How does Amazon handle this type of situation?

I’m in Canada, using Amazon Canada and Amazon Prime.

I ordered a black desk*. When it got here, I started unboxing it and saw a piece which was a pretty ugly brown. My immediate reflex upon appearing to receive the wrong item was to touch it as little as possible, just put it back in the box and return it. I completed the item return/refund process and said the reason I returned it was because it was the wrong color. UPS is coming to pick up the first desk tomorrow. I figured that sort of mistake can easily happen so I ordered a second black desk of the same model which has shipped and will get here Friday.

I was just taking an evening walk in a secondary state and it hit me: What if the desk was the right color anyway?

When I got home, I opened the package and lo! the desk is indeed black even if the first panel you see is brown for some reason. It might just have been there to protect the other panels so they didn’t bother to color match it.

I would prefer to have only 1 desk and not have to pay $170 for a second desk I have little use for. I would also prefer to avoid restocking fees although I can’t say it wouldn’t be fair enough. What to do? Is Amazon likely to just check if all the pieces are there (there are, except for some broken Styrofoam padding) and give me a full refund? If a refund is unlikely or the restocking fee is high, I might just keep it.

In my experience, Amazon will just take the desk and give you your money back. I don’t think you’ll have an issue.

Second that

Your explanation isn’t very clear. Is the brown piece part of the desk, or part of the packaging? Why are you talking about missing pieces? Are you now happy with the first one, or not? If you’re happy with the first one, why wouldn’t you just send the second one straight back without unpacking it at all?

If it’s sold by Amazon, I’ve never heard of a restocking fee, just shipping if you’ve changed your mind and they didn’t make an error.

If you stated that it was the wrong color (didn’t match the description, didn’t look like the picture etc) and it was a “shipped and sold by Amazon”, they’ll take it back without much fuss.

If they haven’t shipped the second one, you can cancel both the return and the re-order (be it by phone call or chat), but if things are already in motion, I’d just let it happen.
Unless you return a lot of stuff, like half of what you get, they won’t have a problem with it. You’ll get your new desk and never hear about it again.

@Riemann, two things.
1)The do occasionally charge restocking fees. I’ve only run into that when I’ve sent items back well out of the return window. However, being a prime member and buying damn near everything I can on Amazon, I can often get that waived.
2)If you need to return something that you don’t want, even if this is a bit immoral, find something…anything about the item that doesn’t match the description. For example, measure it and see if any of the dimensions are off, even by a little or tell them that it was supposed to be stained black, but it appears to be painted midnight blue.
Or, if you don’t want to go that route, I’ve had very good luck (and again this may have to do with being a prime member and buying a lot), pulling up a chat window and explaining the situation and saying ‘is there any way I can return this without paying a restocking fee?’. I’ve always had good luck with that. Say what you want about Amazon, but they bend over backwards to make the customer happy.

I’ve been a Prime member for years and have charged a restocking fee a few times on items that weren’t Prime Shipping and directly through a third party seller. The restocking fees are usually listed in the seller’s terms. It’s usually small enough that I just pay it or keep the item. I’m pretty sure if I made it an issue, Amazon would waive it.

If the item requires a signature for delivery and not just left on your doorstep, you can refuse the delivery. Or if you have to pick it up, just let the pick up window lapse. I’ve had a few things that already shipped and I changed my mind, and that’s what Amazon told me to do.

Just do make overdo it as Amazon can and has banned buyers who return expensive (as in hundreds of dollar items) too often. I think it may have been posted here, but someone got banned for returning multiple monitors because of a few dead pixels.

Edit: If it’s heavy and costly to ship, you may luck out and they’ll just tell you to keep both if it’s already shipped.

Yup, if you have a record of not returning an inordinate proportion of things you order, their customer service is extremely good. As with REI, I almost tend to feel I wish they weren’t quite so accommodating, because a lot of people will take unfair advantage, and ultimately that’s reflected in the price I pay.

They will ban users if they return some magic percentage of purchases. It doesn’t matter if you spend $150 a year or $60,000, if you hit that number (10%? 20%) they’ll ban you without warning and with no opportunity to appeal. Even if all the returns are legit.
I learned this when I had to return a ~$500 purchase and read up on it first. Luckily, I’ve spent [from what I can tell] more than enough that this wasn’t an issue.

To a point, I can understand it. They are paying shipping (both ways) and the returns typically aren’t resold, at least not at full value, so it’s a loss for them. It’s like when Netflix snail mailed DVDs. If you claimed too many got lost in the mail, they’d ban you. Even if they were legitimately getting lost in the mail or stolen from your mailbox (as opposed to you keeping them), it’s a net loss to them.

Thirded. And a former coworker now works what we call “c-returns” in another facility. Usually someone opens the package enough to determine if it can be re-shelved or if it needs to be “de-acquired” and moves on. We’re (my site) shipping and not filling the boxes but I would say our return rate is 20% or so on 80k packages a day; some damaged, some wrong color or size, some just returned – it happens. Multiply this and its why we build in safeguards with our suppliers rather than fight the public. I have never heard of us screwing over a customer for one (or more) returns.

Now if you want to get fired as a customer (end up on the banned list) report a lot of packages stolen off your porch. Even if they are stolen and you have police reports to back it up you could end up on the “sorry – not wanted” list.

Okay, I’ll bite: is it the customer that is fired or the site that is fired? I.e. if the customer moves elsewhere, will they get reinstated? Because I’d be totally okay with the site being flagged as not safe for delivery. Here in the UK Amazon et al offer secure local storage at shops and the like as an alternative delivery solution.

That’s true. I think LL Bean used to have a lifetime return policy but dropped that recently due to abuse. People were even buying used LL Bean stuff and then taking advantage of the policy to get brand-new stuff.

I believe 98% of the time its the location. I have heard tales of a person or two being put on the totally unapproved list but that was where out-right fraud or other mitigating factors were involved. Usually (again just from what I am told) you basically stop having your orders accepted and if you are a Prime member your membership balance in a sense is refunded. But rarely will you get an actual reason except possibly a “guess” from whoever you speak with on the phone.

I apparently misunderstood. I thought you were asking if you could cancel the second order and keep the original. The answer to that is yes, if you can catch it before they actually ship the replacement. Otherwise no.

If you’re worried they will penalize you for returning an item for an incorrect reason, I wouldn’t worry about that. All they care about is how often you return things, and whether or not they can still sell the returned version. It’s likely the person checking won’t even know the reason you listed for the return.

They’ll likely take it back and not make a big deal about it. I one time reported that I never got an item and they sent me another. Later, I found out my wife had opened the original package. I wrote them and said that I’d pay twice for the item, they said thanks for your honesty, but don’t worry about it.

I second calling them. UPS once misdelivered a critical package. Amazon was ready to rush me (FedEx next morning) a replacement the next day. Neighbor brought the mis-delivery over and I called Amazon and cancelled the replacement and they gave me a $30 credit and a free Prime Now delivery code. They do take their customer service seriously and appreciate the honesty in return!

Returns from consumers can be pretty entertaining, here are some examples:
1 - Person buys something like socks, wears them for a few weeks, returns them stating there is some problem, uses the credit to buy another pair, lather rinse repeat for weeks or months. Eventually these people get spotted and blocked.

2 - People accidentally put all kinds of personal things into the box they are shipping back. We have enough of that type of activity that we built some additional functionality in the returns area to track/manage these items and ship them back to the consumer.

One person put their dentures in the return box, another person put their wallet, etc.