There’s a hidden perk when you use Amazon’s Alexa to order items

  • Returning items customers have ordered from Amazon isn’t usually free unless there’s something wrong that was Amazon’s fault.
  • Ordering non-digital items with Alexa, however, comes with the ability to return any item for free.
  • It’s both an added incentive to use Alexa to voice shop, as well as a tacit admission from Amazon that ordering goods via voice is not always perfect.

Alexa has a trick up its virtual sleeve.

Making returns on Amazon isn’t usually free unless there’s something wrong with the item that was Amazon’s fault. Amazon deducts the cost of the return shipping and gives customers the remaining balance.

However, customers that own one of Amazon’s Echo devices, have the Alexa app on their phones, or have another way to access Alexa with their own Amazon accounts have a workaround.

That’s because Amazon offers free returns on all non-digital purchases made using Alexa. According to the Amazon help page, the return shipping charge will be levied as normal, but then refunded within seven days of the refund for the return.

Read more: Making returns on Amazon isn’t usually free, but it can be if you follow a simple rule

There are likely a few reasons why Amazon has made this change. First, it removes some anxiety customers may have when ordering items using the digital assistant. Sure, there’s a process where customers choose and confirm their purchases, but miscommunications can happen without a screen to confirm.

It’s not hard to imagine a situation where a customer accidentally orders the wrong item from Alexa, not realizing it until the item arrives on their doorstep. Music bought from Amazon’s digital music store with Alexa is also returnable, provided a refund is asked for within seven days.

That is likely also a tacit admission from Amazon that voice shopping isn’t a perfect medium, and mistakes can happen.

In a statement to Business Insider, Amazon said it was “proud of its returns process and works closely with our millions of customers to ensure they have the best returns experience possible.

“We have teams around the world dedicated to making the returns process smooth and easy, especially during the holiday season. Once we receive a returned product we conduct a thorough inspection to determine if it can be sold to another customer as either ‘new’ or ‘used,'” the statement reads.

Voice shopping is on the rise, but the pace of growth is slower than many predicted. There are some encouraging signs, however. Amazon said voice shopping with Alexa tripled over the holiday season when compared with last year.

Amazon also offers free returns when ordering from the website in some select categories where returning items is more prevalent, like clothing, jewelry, and accessories.

For everything else, just ask Alexa.