Amazon has begun charging customers for some returns made to The UPS Store locations, the company confirmed to Supply Chain Dive.
Customers may be charged when selecting The UPS Store for a return if a free option — Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods and Kohl's locations — is within the same distance or closer to their delivery address. The Information first reported the charge Monday.
"We always offer a free option for customers to return their item – if a customer would prefer to return their item at a UPS Store when there is a free option closer to their delivery address, a very small amount of customers may incur a $1 fee," spokesperson Steve Kelly said in a statement.
The UPS Store has been a key component in Amazon's free returns offering to customers through the years. Amazon said last year that customers could return eligible items for free at more than 4,768 UPS Store locations.
That figure far outnumbers Amazon's other free returns options. Kohl's had 1,170 stores as of Jan. 28. Whole Foods has 524 U.S. stores, while Amazon Fresh has 44 locations total.
Amazon also ran a program last year allowing customers to use The UPS Store as an option for seller-fulfilled returns. Customers could already make seller-fulfilled returns via the U.S. Postal Service, but Amazon told sellers that the added convenience would encourage shoppers to buy more.
Amazon has been adjusting many of its established strategies as it adapts to a slowdown in demand. The company has closed or canceled plans for dozens of warehouses and enacted layoffs in order to trim costs. Reducing the expense of returns on Amazon's operations could be another wrinkle in that cost-cutting process.
"Handling returns is not cheap, and Amazon is learning that as it continues to cut costs across its organization," said Jay Kent, managing director of the supply chain consultancy SLB Performance, in a LinkedIn post.
UPS, meanwhile, has been working with Amazon to reduce the share of the e-commerce giant's packages it delivers. UPS did not respond to a request for comment on the new returns charge.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated when Amazon detailed how many UPS Store locations customers could return items for free at.