As an Amazon seller, you’ll already know that the platform offers many tools that enable you to market, promote, advertise, track, monitor, grow, and develop.
Amazon has a reputation for going above and beyond to meet seller needs. But it also has a duty of care for its customers and offers several tools and services specifically designed to protect shoppers and enhance the buying experience.
Unfortunately, some of these features – like A-Z Claims – can cause sellers a bit of a headache, so every seller needs to understand how to protect their business.
What is Amazon A-Z?
Amazon A-Z guarantees that buyers will receive the right product at the right time in the right condition. In addition, it’s a way of boosting shopper confidence when buying online from third-party sellers in the marketplace rather than through Amazon itself.
There are three standard areas that Amazon A-Z covers:
- Delivery: Products should be received by the seller within the stated time frame.
- Condition: Products must arrive in the condition stated on the listing or as new.
- Returns: Product return requests must be handled efficiently by the seller.
As of September 2021, Amazon A-Z also covers property damage and personal injury caused by a defective product sold by both third parties and Amazon itself.
Buyers have 90 days from the latest estimated delivery date to begin the claims process, and you’ll receive an email if a customer opens an A-Z claim. You can also check the status of buyer claims in Seller Central under ‘A-Z Guarantee Claims’.
What Happens When an A-Z Claim is Opened?
When a customer opens an A-Z claim, Amazon will automatically provide a refund to the buyer or pass the case onto the team for further investigation.
As of May 2021, an automatic ruling in the buyer’s favour will occur if:
- The seller has not responded to the claim within 48 hours
- The seller has not authorised a return request within 48 hours
- The buyer has not received the item, and no tracking information has been given
- The seller did not dispatch the item by the stated date
If none of these conditions applies, Amazon will investigate the claim manually. The team may contact you for further information. Any additional information requested by Amazon must be provided within 48 hours. Amazon will then determine whether the buyer is due a refund based on this information.
Why are A-Z Claims Bad for Sellers?
If Amazon investigates an A-Z claim and determines that the seller is not responsible for the issue the buyer is facing or suspects fraud on the part of the shopper, there is nothing for you to worry about.
However, any other outcome can harm your Amazon business.
If Amazon rules in favour of the buyer – either manually or automatically – this will impact your Order Defect Rate (ODR). Similarly, if you choose not to contest the claim and instead offer the buyer a full refund upfront, your ODR will still take a hit. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Your ODR is a critical factor driving business success. If it rises above 1%, Amazon may choose to deactivate your account, so it is essential to keep it as low as possible.
ODR can rise for three reasons:
- Negative feedback
- Credit card chargebacks
- A-Z claims
A-Z claims will impact your ODR percentage when:
- The claim is closed in the buyer’s favour
- You choose to refund the customer rather than contest the claim
- You cancel an order during the claims process
- Claims are still in process, and no decision has yet been made
A rising ODR is not something any seller wants! So it’s important to know how to reduce the risk of being hit with an Amazon A-Z claim and provide a great buying experience.
Best Practices for Preventing Claims
The best way to prevent Amazon A-Z claims from your buyers is to know the rules inside out and back to front and ensure your buyers have no reason to be disappointed.
Prioritise Your Customer Service
A buyer can only open an Amazon A-Z claim if they cannot resolve the situation directly with the seller first. To be eligible to begin the claims process, the buyer must contact the seller to inform them of the problem. They will only be able to open an A-Z claim if you do not respond and attempt to address their issue within 48 hours.
By responding quickly to the communication, practising good customer service, and being willing to find a solution to the problem, you may be able to prevent a claim from being opened. You’ll find customer messages on the ‘Buyer-Seller Messages’ page in Seller Central. The 48-hour countdown begins when the buyer sends their first message.
Build a Strong Returns Policy
Again, a buyer cannot begin the claims process if they have raised a return request, and you have authorised this request within 48 hours. Therefore, it pays to keep a close eye on your return requests via the ‘Manage Returns’ page in Seller Central. You must select ‘Authorise Request’ for the relevant order to prevent the buyer from opening a claim.
It’s worth taking the time to build a strong returns policy that not only works for your customers but works for you, too. For example, what sort of returns timelines are you capable of? Will you cover return fees, or is that up to the customer? Being clear on your returns process upfront will help to avoid problems further down the line.
Use Reliable Delivery Companies
Buyers can only open an A-Z claim when they haven’t received their item 3 days after the latest estimated delivery date, or the tracking information shows that the item has been delivered. Therefore, using reliable delivery firms with a proven track record reduces the risk of the logistics problems that can cause buyers to seek a refund.
One of the best options here is to use the ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ (FBA) service. This means that you provide Amazon with an agreed quantity of items. They are then held in a fulfilment centre and delivered directly to your customers by Amazon. Amazon handles all delivery issues and prevents ODR impacts for third party sellers using the FBA service.
Maintain Accurate Listings
Buyers can open a claim if the item they receive is not as described on the listing. So a very straightforward way to prevent A-Z claims is to ensure that your product listings are as accurate and informative as possible so buyers know what they can expect. This can also help you argue your case should a claim be opened for this reason.
Try to include photographs of your items in your listings and informative product descriptions that properly outline the features and characteristics of the product. Some important aspects to focus on include colours, materials, and measurements. Be sure to update your product descriptions if the items you sell are updated or amended.
Manage Your Inventory
Listing items that you don’t have in stock can be problematic for claims, as buyers can begin the claims process if an item isn’t dispatched within the stated time frame. If you’re waiting for new stock to arrive, it may be better to contact the customer directly and cancel the order to avoid the buyer becoming frustrated.
The ‘Manage Inventory’ page in Seller Central will give you a good overview of your stock and sales, but the best way to avoid running low is to use the FBA service. When you sign up for Fulfilled by Amazon, you can set up Replenishment Alerts to automatically notify you when stock levels at the fulfilment centre fall below a set quantity.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Customers can open an A-Z claim if you have agreed to provide a refund or replacement, but the buyer hasn’t received the new item, or the refund amount was incorrect. The best way to avoid these things is to make sure you always have your eye on the ball and respond quickly and accurately.
Of course, this isn’t always easy when you’re busy trying to grow your Amazon business, advertise your products, create your listings, and so on. In some cases, it may be worth partnering with an Amazon expert who can handle the optimisation side of things while you focus on providing your customers with a great shopping experience.
Handling A-Z Claims
The above best practices can help to reduce the risk of being hit with an Amazon A-Z claim. However, pretty much every seller will be faced with a claim at one point or another. Therefore, knowing how to handle these claims is key to maintaining your reputation.
Should you be notified of an A-Z claim, the best way to handle it is to be honest and own up if you feel that a customer has had a negative experience because of a factor within your control, such as communication, logistics, condition of the product, and so on. However, if you are confident you are not in the wrong, you can argue your case.
The best way to do this is to communicate clearly and efficiently and provide Amazon with all the information they need to make the right decision.