Amazon India has notified buyers that effective today they won’t be able to return mobile phones bought from the online retailer. According to the new policy, buyers will only be eligible for getting the device replaced, that too only if the product is defective or was damaged during transit. Buyers will no longer be able to return the product by citing the “No longer needed” option. Also Read - OnePlus RT Amazon ad shows up in Google search results: Launch soon?
According to Amazon India’s new return policy, “All Mobile phones that are fulfilled by Amazon, purchased on or after February 7, 2016, will have a replacement only policy. Mobile phone items that are fulfilled by Amazon will no longer be eligible for refunds. In case you have received a defective or a damaged mobile phone, you will be eligible for a free replacement.” Also Read - Amazon Mega Music Fest sale: Best deals on TWS earphones, headphones, soundbars and more
The replacement is available for a period of 10-days from delivery of the product. The new policy is exclusively applicable to smartphones and does not apply to electronics, software, video games, toys and tablets. The policy is also only applicable to mobile phones that are fulfilled by Amazon.
Industry insiders BGR India spoke to suggested buyers were abusing the return policy, which was becoming a problem both for Amazon India and its seller community. Amazon India had to bear the additional cost for shipping the devices while sellers were left to fend for the returned stock.
According to sellers BGR India spoke to, the instances of mobile phones getting returned on flimsy grounds had increased to untenable levels. Many users would buy the latest device, use it for a few days and return it even when the device had no problem, a seller told BGR India.
BGR India has reached out to Amazon India to comment on the reasons for implementing the new replacement policy. Mobile phones is the largest selling product category for most online retail sites.
Flipkart has a 30-day replacement guarantee for mobile phones sold by sellers with Flipkart Advantage and 10-days for other sellers, that too only for products that are defective, damaged or different than what’s described on the listing. According to Flipkart’s terms and conditions, a refund is made only if the seller is unable to provide a replacement. BGR India has reached out to Flipkart for more details of its return policy.
Snapdeal has one of the most stringent return policy for electronics. Like Amazon India, it doesn’t offer “dissatisfied with the product” option for electronics and will initiate a replacement or return only after the buyer has first visited an authorized service center and receiving confirmation that the delivered product is indeed defective. This is at par with the replacement guarantee offline retailers offer.
“We require a document from the brand/OEM’s service centre confirming that the delivered item was defective. We will carry out a quality check to validate the complaint before processing any request for refund/replacement. Returns/replacements will be accepted for only those items which are found to be faulty/ defective,” Snapdeal says on its terms and conditions page.
“For smartphones and other electronic goods, Snapdeal’s return policy allows returns if the products delivered are defective, damaged or wrong. For defective products, with a view to rectify the defect, Snapdeal arranges for a service engineer visit. Alternatively, if the brand has a service center in the vicinity of the consumer, we request consumers to try and get the problem resolved at the service center. While we try our best to rectify, in cases we aren’t able to do so, we return and issue refund or replacement per consumer’s choice for the product. Snapdeal offers refund or replacement as per consumer’s choice,” Jayant Sood, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Snapdeal, told BGR India.
It is interesting that none of the online retailers in India ever implemented a restocking fee, which is the norm in the US. Under restocking fee, the buyer is charged a certain percentage of the price of the returned item depending on the condition and reason for return. Sometimes online retail stores also offer in-store credit rather than cash for returns to deter those who intend to game the system.