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Amazon starts flagging ‘frequently returned’ products that you maybe shouldn’t buy

Amazon starts flagging ‘frequently returned’ products that you maybe shouldn’t buy


The new ‘frequently returned item’ tag will flag product listings and encourage consumers to do some more research before they buy.

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Illustration of the Amazon logo
Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon is starting to warn consumers when products sold on its platform are regularly shipped back for returns. As reported by The Information, Amazon is rolling out a warning label on “frequently returned” products that will encourage consumers to check the item details and reviews before making their purchase, helping customers avoid misleading or low-quality products and reducing unnecessary returns.

Currently, Amazon’s return policy allows customers to return new and unused items up to 30 days after purchase, usually for free, unless the item is deemed nonreturnable. But returning a product is still a hassle and a bad experience for customers — and Amazon’s platform is rife with counterfeits and cheaply produced, low-quality, and sometimes deceptively marketed products bolstered with fake reviews. Having a visible warning that such items are usually returned not only deters consumers from buying them but also could encourage retailers to be honest about their listings or at least improve on issues that lead to higher product returns in the first place.

Products with high return rates and positive reviews could encourage consumers to research the item before they purchase

The returns warning has already appeared on a few third-party listings fulfilled by Amazon, such as the Pro-Ject Automat A1 record player and two dresses spotted by The Information. You may need to be logged in to an Amazon account to see the returns notifications. These three items have a reasonably high star rating, which may initially reassure prospective consumers, but glancing at the customer reviews indicates that the products are not true to size or have previously arrived damaged.

Those free returns also have an environmental cost, often hogging warehouse space until the items can be resold or disposed of in a landfill. Online retailers reported a surge in return rates during the covid pandemic, and returns still remain above pre-pandemic levels, which also results in higher costs for sellers facilitating storage and disposal. Receiving fewer returns means less money needs to be spent on processing said returns — good news for a company that’s cut 27,000 jobs in layoffs so far this year to slash operational costs.

A screenshot taken from the Amazon shopping platform. It shows a listing for a record player with a new warning label that discloses this is a frequently returned product.
Here’s what the new frequent returns warning tag looks like on a product listing.
Image: Amazon / The Verge

“We’re currently showing return rate information on some product detail pages to help our customers make more informed purchase decisions,” Amazon spokesperson Betsy Harden said to The Information. The new warning label follows another tag released by Amazon earlier this month that publicly displays approximately how many units of a product have been sold.

Amazon has not revealed when the “frequently returned item” tag will be widely rolled out or what regions it will be available in outside of the US. (It doesn’t seem to be visible for UK-based consumers.) We have reached out to Amazon for clarification and will update this post should we hear back.