Amazon introduced SAFE-T, or Seller Assurance for Ecommerce Transactions, in late 2017 in order to streamline reimbursement claims. Since its release, many sellers have been confused about when and how to file a SAFE-T claim on Amazon.
There’s only one main requirement: the customer must have been refunded before you open a SAFE-T claim.
If you start a claim before issuing a refund, it will automatically be denied. However, the refunds you issued can withhold return shipping or restocking fees so long as those fees follow Amazon’s return policies.
You can withhold usually 20% for customer change of mind or 50% for returning a damaged or different item. Be wary about refunding 1¢ as some seller support representatives may suggest since doing so goes against Amazon’s policies.
If you violate policy, that may result in an automatic loss of the SAFE-T claim. Or the customer may open an A-to-Z claim, triggering a hit to your seller metrics. SAFE-T claims do not count against your seller metrics.
In this article, we’ll discuss where sellers should go to open a SAFE-T claim and when sellers should start a claim for reimbursement.
Be sure to have all evidence ready to include in the claim. It’s better to submit the evidence with the claim rather than waiting for the representative to ask you for it.
Evidence can include Amazon messages from the customer, shipping information (like dates and weights), and photographs of the returned item and packaging.
SAFE-T Claim Requirements and Limitations
Before we start, you should be aware of some of the requirements for SAFE-T claims. Your SAFE-T claim may automatically be denied if these apply to you. The requirements and limitations are:
- Customer must have been refunded—withholding return fees according to Amazon policies is allowed
- SAFE-T claims must be opened within 30 days of the refund being deducted from your account
- No A-to-Z claim was opened for the order—you have the ability to appeal to the A-to-Z claim
- No chargeback claim was opened for the order—you have the ability to appeal to the chargeback claim via Amazon
- The order was not lost or damaged by the shipping carrier—you’ll have to file a reimbursement or insurance claim through the carrier
- You cannot refuse a return—if you do, you aren’t allowed to start a SAFE-T claim
- Reimbursements are limited to no more than $5,000 per order
- If you’re scammed with a “materially different” return on a $10,000 order, you can refund 50% and open a SAFE-T claim for the remaining $5,000
SAFE-T Claim Eligibility
You can’t open a SAFE-T claim for every single return you get. Many sellers ultimately provide full refunds to customers regardless of the return condition. Some sellers do charge restocking fees, but the fear of negative feedback and an A-to-Z claim is enough to prevent many sellers from charging restocking fees or return shipping fees.
If you’re using FBA, then Amazon usually provides a full refund. Some sellers open SAFE-T claims for partial reimbursements. For example, sellers may open a SAFE-T claim for return shipping reimbursement or restocking fees if the buyer lied to get free return shipping.
Amazon doesn’t always approve of SAFE-T claims even when the claims seem valid. SAFE-T claims are completely at Amazon’s discretion. That means you can open 10 cases for the same scenario and only have 8 of them approved.
Here are some other situations that may prompt a SAFE-T claim:
- Buyer abuses the refund or return policy (this can include lying to get free return shipping)
- Customer returns a “materially different” item
- The customer returns a damaged item and it’s in unsellable condition
- Amazon refunds a customer for an order but the customer never returns the order
- Amazon will deny SAFE-T claims for orders that Amazon designates as “unreturnable”
- You sent a replacement but the order was still refunded
- If you issued the refund, Amazon may deny the claim
There are a few other less-common cases where you can start SAFE-T claims:
- Amazon overcharged you for a return mailing label
- You were overcharged for the refund—this usually happens when the customer has multiple items in an order and wants a refund for your item only; sometimes Amazon refunds the entire order and charges you for it even though your item made up a portion of the order
Where and How to Start a New SAFE-T Claim
First, all of your SAFE-T claims are located under Orders > Manage SAFE-T Claims. On this page, you’ll be able to see the status of all of your SAFE-T claims.
Click on “File a new SAFE-T Claim” to start a new claim and enter the Order ID to check eligibility. If all you have is the returned product, then check out our article on tracking FBA returns to get the Order ID from an FBA return.
Once you’ve started the claim, select the correct reason. This is very important as you may have your claim denied if you choose the wrong reason.
Briefly and objectively describe the issue. Don’t use inflammatory language, don’t be emotional, and don’t accuse the customer of wrongdoing. The representative won’t care, and doing any of things will actually hurt your case.
Take good, clear pictures of the item the customer returned to you. Include pictures of the item the customer returned. Make sure you clearly distinguish the original picture with the returned item picture with text to indicate original item and returned item.
If necessary, include good pictures of the original product if you believe it’ll help illustrate your point. You may even want to include a link to the product detail page in case. The last thing you want is to confuse the representative looking at your claim.
Include any supporting evidence you have. This can include shipping weights. Your claim is stronger when the original shipping weight is 10 pounds and the return shipping weight is only 3 pounds.
You can also include messages sent through Amazon, especially if the customer admits fault. Make sure that all communication you send through Amazon is civil, proper, and objective. Follow Amazon’s seller code of conduct to ensure that you have the best chance of winning a SAFE-T claim.
Once you file the claim, Amazon gets back to you within 7 days. You can view the status under “Manage SAFE-T Claims.” Make sure you respond promptly to any requests Amazon sends you. Any delay in response means you’re waiting longer to get your money back.
That’s it! You shouldn’t be responsible for customers who are out to defraud you on Amazon. You especially shouldn’t be responsible for these customers who have a history of defrauding sellers and who Amazon enables by allowing them to continue. Opening a SAFE-T claim is a relatively simple process, and so long as your claim is reasonable and valid, you should get your money back.
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