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July 3, 2019

Amazon FBA customer returns with Benjamin Chambers

FBA Customer Returns Report-

How to get your money back as an Amazon FBA seller!

with Ben Chambers of Refund Hunter

Amazon FBA Customer Returns are a tough area to get reimbursed for because of a few factors:

    • Simple thing is detecting when customer been refunded and not returned product
    • Hard thing is to know whether Amazon initiated the refund or the customer
  • Sometimes the seller will refund things themselves
    • Amazon will say – you’re ineligible for a reimbursement
  • Some companies are aware of this and they also provide return labels to own warehouses NOT back to Amazon
    • For them, they already know what they are doing
    • Other sellers do put everything through Amazon
    • Especially higher volume folks

For FBA , amazon is supposed to handle reimbursements generated by FBA customer returns.
However, if customer contacts seller directly, the seller often refunds them directly.
Issue is if that customer does not return product, amz will know seller refunded customer and won’t reimburse the seller.
Often seller will say – “Don’t worry about returning product”. But this communication is not included in reports.

Doing this yourself

  1. look at refund report –

reports>payments>transaction report – sort refunded orders

  1. fba customer returns report

Generated whenever a customer goes back
2 FCs for returns Las Vegas and Kentucky

  1. Also check a 2nd report – inventory event report

Unsellable inventory – getting reimbursed 

How should seller handle the mix of volume and detail?

Download stuff into a pre made excel spreadsheet

How does Refund Hunter handle the mix of volume and detail?

Their software crunches through a lot of stuff.
The report reading is the automated part.
Also have account managers who

  • will double check on that
  • Raise the tickets to be filed – raising Cases with Amazon

Values you add is understanding the level of understanding of a particular Seller Central employee

They see 100s/1000s  of different cases with Amazon
Ben does a lot of training
Deciphering what Amazon agents say is important
Realising which Amazon agents know what they are doing.


Reimbursement product – charge 25% of what they get back.

How to Refund Hunter

Seller central API access
Amazon’s info and api is not always same as see on seller central
Access different reports
Handle case creation and followup
Take 25% of whatever gets reimbursed
By invoice – detailed invoice with case and reimbursement id

To explore working with Ben and his colleagues, contact Refund Hunter Here


For an interview with Ben Chambers on getting your FBA Seller Refunds back, CLICK HERE


Michael Veazey
Welcome, take a collective that is fairly straightforward, the inbound shipping thing can be dealt with pretty straightforward me now even though I was being nasty about it to say politely tell us about customer returns, because I can imagine that once you include the customer, he’s also a capricious beast in the mix, that it starts to get more complex.

Benjamin Chambers 1:15
So this one is, you know, the main thing is customers just not returning the products within the window frame or you know, not at all, they just don’t even return the product at all. The hard part with this is, the hard part that all reimbursement services have is this is one really big issue is because a lot of sellers will what Amazon calls a seller initiated reimbursement, where for FBA policy, Amazon is the one who’s supposed to be handling all of the customer return process. But a customer will contact the seller directly and say, hey, I want a reimbursement for this product. And then the seller will say the correct way shouldn’t be directing them to Amazon, customer support. And the Amazon agent will be the one who issues them the reimbursement. But a lot of times sellers who just want to take care of the problem and you know, provide a better customer experiences, just say I will refund you right now. And they will go in and click the refund order. The problem is if that customer does not return the products, Amazon will know that the seller was the one who provided the reimbursement and Amazon will say you went outside of FDA policy, you do not get reimbursed for this. It also is possible that the seller just tells the customer, here’s your refund, and don’t worry about returning the product. The problem is that we see on the software side of the reports, you know, we download these reports, we’re looking at the reports, you know, we don’t necessarily see this communication that’s going on between the seller and the buyer. And we just think that it’s you know, this customer maliciously did not return the product when that isn’t the case at all. This is a bit trickier situation. But this one, we usually just go off of seller behavior. So if we kind of see this seller initiating behavior happen regularly, then we realize this is just this, you know what we kind of, we just kind of stopped filing, we start kind of looking for this opportunity for the sellers, we realized that the seller is a bit more apt to kind of sidestep the policy to provide a better customer experience.

Michael Veazey 3:23
Yeah, it’s an interesting one. And I think it’s worth addressing this because the most important thing I think, for most sellers is to avoid negative reviews. Because even if you spend quite a large amount of money and you avoid one negative reviews, they say you have it’s a newish product launch recently, or it’s in a small market place where there aren’t just isn’t much volume. If you have 50 reviews, and you get one or two one star reviews that could suddenly bother your average down half a star. And right my experiences we all know that normally pulls the conversion rates in half, which is just horrendous financially. So is probably worth even for a modest skews several hundred dollars to avoid one negative review. And for something that’s doing really well, but doesn’t have that many reviews. But there’s a lot of sales volume at stake is probably worth thousands. So yeah, that is one of those things that people do. And there’s a very legitimate business reason. But I think what you’re implying is it’s probably a good idea to make it a policy and formalize it and then communicate that to people like yourselves, so that everybody knows where they stand say, look, our policy is we never asked anyone to return any item, unless its value is over X dollars. $30 say $50 or something. I mean, I certainly if I had a $5 widget that I was selling for $20. I never wanted them to return it because I don’t want it to be going back into the system and a defective product be potentially send to a customer. So very definitely did not want it in the system, which is a different reason again, right. So I think as long as one has clear policy about that, and it’s a policy rather than just something you kind of do but isn’t clear, then communicate with people like yourselves. So just something to reflect on there. Because there are very legitimate reasons for doing it. Equity, and so people who don’t, and that’s fair enough if you got expensive products as well. Yeah. Okay. So that’s that’s one issue that that makes sense. You’ve got to be clear about so what happens then, if we’re not in that situation? what’s the what’s the way forward to find out about getting money back out of Amazon that they owe us?

Benjamin Chambers 5:19
So this one is, again, the concept of is very straightforward. You look at your refund report, and you look at your customer return report, and you just line up the two, you will just see every single order that was refunded. And then you just check if those orders were in fact actually returned.

Michael Veazey 5:39
So what were those reports again, so it’s the refund reports and the

Benjamin Chambers 5:43
customer return report, customer return report, okay? So the refund when you get from your the payments tab in your seller central, there is a report and then there’s payments. And in there in the transaction view, you can find this, you can sort all the refunded orders. And then yet you cross reference that with the customer return report, which is the report that gets generated whenever an item goes back to the returns warehouse. So I think in the US like the Las Vegas and I think in Kentucky so there are two warehouses that are specifically for customer returns. I think Las Vegas for the US market. I think Las Vegas is the West Coast and Kentucky is east coast. So if you check your customer returned reports, every single customer return is being returned to Las Vegas or Kentucky. There might be a Miami and there on occasion. But these are customer returned processing warehouses. After they get processed, they will then get redistributed back out to the normal warehouses, depending on if it’s sellable if it’s unsellable. You know whatnot. So it’s at the initial facility that Amazon is determining what is the condition of the product. And then for example, so let’s say a customer returns a product that’s it’s still sellable. So Amazon then needs to actually send this product back to, you know, Ontario eight, you know, which are down in Southern California. So now they have to send this product from Las Vegas to Southern California, you then have to check a second report to verify that the item checked into Ontario eight. And that doesn’t always happen. Right.

Michael Veazey 7:31
So these reports is that one, then

Benjamin Chambers 7:33
that’s the inventory event to report. So, you know, just because you check the customer return report, doesn’t mean it’s actually going back in your industry. And it does the same goes also for unscalable product, you do have unscalable products that Amazon says I’m going to return to your inventory that they don’t for some reason or another it doesn’t actually appear in your unsellable inventory. A lot of people ask me, can we ask for reimbursement for customers damaged products? And I say no. But if Amazon loses that customer damaged product, you can ask for reimbursement. And that actually happens? Not very often, but it happens often enough.

Michael Veazey 8:14
Ok. So the customer damaged product. This is another simple Golden Nugget is the customer damaged products will not get reimbursement from Amazon. Is that right?

Benjamin Chambers 8:23

Michael Veazey 8:23
Okay, so in theory, you could chase the customer up and ask them for money back. And that will be really fun when they leave for once to have a few I guess. But yeah, I guess that’s the only way to get the money back. Right or just accept that is cost of doing business?

Benjamin Chambers 8:38
Yeah, the cost of doing FBA business FBA?

Michael Veazey 8:43
Fair enough? Yeah. Okay, well, that’s worth knowing someone at least we’re not going to spend, you know, a lot of time and energy training at the VA to go and bang their head against a brick wall there. So yeah, if a customer is damaged your stuff, it’s tough luck. And I guess, you know, to be fair, I mean, Amazon’s created this very, very customer centric business model. That’s what they get people signing up for. That’s why they get incredible conversion rates. And the downside of that is that they like spoil children’s, I suppose. You’re gonna have to take both sides of the equation now. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Okay, so that’s the DIY on that stuff. So there’s obviously a lot of detail that goes into any given one of these issues with the reports, you gotta check and double check and cross check and allow laughing nuances. Like, you know, the seller has a tendency to reimburse people themselves and things like that. So how do you guys deal with more? How can anyone who’s trying to do it deal with that mixture of detail, but also the volume? Because the volume of transactions, even with a relatively modest number of skews, presumably ends up pretty, pretty damn high? Because you’ve got a one transactions, presumably by the sound of it can end up in about six or seven reports? What’s the solution for kind of the mix of detail and volume that you got to deal with in this situation?

Benjamin Chambers 9:54
as a seller?

Michael Veazey 9:55
Yeah, well, I let’s talk about that as a seller first, and then we’ll talk about what you guys how you guys handle it as well.

Benjamin Chambers 10:01
So as the seller, I would just say, if you are savvy enough with Microsoft Excel, you can create an infrastructure of formulas and cross referencing things, that if you basically build out an infrastructure, you could download these reports, and just copy them into an Excel workbook that you already have these pre made formulas, you can essentially speed up the work yourself. And you know, and whether you have one skew or 100 skews, it’s doing the same process of finding these discrepancies for you. If you’re not good with this good luck, you know, there because it’s once you reach a certain number of volume, it’s, I would just say, it’s no possible way to without the assistance of software, there’s humanly, there’s no way that you can do this to stay on top of it.

Michael Veazey 10:56
Okay, so sooner or later, you’re going to need software then basically

Benjamin Chambers 10:59
means that okay,

Michael Veazey 11:01
which is where you guys come in?

Unknown Speaker 11:02
I guess. So.

Michael Veazey 11:05
So is your thought is, though, is what sales zoom offers? It’s a very important question. Actually, I should address this. Is it something that is purely software that the, the users would would interface with directly? Or, you know, you’ve implied that there’s a bit of human judgment going on? So do you have sort of account managers that deal with it as well?

Benjamin Chambers 11:24
Correct. So our software is downloading all the reports, and so forth. And in the case of the customer returns, that, you know, if we’re having a consistent fail rate with these tickets, you know, this can trigger a flag for an account manager to reach out to the seller. And say, you know, you know, we noticed that this type is failing more often than not, is this your kind of company policy. And working with the seller that way and figuring out if they have certain tendencies to do ways we I’ve personally worked with some sellers, where some sellers say, give me a list of I have 200 orders that haven’t been returned. And I will sort through and tell you which ones, I initiated the refund to myself, which were like, well, if you want to do the footwork for enough, but the seller took a week and he sat down, he went through 200 orders, and he just checked, yes, no, yes. No, yes. No, yes. No, he gave the document back to us. And then from there, we do have some other sellers who just say, No, I don’t want to do the footwork. And so sometimes we’ll have account managers just spend, hey, you know, spend two hours on your Saturday and go through and make sure you kind of go through their account and make sure we don’t file any bad tickets for them. There’s always exceptions, where we do have a more human heavy interaction with, with everything to make sure we do things correctly.

Michael Veazey 12:48
Yeah, okay, interesting. So you got a nice blend of sort of human machine interface there and makes a lot of sense. So talking about that, on the other side of the equation in Amazon, obviously, we had they have very rigid, sometimes not one things, particularly well architected computer systems, but there they go. And then definitely very variable human element in the sense of probably very badly trained employees, or they certainly cross that way. So how do you deal with that sort of variability in the Amazon system?

Benjamin Chambers 13:20
As far as the agents answering

Unknown Speaker 13:22
the agents? Yeah. Oh.

Benjamin Chambers 13:25
And if you sell in the European marketplaces, good luck, because I have discovered the Amazon agents who do support an EU are horribly trained. You send them stuff for you say, Hey, you know, there are 10 items that were damaged. And they reply back, oh, we didn’t find any last items. What are you talking about? And they’re like, my email very clearly says damaged. There’s no room for misunderstanding here. This has come from going through thousands of messages. For me personally, because I was brought in salesroom about a year ago, to kind of, they had a basic structure of the product. But it was to really Hey, you know, we didn’t make sure that this is streamlined. And everything is within policy, and we’re doing things correctly. And so to figure out how to best go through this, you know, circus of Amazon ticket filing was to just simply go through hundreds and thousands and thousands of messages with different agents and basically figure out these scenarios or whenever we have bad agents, these scenarios are agents who just they’re not being but you know, you do get some agents are just being very lazy. And just say, I’m closing this ticket. You do have some that? So in the case of so going back to the customer return report, and I think it’s checked in and an Amazon says I’m going to return it to your inventory, you then have to check the inventory event report in line. These are a lot of Amazon agents don’t actually know about that. They just see the customer returns report, when they say, oh, it says it was returned. You know, and we have to reply back. We’re not saying it wasn’t returned, we’re saying it wasn’t returned to the warehouse that it’s supposed to, you know, it was checked into Vegas, but it didn’t check into Ontario, you know, and so that a lot of times the agents say, oh, okay, now I see what you’re saying. And so this is a case of just the Amazon agents are not well trained to understand what is actually going on. And that’s the frustrating part, you try to, you know, we even specifically formulate in our messages. We know it was checked in, but we don’t see it in the inventory of element, but you still get these Amazon agents who don’t read the messages.

Michael Veazey 15:39
So you basically need somebody at the side, the seller side or what you guys do, who understands the possible missing information that so the things that the agents are missing, that they should be knowing, but don’t and kind of gently, politely point that out to them say, Okay, I understand that it’s in the customer report, what we didn’t see is an x y Zed report, this event A and then you can actually spell it out to them at that point, and they can do their job. Exactly. Okay. Okay. Yeah. So there isn’t there is an art in all these different areas. And like in suspension in a, which is a deeply unpleasant area, obviously, a lot of us but you know that there is an art to reading between the lines, but and then sometimes this is not about reading between the lines is the opposite. It’s like the ages to know the lines were there to be read as a metaphor, but you know what I mean? Yeah. Okay. So you guys obviously got a massive handle on all this stuff. I mean, I have to say, as I said before, there are many areas where it’s lovely, when a an expert comes on and talks about the area they do, and then gently mentions their service at the end, you might possibly want to do it, but most people will do it themselves. This feels very much like an area that a lot of people will want to outsource particularly, there’s no monthly minimum, which is sounds very powerful. So tell us a little bit more about if people want to go ahead and use your service, how they do that.

Benjamin Chambers 16:52
So there is the onboarding process, which we get API access to your account. So it’s the the your seller, central API access is how we download all of these reports. The one very frustrating part is, which I have learned is Amazon’s information. And Amazon’s API is not always the same information that you see on Seller Central, which is a hugely frustrating thing. Because sometimes the information that we get in the API doesn’t actually line up with the seller central information. And Amazon they record they say, Oh, yeah, the report you’re looking at doesn’t have all the information. I’m like, Come on, guys. You know, your multibillion dollar company, surely you can, you know, have the stuff lined up. We be integrated with your seller central, we will get access to all the different reports. So we will handle the case creation, the case follow up and then on refund Hunter. So I guess I should, we should actually, we’re not I think we have to give you a special link for you. We can give folks a special promotion, after you get this aired out that they can get it discount on. I think it will be we’ve always changed it for different events. Sometimes, sometimes it’s like a $15 credit, sometimes it’s a $50 credit offer figure.

Michael Veazey 18:12
Alright, well, we’ll put that in the show notes. So

Benjamin Chambers 18:15
don’t take people straight to the to the signup page. Yeah, if people want to access that, I would just go to amazing fba.com forward slash sales zoom Si, le s, z? Or Zed? Yes. So that’s fine. We’ll figure that out. But said you’ll be able to do some kind of deal for the listeners. And that makes sense. What so how do you charge because we didn’t ask about that. I mean, okay, there’s no minimum charge, do you take a percentage of refunds that you get it, so we take a 25% of whatever we get reimbursed back. So how we line it up is we line up any reimbursement that was given due to our ticket. So in the reimbursement report, you have your reimbursement Id call them then you have a case Id call them. So typically, it would be our ticket 123 that in this year, the reimbursement it will be in the reimbursement report, the seller gets, you know, his money deposited into his regular Amazon account that whatever bank account or credit card he has linked to his selling store, and then a couple weeks later, we will invoice the seller with a detailed invoice of every reimbursement ID along with the case ID that we created for them.

Michael Veazey 19:23
That make sense. So basically, you’re going to do by invoice rather than take it off them straight up front. But yeah, 10 5%. Okay, healthy percentage. But I guess the question is whether people would have actually got that reimbursement or not

Unknown Speaker 19:36
space, right.

Michael Veazey 19:38
Now you look at it, and you’ve got to figure this stuff out for yourself, obviously. I mean, you know that if you’re good with pivot tables, as you say, and you can sell them with vas, sure, you could do it in house. On the other hand, if your money sitting there, and you’re not actually going to get round to getting it reimbursed at all, because you’re just too damn busy, then I guess it makes a lot of sense to outsource it and say, You know what, you handle this, and you can get a healthy fee and will take the money that was never going to be there anyway. So yeah, interesting, as it depends on people’s situation. So I have to make a judgment on now. But yeah, okay, interesting. So that’s how people go for that, if they want to go for it. So we’ll set up a link, as I said, amazing, fba.com, forward slash sales zoom for this interview, which will also have any links, if people want to sign up for that, and go ahead. Any other things people would need to know to use sales zooms, actual service?

Benjamin Chambers 20:28
I guess going back to your point, your science, people do like to have a VA, we have come across quite a few customers who say, you know, they currently have us do this, and always tell them, you know, you can sign up and let us know to not file tickets for you. And then we can show you a potential earning of what we think is there. So we had seller a couple months ago. He’s like, Oh, yeah, I have a VA take care of this for me. I said, All right. I said, Well, sign up. We won’t file tickets for you. But just take a look at your potential learning. I think it’s looking up to like, $3,000, like, despite having a VA, there are these other situations that for some, you know, we’re not going to get 100% of that, but it’s you know, we’ll get a healthy chunk of that back. And so there’s nothing wrong with I even I’ve told some people you know, you can have your V age look for the damage and last situations will turn that feat, you know, will turn those ticket types off for you. And we’re just going to worry about these other kind of niche areas that are harder to find.

Michael Veazey 21:29
That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, good. Well, that’s a very sensible to hear. So in other words, you can just, you know, your, your service for a big seller. I mean, 25%, could be potentially a lot of money. But on the other hand, if they weren’t going to get it back anyway, because it’s just too specialist, or the amount of manpower that would actually even with a big number of if you got a look across a lot of skews, the manpower might still be in house just too expensive to make it viable. So yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So you can really pick and pack you can sort of mix and match. Exactly, yeah. Okay. Makes it sense. Yeah. Good. Okay. So there’s lots of different ways that people can explore working with your actually work with you, rather than just taking ones with the package that’s very worth now. We discussed this about this podcast quite a while ago, and I hear rumors that you’ve got a PPC optimization software that is also going to become available, how are things going.

So basically, Ben, thank you for taking us through this whole journey with the reimbursements and refunds and so forth. It does sound like a very, very complex area. And I knew it was bound to be complex. I didn’t personally know that many reports involved. So I’m not really I suppose of trusted advisor to refund me when it when I thought it was supposed to, as I said, in the beginning of the show that I’ve got a friend who is a British based but sells in the US almost exclusively, I think he’s probably expanded to Europe by now. But after one q4, he was owed $120,000 by an so it really is not a small side issue. It’s actually for the big seller, a very, very, very big source of cash, let’s put it positively if you get it back. so incredibly worth handling. And you’ve given us some great ideas of being a DIY. Also, you guys obviously very expert in this area. So worth checking out your services, you said you can mix and match and sort of pick off the things that you want to do or, you know, quite customizable service, which is really nice. I mean, I guess that’s why having a human element, as well as just being software is in as a nice mix for the for the sellers who are using it. So that’s great stuff, any parting words that you would like to give us to minimize refunds, or to speed up or make easier the process of getting the money back from Amazon?

Benjamin Chambers 23:46
Number one, the easiest, again, going back to that inbound situation is keep your paperwork, have it organized. This is something that you can do yourself, I would say is the easiest way. Other than that, I definitely encourage folks to try the inventory reconciliation, process yourself, download these reports, see what’s going on, become familiar. file a couple tickets yourself. And then once you get big enough, you know, give us a try. And we’ll kind of handle everything for you from there.

Michael Veazey 24:15
makes total sense. Great. Well, not much else to say that. It’s just get in there and get your money back out of Amazon folks, really isn’t it because it’s just easy to assume because of the complexity. The lazy easy route is to assume they’re doing what they should do. And actually, if that’s resulting in thousands or 10s, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of that of your money in their pockets, worth making the effort, folks. So Ben, thank you so much for coming on to share your expertise on this area.

Benjamin Chambers 24:44
Yeah, thank you for having me. Michael is a great weekend to talk and share some knowledge.

Michael Veazey 24:47
Yeah, great to hear the detail from the horse’s mouth. So thanks very much for coming on.

Watch my full interview with Ben Chambers

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