Amazon Bans Buyers for High Return Rates – How many is too many?

Amazon’s policy of suspending buyers’ accounts for “too many” returns has come to light in recent news. But, as we often see with seller account suspensions, what constitutes “too many” is not clearly defined.

There are no definitive standards that are set, and there are no clear guidelines laid out that for buyers to ensure that they comply with Amazon’s policies.  A sophisticated algorithm merely flags Amazon buyer accounts then quickly reviewed by some mysterious department of Amazon that will give the final yay or nay.

You are now at Amazon’s mercy and have the choice of 2 routes to take: Never buy/sell on their platform again or beg for their forgiveness.

If you choose the latter, be prepared to write to them an email (because this mysterious department does not/will not speak to any Amazon seller or buyer via telephone) expressing your sorrows and how you intend on taking certain steps to ensure that these unknown guidelines will never be broken again.  You will either receive a reinstatement email, warning you of the consequences of future actions or a generic “sorry, not good enough” email where you have the ability to continue pleading for a limited amount of time.

Amazon Bans Buyers: Here is an excerpt from The Guardian that elaborates on this:

“Computer programmer Greg Nelson is a self-confessed Amazon addict, buying hundreds of items on its site. But after sending back 37 items of 343 purchased, the online giant has blocked his account with immediate effect – and told him he would lose a gift card balance that he had on the account. He insists there was a genuine reason for all his returns over the past two years – the goods were either faulty, damaged or not as described. However, Amazon has refused to let him continue buying from the site without giving him, in his words, a ‘proper explanation’. Amazon told Nelson that the money held on his account as a gift card balance is lost to him, as gift vouchers can only be used on the site and have no transferable value.”

Banned by Amazon for returning faulty goods

This issue is much more pressing than an average Joe losing his ability to buy sneakers on Amazon and get his free 2-day shipping because he subscribed to Amazon Prime.

Amazon Company OverviewValuesStatistic

Net sales of Amazon in 2015
$107.01bn
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Price of Amazon’s acquisition of Zappos
$1,200m
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Number of Amzon.com employees
230,800
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Number of worldwide active Amazon customer accounts
304m
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Amazon’s outbound shipping costs
$1.54bn
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Benchmark & User Demographics

ValuesStatistic

Amazon’s brand value
$45.73bn
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Unique monthly visitors to Amazon sites
192.7m
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Year-over-year revenue growth of Amazon
20%
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Amazon.com’s online user reach in the United States
69%
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Amazon Kindle & Web Services

ValuesStatistic

Amazon Kindle e-reader market share
73.7%
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Kindle Fire tablet content revenue
$5,246.8m
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Annual revenue of Amazon Web Services
$7,880m
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Statista Amazon Statistics

As of 2018, Amazon accounts for almost 50% of all e-commerce sales made daily.

107 billion dollars in net sales last year – 304 million customer accounts – 192 million unique monthly visitors – and most frightening, 20% growth. 

These numbers are alarming, to say the least.  What they tell us is that we have an e-commerce empire that makes their own rules, does not disclose these rules, shuts down all competitors that formally allowed sellers/buyers to turn to, banishes people for life and is growing at an astonishing rate.

Amazon has well surpassed the point of being a successful company and into the very select handful of organizations that have a direct influence on the global economy and our American government.  1.5 billion in outbound shipping cost last year – one can suppose that lends a helping hand to the suffering USPS.   Amazon is a tremendously powerful organization.

Now, take all of the above, and apply it to a scenario of a third-party Amazon seller who has been forced to utilize Amazon’s platform / pay Amazon’s fees because they simply cannot compete with this empire.  This could be John Smith from rural Idaho, who supports his family selling auto accessories or the multi-million-dollar company based in the heart of Manhattan.  In both cases, Amazon holds great power over these people.  One man needs to feed his family.  One company needs to pay their employees.  With no other marketplace to turn to, no exact guidelines laid out to follow and not even a human being to get on the phone with – it was checkmate before the first pawn was even moved.