Back in March, we talked about the fact that Amazon had taken a Tougher Stance on A-Z Claims. Not much has changed in the meantime, with limited hands-on information about dealing with A-to-Z claim on Amazon, as seen below.
The Importance of A-Z Claims
Amazon will only cover the refund for items shipped on time with Buy Shipping labels. It also funds claims for lost or damaged FBA items, according to policy (sign-in required). The rest comes out of the seller’s pocket.
Also, most claims affect the ODR. The only exceptions are cases classified as Withdrawn, Closed (denied), or Granted>Amazon-funded. This puts sellers in a difficult situation. They sometimes need to plead with buyers to withdraw unfair claims. And the urgency of it all makes it worse.
But handling an A-Z claim is no small feat. For sellers who want to avoid a suspension this holiday season, now’s the time to brush up on the A-Z guarantee and put together a strategy for appeals. Below we take you through the main points you should consider when drafting your strategy.
Review Both Versions of the Amazon Claim Policy
Some sellers are a law unto themselves. So, Amazon keeps updating its claim policy. For buyers, it’s easy to look up changes on the A-Z guarantee page. But for sellers, keeping up with the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee Policy for Merchants takes a bit more effort.
A-Z claim policy for buyers. Here are the situations where Amazon can step in and issue the buyer a refund. Bear in mind that if a claim is denied, the buyer has another 30 days to bring new information. They also have 3 days to respond to specific questions from Amazon’s investigator:
- Item Not Received (INR) claims can be filed for items not delivered 3 days after the estimated date. Ideally, claimants contact sellers and wait 2 days for their reply. They have 90 days to file it.
- Not As Expected (NAS) claims can be filed after a return, replacement, or refund request is made, even before the estimated delivery date and before the seller authorizes the return.
- Returned But No Refund (RNR) claims can only be filed for tracked returns. The weight and contents of the box returned isn’t checked in any way, so sellers should keep a returns log.
- The A-Z guarantee doesn’t apply to services, digital items, or stored value instruments.
- Buyers can’t file a claim if they’ve already asked their bank to reverse the charge via chargeback.
Amazon claim policy for sellers. Officially, there’s a certain sequence of events that buyers must follow to file an Amazon claim. And there’s a brief window of opportunity for sellers to challenge it. However, there are a few loopholes:
- For INR claims, only orders shipped on time using Buy Shipping labels are covered by Amazon.
- INR claims are granted by default if the seller doesn’t upload tracking information or there’s no signature confirmation, even if the item turns up. They’re also valid with remote signature (e.g. pre-signature by MyUSPS). Buyers don’t need to wait for a seller’s reply to file a claim.
- Virtually all INR claimants with no history of A-Z guarantee abuse or fraud can get a refund, despite having signed for the delivery. They’re also reimbursed for orders lost in transit; sellers must ask carriers for a refund.
- NAS claimants can file without waiting 2 days for their return authorization.
- RNR claimants can file an A-Z claim even without return authorization.
- Some sellers have 2-3 days to challenge a case, rather than the official 5 business days deadline.
- Buyers can file a claim if they think they were overcharged.
Prevent an A-to-Z Claim on Amazon
Prevention is better than cure. To reduce your risk of an A-Z claim, go through all the items on this list:
- Update your return policy with realistic and well-thought-through timelines and rules.
- Make it clear in the return policy that buyers may need to cover return costs themselves.
- Make sure your customers agree with the terms of your return policy before they return.
- Dispose of, delist, and blacklist problem items, and report inaccurate listings to Amazon.
- Improve descriptions and images with precise measurements and accurate details.
- Optimize shipping, using a tracked service with signature confirmation.
- Improve warehouse layout and upgrade equipment to avoid shipping errors and mixups.
- Confirming despatch quickly and upload the tracking number right away.
- Use safer packaging, keep delivery reports, and switch carriers if problems persist.
- Limit the number of emails you send to buyers to avoid becoming a nuisance.
- Respond to emails quickly – especially order status queries-, and with a measured response.
Minimize the Number of Claims
The A-Z claims page has been spruced up with search bar and date sorting. So, it’s easier for sellers to visualize and deal with an A-to-Z claim on Amazon quickly. They can also see how a claim is classified when a decision is reached, and point out any mistakes to Amazon.
There are cases where you’re not in the wrong, for instance. But for some reason, the investigator or the system may not have picked this up. You should bring this up with Amazon if you want the case closed. For instance:
- you used Buy Shipping labels or Amazon delivered the item for you and it was lost.
- the buyer confirmed the delivery of an expensive item, albeit late or with a presumed flaw, but refuses to return it even if you’re covering return costs and you offered a replacement or a refund.
If Amazon is not liable for the refund, the next step is to ask the buyer to withdraw the A-Z claim. While the claiming process has been streamlined for buyers, the withdrawal process hasn’t. Buyers can’t withdraw a claim from their order dashboard anymore. So, be ready for some hand-holding
When you only have a 2-3 day window to challenge a case, you need to be very persuasive. A charm offensive is the only option. Explain to buyers that they need to let Amazon know that they’re withdrawing the claim, and that you can’t do it for them.
Address Your A-Z Claim
Try to be prompt and concise when you make your appeal. Think ahead for busy sales seasons, and don’t fall behind on your appeals. Keep an eye on claim count and appeal status. Maintain regular claims reports to visualize and prepare for the busiest times of the year.
If, after a successful appeal, your claim status doesn’t change, it may still affect your ODR score. Contact Seller Performance to ask that they ignore these A-Z claims when they calculate your ODR. It can take up to 2 days, so don’t put it off.
Clearly, with so much at stake, sorting out an A-to-Z claim on Amazon is a race against time. If you feel like you’re falling behind, our Account Monitoring team may be able to help take the pressure off. And if Amazon has already removed your selling privileges, you can rely on our Account Rescue experts for impartial advice.