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13 Items You Can’t Return on Amazon

See if your gift purchase is on the can’t-return list


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’Tis the season to load up on holiday sales and deals and also to return some of them. In 2022, 13 percent of online orders were returned in November and December, a 63 percent increase from 2021. This year is expected to be similar, with consumers on track to spend between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion on holiday cheer.

If you are among the millions of people who do their shopping on Amazon.com, you’ll want to check the return policy before filling up your shopping cart. Not everything is returnable, including these items.

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1. Hazardous materials

If you get or give a gift that has hazardous materials, including flammable liquids or gases, don’t expect to return it. These products, including lighters and some nail polishes, will not display a “free returns” message on the product detail page.  Your only recourse, according to Amazon, is to contact the manufacturer directly.

2. Electronic devices

Laptops, desktops, e-readers and other digital devices are returnable, if you act within 30 days, or less, depending on the brand. For the 2023 holiday season, most electronics purchased between November 1 and December 31, can be returned until January 31, 2024. For Apple products, you only have until January 15, 2024, to return them. The electronics need to be in the same condition as the date of purchase to be eligible for a return.

3. Digital downloads

Digital downloads of books, games, music, movies and software make great gifts but they are not returnable. Amazon will give you a break if a book or song was accidentally purchased. You have seven days to request a return or refund. If a book was partially read, you may not be able to return it. For a music download mistake, Amazon says to contact customer service within seven days of the accidental download.

4. Gift cards

You can purchase gift cards from a slew of vendors, but make sure you’re getting the right one. Amazon will not let you return gift cards and prepaid game cards.

5. Food and spirits

Groceries, including those from Amazon Fresh, can’t be returned but may be refunded or replaced. The same goes for beer, wine and spirits.

6. Customized handmade gifts

From candles to jewelry, if you buy from Amazon’s handmade marketplace it's easy to return the items unless you personalize them. Items purchased with customization options other than size and color can’t be returned. If there is a misspelling or error in the configuration, inscription or design due to a mistake by the third-party seller, you are protected by Amazon’s guarantee.

7.  Live insects

For the bug lovers in your life, a live ant farm or bag of ladybugs may be the perfect gift. Amazon will sell you both and other live insects, but they aren’t taking them back. You may be able to get a refund or replacement.

8. Fresh flowers

Live indoor plants and fresh flowers aren’t returnable, but they may be eligible for a refund.

9. Photos, holiday cards and other print products

Triple-check before you blow up that family photo or make digital holiday cards because you won’t be able to return them. Printed products are not returnable to Amazon but they may be refunded or replaced.

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10. Prescription medicines

You may save money filling prescriptions with Amazon, but the e-commerce giant won’t accept returns of any medicine, including six-month supplies. Before you stock up, make sure you will be on the medicine for a while.

11. Certain nail polishes, hairsprays and other beauty products

If the beauty product is made of hazardous materials including flammable liquids or gases, you can’t return them to Amazon.

12. Pet food

You can’t return pet food and edible pet products, but you may be eligible for a refund or replacement. 

13. Products missing the serial code or universal product code

That goes for every item purchased on Amazon.com. Without the serial code or UPC, the item is rendered useless since most retailers require a UPC or serial number to sell a product.

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