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Do you have to pay to return something to Amazon? Well, it depends

Free shipping only works one way.

amazon returns boxes
Image: CBS

As Christmas wrapping paper continues to litter the corners of your home, many of you may be wondering about how to go about returning that terrible gadget you bought for yourself in the heat of the moment. If it’s from Amazon, you have options, but don’t expect it to always be free.

While it’s easy to assume that returning something to the online giant will net you all of your money back, that simply isn’t the case for most things ordered from the website. While some individual sellers may work with you to get as much money back in your pocket as possible, generally speaking, you shouldn’t expect to break totally even.

Returning things to Amazon

As stated on Amazon’s Return Policy page, one thing to note is that you do have a time limit – typically 30 days – to return something. After that, your mileage may vary. That being said, for holiday shoppers, if you purchased something between November 1 and December 31, you have until January 31, 2019, to get that return in.

In addition, some items may be marked as having “free returns.” If an item is marked this way you’ll receive everything back. Also, if something is broken or damaged or just plain wrong, you will also receive your full amount back or a replacement. Some categories like “Jewelry” and “Clothing” also offer completely free returns.

But, if you’re just returning something because you didn’t like it, you should not expect all of your money to be credited to your account upon returning it. In cases like these, you’ll be provided a shipping label from Amazon that will cover up to $20 worth of shipping and that will be deducted from your total refund once Amazon receives the package, which can take a week or two.

There is a way to guarantee free returns, however

If you are determined to get free returns, there is one thing you can do – order your stuff through Amazon’s Alexa Voice Shopping platform. Anything purchased these way is eligible for free returns, regardless of the reason. Which honestly makes a lot of sense, as Alexa can definitely hear things incorrectly at times.

For these, you’ll process the return in the Amazon Returns Center as normal, and Amazon will automatically refund you any shipping charges applied to the return. This also works for digital music and movies, if you return within 7 days of purchasing.

Have you ever returned something to Amazon? How was it? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Senior Editor with a focus on all things tech and gaming. Life Adventurer. You can keep up with me on Twitter: @Josiah_Motley

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