Seller Central Tip #1 – How to Check if “Returned” Items are Actually Returned to FBA

Amazon FBA Returns

It happens probably more often than you know. A customer requests a refund from Amazon but never actually returns the refunded item. Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you once 45 days has past, but sometimes Amazon “forgets.” Of course, Amazon doesn’t really forget, but for some reason, these reimbursements are not done 100% of the time. When this happens, it’s up to you to contact Amazon and remind them that they owe you a reimbursement.

When Amazon refunds your customer, Seller Support will send you an email with the subject line “Refund initiated for order.” I always move these emails to a dedicated folder in my email system. Amazon allows the customer 45 days to return the item to Amazon, so it’s a good idea to set up a reminder on your smartphone to check on this item in 45 days.

Ok, so saving these Return Notification emails from Amazon is a good idea, but what happens if you didn’t save that email? Well, you’re in luck because there is another way to see what items have been returned (and why).

1. Login to Seller Central and click on REPORTS at the top of the screen. 
2. Click on the FULFILLMENT link under REPORTS. 
3. In the CUSTOMER CONCESSIONS section on the left side column, click on FBA CUSTOMER RETURNS.

Or you can do this to generate a Returns Report:

1. Login to Seller Central and hover the cursor over REPORTS at the top of the screen. 
2. Click on the PAYMENTS link under REPORTS. 
3. Click on the TRANSACTION VIEW tab.
4. From there filter view by Refund, select the time frame, and click Update. 

Now that we know what items have been refunded to your customers, we need to find out if the item has indeed been returned. Here is how to do that (skip to step 7 if you have the Merchant SKU or ASIN from the above mentioned Returns Report):

1. Look at your Refund Notification email from Amazon and copy the order number. 
2. Login to Seller Central and hover the cursor over ORDERS at the top of the screen. 
3. Click on MANAGE ORDERS. 
5. Paste the order number in the search bar and click SEARCH at the bottom of the page. 
6. On the next page, you’ll be able to see exactly which item was returned. From this page copy the item’s Merchant SKU. 
7. Now, on the top of the Seller Central page, hover over REPORTS and click on FULFILLMENT. 
8. On the left side of the column, in the Inventory section, click on the SHOW MORE option.
10. Paste the Merchant SKU in the search bar, make sure the event date includes the date of the purchase (or just choose LAST 365 DAYS if you’re not sure, and click GENERATE REPORT. 
11. From there you should see all of the activity this item has experienced. Here is how to understand this report: 

Transaction Type

Receipt – Amazon warehouse has received this item from the seller.
WhseTransfers – Amazon moved the item to a different fulfillment center.
Adjustments – Amazon lost, damaged or found your inventory.
Shipments – Item was shipped to a customer.
CustomerReturns – Customer returned an item to Amazon warehouse.
VendorReturns – Seller removed item to return it to them.

If the customer returned the item to Amazon, then you should see an entry for CustomerReturns and a positive number in the quantity column.

Below is an example of an item that was received by an Amazon warehouse on May 24, 2017. A customer purchased the item on June 16 and returned it to Amazon on July 4

12. Finally, if you see there is no entry for CustomerReturns on this report and the 45-day window has passed, then it’s up to you to contact Seller Support and open up a case.

Here is a quick video walk-through on how to open up a case with Seller Support.

seller-support When you open the case with Seller Support, simply ask them to look into this return for you. After I enter in the specific item information, I usually say something like this: “The buyer of this item was given a refund, but failed to return the item to an FBA warehouse. It’s been over 45 days since the refund was given. Please reimburse me the original sales price. Thank you.” Most of the time I’ll get a quick response from Amazon stating that a reimbursement will be issued soon.

If you ever get a response from Amazon stating something like “this item was returned to Amazon on 7/12/17 and was added to your inventory,” then you can follow up and send them a screen shot of the Inventory Detail Report. You can ask them to look again as this item’s Inventory Detail Report doesn’t show the item was returned to your inventory. This will help you avoid a Seller Support worker who is using a standard “copy and paste” response and not actually looking into the details of the item.

How do you handle returns? Any other tips you’d like to share with other FBA sellers?

For more Seller Central Tips, just click here.


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82 responses to “Seller Central Tip #1 – How to Check if “Returned” Items are Actually Returned to FBA

  1. I’ve never re-check it (my refund and returned items) ’till I read your great post. My luck is it lower than o.2% 🙂

    Many Thanks

  2. You’re welcome! Enjoy the reimbursement money that will soon be coming your way.

  3. How do you handle an item that you have multiples of? How would you ever know if a refunded item had been returned? Thx for your help.

  4. Great question! I would just open up a case and ask Amazon to look into it anyway. They have the information… so since they don’t offer it up in an “easy to find out” way, go ahead and ask them to look into it. They will be able to tell you if the item was returned and added back to your inventory at any time.

  5. Great post Stephen!

  6. THANK YOU for this post! I have never been able to figure out to pull the needed reports for my returns/ reimbursements.

    This is now my project for tomorrow. It will be good to get some action ( one way or another) on old refunds.

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  10. For the question about multiples, run the Returns report and see what Amazon did with the item. Use this report to see when Amazon simply put the inventory back in active status.

  11. Hi thanks for this info (I got here from the new ebook)

    Isn’t there a big difference between the fulfillment/returns report that has only things that actually got back to amazon as opposed to payment/refunds that has all customer return requests.

    So the way I do it is see all my refunds check if it was received in returns report and if it was not I search reimbursement report with order ID and if its not there I request a refund.
    If it was returned and is marked as sellable there you have a hard time to figure out if it was placed back in your inventory (if you have multiple items).

    I still don’t have clear way of finding if amazon lost inventory when shiping in between warehouses etc.(when you have multiple items it get hard) maybe you can write a post on this.

    • Yes, your way of checking on lost returns is the same thing I do. As for the items that get lost during shipments is a little harder to figure out. Sometimes, this link helps me find out if something was lost… If I find something labeled as misplaced, then I wait a few days (in case they find it), and then if it’s still lost, I’ll open up a request for reimbursement. Here is the link I’m talking about:
      Just be sure to change the reporting time to whatever amount of time you wish to look into the past.

  12. hi,

    we have never sell on Amazon before. last week an Amazon senior purchaser saw our website and told us they are very interested to work with us and invited us to join the Vendor Central program. Now they have set us up on that.

    we sell bikes. we have 32 diff types.

    as we are new to this we hv several questions:

    1. if Amazon purchaser invite us to this program, in your opinion how confident (%) are they that our products will sell on Amazon?

    2. usually for 1st order, wld they get us to send to 1 FC or multiple FC across the nation?

    3. Amazon refused to tell us how much qty they will require us to send for the 1st time until they finalise their PO. In your opinion usually how much qty is 1st order like?

    4. Do u think Vendor central can potentially grant a huge volume?

    Hope to hear from you.

  13. Dear Stephen,
    I just found your blog and thought to’ ask for your help.
    I am a amazon seller , ( not FBA) I sold an item but customer didnt like it and requested an AZ program for refund we never received the item but amazon proceeded to refunded the customer.
    There say case is closed and that its our problem to recuperate the goods ( amazon france) this happened allready twice and we lost £1200 worth of jewellery can you suggest us anything.
    Sincere Regards

    • Gian, If the customer returned the item through Amazon, then Amazon would know if it was delivered of not. Open up a help ticket and ask them to investigate. Once they see the item was not returned, they should reimburse you.

  14. I just received this email from a potential buyer.

    Hello, I am looking to buy this product $112, but i have 0 experience and not sure my skin will be fine with it. I am wondering what you return and refund policy concerning this item.

    I know what it is when I MFN, but I am bummed as this item is fulfilled by AZ.
    What should my reply be? AZ refunds money as soon as a return is requested.

    • You should reply to them a link to Amazon’s return policy page. Amazon’s very generous return policy sometimes comes back to bite us sellers in the rear, but overall, the return policy helps generate more sales.

      If an Amazon seller has been selling long enough, they’ll have a few stories of high dollar returns. I know I’ve had a $300 item returned before. It hurt… but I got over it and have made up for it multiple times since then.

      Fingers crossed that this item won’t be returned!

  15. Awesome post!! I need you help please with my case. I sell my own private label product (only one upc) on the beauty category. That means that the items are all the same and one the client opens an item and them return them, it can’t be sold again.
    multiple times they don’t even return the item because they didn’t like it. My question is: if I have returns of 100 items and all of them are of the same item and the items can’t be sold again, am I able to claim for a reimbursement if the clients didn’t return the item to fba?

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    • If the customer does not return the item to Amazon, then I would open up a case with Amazon Seller Support and ask them for a reimbursement.

  16. Thanks Stephen!!
    And what would happen with all those items that are returned to Amazon fba and can’t be sold because they are opened and used? Should I do something or amazon will through them away automatically?


    • Unless you have automatic removal orders set up, when these items are returned to Amazon you either need to create your own removal order and have the item returned to you, or a removal order to destroy the item. Unless you are 100% sure the item is broken, I’d have it returned to me so I can inspect it. Many times the item is still new, and other times it can be sold as like new.

  17. Stephen-I just googled this and found you! Thanks! -Cordelia

  18. Here’s another option. When you know the date the buyer was refunded, calculate 45 days from that date. Then check the reimbursements report and the Inventory Adjustments report for around the date range. Reimbursements can be given either in the form of a monetary compensation or in the form of a replacement unit. Adjustments report shows the unit being added to your inventory. The line item will show as ‘transfer from holding account’. If you are unsure if this adjustment corresponds to that particular order, you can provide this information to Seller Support. They’re much faster that way. Works for me.

  19. Thanks so much Steven- I just sent a request to Mr. Amazon- hopefully they will issue a reimbursement- you always send great information! Good Job! ~BobD [grayelephantclub- books on Amazon]

  20. Hey Stephen, great info. I have a question about items that are refunded to customers and the status for them. I have a couple items that have been labeled as “selleable” but “defective” and says they were returned to inventory. I cant tell whether the same item (has happened 3 times) has been sold but labeled defective or 3 different ones (I have sent in 3). But I cant locate any of them in my inventory. Should I just contact AZ for this issue? Thanks in advance

    • I think you need to ask Amazon to look into this for you. They will be able to tell you exactly what happened. Hope it all gets worked out quickly.

  21. I returned an item to Amazon Dunfermline on 02/06/15 the price has still not been refunded to my account . Can you please investigate the matter for me .thank you

    • Jean, are you talking about an item you bought on Amazon and then returned? If so, you’ll need to go into your buyer account and find a way to contact amazon directly and let them know.

  22. I’ve been chatting with AZ over one of my recent returns and I’d like to quote them here: “Amazon Policy for refunded order is when the units where not return to the Return Centers within 30days from the time the buyer were refunded, an automated reimbursement will be process to the sellers account after 45 days from the refund time made to the buyer.” So if I’m reading through their broken English correctly, the buyer actually has just 30 days to return the product but then AZ has an additional 15 days to process the refund to the seller. That is where the 45 days comes from.

  23. Very informative article. Maybe you can help me with this question. You mention that sometimes Amazon returns the item to inventory after receiving it back on the return. How does it work if you sold a new item (let’s assume it was factory sealed) and the customer opened the box before returning it? It seems it can’t be sold as New in that case. I’m just getting started and have sold dozens of items as we approach the holidays and I’m expecting to get a number of post-holiday returns. So wondering what to expect if/when this happens to me.


    • Brion, you may have a number of responses on that so I’d like to get my two cents in too. It is best to have ALL returns sent back to you physically so that you can inspect them before deciding what to do with them. I have read many horror stories in forums about customers who buy things, remove the items they are looking for and then return the main item for a refund. If they seal it very well, Amazon will not realize what happened and list it as new again. The next customer will file a complaint that pieces were missing and your account will be dinged as selling something that was listed as new and incomplete. You need to go into your Amazon settings and turn off repackaging, which is turned on by default. Hope this helps.

    • Amazon asks the customer if they opened the item or not, and if they did open it, Amazon will mark it as “customer damaged.” If the item was not opened, then they will return it to your inventory as sellable.

      But I definitely agree with Bill as you need to make sure yourself that all returned items are in good enough working order to resend in as new.

  24. Thanks Bill – I didn’t even know that was an option, but found it by searching on the AZ portal after reading your comment.

  25. Hi

    I’ve had an order refunded and the unit has gone back into my inventory as unfulfillable – costumer damaged. What steps can I take to get the money back and why is a customer refunded for damaging my product?!


    • Zack,
      As Stephen mentioned just above, Amazon’s words “customer damaged” cover a wide territory and might not mean that the actual product was damaged. You need to have it returned to you so you can inspect it and decide whether you can relist it as Used – Very Good or some other condition. As to the money, you need to look at that as a business expense. I don’t know of a way to get a reimbursement under these circumstances. Of course, if you manage to resell the product a second time, you’ll recover part of the expense. Hope that helps Bill.

    • Exactly what Bill said! Well said, Bill!

  26. Hey Stephen, So when I run the “Returns Report” from Seller Central/Fulfillment and it has the category to the far right with the status and it says “returned to inventory” I can assume the customer returned it and it is back in my inventory? When it says “reimbursed” I can assume the customer did not return it or did something to it and I was in fact reimbursed?

    • When it says it was “returned to inventory” it means that it was returned back to an FBA warehouse to be stored. If it’s “sellable,” then it’ll be active and available for someone to buy… if it was “customer damaged” or “defective” or anything other than “sellable” then it was returned to your inventory as inactive. You’ll then need to set up a removal order to inspect it to see if it’s possibly still sellable. If it says you were reimbursed, then they were supposed to reimburse you. You can compare this with a reimbursement report on Amazon. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. All the best to you!

  27. Excellent thank you so much!

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  29. Hi, maybe I’m missing something, but if you have an items that sells well, how will putting the ASIN for that product into a search tell you whether that one specific unit was returned or not by the customer?

    In other words, how do I match the order number to that specific unit in my inventory to confirm I’ve either been reimbursed because it wasn’t returned in 45 days or that exact unit is in my sellable inventory?

    • In these cases, i don’t really check, but I do open up a case with Amazon and have them investigate. Sometimes they tell me I’m due a reimbursement, and other times they tell me that the item was returned to my inventory, but sold later. Hope this helps!

  30. Hi if I download a the report of returns and I would want to know if I got reimbursed I am a big seller and I dont have the time to manually check each item is there an idea for me what i can do.

  31. If I have a very high volume of sales for an item, won’t Amazon get very very annoyed if I open a case for each return? Plus, this seems like a lot of work to do.

    I checked my return as suggested, and I have 313 returned items over the past year.

    • Yes, Amazon only wants about 5-10 cases open for a seller at a time, so I would suggest opening up 10 cases, and then when one case is closed, open a new one.

  32. Well that is my question I have tons of sales so i also have tons of returns how can i work that?

  33. Thank you Stephen. Do you have any tips in regard to getting Amazon to refund for original sale price when they “misplace” or “damage” items? I have been refunded for ridiculous amounts and they blow it off when I cry foul. One new item was refunded 0.12. When items are lost in shipping the refunds are original sale price but that’s the only time I’ve received a fair refund.

    • I always contest reimbursements that don’t seem right. I know Amazon will only reimburse us the fair market value minus fees, but I’ll go ahead and send them a message like:
      “I received an incomplete reimbursement for this lost/damaged item. The fair market value of this item is $$$ (look at current FBA competition prices). I had this item priced at $$$ and after Amazon fees, I should have received a reimbursement of $$$ (run that item through the FBA calculator). Please reimburse the difference of $$$. Thank you.”
      Doing the work for them will really increase your chances for a correction reimbursement. Hope this helps!

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  35. Hey everyone, does anyone any idea how to manage returns or unsold FBA inventory if you dont have a warehouse and dont want to bring inventory to sell on ebay. I mean does any one use any service where they buy your returned/unsold FBA inventory ?

  36. What if my inventory originally had five of the items of the same one that was refunded? Is there a quick way to find out how many sold?

  37. So…I haven’t done this for a while. The return report shows 25 items over the last 180 days that were returned at least over 45 days ago (mostly textbooks, I sell a lot of them – so this return number is not really a high percentage). Most are listed as “unwanted item.” I have multiples of most of the MSKUs so checking inventory for a return will not really help.
    Do I need to send in a separate case on every order number?
    Can I send AZ a list of order numbers to check?
    I think I know the unfortunate answer but thought I’d ask anyway…
    I may try sending in 2-3 at a time and see what happens…
    I’m not optimistic about the possibility.

  38. Follow up to previous comment.
    According to the AZ support person I just chatted with…the last column of the Returned Item report is “Status” – If it says, “Unit Returned to Inventory” – that means that AZ has actually received the item back and has placed it back into my inventory in some manner. I need to look at the “Disposition” column to know where… If the disposition is “sellable” then it was put back into my active inventory. If it was listed as damaged, defective or customer damaged, it will probably be found in my “unfulfillable” inventory.
    Anything NOT listed as “Sellable” should receive follow up regarding – who is responsible for the damage, defect, etc – and is a removal order warranted.
    I understand the need for removal orders for new items, but most of my returns are used books. If they are deemed “sellable,” I’m leaving them at AZ. I have removed a few of the damaged/defective-status books back only to send them right back in in the same condition as previously listed. I DO notify AZ that the buyer “MAY” be abusing the return system.

  39. Hi Stephen! As usual you have amazing information available for us to figure out all the ins and outs of the FBA business. Thank you!

    I have followed your steps and was easily able to find the returns and reimbursement reports. However, what doesn’t seem to exist is a “refund” report. It seems the only way to really know if a refund was issued is via the emails.

    Am I missing something? I do have the emails, so I can use those to check that all is in order. But what if I didn’t? What I’m finding is there is a gap between the “return” and “reimbursement” report. The return report is only showing actual returns, it’s not showing items refunded and not returned.

    For me, I can at least take the refund initiated email, copy the order ID, then check if it’s on either report (return or reimbursement). Any other tips on filling in the gap or if there is an actual refund report to generate to use to fill in the gap would be appreciated.

    Take care and talk to you soon!

    • Right, the email is the only place I know that a refund was given to a customer as the return report only shows actual returns. If anyone else out there knows of a better way, please let us know!

    • If you go to Payments, Transaction View, you can choose Filter View By: Refunds, and choose a date range. This will show you all of the refunds taken from your account. You can compare this to your returns (which will show you what has been returned by customers as either sellable or unfulfillable) and your reimbursements in the Reports–> Fullfillment section.

  40. Stephen, I found out that a book that was returned by a customer was stated as being returned because of “damaged by customer.” It’s now listed in Unfulfillable Inventory. I opened a ticket requesting to be reimbursed the sales price minus applicable Amazon fees. What’s amazing is that the person who ordered the book only lives one block from me according to the address given.

  41. I received a refund notice today. I went through the steps you listed, and the item is listed as “reserved.” The problem is that I had already deleted the product and listing, and so have no idea as to how to actually get it back into my inventory. I suppose it will show up sooner or later in Stranded Inventory.

  42. Thank you so much for all of the detailed information you provide! I truly would not be able to do this business without your information!

    I have an odd scenario and I’m wondering what, if anything, I should do or if I should just let it go:

    I had a used book sale of $17.50 ($11.96 net into my account) on August 9, 2016. On August 26, 2016 it was refunded to buyer. At first blush it looks like buyer was refunded the full $17.50, but in the reports it shows they were refunded $17.50 less an $8.75 “restocking fee” and $4.77 was deducted from my seller account. So, after refund, Amazon didn’t take my whole $11.96, but they did take $4.77.

    On my refund report, it states it was returned because it was an “unwanted item” and that it was returned to inventory. However, the refund report also states that it was “customer damaged”.

    So, I have 2 questions:

    1) I thought I had set up my account to have any customer returned items automatically returned to me so I didn’t accidentally resell anything damaged. Why would this have been returned to inventory?

    2) Just yesterday I received an email from Amazon telling me that my request for disposal of this item is complete. So, apparently Amazon has now disposed of my item. Why would they do that? Does that sound like a mistake was made or is this all normal protocol?

    Sorry to be so lengthy, but I thought this scenario was something others could learn from as well. Thank you so much again!

    • 1. You might have turned on the “Customer Returns Repackaging Service” where someone at Amazon repackages your item if it’s deemed sellable and not damaged. When a report on Amazon says it’s “customer damaged” it actually means that the customer opened the product – not that they actually damaged it. Amazon needs a better way of labeling that, but it is what it is.
      2. You might have automatic disposals turned on for unfulfillable inventory – so you can check into that.

  43. Thank you SO much again for this post! Just went through this for another product that was returned, prepared to email Amazon about reimbursement for an unreturned item, only to search and find that the item was sold to another buyer on September 15, so it all worked out. Great process to put in place, though!!

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  46. Hi Stephen,
    If I did save the emails in a folder, what would be the procedure be?
    Did you give the steps for that?

  47. Hi Stephen great article, thanks! Question for you: do sellers get any kind of reimbursement from Amazon if customers return products with reason” The item was not received by the estimated delivery date”? As shipping costs are included in the Amazon FBA fees charged to the sellers, does Amazon provide any reimbursement to the seller in this case? I also noticed that in the article you say that whenever you see a customer hasn’t returned the product after 45 days from refund, you ask Amazon to reimburse you the sales price of the product. Is that what Amazon should refund, or you meant sales price – FBA fees? I am finding really hard to calculate this, so any clarification in this sense is greatly appreciated!!

    • I don’t think AZ will refund shipping fees for items returned with that reason. And what I meant was to ask for a refund for the sales price minus the regular fees.

  48. Hi Stephen,
    Great post. I have a question about the reimbursement amount. Say a customer purchased a $20 item, FBA fee $4 and referral fee $3, this leaved $13 to seller account. After a customer filed a return, $20 went back to customer, and then $17 was deducted from seller account (with AZ paying the referral fee $3 portion). After 45 days, the customer does not return the item. What should the the refund be? Should it be $17 or should it be $17 – some fee?
    In my experience it is $17 – some fee with the some fee in the range of FBA fee or more.
    I think $17 should be the fair amount since the customer didn’t return it and the refund should be canceled and reverted.
    Please share your experience and thoughts. Will you file a case in this situation?

  49. I only file cases if I feel like it’s worth the time for the difference. In other words, for me, if the difference is less than $5, I don’t worry about it as I have better things to do with my time than open a case for that little amount.

  50. Your email today discussing returns was very timely for me personally. I received my first FBA refund email notice from Amazon yesterday. The return was for a book that was quite expensive, and my heart just sank. There was no reason given for the customer’s return. I am new to FBA, but I’ve been selling on Amazon for a number of years. I’ve always done merchant fulfilled, so I’ve always handled my own customer returns. I felt a loss of control since I did not know the reason for the return, and not being able to communicate with the buyer made me feel even more powerless. I realize after reading your post that I just need to stay focused on making sure the book is returned to Amazon and that I receive a reimbursement. Your methodology makes sense to me. I need a process, so this is perfect!

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