Amazon Sent Too Many Items: What to Do?

Here’s what to do when Amazon sent you too many items, like two of the same item:

If you get more items than you ordered, there are two ways for you to deal with the problem. 

You can contact Amazon and try to return (or purchase) the extra products, or you can hope they don’t notice. 

In either case, regulations in many countries protect you from being billed for items you didn’t specifically order.

So if you want to learn all about what to do when Amazon sent you too many items, then this article is for you.

Let’s get started!

What Are Your Options If Amazon Sent You Too Many Items?

For the most part, you have two options when they send you too much stuff. You can contact Amazon or stay silent. 

If you do contact Amazon, they’ll probably walk you through a return process (depending on the value of the shipment). 

If you don’t say anything, you’ll likely never hear from Amazon. But, if the item(s) is valuable enough, they might contact you. That situation is also laid out in its own section.

What Is Amazon’s Return Process?

The return process starts when you contact Amazon support. That means that this entire chain of events depends on you notifying Amazon that you receive things you didn’t order. Later, you’ll see what happens if you don’t notify Amazon.

You can explain the situation to the support agent, and they will go through steps with you to confirm the order and/or shipment. That will lead to two likely outcomes. They will ask you to return the product or tell you not to worry about it.

Returning the Product

When you contact Amazon, there is a good chance that they will ask you to return the product. If we assume that an error occurred on the Amazon side of things, then they will probably offer to pay for shipping for you. After all, they are trying to recover damages that occurred from their own mistake.

If they believe the error occurred on your part, they may ask you to confirm the order and/or shipping information. Ultimately, their best recourse is to convince you to return the product, so they will still typically cover the cost of shipping.

In most cases, you will be asked to drop off the labeled package at the nearest courier center.

If the item is expensive enough, Amazon might put out a little more effort. They may even send one of their own to pick up the item from your house (although this is very uncommon). Once they receive the extra item (or items), that is the end of it.

There are stories of Amazon rewarding customers who go through this process with gift cards. Naturally, there are no guarantees that you will get a reward if you return the extra product, but it has happened. That part is ultimately up to Amazon.

Keeping the Items

If the price of the item is low enough, or if Amazon has already expensed the loss, they will likely tell you to keep the item. It’s hardly worth the cost of extra shipping if there was an extra one-dollar keychain in your box.

Additionally, Amazon has insurance for exactly this kind of thing. If you think about just how many packages are shipped by Amazon every year, mistakes are bound to happen. They account for some losses in their budgeting and insurance policy. 

In many cases, they can simply add the items they sent to you to their loss totals and ultimately get at least some reimbursement from their insurance policy. At the very least, they’ve already budgeted for the loss.

However, you might not want to keep the extra stuff. Maybe it’s big and in the way. Maybe you don’t like it. 

Regardless, if you insist on not keeping the item and Amazon doesn’t want it back, they probably won’t arrange a return. Instead, they can mark it as a free gift, and you’ll be stuck with it. You can donate it or do with it what you please if this happens.

What If You Don’t Contact Amazon When Amazon Sent You Too Many Items?

If you never let Amazon know that something happened, can you keep the item? 

Will they come knocking on your door and ask for it back? 

The short answer is no. For a lot of reasons, Amazon can’t forcefully reclaim items that are in your house. Their only options would be to ask nicely, send you an invoice for the time or try to sue you. 

None of those are going to happen unless the item is expensive enough to justify the time and money involved. Even then, Amazon has less recourse available than you might think, assuming they are even aware of the problem.

Asking Nicely

Amazon always has the option to contact you and ask nicely that you return the extra product. If you agree, then they get their stuff back, and it probably only costs them the price of shipping. They might even send you a gift card in thanks.

Since this is not a legal or formal action, they can ask you for help as they see fit. It’s up to you how they respond.

In most cases, if you have something valuable enough that Amazon wants it back, and you never contacted them, they’ll probably start here. 

Ultimately, Amazon chooses its own course of action, but they are aware of the regulations in many countries that make it hard to recover items that were accidentally shipped to a customer. It’s a great starting point that doesn’t harm anyone or violate regulations.

Sending an Invoice

Amazon might not try to be so nice. They can try to invoice you for the stuff you didn’t order. How this shakes out depends on where you live. 

In the United States, EU and plenty of other countries, Amazon cannot simply bill you for items you didn’t order. Accidentally sending you more items than you ordered falls under this description.

So, if they just try to invoice you, they are risking a lot of trouble. You might opt to pay for the items out of kindness or ignorance, but if you are protected by consumer laws and regulations, you are under no legal obligations.

It’s always best to check the consumer regulations in your own country to be sure.

As an example, the FTC in the United States has very clear rules. Amazon cannot invoice U.S. residents for unordered items. We can get more into those details in a bit.

Suing for Losses

Suing is tough, and Amazon typically wants to avoid lawsuits for a lot of reasons. They can lead to bad publicity, and lawsuits are expensive. So, they are only going to look into this course of action if it’s worth the money and hassle. That’s very unlikely, but it is not impossible.

Despite FTC (or other) regulations, Amazon can potentially find a way to get you on the hook for the price of the incorrectly shipped items. The most likely scenario is a billing mishap rather than an ordering mishap. 

If you order two of something and only get billed for one, you’re actually on the hook for both of the items if they make it to you. That’s only one example.

Another common occurrence is that you order something, and it never arrives. You mention that to Amazon, so they give you a refund. 

You use the money to make a new order and get your item. Then, the “lost” item finally makes it to you very late. In this case, you technically placed two orders, so Amazon can push for financial compensation.

When you get into the intricacies of it all, there are plenty of scenarios where Amazon might be able to put forth a compelling case. When they think it’s worth the hassle, they could potentially sue you, and even consumer protection laws might not stop the suit from going their way.

What Are the Laws Regarding This?

Some of the clearest laws regarding this situation can be found with the FTC. This is a U.S. regulatory body, so other regulations might vary from this explanation in some way. Still, this is the gist.

If you receive an item that you did not order, you are not obligated to pay for it or return it. You have every right to work with the sender to return or pay for the item if you decide to do so, but you are not legally obligated to follow that course of action. 

Any item sent to you from Amazon that you did not order is legally considered a free gift. This applies to any company, by the way.

All of this stems from scams that used to hoodwink people and businesses out of a lot of money.

The Scams That Led to Regulation

The origin of this particular bit of consumer protection regulation comes from an old scam. Unfortunately, the old scam still makes money for scammers despite new regulations.

Here’s how it works. Someone running the scam manages to talk to you (or someone in a business). They get a name and a delivery address. They use that information to send you a free sample. That’s no big deal, so you don’t worry about it.

Since the delivery was successful, they know the address is good for more deliveries. They send more products to that destination, but this time it isn’t marked as a free sample. Instead, they bill you for it. 

If you try to return it, they say that there are no refunds or returns, and they fight with you to pay the bill.

Before the regulation, scammers could actually use the legal system to force individuals and businesses to pay for these items. Today, they can only try to trick you into compliance.

This scam works best against businesses where someone assumes that the order is legitimate and just pays it. The FTC actually sued scammers once upon a time to make this practice illegal, and they won. 

Now, any time you receive something that you did not order, it is yours to keep as a gift. This means no charges can be forced on you.