January 3, 2024
10 min

Decoding Amazon's Restocking Fee: How Does It Work?

Amazon restocking fees can vary dramatically among sellers. Discover its inner workings, learn how to navigate the policy, and avoid paying extra costs!
Decoding Amazon's Restocking Fee: How Does It Work?
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As an Amazon seller, dealing with returns is inevitable. But that doesn’t make it any less painful when they put a dent in your bottom line, especially when Amazon slaps you with a nasty restocking fee on top of it.

If this scenario gives you heartache, you’re not alone. Restocking fees can quickly become profit killers if you don't understand how they work.

The good news is that you can minimize them by learning the ins and outs of Amazon’s restocking fee policy. Arm yourself with knowledge, and don’t let returns take a bite out of your marketplace success.

This guide breaks down everything you need to know.

Key Takeaways from this Post

Understanding Amazon's Restocking Fees: Sellers face the challenge of Amazon's restocking fees, impacting profits. These fees vary by category, reason for return, and item condition. Sellers must grasp Amazon's 2023 policies to accurately calculate fees and adhere to regulations.
Navigating Restocking Fee Policies: Amazon charges a fixed 15% restocking fee on its sales, while third-party sellers have flexible fees within set limits. Knowing the maximum fees per category, understanding buyer eligibility, and complying with regional regulations are crucial. Amazon Prime member
Best Practices and Automation: Sellers can streamline restocking fee processes by adopting best practices. These include clear listing communication, case-by-case evaluation, and strategic fee waivers for customer satisfaction. Automation tools like Link My Books can simplify the fee calculation pro
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What is a Restocking Fee?

Amazon restocking fee is a charge that sellers can apply on returned items by customers for specific reasons.

The fee is calculated based on the original price of the item, the reason for the return, and the item's condition when it is returned.

The restocking fee is deducted from your customer’s refund amount, which means the customer will get back less money than they paid for the item.

Typical activities related to processing returns that give rise to costs include:

  • Arranging shipping logistics for the incoming return delivery
  • Physically receiving and handling returned goods
  • Thorough inspection, counting, and testing to identify any damage
  • Cleaning, reboxing, or repackaging items to prepare for resale
  • Updating inventory counts across multiple reporting channels
  • Safely restocking items back into existing inventory
  • Relisting items to be available for sale again

To offset this complex chain of return processing tasks, Amazon permits sellers to impose restocking fees in some return scenarios.

However, to protect buyer rights equally, Amazon policies restrict or prohibit charging fees under certain qualifying conditions.

Does Amazon charge a restocking fee?

Yes, besides third-party sellers, Amazon also directly charges an average restocking fee of around 15% of item cost for its own retail sales.

As a marketplace seller on Amazon, you must follow Amazon policies on when they can and cannot charge restocking fees. You should also have a thorough understanding of Amazon's return policies.

Wooden blocks spelling the word fee on a wooden table.

How Much is the Amazon Restocking Fee?

For items directly sold by Amazon, the company charges a fixed 15% restocking fee on returns.

However, for third-party sellers, restocking fee amounts have flexibility within the upper limits Amazon sets. The final fee depends on:

  • Item category - Some products, like jewelry, warrant higher restocking charges to account for heightened inspection needs.
  • Reason for return - Higher charges may apply if the item is returned outside the seller's stated policies.
  • Amazon Prime membership - Prime buyers usually enjoy protection from restocking fees.

For example, potential Amazon return fees for different product categories:

| **Item Category** | **Max Restocking Fee** | **Additional Terms** | |:---:|:---:|:---:| | Media (music, video) | 20% to 50% | Depends on the item's condition | | Consumer electronics | 15% or 25% | Depends on the product's condition | | Tools and home improvement | 15% | NA | | Luxury beauty | 20% | NA | | Jewelry | 20% or 50% | Depends on the item's condition | | Cell phones and smartwatches | 45% | NA | | Video games and software | 50% if opened (100% in some cases) | NA |

Additionally, local state laws may impose further restrictions on aspects like restocking fee amounts and acceptable deduction categories.

Sellers must research and comply thoroughly with regulations across all applicable jurisdictions.

How to calculate the restocking fee

Follow these sequential steps to calculate potential Amazon restocking fees accurately:

  • Identify specifics like item category and buyer Prime status
  • Establish the reason cited for the return by the buyer
  • Confirm return reason complies with seller-stated policies
  • If eligible, look at the max fee percentage based on the item category
  • Derive fee amount as permitted percentage of the item sale value
  • Validate calculated fees against regional regulatory mandates

Precisely follow this streamlined flow to prevent overcharging fees from violating Amazon policies, which can lead to account suspensions. I’ll provide an example scenario below for better understanding.

Before that, here are Amazon’s 2023 restocking fee policies you need to know before charging any buyer:

  • Amazon charges restocking fees when buyers return items in new condition but have simply changed their minds. The amount depends on the product category:
  • For most non-media items, the restocking fee is up to 20% of the item price if returned within the refund window. This covers items like home goods, toys, apparel, etc.
  • The restocking fee can be up to 50% of the price for opened computer software, activated video games, or DVDs.
  • For used books or any media items that show signs of use, it is also up to 50%.
  • Amazon does not charge a restocking fee if the return is due to:
  • Receiving a defective, damaged, or incorrect item that differs from the product description.
  • Refusing a delivery due to shipping damage before acceptance. However, you can file a claim with the carrier.

Restocking fee example calculation:

  • Non-media item returned new after buyer changed mind
  • Original purchase price: $50
  • Restocking fee percentage: 20%
  • Restocking fee charged: $50 x 0.2 = $10
  • Amount returned to buyer = $40
A person is standing in front of a shelf with boxes on it.

What is the Amazon Restocking Fee Policy?

Amazon designed its restocking fee policy to balance protecting buyer rights while permitting sellers to recover return processing overheads.

Overview of the process

When a buyer initiates a return request on Amazon, the seller must follow a structured process to handle restocking fees appropriately. The critical stages in this return and restocking fee management process are:

  • Initiation - The buyer requests a return and returns the item to the seller.
  • Evaluation - Seller checks if the return qualifies for restocking fees based on Amazon policies.
  • Charging - If deemed eligible, the seller proceeds to charge a restocking fee.
  • Settlement - Amazon refunds the balance amount to the buyer after deductions.

Grasp the Amazon restocking fee policy fully to prevent missteps.

Criteria for when a seller can charge a restocking fee

Amazon guidelines permit sellers to charge restocking fees if:

  • The returned item exhibits clear signs of use or damage.
  • The item falls under categories like electronics and luxury goods, permitting higher charges.
  • The stated reason for the return does not fall under prohibited categories.

Even when contractually permitted, you still have complete discretion to waive fees on a case-by-case basis for enhancing customer satisfaction.

Criteria for when a seller cannot charge a restocking fee

On the other hand, sellers do not have the authority to charge restocking fees if:

  • The buyer holds an active Amazon Prime subscription.
  • Returned item arrives damaged, defective, or materially different from the listing.
  • Specific categories like books prohibit charging fees.
  • Attempting to charge a fee contravenes local return regulations.

Assess each return request individually to prevent assuming fee eligibility.

Restocking fees for Amazon Prime customers

Amazon expressly prohibits sellers from charging Prime subscribers restocking fees to provide them with a premium service experience.

Prime members expect easy, convenient returns without surprise charges. The lone exception involves digital goods like ebooks with partial refund restrictions to prevent content duplication.

Still confused? If you don’t want to tackle the hassle of manually processing the restocking fees for every return one by one, Link My Books can help. Link My Books fully automates connecting your Amazon seller account to accounting platforms like Xero and Quickbooks.

This automatically imports all transaction data and can calculate precise restocking fee amounts per return for deduction. Streamline accounting operations and save hours with automated restocking fee reconciliation.

Woman's hands holding money on a desk with a calculator and pen.

Amazon Restocking Fee Examples

Understand how restock fees apply with this real-world Amazon return fee example:

Amazon laptop return policy restocking fee

  • The customer purchases a high-end $3000 gaming laptop from a third-party seller.
  • Initiates return requests within the Amazon return policy window, citing performance issues.
  • Seller inspects laptop and charges 20% restocking fee as per electronics category.
  • Amazon refunds $2400 to the buyer after the $600 deduction.

While permitted by the Amazon refund policy, the seller could have waived the fees to expedite resolution and improve future purchases.

Amazon Restocking Fee Best Practices

Adopt these actionable best practices to handle restocking fees seamlessly:

Listing clarity

  • Clearly highlight the applicability of restocking fees and percentages in item descriptions to set expectations.

Process automation

  • Create customized return instructions for buyers on contacting sellers.
  • Set up automatic reminders to send return instructions after the sale.

Case-by-case evaluation

  • Thoroughly assess each return request on its own merits.
  • Confirm restocking fee eligibility against policies before charging.

Customer focus

  • Consider strategically waiving fees to nurture customer relationships.
  • Route disputed fees to human reps for personalized resolution.

Adhere to these principles to minimize conflicts while maximizing profitability long-term.

Person on the phone working on a computer

How to Avoid an Amazon Restocking Fee

Both buyers and sellers can take positive actions to avoid inconvenient Amazon restocking fees:


  • Carefully confirm seller return and refund policies before placing orders - evaluate if restocking fees apply and if terms are acceptable.
  • Save documentation around return conditions for reference - take unboxing photos and videos detailing any existing item defects.
  • Review refund confirmation emails following returns - compare the amount to the original order value to identify fee deductions.
  • Dispute unfair or non-compliant restock fees by connecting with seller customer service staff.
  • If needed, file A-Z guarantee claims to detail the policy violation basis for a refund.


  • Proactively highlight restocking fee applicability and percentages in listings - ensure buyers understand terms.
  • Streamline workflow for evaluating fee eligibility per Amazon guidelines outlined earlier.
  • Invest in quality assurance to minimize returns - check deliveries and use protective packaging according to the Amazon FBA packaging requirements.
  • Resolve buyer disputes promptly and fairly - refund charges if complex reasons exist.
  • Strategically waive fees for high-lifetime-value repeat customers when feasible.
A person sitting at a desk with a laptop and money.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are answers addressing the most common questions about restocking fees:

Does Amazon charge a restocking fee for the first 30 days?

No. To make returns risk-free for buyers in the initial period, Amazon does not permit any restocking fees on items returned within the standard 30 days after delivery across all categories.

When Should Sellers Waive the Amazon Restocking Fee?

We suggest sellers consider waiving restocking fees in cases such as:

  • When a customer's purchase history signals a high lifetime value, it signals a valuable relationship.
  • If the returned item shows no signs of use upon inspection.
  • When the return shipping location charges high fees.
  • If the buyer cites an overly technical reason for the return.
  • If directly resolving the return results in a 5-star rating.

Looking for more Amazon guides?

Can Customers File an A-Z Claim Against a Restocking Fee?

Absolutely. Buyers retaining proof of unfair restocking fees can file A-Z claims requesting a refund of charges violating Amazon policies.

Amazon thoroughly investigates each claim before processing refunds per guidelines and often takes action against offending sellers.

How long does Amazon take to refund?

Once returned items reach Amazon fulfillment centers, Amazon initiates seller payout refunds within 2-5 business days. However, the time it takes for the refund to appear in your bank account may vary depending on your payment method.

The refund may take up to 30 days to show up on your statement if you use a credit card. Bank transfers may incur 1-5 days of additional processing. 

So, the total time for seller payout refunds may range from 3 to 35 days, depending on the circumstances.

How long is Amazon's return policy?

Amazon sets a standard 30-day return window for most new physical goods from the delivery date, initiating hassle-free returns. Restricted items like digital media may have shorter return windows.

Does Amazon accept returns without original packaging?

Yes, Amazon accepts returns without original packaging. However, sellers can charge up to 20% restocking fees on items not returned in the original condition.


In the ultra-competitive Amazon marketplace, avoiding losing revenue to unjustified restocking fees protects seller profit margins while keeping buyers happy through fair policies.

When you internalize the nuances around Amazon restocking fee calculations, regulations, and best practices covered here, you can confidently handle returns without second-guessing yourself. Mastering this critical element of marketplace selling is crucial to succeeding on Amazon in the long term.

Another crucial aspect you must consider to thrive as an Amazon seller is proper e-commerce accounting. Getting your books right can become a huge compliance hassle if not managed correctly.

However, you can put your accounting on autopilot with Link My Books while selling on Amazon. LinkMyBooks seamlessly connects your Amazon seller account to your accounting software, automatically importing all transaction data.

You can sign up for a 14-day free Link My Books trial to see the platform in action before deciding. Mastering e-commerce accounting automation is pivotal to succeed on Amazon long-term without drainage from errors.

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