How to Return an Amazon Item Fast and Often Free Ahead of the Holiday Season

As online shopping has taken over the retail world, returning items to online stores has slowly been streamlined over the last few years. Amazon's return policy is pretty straightforward at this point, and in many cases, you can return an item from home without dropping it off anywhere. Here's a quick explainer for Amazon returns and how to determine if yours will be simple.

If you try to initiate a return on something you purchased from Amazon, the site will typically instruct you to take the item to a UPS store, a Whole Foods or a Kohl's store, among other vendors. If you're looking for a way to avoid this step, you could start by carefully choosing the reason for your return. According to a report by CNET, the "reason for return" menu on Amazon's site determines what will happen to the merchandise when you send it back, and therefore how it should be returned. It's important to be truthful when picking from this list, since misclassifying a return can result in negative impacts on your Amazon account.

Choosing the "no longer needed" option on your return reportedly means you will most likely need to pay for the return shipping or other elements of the transaction. On the other hand, a reason like "inaccurate website description" or "item defective or doesn't work" may make the site more accomodating. Here is where you can run into a dispute, however - if you return something saying it's defective and the receiver finds that it works, your account could be penalized. There is a long list of variations on this list, so make sure you find the one that best matches your situation.

The next consideration is your refund method. You will get your money back the fastest if you agree to take it as a credit to your Amazon account. This will be like a paperless gift card - the balance will sit on your Amazon account until the next time you shop there. If you ask Amazon to refund the money to your debit or credit card, it will take longer.

Finally, it's important to read the description of each return shipping method carefully. When Amazon presents you with this list, it only shows you the details for the option you have selected. You'll need to click on each one to see what the requirements are. You may find that UPS Pick up is available, in which case you can box your item back up and hand it to the delivery driver the next time he goes by. However, depending on the reason for your return, Amazon may deduct a charge for this service from your refund.

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It's also worth noting that some drop-off locations like Kohls and the UPS store now allow you to bring in your product with no box or shipping package. This option may be easier if you've already disposed of the cardboard your package arrived in.

No matter how you go about it, returns are more widely accessible than ever in the online shopping experience. This is a useful process to be familiar with as the holiday rush approaches.