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19 things you can’t return on Amazon

Amazon offered us free shipping and free returns. Impulse shoppers everywhere were thrilled because, hey, you have nothing to lose by trying out new products from the online retailer. After all, if you’re one of Amazon Prime’s over 100 million members, you get free shipping. And items sold and shipped by Amazon.com are free to return. (It’s that easy: Now you can even return unwanted Amazon.com purchases to your local Kohl’s department store rather than by mail or UPS.)

Ah, but there is a catch. Before clicking on “add to basket” to fill your virtual basket, know that some items cannot be returned to Amazon – no way, no how, forget about it. So before adding another must-have item, make sure you understand the e-commerce giant’s return policy.

Let’s take a look at Amazon’s standard return policy. It allows customers to return most items sold and processed by Amazon within 30 days of receipt for a full refund. The return policy is more generous for holiday purchases: most items shipped by Amazon between November 1 and December 31 can be returned until January 31 of the following year. Amazon is also quick with refunds. In most cases, you’ll get it “ahead” as soon as the sender scans the barcode on the return label you stuck on your package (it’s free and you can print it when you start planning your return to the Amazon site).

If you order through Alexa Voice Shopping, you can return non-digital products to Amazon for free. For accidental digital purchases through Alexa, contact customer service for a refund (and product removal) within seven days.

Return policies for merchandise sold and shipped by third party sellers on Amazon.com may vary, so read the fine print on each seller.

Some products, however, simply cannot be returned to Amazon. Looked:

  • Laptop, desktops and Kindle (after more than 30 days from delivery)
  • Certain health and personal care itemsincluding items with damaged security shield seals (but may be refundable)
  • Custom / handmade products (unless there is any damage, defects or errors, such as spelling mistakes)
  • Digital music downloaded from the Amazon Digital Music store
  • Fresh flowers (but may be refundable)
  • Gift cards
  • Groceries (including AmazonFresh and groceries, although refunds or replacements are possible in the event of a spill or deterioration)
  • Hazardous Material, including flammable liquids or gases
  • Live insects (Amazon sells everything from ladybugs to Madagascar whistling cockroaches, no returns but may be refundable)
  • Living plants (but may be refundable)
  • Pet food (but may be refundable)
  • Pictures printed from Amazon Photo (but may be refundable)
  • Prepaid game cards (for World of Warcraft, Xbox 360 Live, Wii Points, etc.)
  • Prepaid phone cards
  • Products without serial code or universal product code (UPC)
  • Software and game downloads, as well as other digital purchases on the Amazon Appstore
  • Theme park tickets
  • Videos downloaded from the Amazon Video store
  • Wine (but can be refundable or replaceable)

If you are returning a gift purchased for yourself on Amazon, you will need the order number from the packing slip. The refund will usually be made in the form of an Amazon gift card.

Amazon may be riding on returns of some high value items including jewelry, collectibles, and electronics. See the product detail page for more details. Laptops, desktops, and Kindle e-readers must be returned within 30 days of purchase.

Amazon operates an exchange program that allows you to resell qualifying items, including electronic devices such as video games and Kindle (as well as books). Shipping is free and you will be paid with an Amazon.com gift card.

Of course, if you’d rather receive money for your items, try selling them yourself on Craigslist or eBay. Sites such as Gazelle and NextWorth specialize in buying used electronics.

So what can you do if an item is non-returnable or you miss the returns window? Re-donation is an option. Another is to donate the item to charity, which could allow you to get tax relief for your charitable donation. Resell your unwanted gift cards to card exchange sites such as GiftCardGranny or GiftCards.com.

As for living insects, you can’t go back to the Amazon? We know this bothers you, but sorry, you’re going to have to get over it.

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