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If you’ve ever had to return something to a shop, you know what a pain it can be. This is especially true if you’re dealing with an online retailer. Instead of just a receipt, you need a return slip, a label with a return authorization number, and sometimes the original packaging or tags from the item. Amazon claims to make this process easier, but that might leave you wondering — does Amazon check serial numbers on returns?

Before you go through the trouble of sending in your next return, check this handy guide. It can answer your questions and help make the whole process much simpler and less painful for everyone involved.

Does Amazon Check Serial Numbers on Returns?

So, does each and every return go through an Amazon serial number lookup? The answer is no. Before you go trying to exploit the company’s return policy for profit, however, there are some things you need to be aware of.

Sometimes, the warehouse checks the Amazon return number.

Some people buy an item from Amazon, break it or keep it until it’s outdated, then buy an item that’s identical (or close enough). Then they try to send back the old item, claiming it’s the new one they just received. Does Amazon check serial numbers on returns? Yes. The retail giant is aware of this kind of scam, so they use a barcode and serial number system to keep things straight.

It all depends on who the seller is.

If you buy something from a third-party seller through Amazon, then Amazon might not have anything to do with the return process. In that case, does Amazon check serial numbers on returns? No, but the seller might. They also might not, since not all third-party sellers use a serial number system to track their inventory.

If your Amazon return number doesn't match the original serial number, they'll tell you.

If you sent back an item with the wrong serial number, Amazon will notify you. This, of course, only happens in cases where they’ve actually checked the number. If they don’t, or there is no number to check, then nothing happens. The return will most likely go through as normal.

Not all items are returnable, even with a serial number.

Sometimes, the serial number doesn’t matter. Some items just aren’t returnable, full stop. These include:

  • Electronic devices after the 30 day return window.
  • Flammable or hazardous materials.
  • Downloads and online subscriptions.
  • Gift cards and prepaid game cards.
  • Some jewelry.
  • Health or personal care items.
  • Groceries.
  • Living things.
  • Software that’s been opened.
  • Items with special shipping restrictions.

For more details, check Amazon’s list of items that can’t be returned.

Tips & Tricks:

1. Look for items that say "free returns."

Look for items that say free returns does amazon check serial numbers on returns

In some cases, you’ll have to pay to send an item back. To avoid that, try to purchase products that specify “free returns” next to their price.

2. You can get refunds through AmazonFresh.

You can get refunds through AmazonFresh does amazon check serial numbers on returns

AmazonFresh doesn’t accept returns, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get help if you receive a damaged or unusable product. Contact Amazon within 30 days of delivery to request a refund.

3. For easier returns, buy items sold by Amazon versus a third party.

For easier returns buy items sold by Amazon versus a third party amazon serial number lookup

If an item is sold by a third-party seller through Amazon, you’ll be dealing with their return policy, not Amazon’s. If you think there’s a significant chance that you’ll need to return something, try to get a version that’s sold by Amazon.


Can Amazon ban you for too many returns?

Is Amazon tracking returns you make? Yes. Will they ban you for making too many? Possibly.

Amazon doesn’t explicitly state that too many returns will get your account shut down, but some customers have had their accounts closed for this very reason. All Amazon’s terms of use say is that it has “the right to terminate accounts in its sole discretion.” That means that they can close down your account for any reason, or no reason at all. There’s no specific number of returns that will get your account banned, it’s entirely up to Amazon’s customer service department.

Does Amazon have a no-questions-asked return policy?

Amazon is known for its “no questions asked” return policy, but this just means that you can return an item for any reason. You might still get an email afterward asking why you chose to return the item, or how Amazon can make your shopping experience better. Answering this isn’t mandatory, but you might want to take the opportunity to explain why you were dissatisfied.

Can you get an instant refund through Amazon?

In some situations, you can get an instant refund. This will be issued as a refund to your credit card or given as an Amazon gift card instead. Bear in mind that this still isn’t really instant — if you get an instant refund to your credit card, it can still take three to five business days for your credit card company to process it. For a table of their other refund times, check Amazon’s Help & Customer Service section.

What happens to mistaken returns?

Mistaken returns occur when someone sends back the wrong item. It isn’t just that the serial number doesn’t match the Amazon serial number lookup — some people get mixed up and ship the completely wrong items by mistake. If that happens to you, you may be out of luck unless you catch the error quickly. In that case, you might be able to contact Amazon’s customer service and get your stuff back. Otherwise, they’ll either donate it, or toss it.

Does Amazon look up the serial numbers of items that you send back?

So, does Amazon check serial numbers on returns, or not? The answer is a resounding “maybe.” If you want to return an item, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Amazon’s returns department might check your serial number. It might also be a third-party seller or no one at all. Your best bet is to try to include all of the packaging, slips, and stickers that came with the product when you ship it back.
  2. Amazon tracks your returns. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how many is too many, but they can decide to shut your account down if they feel like you’re sending too many things back.
  3. Amazon doesn’t save items they receive by mistake. If you return the wrong item, they won’t hold it for you. They’ll discard or donate it. Always make sure that you’re sending back the correct item.

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