Everything You Need to Know About Returns on eBay

Returns and refunds are easily one of the most talked about and debated aspects of selling on eBay. It’s easy to see why, with this part of the buying process at risk to fraud, scams and general discontentment for sellers.

In addition, eBay consistently changing the goalposts. This year is no different, with the choice of return policies being overhauled and further automation. Read on for the low down on returns on eBay as we know it today.

Return policy options for eBay sellers

As of May 2018, eBay.com users have these five ‘streamlined’ return policy options to choose between when creating item listings:

  • No returns accepted
  • 30-day buyer-paid returns
  • 30-day free returns
  • 60-day buyer-paid returns
  • 60-day free returns

Please note that there are exceptions to the above rule, with a 14-day return policy option still available within a few select categories.

If a seller accepts returns (the latter four options listed above), the buyer can request an item return for any reason at all. This includes the buyer changing their mind for whatever reason. Sellers have four ways to respond to a return request:

  • Accept the return. The buyer will send the item back to the seller. If the seller selected ‘free returns,’ the buyer will receive a return shipping label paid for by the seller. The buyer will receive a full refund of the purchase price (plus shipping, if applicable) when the item is returned in an acceptable condition. If not, the seller can issue a partial refund.
  • Provide a full refund and allow the buyer to keep the item. If the buyer paid for shipping, this would also be refunded alongside the full purchase price.
  • Discuss alternative options with the buyer. If no resolution is reached after three business days, the seller can dispute the return request with eBay for up to 30 days after the purchase.

Sellers who choose a ‘no returns’ policy can still receive return requests, though are under no obligation to accept. eBay encourages generous return policies to provide better customer service and up to 25% more sales. The site also claims that 75% of buyers check return policies before making a purchase.

The exception to the rule: eBay’s Money Back Guarantee

No matter which type of return policy a seller chooses, however, remember that a buyer is always entitled to a return if the item arrives damaged or does not fit the description in the listing. This is the rules as per eBay’s Money Back Guarantee. We have delved deep into the details of the Money Back Guarantee before, but here is an overview:

The Money Back Guarantee is eBay’s way to maintain buyer confidence when using the website. If a buyer believes that the item they were sent does not match the listing or has arrived damaged, the buyer has the right to return the item and receive a refund. Sellers have five options if a buyer requests a return under the Money Back Guarantee:

  • Accept the return request. Buyer sends the item back to the seller. Once received, the seller provides a full refund, including both original and return shipping costs.
  • Provide the buyer with a full refund (including original shipping costs) and allow them to keep the item. For low-value items, this can be a good solution for both buyer and seller.
  • Offer the buyer a partial refund and allow them to keep the item. In the instance when a buyer wants to keep the item but is disappointed in the condition, this option may be most suitable.
  • Ask the buyer to consider a replacement or exchange instead of a refund. This is an ideal option if the item was damaged or the buyer would be content with a similar item instead.
  • Dispute the return request with eBay after three business days. This option is used if a resolution cannot be made with a buyer. Keep in mind that eBay has the long-held reputation of siding with buyers in a majority of cases.

What else is new with returns on eBay?

Alongside the updated returns policy options outlined above, eBay has also made a few other changes this year to the returns process for eBay.com sellers.

Increased automation

To streamline the returns process, eBay is increasing the use of automation. Sellers who have a free returns policy may find return requests automatically accepted and a shipping label sent directly to the buyer. The charges for the shipping label will be added to the seller’s next monthly invoice. Another example of this so-called ‘enhanced’ automation would be the issuance of a refund for a returned item, two days after the tracking number arrival confirmation.

Sellers can still control returns by creating rules, found on the ‘returns preferences’ screen.

Condition of returned items policy

eBay has updated its condition of returned items policy to clarify what is expected when buyers return items. If buyers do not follow these updated guidelines, sellers are allowed to offer a partial refund instead of a full refund. eBay claims that they will protect sellers and remove neutral or negative Feedback relating to partial refunds on free returns.

International returns

Should they wish, sellers who offer free returns are able to set separate return policies for international transactions. This means that sellers can still give local, domestic buyers the option of free return shipping while requiring international customers to pay their own way. This allowance also applies to sellers who use the Global Shipping Program.

Experienced sellers, what is your preferred return policy on eBay? What do you think of the recent changes?

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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