Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Amazon's returns policy

"Amazon.com, and many sellers on Amazon.com, offer returns for most items within 30 days of receipt of shipment."

Thus runs the first line of the Amazon.com returns policy page.

When you scan down, you find that there are one or two exceptions.  If you have bought a magazine subscription from Amazon.com, then you have to apply to the magazine itself to suspend your subscription, and can only get away with if you haven't opened the package and had a sneaky read.

The Kindle book returns policy is also different. You can go to your manage your kindle page, and return a Kindle book -- zap, like that.  Really easy, and no shipping costs involved. BUT the Kindle book must be returned within 7 days of purchase.

Presumably, a printed book is included in the majority part of the returns agreement, meaning that you have 30 days to decide whether you want to keep a print book or not.

If I am right, then 30 days is really generous.  It takes a lot less than a month to read most books, in my experience. Then, as long as you have kept the original packaging and all the paperwork, you can send it back, for a refund. All it has cost you is the shipping, both ways.

Over the weekend, however, I was requested to sign a Change.org petition meant to lobby Amazon about their Kindle book policy. The rationale is that it takes less than 7 days to read a book, and so Kindle book authors are being cheated of the royalty they would have received if the buyer had been more honest. And this is how the nitty-gritty reads:

It is understood that if a customer goes into a store and purchases a tangible item, that item can be returned to the store within a specified amount of time for a refund. In this case, nobody is out of anything. The customer has their money back and the store has the original item purchased. But if Amazon sells our e-Book(s) and allow customers to keep that product for seven day (more than enough time to read it) and then, give them the option to return it for a refund, the consumer has already read our work and we’re out of the amount of money charged for that item. Is this fair or not? This is like going into a restaurant, buying a meal, then asking for a refund after you’ve already eaten it!

Something has to be done. We (authors/publishers) have invested too much time and money into creating our products to just let them (Amazon) give it away for free. Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" Program makes approximately 3 chapters (sometimes more) of most books available so that customers can preview the book prior to purchase, so why would they allow someone to purchase the book, give them seven days to read it, and then give them a refund?

This policy needs to be changed. Customers know within a certain number of pages whether or not they wish to continue reading the book. Seven days is excessive. There are too many people admitting that they abuse the policy simply because Amazon allows it. This is unfair to authors and publishers because this is how many of us earn our living.


According to GalleyCat at MediaBistro.com, nearly 1,200 authors have signed it.  Presumably they are all Kindle book authors. 

So how do the authors of print books feel about that 30-day grace period that Amazon gives to people who have bought their books?  Their books can be previewed, too (though the system is a little different).  The major differences are those shipping costs, and the fact that Amazon gets the book back, hopefully in the stipulated mint condition, so that it can be offered for sale again.

Otherwise, isn't the case for printed book authors the same ... or even more pressing?





No comments: