What Happens to Amazon Item Returns?

I recently returned my Oculus Quest 2 (64GB) to Amazon as I had re-purchased its 256GB variant, having capitalised on the recent discounts, sales etc.

I noticed that as soon as I returned the goods to them via Australia Post, that Amazon had processed my refund and the money was back with me. Does anyone know if Amazon actually check if the returned item is complete, works, or whatever else? Or do they simply bin it?

I ask the 'bin' question because I did ask a similar question many years ago to K-Mart (hope I'm allowed to mention them in this manner), and the assistant simply said that they'll bin the product now that I've returned it. I was 'eh!?' at the time, and they explained that they'll throw the item away and claim it on their insurance. This K-Mart product was opened and used by me and found not suitable, as opposed to returning an un-opened item which I assume would be put back on the shelf.

I ask because it would seem like a lot of piss farting around for Amazon to open the returned Oculus item, check that all the documents, cables etc are there, to then re-box and do what they do with it. This would be occurring on a grand scale too as they'd (surely) be receiving 1000s of returned items.

Truth be told, I was also tempted to retain the USB C to USB C cable but just returned the received the one I got in the 256GB item once I received that. Saved me the mild bother of having to coil it up etc.

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  • +5

    I have no idea, but I've read a lot of Amazon reviews where people had opened their parcel to find their "new" item had been used (stained, worn, etc) so I'm guessing whatever they do with them, sometimes they get put back on the "shelf" and picked up again for the next customer!

    • This!

      I received electronic items that are opened/seal broken from Amazon AU before. Made a complaint and received partial refund.

      • That's insane. Shouldn't that be sold as refurbished/opened-box item.

        • +1

          technically they should!

    • Yep, bought a fitbit and the packaging was opened and the screen protecting plastic was stuck to the outisde of the box. Sent it back.

  • +4

    I believe they, like a lot of retailers, put all the returns on a pallet and they go to an auction house where people will buy the whole pallet as a lot. Not sure if this happens with every item or if there is a criteria to what goes and what stays.

    • Yep this.
      Easiest way to offload large amounts of random product for little to no risk.
      The youtube videos on these are pretty interesting.

    • +2

      …put all the returns on a pallet and they go to an auction house …

      where? I wouldn't mind trying my luck on a pallet! I've seen some of the videos on Youtube from the States, but never seen any from within Australia.

      • +3

        I’ve seen these on Grays.
        You need to be able collect the pallet, and they don’t identify the source just “returned items” and it will be 60 TVs or whatever, some smashed, some who knows?
        E.g. https://www.graysonline.com/lot/0001-2182164/audio-tv-and-ho...

        • +1

          LOL. I'm not sure why, but I've avoided Grays over the last few years. The items they fill their site with seems to have got worse and worse each year!

          plus, I definitely don't want a pallet of 60 TVs or multiples of a single item! That wouldn't make it very exciting to open!

          • @bobbified: Do a search for pallet and they have some mixed lots.
            I’d suggest more trash than treasure.
            But maybe ones like this lot of untested boxed Dysons .

            • @mskeggs: Thanks for that! I think you're right. Most of it looks like rubbish. LOL

              I guess it would be okay if someone wanted, say, a vacuum cleaner. You could buy the whole pallet that you've linked and there's a good chance that at least one would be working. And if not, you could probably cannibalise a few others for parts to build one working one (if certain parts are interchangeable between the different models).

              • @bobbified:

                Most of it looks like rubbish.

                You're not wrong. Mind you, it demonstrates yet another example of "there is a market for everything". There will be someone out there buying all this stuff and be trying to make a buck out of it.

                I remember years ago I was out at Flemington markets in Sydney and stumbled onto the "trash and treasure" section. Most of the stuff looked like what's on these pallets, or had otherwise be scrounged up from hard rubbish collections.

  • For Amazon US they do clear product out online that has been returned at a discounted price, not sure the deal for AU Amazon. If you do receive a product where the packaging is damaged you can generally request a discount from Amazon to keep it. I generally request to return it first, and then offer to take it at a reduced price. Saved $50 of a $200 order the other day because they didn't pack it in a box.

    • Yeah I've seen unboxing vids where people buy a 'surprise box' of returned goods, not sure if available here though.

  • Your answer can be found here:


    • Wonder what happens to all the stuff that ISN'T sent back.

  • +1

    Amazon Renewed is where you can buy refurb products or customer returns.

    And yes, amazon does actually just send some of their returns straight to the landfill, with some being shredded for recycling.


    Experts say hundreds of thousands of returns don't end up back on the e-commerce giant's website for resale, as customers might think. Marketplace journalists posing as potential new clients went undercover for a tour at a Toronto e-waste recycling and product destruction facility with hidden cameras. During that meeting, a representative revealed they get "tons and tons of Amazon returns," and that every week their facility breaks apart and shreds at least one tractor-trailer load of Amazon returns, sometimes even up to three to five truckloads…

    To further investigate where all those online returns end up, Marketplace purchased a dozen products off Amazon's website — a faux leather backpack, overalls, a printer, coffee maker, a small tent, children's toys and a few other household items — and sent each back to Amazon just as they were received but with a GPS tracker hidden inside… Of the 12 items returned, it appears only four were resold by Amazon to new customers at the time this story was published. Months on from the investigation, some returns were still in Amazon warehouses or in transit, while a few travelled to some unexpected destinations, including a backpack that Amazon sent to landfill…

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