Amazon quickly established itself as the seller of everything and anything you could possibly want, connecting all the corners of the world in one place. Then the company themselves with easy free returns.
But does Amazon check serial numbers on returns? How closely is Amazon examining the items that come back to the warehouse? It’s an interesting question, and I’ve got an answer!
Does Amazon Check Serial Numbers On Returns In [cureentyear]?
Amazon and its third-party sellers do regularly check the serial numbers on returns, so it is not advised to attempt (by maliciousness or otherwise) to return an item that is different from the original purchase in 2024. Checking serial numbers on returns helps Amazon crack down on fraudsters trying to take advantage of its generous return policy.
Let’s look more closely at whether or not Amazon knows if you returned the wrong item, if Amazon ever rejects returns, if you can get banned from returning items too often, and everything else you need to know!
Does Amazon Know if You Return the Wrong Item?
Amazon probably knows if you’re returning the wrong item – but that’s not a definite yes, let me explain.
As a tech company, that means Amazon is going to be meticulous about numbers.
That being said, It’s true that Amazon has an incredibly generous return policy on many items, but the company is also aware that if too much slips past, the losses would be staggering.
So a few mistakes might get past them, even a noticed one if the offense isn’t that great.
But fraudulent behavior that is ongoing, however sneaky, is not going to escape them (or not for too long).
You might get away with initiating a return, sending back a used item, and keeping the new one, a few times, but don’t count on making it a habit.
Look at the example this Redditor mentioned: Amazon let a guy wrack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent returns.
When the amount got to be high enough, he was turned into the FBI. The Charlotte, NC man took a plea deal and is facing 20 years in prison, as well as a huge fine.
If you get away with your schemes a few times, I’d caution you against becoming emboldened and taking it a step further.
If there’s one thing Amazon’s algorithms can detect, it’s patterns of behavior.
Does Amazon Actually Check Returned Items?
According to some Amazon sellers in the know on this Quora thread, Amazon does check returned items, but – under normal circumstances – only up to a point.
As Chloe explains, “…Amazon only check to see if the item was returned in the new state. If it is not, it will be classified as unfulfillable.”
She continues, “Amazon won’t necessarily confirm all of the contents are included in new condition, but rather what condition the packaging is in.”
This rings true, especially when compared to the comment on this Reddit thread, where someone who bought an Amazon pallet reported what they found in it.
“The best one I got,” they said, “was a piece of metal with an iPhone screen glued to it!”
Yes, some enterprising trickster got away with a new iPhone and returned just a piece of metal with a screen – and it worked.
The same commenter also said that people would put their old knives in the box for the new knives.
Will Amazon Reject A Return?
If you get caught returning an item that is incorrect – whether you meant to or not – Amazon or the third-party seller is authorized to reject the return.
Amazon can reclaim the refund, if it was already put through, and do not have to send the item back to you.
Instead, according to Amazon’s return policy page, the item will be donated or recycled.
If you accidentally sent an incorrect return item and you want it back, you had better contact Customer Service as quickly as you can, otherwise, the item might not be able to be located.
There are also some items that cannot be returned, such as Amazon gift cards, different types of prepaid cards, plants and flowers, and even some electronics.
Can You Get Banned From Amazon For Returning Too Much?
As I mentioned above, if there is one thing Amazon’s algorithm knows, it’s patterns of behavior, and when it picks up a suspicious one, there is a chance the account could get closed.
ToughNickel.com reports that Amazon made a statement to CNBC on the subject: “…there are rare occasions where someone abuses our service over an extended period of time.”
It continues, “We take action when appropriate to protect the experience for all our customers.”
Tough Nickel also says that bans might include returns only, but the customer can still make purchases.
Why Does Amazon Refund Without Return?
Have you ever initiated a return with Amazon, only to be refunded and told not to bother with the return?
In some cases, it actually costs Amazon less to simply let you keep the return, give you back your money and send you a new item.
If you can believe it, it all comes down to expensive logistics – which encompasses a whole range of actions, including “return shipping, re-stocking, and inspection.”
Amazon might not be super thorough about checking serial numbers or the condition of items that have been returned, but the company is always looking out for patterns of behavior.
One or two fraudulent return might slip past them unnoticed, but you risk, at best, account suspension, or much worse, FBI prosecution, if you make a habit out of it.