After doing a couple rounds with Amazon over two returns of a book a YEAR after the purchase (it was published through a consortium of authors I managed at the time), I decided the bloom is off the rose.
The book in question was unpublished in August 2013 and republished by the author with a new cover but the same content. I noticed a return credited to my account in June 2014, then another one in August of this year. I checked the Excel report and sure enough, $2.74 was deducted from my royalty statement twice.
I assumed the republished book was returned and mistakenly debited to my account. So I wrote to KDP and explained what had happened, providing ASIN and all the other necessary details.
I got this in return (bold and italics mine):
Thank you for contacting us about this error you see in your reports, it is my pleasure to investigate this further.
I did a search in your bookshelf for the ASIN XXX and I was able to confirm that this particular ASIN was published under this email address. Our system works with ASINs and not titles so, if the ASIN is returned, the system will make the refund from where the book was sold.
I checked your reports and found these returns for this specific ASIN:
30-JUN-14 XXX amazon.com 1 csv -2.74 3.99 .07 USD
01-AUG-14 XXX amazon.com 1 csv -2.74 3.99 .08 USD
I checked internally and was able to confirm this specific title was unpublished on Wednesday, August 10th 2013, to explain a bit more about the policy, customers can return any item purchased from the Kindle Store within seven days of purchase. However, sometimes we have cases where we can apply an exception and grant the refund out of this time frame, which is what happened with these two refunds.
We’ve found this time frame is a good compromise for customers and publishers, and allows us to provide the best experience for both.
You can view our Kindle content return policy at the following link:
We may also issue refunds for reasons we deem appropriate, which may include accidental purchases, dissatisfaction due to poor visual quality, or a book’s contents not matching its description. We actively monitor for abuse of this policy.
Please keep in mind, for account security reasons, we’re unable to share specific information about our customers and their purchasing history. Thank you for your understanding of this policy.
You can rest assured our system is working as designed and the refunds reported on your account are compliant with sales that occurred in this very same account.
I hope this information helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.
FYI: the KDP return policy does NOT mention exceptions, exclusions or any other indication of how and why one would be permitted to return an ebook outside that 7-day time frame.
This is it, direct from the Help page:
Returning Kindle Books
Books you purchase from the Kindle Store are eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within seven days of the date of purchase. Once a refund is issued, you’ll no longer have access to the book. To request a refund and return content, visit Manage Your Content and Devices , select the Actions button next to the title you’d like to return, and select Return for refund, or contact customer service.
So, Amazon actually believes granting an exception outside their own stated policies, on digital content, a year after purchase is a good compromise for publishers/authors. Really?
And of course they cover their collective corporate asses with the “…for account security reasons, we’re unable to share specific information about our customers and their purchasing history…”
You know what, even if there was a technical problem—which I am always more than happy to rectify with another copy of the book—why in the name of all that’s holy does a customer get off on deciding they don’t like XYZ a year after the fact? And why is Amazon pandering to this?
Le big f**king sigh. Yes, I clicked on the “this doesn’t answer my question” and went into further detail and expressed my counter argument professionally. I also informed them I have a s**tload of ebooks purchased over the last year that fail miserably in formatting and editing, or that don’t coincide with the blurb, and that I shall prepare a list of books I wish to return for a refund because they don’t meet Amazon’s stated policy on quality.
FYI: if you want to return a Kindle device for whatever reason, after 60 days you get ZILCH.