Amazon forces UPS on sellers for holiday returns

Amazon sellers may be forced to pay UPS rates for returns this holiday season. This is another example of how little control sellers have over the policies they extend to customers when selling on online marketplaces.

Amazon is conducting a month-long “experiment” on the policy to understand shopper behavior. From September 5 through October 2, 2022, Amazon will offer buyers the option to select UPS when sending in their seller-completed returns – it already offers the option to select USPS for returns.

Items that will be part of the test are returns made through the prepaid return label program that weigh less than 15 oz and 130 inches in circumference.

Amazon touted the new test as a way to increase sales: “Offering shoppers multiple shipping options will give them the flexibility to drop off their return at the nearest UPS store and encourage them to buy more from sellers,” he writes.

“It must be so negligible that I feel like Amazon thinks we’re stupid for just implying it’ll be good for us,” one seller replied.

During testing, sellers may request reimbursement for the difference between UPS and USPS shipping charges. However, if Amazon makes this a permanent policy change, it’s unclear if it would continue to pay the difference when customers use a higher UPS rate.

A seller wondered how he would know the difference between the UPS rate charged and what the cost would have been had it been returned via USPS.

Another seller said Amazon should automate the process rather than expecting sellers to do the math and request a refund: “If Amazon knows it will, why isn’t it automated? responsible, and develop internal accounting, Amazon.”

Another seller pointed out that UPS charges high additional fees and asked, “we use small shippers, and sometimes we receive the return item in large boxes…why should the seller pay?”

The seller also pointed out that shipping via UPS could cost more than the value of the product – “Is there a hidden program to promote refunds without returns”, they asked.

An additional concern raised by the seller: UPS can make adjustments weeks later.

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