers for these people. They were probably abusing the system by buying say, 3 sizes of clothing for each garment they wanted, then returning the two that weren't the best fit. Doing that over and over again for years.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I often need to try a few sizes when I go to a store. Often a certain style just doesn't fit properly, period. Personally I wouldn't order clothes off the internet for this reason, but for a company wanting to sell clothes off the internet they should expect this.
        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          Part of the problem is that too few sizes and cuts are offered.
          SML just doesn't cut it (no pun intended). The stores that offer selections based on things like shoulder width or sleeve length are getting rarer every day.

          The worst waste is probably for socks and underwear. If it doesn't fit, it's not like they can repackage it and send it to anyone else. After it gets returned, it gets destroyed. For online stores in particular, where adding a "details" section doesn't take up precious wall and shelf spa

      • I'd argue that it's MORE expensive for them if you order 3 articles of clothing (one item, three sizes) and return two than if you order 21 articles of clothing and return 18. Most of the shipping cost borne by Amazon is for the package itself... the marginal cost of adding one more items is fairly low.

        To give an even more extreme example of potential clothing-related problems, suppose you bought Levi's jeans from Amazon. Levi's pair-to-pair consistency is basically nonexistent... you can try on 5 pairs of

    • Re:Free returns? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DedTV ( 1652495 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @06:33PM (#56655932)
      From better articles about this, it appears a large number of the bans were actually people who used returns as part of a fake review scheme. They'd 'buy' something, review it as a 'verified purchase', then return it at the last possible minute to get discounts, freebies or pay outs.
    • Re:Free returns? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @07:00PM (#56656072)

      They're banning "hundreds" of people out of the hundreds of millions of customers they have. These are people who are abusing the system, and they deserve the bans (well, maybe some of them don't, but I strongly suspect they all do). People like that are the reason why companies have to institute less lenient return policies, and by banning them Amazon can prevent abuse of their policies while still allowing people who may have legitimate reason for returning items to do so. In other words, Amazon can offer those free returns precisely because they ban people who abuse them, not because they ban people who use them.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by epine ( 68316 )

        These are people who are abusing the system, and they deserve the bans (well, maybe some of them don't, but I strongly suspect they all do).

        It's not good enough that some of the maybe don't, but certainly have almost no recourse if Amazon has screwed the pooch, whether by mistake, or malice, or malignant DNA.

        Google's no appeals whatsoever policy sure had an evil smell.

        And I generally think that Google has done okay on being a mammoth corporate entity, navigating the post–Gordon Gecko apocalyptic lands

  • I guess I won't be buying clothing from them. The stuff is never the size they claim it is.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I come to this place for actual news. Amazon has done this for years. []

    • I come to this place for actual news.

      You're coming to the wrong place, then. You must be new here.

  • Online shopping will always have more returns than brick 'n mortar. You can't actually examine the item, try it on, whatever before buying.
  • Amazon returns (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 )

    If I buy something and it's defective, I'm going to return it.

      If Amazon is selling junk, or "refurbished" items as new, that's a problem.

    But now I'm concerned that if as usual I order and pay for 1 of an item and receive 200 of them, whether I should just keep them so I'm not mis-categorized as a serial returner.

  • Youtube Un-boxers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bryanbrunton ( 262081 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @07:04PM (#56656088)

    There are people on YouTube who have channels devoted to unboxing Amazon items that they clearly have no intention of ever keeping.

    Many of the reviews are truly low on content because you can tell the person has unboxed his/her 50th item that day, and they don't have the energy or knowledge to say anything of value.

    Amazon isn't in the business of allowing these people to profit from free returns.

    • This is one of the most bizarre trends I've seen on Youtube. Why does anyone give a shit what it looks like out of the box? I'd much rather a Youtube video of someone who has used something for 2 months and then tells me about it afterwards. Or even better, not have to watch a youtube video.

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        I guess it's for items that just came out and that nobody has yet. An early review is always useful in your decision to buy or not.
        • Except the usefulness of these "unboxing" reviews is lower than a high resolution picture of the product on the website.

          I'm not against reviews, but these are not reviews. Hell the few unboxings I've seen never actually use the product but just comment on the nice colour of plastic, and how well it resists the saliver the "reviewer" is droolling on it. Hell I've seen someone comment on the exact plastic material the power plug is made out of, but would he dare plug it into the wall? Hell no.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        This is one of the most bizarre trends I've seen on Youtube. Why does anyone give a shit what it looks like out of the box? I'd much rather a Youtube video of someone who has used something for 2 months and then tells me about it afterwards. Or even better, not have to watch a youtube video.

        Because there are uses for unboxing videos - checking to see what's in the box, for example.

        However, there's a ton of fake reviews on YouTube because ... youtube money. You forget YouTube pays "creators" for videos, and

    • Well, that's an odd edge case. Each of those people is doing something that will be a direct loss to the manufacturer and Amazon, yet one can argue that an "unboxing video" ought to be a standard feature of any mail order product listing in 2018 and both Amazon and most manufacturers fail there. These people doing it for YouTube might be cheaper than any employee arrangement that they could invent. Amazon might consider letting this one slide, despite the direct costs if they have enough data intelligen

  • Thank God (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2018 @07:30PM (#56656206)

    I work retail and the amount of stupid is unreal.

    The whole I can return this at some point has completely removed personal responsibility. You can do whatever with said item, void even, the return policy as long as you pitch a big ole fit. That is all it takes for most items. Make sure to yell " I can get a better deal elsewhere or online!"

    Then you get the coupon losers. Cancer upon them.

    If you ever wondered about why checkout lines take forever and why there are so few people on the sales floor when you are there, thank these kind folk. You are just in the way of their get rich quick scheme. And they will raise hell if you say anything.

    Go early to find people out on the floor. Give them maybe some slack for poor people skills as they are there at this time to avoid people.

    Just some advice from nobody,...

  • That will not be easy to implement worldwide. In some jurisdictions, the law guarantee free (beyond postal fees) return of anything purchased remotely.
    • They are banning the users from further purchases, but they still respect return policy for old ones. In general there are no laws to force someone into doing business with you.

  • This seems like a USA thing.

    If you buy something and you have opened the package and the item was undamaged and as described, there should really be no right of return unless you pay a restocking fee. How is fair on the retailer if you made a bad purchasing decision. Retailers have bought this upon themselves.

    • Plenty of other reasons to return a product. My most recent return was a cell phone holster that lost a pin in the stand, which then caused it to fall apart. Looking at the product reviews after, I saw many reports of this. It wasn't a big purchase ($13), but its the principle: don't sell junk that falls apart in 3 weeks of normal use. Of course I returned it. Another couple weeks and I'd have been beyond the 30-day return window.

  • They've improved immensely. I ordered a bridging router that didn't meet my needs and all I had to do was tape a return label to the box and I had a refund in my account within an hour of dropping it off. They seem to aggressively curate third party vendors, as the quality and consistency of items delivered has been stellar in the last couple years. I'm still angry about the one-click patent, but the centuries of time saved driving to B&M... yeah I can live with that.

  • I wish they'd do the same to half the dumbass customers I sell to on ebay. They have had some of the stupidest reasons I've ever heard in my entire life to return something. You can't even imagine, trust me.
  • Rather than this unbalanced snippet. []

    I'm not saying Amazon is totally right on this, specially if there are clients who were wrongfully banned... but there are plenty of reasons why Amazon would ban people for repeated returns, and the situation isn't as clear cut as this snipped is making it sound.

    Basically, they have people who abuse the return system to get money from retailers in exchange for positive reviews on the product. Amazon is not the only one doing this, and it's

  • []"best+buy"+ban+returns

    I am sure many others too!

  • Actual cement blocks. I for one have no sympathy for them.

  • This wouldn't be tolerated in the UK (or wider EU which all have similar regulation). We have distance selling regulations built into consumer rights. I do find it very odd that so many American posters seem prepared to bend over for Corporate rights over.

    On the whole these regulations do favour the good companies and I've never had any issue with Amazon UK, but no end of trouble with ebay suppliers and ebay ignorance of consumer law. []

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.