Early this morning, Amazon made good on its promise of banning “free speech” platform Parler from its web-hosting services platform. Before the site went down, though, Parler users began planning a small dish of revenge for the tech giant — in the form of cheating Amazon out of a few dollars in product returns.
The scheme attempts to take advantage of an increasingly popular policy change across online shopping sites. Amazon and other retailers have begun allowing consumers to keep products they’ve returned, rather than shipping them back, when it makes economic sense to do so. Amazon and Walmart are both using artificial intelligence to decide whether or not the cost of the product’s physical return outweighs the cost of shipping it back, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Congratulations, Parler sympathizers, you’ve discovered a method by which to cheat a trillion-dollar company out of five bucks. How ever will Jeff Bezos survive?
Returns without the returns — We’re quickly approaching a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. In that time, we’ve moved a huge number of our day-to-day activities online — and online shopping is far from an exception to that rule. And with more online orders comes more online returns: the number of e-commerce packages returned jumped by 70 percent in 2020, according to Narvar.
And sometimes the cost of returning those packages just isn’t worth it for big companies like Amazon and Walmart. Processing an online return can cost $10 to $20, depending on the size and weight of the package. Rather than paying those fees, retailers are giving customers their money back and urging them to donate the items instead.
Eat the rich… but not like this — We’ll be the first to remind you that Amazon’s ludicrous wealth and monopolistic tendencies are beyond problematic. But petty revenge isn’t going to solve those issues — not even close.
For one thing, not every Amazon order is eligible for the “keep it” return option. That’s only available when an item’s value is so low — usually under $20 — that it would cost more to re-ship it than to leave it in the customer’s hands. These aren’t massive OLED TVs customers are “cheating” Amazon out of; we’re talking batteries, paper towels, pet supplies, and other items Amazon can definitely live without.
Here’s the math, just for argument’s sake: a $5 pack of batteries is approximately 0.0000000005 percent of Amazon’s overall worth. Parler users would need to purchase, return, and keep 2 billion items at $5 each to even hit 1 percent of Amazon’s worth.