Help! I have negative Amazon Commissions!

Amazon Prime Day was bigger than ever in 2022. Prime Day was July 12 and 13. Amazon Associates had increased commission rates for even longer. But now that it is over and people start returning things… sometimes you can see your earnings in the negative. It feels like Amazon is charging you to work for them.

Amazon sold 100,000 items per minute over its Prime Day sales bonanza, totaling over 300 million items purchased around the world. The e-commerce giant said it was its most successful Prime Day event to date, taking in 3 billion dollars of revenue.

Amazon sold over 300 million items at its Prime Day event
By Don-Alvin Adegeest
Jul 15, 2022

Now commission rates are back to what they usually are and the returns are coming in.

Amazon’s generous return policies are great until you see your commissions go away.

How do Amazon returns work?

Commissions are calculated on the sale price each time something sells. The commission income varies from 1% to 20%. You can find all of the commission percentages on the Associates Program Commission Income Schedule.

You are credited for the sale when the item ships. If it is returned, Amazon takes back the commission. Amazon takes back the commission they paid you at whatever the commission was then. It does not take back the current percentage.

For example; usually Home Improvement items have a commission of 3%. During Prime Day the commission went up to 7%. But if someone returns that item, they take back the 7% commission. It’s not unfair, but it can seem like it.

(Anything that ships while the commission is higher pays you a higher commission. It doesn’t matter when they ordered it. So you can get an unexpected bonus when something ordered when the commission was 3% ships when the commission has gone up to 7%. That never seems unfair.)

Negative commissions because of returns

There can be a lot of returns after Prime Day. And the Prime Day commissions are a lot higher. So some days even though you are selling more than is being returned, you still see your commissions in the negatives. It hurts. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Don’t worry. Amazon will not send you a bill.

In rare circumstances, enough items may have dispatched during a previous month, for which you have already been paid, and then returned or refunded during the current month, to cause the amount you owe us to exceed your commission income for the current month. This produces a negative balance. If this situation occurs, we will simply deduct the amount from future commission income, so you will not have to send in any money.

Why do I have a negative account balance?

How long does it last?

Almost everything sold by Amazon has a 30 days return window.

You may return most new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon within 30 days of delivery for a full refund.

That’s 30 days from delivery, not from when the item is ordered.

Some items have longer refund times. Baby items, Amazon Renewed items and items purchased from Gift Lists have 90 days to return them. Wedding Gift Lists have 180 days. Mattresses have 100 days. (I’ve seen mattresses sell and I haven’t noticed any returned.) There are even some items that have 365 days, Wickedly Prime, Amazon Elements, Happy Belly, Mama Bear, and Presto!

There are also a lot of items that can’t be returned at all.

But the good news is, although the month right after Prime Day might have some discouraging days, it doesn’t last for long. And, at least in my experience, the increased income from Prime Day more than makes up for it.