iHerb is an online shopping site that sells supplements, groceries, skincare and other health or beauty-related products. It has a large selection of over 35,000 items by more than 1,000 brands. I’ve been buying from iHerb since 2009 and have bought over a thousand dollars’ worth of grocery, beauty and other products from their site.

My experience with iHerb has mostly been positive but sometimes, problems occur during shipping such as damaged goods or missing items and I’ve had to ask for a refund. Of all the times I’ve had to ask, I’ve never had a refund rejected. So it’s puzzling when I read complaints from people that they’re not getting their refunds. This is my guide on how to get a genuine refund from iHerb. If you’re having trouble with iHerb and need to ask for a refund, I hope this will give you a few ideas on how you can do it properly.

Important things to do for EVERY order

These are the things I do for every purchase I make over the internet. Perhaps I’m overly cautious, but I don’t want to risk an order going bad especially if expensive.

  1. Document the package as soon as you receive it. Whenever I get a package from iHerb or any other shopping site, I whip out my iPhone or camera and take photos of the package. If your package looks visibly damaged even before you’ve opened it, be sure to take plenty of photos.
  2. Check your items one by one. There should be an invoice included with your order. Check it against the items and make sure everything is accounted for.
  3. Photograph any problems immediately and take more than one photo. If you notice anything wrong with the products, take photos immediately. For example, if you see pasta outside of its package and all over the shipment box, take a photo immediately. Don’t wait till you remove the rest of the items. And take multiple photos.

    The above example was something that actually happened to me and this was the photo I took and later showed to iHerb customer service:
    iherb refund - spilled pastaCredit: Sarah
    As you can see, the pasta was not entirely in its package and there are some at the bottom of the box. This was not the only photo I took. I took photographs immediately after I saw a piece of pasta lying on top of another product. And I took a few more when I was removing the other products because there was pasta all over.
  4. Use the invoice to mark any missing or damaged items. You’ll need the names and quantities of the items that are missing or damaged. If you’ve thrown the invoice away or can’t find it, you can also go to your order history on iHerb to see the invoice.

Before Asking for a Refund

Before you try to get a refund from iHerb, these are some things you should take note of.

Do you really need a refund?

Sometimes, international shipping from iHerb can take a few weeks, especially if you’ve picked the cheapest (and slowest) one. iHerb has dates for the average delivery time of each shipping mode to each country so you should check it before you ask for a refund.

Are you eligible for a refund?

Some shipping options are not insured. If have opted for such an option and your package goes missing, you are not eligible for a refund. This is stated clearly on the iHerb web site and so if the package goes missing, iHerb is not required to refund you.

However, they sometimes do refund customers for uninsured items out of goodwill. If you’ve bought from them before and this is the first time your package has gone missing, ask nicely if you could have a refund. Remember though, it is entirely up to them whether to make a refund or not because you are not entitled to one if you do not use an insured option.

Can you return the item instead?

If your item is not damaged or missing but you don’t want the product anymore, iHerb states in its FAQ that unopened products can be returned within 60 days.[1]

Asking for a Refund

Once you’re sure you want a refund and and have all the photographs or documents you need, here are two ways you can ask iHerb for a refund.

  • Send an email through iHerb’s contact page. You should fill in your name, email address, and order number together with the appropriate subject. In the message box, mention the missing or damaged items and ask nicely if you could have a refund.

    Here’s an example of how you can write the message/email:

I received my order (#12345678) on 27 March 2013. Some items were damaged during shipping and spilled out of their packaging. They were:

1) 1 packet of Bob's Red Mill, Pancake Mix, Gluten Free, 22 oz (623 g) and

2) 1 packet of Tinkyada, Brown Rice Pasta, Little Dreams, 14 oz (397 g)

I have taken photos of the leaking items while I was unpacking and can provide them if required.

The rest of the order is fine. Would I be able to get a refund for just these two damaged items?

Please let me know soon.

Most of the time, they don’t ask for the photos. Actually, I’ve never had to send photos over using this method.

One time I uploaded photos to DropBox and sent my message with a link to the photos. I never got a reply for that email. Maybe they had Spam filters that get rid of emails with links? Anyway, since I didn’t get a reply, I used the second method below.

  • Send a message through their Facebook page. You can use the e-mail example above as a guide but just send whatever photo you have taken together with the message since Facebook allows you to attach images.

    I find the Facebook method more effective because you usually get replies within 24 hours.

This is how I’ve managed to get successful refunds for my damaged iHerb stuff. I can’t guarantee that it will work for you but it has for me so far. As long as you are eligible for a refund, provide accurate information and ask nicely, I’m pretty sure iHerb would give you one.