The Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee: Between Soaring Sales and Raging Returns
What was the last bad shopping experience you had? A pair of trousers that turned out one size too small? The charger that wasn’t compatible with your phone? Do you remember the next thing you did? Anyone making a purchase in brick and mortar store can easily go back and return whatever it was that they didn’t like. With online shopping this is a different story, since there is no real shop to go back into. The same difficulties apply when you have trouble with your warranty claims. This is why Amazon offers its customers comprehensive buyer protection with the Amazon A-to-Z guarantee.
For the customers, this is a huge advantage. They can rely on Amazon in a warranty claim instead of having to clarify the matter with the seller. For you as a seller, however, the A-to-Z guarantee means that Amazon decides on the guarantee case arbitrarily and – as a rule – without involving the actual seller. To make matters worse, Amazon also takes warranty claims into account when calculating the seller’s overall performance, reducing your chances of winning the Buy Box should this perfomance not be convincing.
But first of all, let’s clarify the big questions: How does the Amazon A-to-Z guarantee work? Which conditions has Amazon set in place for them to apply? And what exactly does the buyer protection cover and how can customers make use of it?
What is the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee?
Shopping on the internet is always a small risk for customers: Does the product match the description? Does the seller have a good reputation? Will I perhaps receive defective or damaged items? These are all factors that can easily be eliminated in a brick and mortar store – in e-commerce, this is tends to be more difficult.
In order to take away such concerns and create a basis of trust, Amazon has introduced the free A-to-Z guarantee. This guarantees the customer that the online giant will intervene and refund the purchase price under certain conditions. Customer can therefore be sure that they will get their money back through the claim, even should the marketplace seller be very unhappy about this. From the perspective of the e-commerce giant this is a clever move, increasing customer confidence and sales alike.
When Does the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee Apply?
What are the requirements for a customer to submit an A-to-Z Amazon warranty claim? In principle, the customer must have purchased a physical product from a third-party provider via the Amazon website or used the Amazon payment service to purchase goods from a third-party provider. In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met for the Amazon A-to-Z guarantee to apply:
- The seller has not yet delivered the ordered goods even three calendar days after the last possible expected delivery date.
- The delivered item was defective or damaged.
- The delivered item did not correspond to the seller’s description on the product detail page.
- The seller has promised a refund or replacement delivery but has not arranged for it.
- Although the customer has returned the goods within the framework of the purchase contract, he didn’t receive a refund of the purchase price from the seller. In the case of international returns, the seller was unable to provide a local return address or, alternatively, a stamped postage stamp or a return shipping label for a free return.
- The customer was charged with additional costs (e.g. customs duties).
- On top of that, the customer must provide the seller with the opportunity to settle the matter before they can apply for an A-to-Z claim on Amazon. To do this, the customer must contact the seller via “My account” and give the seller 48 hours to respond. The actual warranty claim must be received by Amazon no later than 90 days after the order date.
Which Cases are Excluded from the Guarantee via Amazon?
The Amazon A-Z guarantee policy is extremely customer friendly. Buyers can rely on the A-to-Z Amazon guarantee when ordering via the online platform in the vast majority of cases. However, there are some exclusion criteria where the e-commerce giant does not provide a refund. This applies in particular to non-physical items such as payments for services, digital products and monetary payment methods like gift vouchers.
This means that anyone who wants to submit a warranty claim to Amazon that relates to an e-book or music download is not entitled to a refund. The same applies when paying by credit card or direct debit and the respective bank has revoked the debit. Similarly, customers are not entitled to the Amazon guarantee if the seller has not been notified within 14 days of the defective item being delivered or if the item in question is an opened health & beauty product.
Of course, all cases are also excluded from the Amazon product guarantee that does not meet the requirements. This may be the case, for example, because the product did correspond to the description on the product detail page or the shipment was delivered properly and the seller was able to prove this.
However, it is also possible that the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee claim is rejected because, for example, the buyer did not return the item or only wanted to make use of the guarantee at Amazon because they regretted the purchase.
Can an Amazon Buyer Withdraw the A-to-Z Guarantee Claim?
It takes some time for Amazon to check the warranty claim. In the meantime, it is, of course, possible that the matter will resolve itself, for example, if the seller and customer have agreed on a solution. As long as the claim is still being examined, sellers usually only have the option of asking the customer to withdraw the claim. The buyer can do this by contacting customer service or by replying to the confirmation email of the A-to-Z Amazon claim.
If the seller and buyer still agree after the guarantee has been granted, the customer should also contact Customer Service to trigger a new debit on their account for the specific order and to put the guarantee case on hold.
What Are the Consequences of an A-to-Z Warranty Claim for Amazon Sellers?
In principle, the rules for the Amazon A-to-Z guarantee sound reasonable: it applies, for example, in the event of defective goods or negligence on the part of the seller, who must be given a certain amount of time to clarify the problems before a guarantee claim can be made. The customer must also cooperate by providing information and returning the product.
However, in practice, things seem to be very different. Numerous sellers report in threads of relevant forums about their experiences and the massive problems with the guarantee for products sold on Amazon. Again and again, there are discussions about missing returns by the customer, inadmissible justifications and fraud or the difficult communication with the digital company. For example, the online company often decides to approve the Amazon A-to-Z guarantee and to refund the amount without having received a return from the customer. Therefore, for the Amazon seller, the A-to-Z guarantee, in review, often means both the loss of the purchase price and the goods.
Repercussions on the Seller’s Performance due to the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee
For marketplace sellers, however, things get even worse: firstly, seller performance plays a decisive role in the battle to win the Buy Box, and secondly, Private Label goods also have an influence on the ranking within the search results. If Amazon has assumed a guarantee for an order, this is considered a lack of orders at the expense of the seller. Therefore, it is included in the overall assessment of the seller’s performance.
The rate of order defects refers to the last 60 days and may not exceed 1%, otherwise, the seller’s account is threatened with suspension. However, in order to have a chance of winning the Buy Box, the rate should be as close as possible to 0%.
So, what can a seller do at this point? It is indeed a difficult situation but the best you can do at this point is act preemptively. Preventing receiving an order shortage in the first place! The best way to do this is through good and service-oriented customer communication. Respond promptly to customer enquiries and try to solve any problems quickly and easily, for example by providing a free replacement. If the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee claim is unjustified or even fraudulent, you should be able to prove this to Amazon, for example by providing proof of delivery from the delivery service. If a product is subject to an increasing number of warranty claims, check the description on the product detail page if necessary.
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