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16 Things You Can't Return to Amazon

Don't add these items to your Amazon.com shopping cart unless you're absolutely sure you want them.

If you're one of the 112 million members of Amazon Prime, you already have free shipping covered. Returns are free, too, unless otherwise specified on the product detail page. Now, you can even return unwanted purchases to your local Kohl's department store instead of through the mail. Just be aware that some items can't be returned to Amazon -- no way, never. Before you add another gift to your online shopping cart, be sure you fully understand Amazon's return policy.

Let's start with the basics: Amazon's standard return policy allows customers to return most items that are sold and fulfilled by Amazon within 30 days of receipt for a full refund. The return policy is more generous for holiday purchases. Most items shipped by Amazon between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 can be returned through Jan. 31 of the following year. Free returns extend to non-digital products ordered via Alexa voice shopping; accidental digital purchases via Alexa can be refunded within seven days by contacting customer service. Return policies for merchandise sold and shipped by third-policy sellers on Amazon.com can vary, so read the seller's fine print.

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Some products, though, simply can't be sent back to Amazon. Take a look.

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  • customized/handmade products (unless there is damage, defect or error, such as misspellings)
  • digital music downloaded from the Amazon Digital Music store
  • fresh flowers (but may be refundable)
  • gift cards
  • groceries (including AmazonFresh and Prime Pantry items, though refunds or replacements are possible in cases of spills or spoilage)
  • hazardous materials including flammable liquids or gases
  • live insects (Amazon sells everything from ladybugs to Madagascar hissing cockroaches)
  • live plants (but may be refundable)
  • pet food (but may be refundable)
  • prepaid game cards (for World of Warcraft, Xbox 360 Live, Wii Points, etc.)
  • prepaid phone cards
  • products missing the serial code or universal product code (UPC)
  • software and game downloads, as well as other digital purchases from the Amazon Appstore
  • theme park tickets
  • videos downloaded from the Amazon Video store
  • wine (but may be refundable or replaceable)

Amazon can be a stickler about returns of certain high-value items including jewelry, collectibles and electronics. Review the product detail page for specifics. If you're returning a gift that was purchased for you from Amazon, you'll need the order number from the packing slip. The refund will usually be issued in the form of an Amazon.com gift card.

So what can you do if an item isn't returnable or you miss the return window? Re-gifting is one option. Another is giving the items to charity, which might allow you to get a tax break for your charitable donation. Amazon also operates a trade-in program that lets you sell back eligible items including videogames, Kindles and books. Shipping is free, and you'll be paid with an Amazon.com gift card. Of course, if you prefer to receive cash for your items try selling them yourself on Craigslist.org or eBay.com. Sites such as Gazelle.com and NextWorth.com specialize in buying used electronics. Card-swap sites such as Cardpool.com and GiftCards.com buy unwanted gift cards.

As for the live insects you can't return to Amazon? Sorry, you're on your own.

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