I see it every day. Brand new sellers on Amazon that don’t understand what the word “New” means. At least not on Amazon anyway. To most of the general public, “New” means they just bought it. When they are posting something they are trying to sell on Facebook, they’ll state something like “still brand new. only had it a year”. This type of mentality is even OK many times on eBay, Craigslist, and many other marketplaces.

Amazon is not just any marketplace. When you are a seller on Amazon, customers don’t expect to be buying from the guy down the street. Most people don’t even know that’s possible. The general public thinks that when they buy on Amazon, they are buying FROM Amazon. When a customer is paying full retail (or more in some cases) to purchase merchandise from a major retailer, they expect what they receive to be in perfect condition. If it’s not, they will likely return it.

Maybe it’s easier to think of it this way: “used” doesn’t mean the item has ACTUALLY been used. It simply means it is no longer in pristine new condition. Remember, when in doubt, grade your product lower than what you think you can. Underpromise and overdeliver. That makes for happy customers and glowing feedback. Negative feedback hurts.

Let’s get into each condition rating available on Amazon to see exactly what we’re dealing with. The main bullet point will be Amazon’s official wording. The comments underneath is where we will discuss what each one means in plain English.

General Merchandise

  • New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.
    • As Amazon clearly states, it is just as it sounds, but many people don’t understand what it means.
    • “Original protective wrapping…intact” means if the item was shrink wrapped, and there’s a hole in the shrink wrap, it is no longer “new”.
    • If the item had tape holding the enclosure shut and it has come off, it is no longer “new”, even if you put another piece of tape on it.
    • “All original packaging materials included” means if the box has been opened and the Styrofoam removed and replaced with packing peanuts, the item is no longer “new”.
    • “Original manufacturer’s warranty…still applies” means that if you found a product on a clearance shelf and that manufacturer will only honor the warranty from authorized dealers, but you are not one of them, the item you are selling is not “new”, even if all above criteria is met. This usually only applies to pricey electronics and a few small appliances.
  • Used – Like New: An apparently untouched item in perfect condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and pristine. There are absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging. Instructions are included. Item is suitable for presenting as a gift.
    • In this condition, notice the last statement. This is “gift-giving condition”. If a box looks bad enough that you would be ashamed to give it as a gift, or a little miffed at receiving a gift in such condition, it’s condition is WORSE than this condition. That means it can’t be listed as “new” either.
    • Shrink wrap missing is OK, but packaging remains “pristine”.
    • The fact that Amazon states again, “no signs of wear on item or its packaging” says it all. This is VERY important to their marketplace. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t have stated it four times four different ways in the same guideline.
    • pris·tine- in its original condition; unspoiled. clean and fresh as if new; spotless. In other words, if you have to take a picture of the box and ask “can this be sold in new condition” the answer is not only no, but it also can’t be sold in “like new” condition either. Negative feedback hurts.
  • Used – Very Good: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly.
    • This is where items belong that the box is slightly damaged.
    • I don’t recommend using this condition if the item shows ANY signs of wear. The reason why is simple. People have their own definition of “some limited signs of wear” and you don’t know what your customer thinks that means. Negative feedback hurts.
  • Used – Good: Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or show other signs of previous use.
    • This condition can be used for items you find in thrift shops that are in great condition with minimal wear.
    • Majority of items that have actually been used will end up here.
    • Still “works perfectly” means there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the item.
  • Used – Acceptable: Use only if noted in the Category-Specific Condition Guidelines. The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. The item may have identifying markings on it or show other signs of previous use.
    • My advise would be, if you think an item is in “acceptable” condition, don’t even list it for sale.
    • This condition is negative feedback waiting to happen. Negative feedback hurts.

Book Condition Guidelines

  • New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unread copy in perfect condition. The dust cover and original protective wrapping, if any, are intact. All supplementary materials are included and all access codes for electronic material, if applicable, are valid and/or in working condition.
    • Forget new books. Amazon doesn’t share the buybox, and once you buy them, they are no longer “new”.
    • Only exception I make for the above rule is when book is still in factory shrink wrap, it is completely intact, and Amazon is not on the listing. That is VERY rare.
  • Used – Like New: Dust cover is intact, with no nicks or tears. Spine has no signs of creasing. Pages are clean and not marred by notes or folds of any kind. May contain remainder marks on outside edges, which should be noted in listing comments.
    • Basically, this is a flawless book that the average person would consider “new”.
    • 90% of books you buy in new condition should be listed here.
  • Used – Very Good: Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
    • If the book appears to be brand new, but has some minimal damage from storage or transport, it belongs here.
    • Any damage should be so minimal as to not be noticed if not looking for damage.
  • Used – Good: All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include “From the library of” labels.
    • Almost all books that have acutally seen use should be listed here.
    • Any writing on inside cover, library markings, notes, or highlighting lands a book firmly in this condition
    • Corners of cover can show wear, but cover not creased
    • If your book was originally sold with a dust jacket, it must be included and not torn
    • Spine may be creased from opening the book, but edges of spine can not be frayed.
  • Used – Acceptable: All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text cannot be obscured or unreadable.
    • If cover is creased, spine is frayed, more notes or highlighting than makes the book comfortable to use, but still completely intact and usable, it belongs here.
    • I NEVER under any circumstances list a book for sale that is in acceptable condition. Just as above in the general merchandise, it is begging for a negative feedback, even if you are specific in your condition description. Customers don’t read, and negative feedback hurts.
  • Unacceptable: Includes missing pages and obscured or unreadable text. We also do not permit the sale of advance reading copies, including uncorrected proofs, of in-print or not-yet-published books.
    • Heed these warnings well. They will get your account suspended.

I know there are going to be people out there who think my interpretation of these guidelines are ridiculous. Those people usually eventually end up posting on Facebook something to the effect of, “how do I get my account unsuspended.” Don’t be that guy. There is plenty of merchandise out there available to sell. Is that extra $10 you might make from listing that one item worth having your account shut down? How much could it cost you in the long run?

“But Jason, some of the items in the store have flaws on the boxes. They can be beat up even if they’re not on clearance! Those stores sell them as new, why can’t we?”

The answer to this question is a simple one. You just have to think like the customer. Let’s say you’re in a store and there are three products on the shelf. 2 have beat up packaging and one doesn’t. You’re going to choose the nice looking one since you have the choice. However, if you are ordering online, you don’t have the choice. You get what you’re given. You don’t want your customer to feel like they’re playing roulette every time they order from Amazon.

Under-promise and over-deliver is always the best policy. If you follow that guideline, you will have glowing feedback. As we all know, negative feedback hurts.

Discuss your thoughts on the subject below, or head on over to our Facebook group. There are plenty of people there ready and willing to help you along on your eCommerce journey.

Now that you’ve got all your inventory together and you understand condition, it’s time to send in your first FBA shipment to Amazon!

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