The Lowdown on eBay’s Seller Protection Policy

eBay is well known for protecting the rights of buyers. From a neutral viewpoint, this stance is somewhat understandable. Profit is only possible when buyers have the confidence to purchase.

But sellers also need to be confident enough to list items to sell on eBay’s online marketplace. Without sellers willing to create listings, there would be no items for buyers to purchase.

eBay claims to protect sellers too, with many rights secured in the Seller Protection Policy. Read to discover more about the Seller Protection Policy and what it claims to guarantee for eBay sellers.

Seller protection

The aptly named Seller Protection Policy details how eBay protects sellers when using their online marketplace. Sellers are protected in a number of different areas, with the most prominent being:

  • Money Back Guarantee requests
  • Shipping issues
  • Abusive buying behavior

Top Rated Sellers are given additional protection based on their ‘outstanding’ selling standards.

Eligibility criteria

eBay’s Seller Protection Policy details how eBay protections sellers when using their online marketplace.

Not all eBay transactions, however, are covered by the Seller Protection Policy. Items must be listed in a category covered by the Money Back Guarantee (vehicles and digital content are notable exclusions) and cannot violate eBay’s prohibited and restricted items policies.

Seller protection is also not available to sellers who:

  • Use a false identity
  • Do not honor their service promises
  • Have a record of serious policy violations
  • Misuse seller protection

Money Back Guarantee requests

eBay’s Money Back Guarantee (MBG) offers a sense of security to buyers, ensuring straightforward returns in the event of an item being damaged, lost or not matching the original listing.

Though the MBG is often a cause of complaint for sellers, it does come with some beneficial protections:

Lost items

In the event that a buyer reports that an item has not arrived, the seller is protected if the following is true:

  • The item was shipped within the stated handling time
  • Tracking was uploaded before the estimated delivery date
  • The delivery status is “delivered” or “attempted delivery,” with a date
  • The recipient’s address matches the address displayed on the Order details page
  • There is signature confirmation (only required if total order cost is over $750)

Item not as described cases (INAD)

Sellers are protected from negative and neutral feedback in INAD cases if they:

  • Offer free returns
  • Accept the return,
  • Process a refund

Buyer doesn’t send return

eBay removes negative or neutral feedback given to sellers from a buyer who requests a return but does not send the item back.

Double chargebacks

Buyers are not allowed to use more than one resolution method to get a refund. If a buyer files an eBay Money Back Guarantee request, they can’t file a PayPal Purchase Protection case as well.

Shipping issues

eBay provides protection to sellers for delayed or damaged shipments caused by events beyond their control. Some examples are:

  • An item shipped on time but arrives late to the buyer due to carrier delays, weather disruption or customs obstruction
  • An item lost or damaged after arriving at the Global Shipping Program US shipping center

Sellers must, however, be able to prove that the item was shipped within the stated handling time. A carrier scan is usually required.

Depending on the type of delay, eBay may remove negative feedback and/or adjust the seller’s late shipment rate.

Abusive buying behavior

Buyers must meet certain behavior standards when using eBay. Engaging in activity that is considered abusive may lead to warnings, blocks and even suspension from the site.

eBay’s Abusive Buyer Policy does not allow buyers to:

  • Misuse returns (such as using or damaging the item before returning it)
  • Demand something not offered in the original listing (e.g. adding extra items or discounts)
  • Make false claims (such as falsely claiming an item is not as described)
  • Abuse the buyer protection programs (such as the Money Back Guarantee)
  • Buy an item without the intention of completing the transaction

In the event that a buyer engages in the above behavior, sellers should report the buyer to eBay via Seller Hub.

After eBay has determined that a buyer has been acting inappropriately, any feedback and defects posted by that buyer will be removed. In the instance of a buyer not paying for an item, the seller will also be credited the Final Value Fee (FVF).

Top Rated Seller protection

Sellers who have achieved Top Rated status are eligible for additional protection on eBay as long as they:

  • Reside in the US or Canada
  • Offer buyers 30 day or longer returns
  • Are not rated ‘Very High’ in service metrics

This additional protection offers the following benefits to Top Rated Sellers:

  • When a buyer falsely claims that an item is not as described (INAD), eBay will subsidize the cost of the return shipping label up to $6.00 per return and automatically remove any related defects and negative/neutral feedback
  • If a buyer uses or damages an item before returning it, up to 50% of the refund can be appropriated to recover the lost value of the item. eBay will also remove any negative/neutral feedback and defects related to the transaction

There is, however, a caveat to these measures. Top Rated Sellers are held to a high moral standard. It is only possible to report buyers for opening false INAD returns when the item was correctly described in the first place.

In a similar manner, sellers can only process a partial refund recoup the actual lost value of the item in the instance when it is returned in a different condition.

Do you think eBay’s Seller Protection Policy offers significant protection for sellers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below

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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