Can you Cancel an Amazon Subscribe and Save Order After It's Shipped?

Have you accidentally allowed your Amazon Subscribe and Save order to ship without making changes or cancelling unwanted items? This article is for you. Read on to see what your options are for what could be a costly mistake!

I have been a big fan of Amazon's Subscribe and Save program for many years. It's a lifesaver for a mom who has a big family, orders things in bulk, lives very rural, and wants to save money. In fact, I've found that Amazon Subscribe and Save (along with the Prime Pantry program) helps us keep a stocked pantry, even with the cost of goods continually rising at the local store.

Can you Cancel an Amazon Subscribe and Save Order After It's Shipped?

We all know, however, that items placed in a subscription can change in price over time, and you sometimes don't even want to continue to received certain items. (Baby diapers in a small size after your little one has grown, for example.) While it's best to always keep an eye on your subscription, accidents do happen.

I am guilty of being one of those frugal moms who loaded up on dozens of deals each month with the Subscribe and Save program and then chose to just "skip" the items I didn't want each month. I had a date marked on my calendar, about a week or so before my ship date, that I reviewed everything to make sure I wasn't getting anything I didn't need for the month. At the time, there was no email notification system to let you know that you had so many days to make changes. It was on me to remember.

I Made a (Big) Mistake

I was out of town on a work trip when I got a notice on my phone that my Subscribe and Save order had shipped. It indicated that I had over 30 items coming to my door! I panicked and called my husband from the road to tell him the bad news. Not only were we getting the items we wanted (diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies, etc.), we were getting over a dozen bulk items we didn't want. These were items we tried one time and didn't like, or things we had gotten for a one-time project for the good price but failed to cancel after that first shipment.

I immediately got on the phone with Amazon and told them that I had failed to cancel my order. They assured me that these items were still in the warehouse, and that they would put a "stop shipment" on them. They also told me that, should any of the items get on the delivery trucks to be sent, they would notify Fedex or UPS to stop shipment and return the items.

I felt better. Amazon was handling it.

2 days later, I returned from my trip, and saw that my credit card had been charged over $500. I was sick. I also checked my accounts at UPS My Choice and Fedex Insight to see if any Amazon packages were coming my way. I had over 10, and they showed no signs of being "stopped" or "returned" as the Amazon associate had indicated.

I got on Amazon chat on my desktop so that I would have a record of my conversation with them. I told them what had happened, and they said that we could start processing return requests for each of the items. I went in my order history and copied down each order and invoice number and provided them. I was told that I would just have to "refuse delivery" when the packages came to my door, and the UPS or Fedex driver would ship them back to Amazon. My return status would then be updated and I would be refunded my money.

The next day, I received a giant box from Amazon. The driver had just dropped it off at the end of my driveway, which was odd, since they almost always come to the door. I noticed right away that it was an Amazon box AND the box was so big that the sides were damaged and the tape had broken. The box, according to the terms of Fedex, could not be refused by me because it was considered to be "opened" -- even though I would have considered it more damaged in transit.

I got on the phone with Amazon and explained what happened. They said that, since we had return requests in for the items, that I could pack it up and ship it back. They asked what was in the order, and it turned out that it was all FOOD! Food cannot be returned to Amazon, per their policy. As an act of goodwill, however, they said that they would credit me for all the food, if I were to destroy or donate the items. I donated them.

The following day, I received the rest of the packages. I did NOT open them. I had them all "refused/return to sender". I watched all the items except for 7 be credited back to my account once they were received by the Amazon warehouse.

What about those 7? I don't know what happened. They did make it back to Amazon, as I have the tracking number and the items were in the same box as other items that I did get credit for. But since they weren't showing up in their system, I was credited and then charged and then credited a total of four times over the next 3 months. Each time resulted in me having to call.  Apparently, when you "return an item" it shows up differently than refusing an item. Customer service at Amazon should have never BOTH issued a return authorization and told me to refuse shipment. You have to do ONE or the other.

In addition, I had one other issue: shipping charges.  As a Prime member, I get free shipping. If Amazon deems that it's your fault the item was returned, however, they can charge you for the shipping by witholding that amount from your refund. In my case, I had 11 items in one box that likely cost $11 to ship with UPS ground. Amazon tried charging me $7 PER ITEM for the shipment refusal. I contacted them and said that I understood it was my fault and that I would pay actually shipping charges. I wasn't however prepared to pay $77 for a 2 pound box, especially when the value of the items was less than the shipping "charge". They ended up refunding me 85% of the shipping charges with a "goodwill credit."

Lesson Learned

What did I learn from this trying and initially expensive ordeal?

1) Amazon Subscribe and Save is a big money saver if done right.

2) Don't sign up for the cheap initial subscription if you don't intend on following up and cancelling when you don't need it anymore.

3) Amazon Customer Service is great, but they can only do what they can do.

4) If you think you'll ever not like or want a food item, don't order it from Amazon.

5) Put Amazon on your email white list and pay attention to shipping notifications. Had the email system been in place when this happened, I could have avoided all of this by knowing in advance and just skipping or cancelling BEFORE shipment.

6) If you don't want an item, you can refuse shipment of the order by your delivery driver. If the box is opened, however, you have to return via a refund request. This does not guarantee that they will refund shipping charges.

6) If you have a big problem that will take lots of time to resolve, use the Amazon chat feature. You can find it by using our tutorial.

Have you ever gotten an unwanted Amazon Subscribe and Save delivery? While it's a pain to resolve, their customer service is excellent and they will do what they can to make their customers happy.

(Note: I understand that the whole mess was my fault. I take full responsibility. I've learned. Hopefully this explanation of the steps to resolving will help someone else. I'm a loyal Amazon customer that spends $1000's a year for items for our home, farm, business and remodeling projects. I value them and hope to never have to make a mistake like this again.)

Need more Amazon resources?  See:

How to I Spend Less on Groceries than at the Store with Prime Pantry
How to Prep Your Pantry with Subscribe & Save
How to Contact Amazon Chat Support


  1. Oh my gosh! What a nightmare! I can't imagine dealing with an issue of that size with aANY other company, but in my experience Amazon's customer service is awesome and will work with you to get things sorted out. I'm glad you were able to resolve this and walk away with a still-positive view of the company!

  2. They were super helpful. Any issues I had with them getting my order resolved likely had to do with training. Everyone was super nice, and they did refund me in the end -- even though it was my fault!


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