Inside Refund at First Scan by Amazon

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Some merchant-fulfilled sellers have difficulty handling item returns. This is one of the reasons why Amazon released Prepaid Return Label in 2020. Now, Amazon decided to boost the promotion of this program with the new Refund at First Scan (RFS) feature.

The retail giant continues to introduce more automated processes for brands, and Amazon’s Return and Refund Policy programs are no exception.

RFS could be an effective way to speed up your returns to Amazon, during Prime Day, for example.

But how can you take advantage of it? Scroll down to learn some key aspects about Refund at First Scan by Amazon.

What is Refund at First Scan?

RFS automates refunds for products returned through Prepaid Return Label. All products returned through this program are eligible for RFS.

The program is available for seller-fulfilled orders beginning May 4th, 2021. Here’s how it works: Amazon authorizes automatic refunds to customers, after a returned-item is scanned and shipped.

RFS is already a requisite for FBA sellers. But it’s now extended to FBM brands enrolled in Prepaid Return Label.

So, returns and refunds will now take effect without the seller’s involvement. Plus, merchants won’t receive or inspect the products. Amazon will take care of that process.

The goal is to keep seller-fulfilled orders in line with the marketplace’s policies. Plus, Amazon aims to create a seamless return experience for brands and customers.

Prepaid Return Label Program

As we said, RFS is available for professional sellers enrolled in Prepaid Return Label.

This program provides customers with prepaid return shipping labels for all eligible items.  Then, Amazon handles all returned products for review and reselling.

When the label is scanned, Amazon will charge you for the return shipping cost. Plus, Amazon requests you to make the item refund within 2 days after getting a return receipt. 

Prepaid return shipping requires specific practices from sellers. First off, you need to set up a default return address from Seller Central.

Here, you’ll have to update your products’ weight and size. This is crucial because Amazon calculates return costs based on this data. 

You can review the return costs here.

How Returns Work

When a customer requests a return, they’ll receive a prepaid return shipping label. Then the marketplace will notify you via mail and in Seller Central.

Next, you must select the carrier that’ll handle the return shipping. Seller-fulfilled orders can go to UPS or USPS.

However, Amazon recommends several shipping carriers to handle prepaid returns. You can learn more about it here.

Returnless Resolutions

What if you issue a refund, but also let the customer keep the item? These are returnless resolutions.

Certain items are eligible for returnless resolutions. If that’s the case, you can deliver a full refund, or send a replacement product to the buyer.

Download the Exemptions report in your Return reports to get a detailed view of the SKUs that are eligible for returnless refunds.

Take note!

According to Amazon, effective May 25th, 2021, you must provide a valid US return address for items under 25 USD. This way, prepaid return labels will be generated automatically for eligible future return requests.

Contact Amazon’s International Returns Provider if you do not have a local return address for support.

Image: Seller Central

Exemptions and Appeals

Some product categories are exempt from prepaid return shipping. For example, handmade, Amazon Custom and sexual wellness items.

Also keep note of refunds and returns you can appeal. These could be customer-returned damaged items.

Provide visual evidence and documentation to support your claim. For example, give Amazon photos of the damaged product and tracking IDs.

That way, you’ll guarantee the claim is reviewed and approved.


All You Need to Know about Refund at First Scan

The new refund feature frees sellers from issuing refunds within 2 business days of receipt. All the refund process is handled automatically by Amazon.

RFS also reduces A-to-Z guarantee claims from customers. Plus, RFS products are eligible for SAFE-T claims. This is great in case you received customer-damaged items.

Below, we’ve prepared the main features you need to know, in order to make the most of RFS.

RFS Notifications

As we said, Refund at First Scan is an automatic feature of the Prepaid Return Label program. However, sellers will still be notified of all RFS activity.

When Amazon issues RFS for you, it will send an email notification to you. But you can also review all RFS details in Seller Central. Here’s how:

  • Click on ‘View more details’ to check for the ‘Prior refund: Applied’ and ‘Resolution: Refund at First Scan’ badges.
  • Go to ‘Issue refund’. Here you’ll find the refund cost, applied against return fee, outbound shipping and item cost.

Refund Costs

The marketplace charges you for the return after a customer ships the product. Amazon applies its Return and Refund Policies to calculate the refund cost.

As stated above, Amazon considers item cost and damage, as well as shipping fees to issue a price. Note, however, that customers can get full refunds for seller-damaged items.

RFS Claims

Sometimes, it’s the customer who damages the RFS items. In that case, you can file for a SAFE-T reimbursement.

SAFE-T claims must be submitted within 60 days of a refund charge. As with all Prepaid Return Label items, provide images and documentation.

For items damaged or lost in, you must file a SAFE-T claim directly with the carrier.

2021 Policy Updates for US Seller-Fulfilled Returns

Beginning August 16, 2021, Amazon will automatically authorize US return requests that are within Amazon’s return policy.

This also includes those items that sellers have requested to exempt SKUs from the Prepaid Return Label program.

What does this mean?

That sellers will continue to have the option of uploading merchant-paid labels.

Conversely, return requests that are out-of-policy or category-exempt will continue to be submitted for manual clearance.

International Seller-Fulfilled Returns

For international seller-fulfilled returns that do not fall within the new policy, Amazon could refund the buyer on the seller’s behalf and debit the amount the seller’s account.

International sellers must provide at least one of these return options:

  • Returnless refund: They need to offer the customer a full refund without them having to return the product to the seller
  • Domestic return option: As its name suggests, customers need to have access to a local return address in their country
  • Prepaid international return shipping: As a seller, you must have your own prepaid return mailing label from the marketplace in which you are selling

Source: Seller Central

Final Thoughts

Refund at First Scan has sparked some controversy. Some sellers are concerned about RFS’ scamming and fraud potential. Indeed, automated refunds could be a ripe field for untrustworthy buyers. Scammers can get their money back even before you know what they sent back.

RFS also places more pressure on sellers to submit accurate tracking data. This is not to say sellers shouldn’t be extra careful, but mistakes happen.

If a seller finds out that a bit of tracking data was the cause of a refund, it would be hard for them to fix the problem. All in all, RFS is a reminder of Amazon’s customer-centric practices. Amazon wants sellers to be involved in refunds and returns as little as possible.

Brands lose autonomy, but customers gain attention and delight. And it’s not easy to appeal against a claim or refund, so it’s better to avoid them altogether.

It’s best to concentrate on improving your service.  So, always do everything you can to provide great products and fulfillment. This is the key to keeping refunds nonexistent!


Esteban Muñoz is an SEO copywriter at AMZ Advisers, with several years’ experience in digital marketing and e-commerce. Esteban and the AMZ Advisers team have been able to achieve incredible growth on the Amazon platform for their clients by optimizing and managing their accounts and creating in-depth content marketing strategies.

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