I’ll start off this post by saying that Amazon is not the best place to get sex toys. I would much prefer it if you found yourself a retailer who you can build a relationship with, that does outreach programs, teaches sex educations classes – a company that gives you more than a sex toy. That’s why I also sell pleasure products directly on this site as well – I want you to feel safe.
But I know Amazon is someplace that people go to buy pleasure products. Amazon gift cards exist. Their wish lists are easy to use. As my Twitter friend Ian put it, “The best place to buy food is a decent specialist grocer or butcher. But sometimes you grab a burger.” There can be a lot of scare mongering when it comes to buying sex toys on Amazon. Some of it comes from lack of knowledge about how Amazon works. My hope is to take some of the most heard issues when it comes to Amazon sex toy sales, and do a bit of education myself.
Amazon Worry – Amazon doesn’t know their ass from their elbow when it comes to sex toys.
Let’s start off with Amazon selling basics. Unless your listing says “Shipped and Sold by Amazon”, you are buying from a 3rd party company that uses Amazon as their selling platform, who may or may not be aware of ass and elbow differences. You are not buying from Amazon themselves.
Some of these companies send their stock to Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Amazon stores it, then ships it when it’s purchased. These sellers have ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ next to their listing, and are open for Prime members to get that free shipping.
Other sellers receive your orders through Amazon’s system, then ship from their own warehouse themselves. This is a common practice for smaller brick-and-mortar shops who use Amazon as their online selling platform.
Lastly, others do something called drop-shipping, where upon receiving your order, will buy the toy from a distributor, and that distributor ships directly to you. Drop-shippers never have actual contact with what you bought. Many big-name distributors who sell to sex toy shops also offer drop-shipping. I offer drop-shipping on our wholesale site.
So how do you know if the company you are buying from really knows their stuff about sex toys? You don’t, unless you do some research, just like with non-Amazon sex toy shops. The name of the company who you are buying from is listed on that catalog page. Clicking this name will bring you to their storefront where you can read their feedback. DEFINITELY READ THEIR FEEDBACK. If it’s below 90%, I’d stay away. You can also use this page to contact the seller directly to ask them your own questions and get a feel for what they’re like, if that’s important to you.
Amazon Worry – If something goes wrong, I can’t return it. Amazon doesn’t take returns on sex toys.
Amazon has something called an A to Z guarantee, and it covers everything sold by 3rd parties on Amazon – including sex toys. Let’s say you received your product in the mail today. You have 30 days to get in touch with the seller to arrange a return, for any reason what so ever. There are circumstances where you may have to pay for return shipping or get charged a restocking fee – but this is typically only when it’s a return due to no fault of the seller, such as no longer wanting it. But if you’ve received a toy that is not as it should be, or if it broke within that first month, or you think it’s a fake, you have 30 days to return it for your money back. In most cases you will need to return the product to get a refund, but sometimes sellers would rather just refund you than go through the hassle of a return. You also have up to 90 days to leave a seller feedback (which is quite valuable to Amazon sellers) and to get in touch with Amazon to file a claim if something goes wrong after that 30 day mark.
Amazon Worry – The toys shipped by Amazon are all piled together, mixing brands and types. If I order “Premier Toy Brand A”, I might get something from “Fake-O Brand Y” that looks the same.
Unlike a post I read recently, Amazon doesn’t arbitrarily assign a toy a category like “purple rabbit vibrators” and every purple rabbit vibrator under the sun gets thrown into that pile, no matter the make, model or brand. That’s not quite how Amazon’s fulfillment works. Each product is given its own unique bar code, typically based on the UPC of the product, called a FKNSU number. That FKSNU is how they are separated and stored if the seller is using Amazon’s fulfillment services. If it has a different UPC code, it has a different FKNSU number. The high-end silicone rabbit from “Premier Toy Brand A” should not be* getting mixed in with “Fake-O Brand Y”.
What the poster may have been confused about is something that Amazon does to save sellers on their fees, called ‘comingling’. This means that every product with that same FKNSU gets thrown into that pile no matter who sent it in. If both “Victor’s Vulva Vivations” and “Tanya’s Toy Trunk” are selling blue Monas, and both choose to comingle, their supply will get mixed together. You could buy from Victor, and get the Mona that Tanya sent in. If they do not choose comingling, Amazon keeps those two sets of Monas apart – if you buy from Victor, you will only get Victor’s goods.
*Why the star? Shit happens. Amazon warehouse workers could pull an incorrect item from the shelf and send it to you. That’s there that A to Z I mentioned earlier is helpful.
Amazon Worry – There are so many counterfeiters on Amazon. I doubt I’m getting the real thing.
Not going to lie – this is a massive problem that Amazon has. ‘Dodgey Donna’ could get a load of fake metal toys, copy the bar code off a well-respected brand, then ship them into Amazon for them to ship off to a buyer who thinks they’re getting an NJoy. Amazon doesn’t check for authenticity, so they aren’t going to catch it. While it may be obvious to a savvy user that this ‘NJoy’ came in a weird box without any branding, unassuming customers might not think it any different. Now they’re using what could be a dangerous toy. That isn’t good.
This is why checking out feedback – and reporting problems when they arise – is important. Amazon depends on a customer-reporting ecosystem. If they get a complaint that something is counterfeit – that listing is suspended for that seller. Get more than a couple? They’ll lose their accounts, and you can’t get reopen a terminated Amazon account.
One way to prevent getting counterfeits is once again to know your seller. Right now, many counterfeit sex toys are coming from China. One way to see where your item is coming from is to see the full list of who is selling the given product. On a desktop computer, the right side of an Amazon listing has a box called “Other Sellers on Amazon”. You’ll see a link at the bottom of this window – it’ll say “[number] new”. Clicking this will give you all the sellers – and their locations.
(I use this when I want to get something fast. I’d rather order from someone in New England than a California company if I’m pressed for time and they both offer free first class shipping.) Unfortunately, this doesn’t help you if it’s stored and shipped via Amazon fulfillment.
The last thing – and probably the most important – if your seller is following Amazon’s rules, adult listings (including sex toys) are hard to find.
The Sexual Wellness category is gated – meaning that the seller needs to provide valid invoices from wholesalers, has to have been selling on Amazon for a certain period of time, and has reached a certain level of sales performance. The listings for Sexual Wellness require a few clicks to get to. After searching for the name of your item, you’ll need to click “See All [number] results”, then click “Health and Personal Care”, then click “Show All Results”. If the listing isn’t behind that “Show All Results”, the seller has not been approved for sex toy sales.
So – my top tips to help you use your Amazon gift cards and not get screwed are…
- Sex toys should be listed in the gated category of Sexual Wellness – under Health & Personal Care.
- Check out the feedback of the seller you are buying from. Less than 90%? Avoid.
- Contact the seller with any questions, concerns or worries you have before buying from them.
- If it doesn’t pass the sniff test when you get it in, contact Amazon and get your money back.
- Report any sketchy transactions to Amazon to ensure the item is removed from Amazon’s catalog.