There’s a cost to Amazon returns—on both the consumer and retailer side. It takes time and money to make a return, and then there are the environmental costs, not just from additional transit, but also from the dumping of unwanted products. But Amazon appears to be trying to minimize those hits to everyone’s bottom line with the launch of warning labels on frequently returned products.
As reported by The Information, small banners have begun to appear on listings where the product gets sent back often. The label notes the product’s status as a frequently returned product, along with a prompt to check item details and reviews before purchasing. You can still make returns on these items—the 30-day window still applies to most goods. But this warning system is designed to cut down on the number of times people return something in disappointment.
You can see the label in action on several third-party listings found by The Information—one for the Pro-Ject Automat A1 record player, as well as two dresses. You may need to be signed into an Amazon account to see the warning label.
Having these callouts should save time during the research phase of choosing a product, as well. Even if you make a habit of thoroughly checking over an item’s description and reviews before buying, you can now immediately jump to seeking out why an item was rejected so often, instead of having to first determine what people are saying and then the general mood. Hopefully in the future, common keyphrases (e.g., “broke two months in” or “runs large”) will become part of these warning labels as well.
A change in third-party and vendor behavior would be welcome as well, given the ubiquity of cheap or poorly manufactured (and sometimes poorly thought-out) products on Amazon’s marketplace. Being branded with a scarlet warning label could force more proactive sharing of detailed and honest information about items. But even with these warning labels in their current form, a wide rollout of them should help reduce the number of trips we all take down to the local UPS store.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering software, PC building, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.