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Thu Mar 27 2014 20:25:38

Is eBay's Hassle-Free Returns Policy Good for Sellers?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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In eBay's Seller Standards webinar, which I blogged about yesterday, the issue of eBay's relatively new Hassle-Free Returns program came up. I'd considered using the program but hadn't done so yet, because I didn't feel I had enough information about whether it might ultimately have a bad effect on my feedback rating.

Since seeing sellers talk about it in some forums, some are happy with it, and one said it helps their standings in search, or seems to. If that is the case, it makes me more interested.

I do accept returns, and feel I have a pretty generous return policy - without going to the point of getting taken advantage of as a seller. But what I worry about are scenarios like this one, posted on the eBay Returns discussion board on a thread about Hassle-Free Returns: One seller wrote, "I won't opt into that program and here's a perfect example of why."

They go on to write, "A buyer just opened a claim on an item I sent them, saying it was missing a part and unusable.  They wanted a full refund upon return of item.  The missing part was actually inside the handle of the item and one simple email from me cleared that whole thing up. I now have a happy buyer who loves their item.  If I was in the program I would have gotten a good item returned without being able to give any input AND the customer would have been out the item they wanted.  An undeserved strike would be on my account and they buyer would have had a bad eBay experience.  This option is too easy to abuse and shouldn't be allowed until the buyer and seller at least talk.  JMHO."

According to the Hassle-Free Returns page, you can "Talk to the buyer at any time along the way through the eBay member-to-member communication system."

However, I suppose it's possible that you won't see the initiated return if the buyer prints the label and zaps the item in the mail before you next read your emails.

On the other hand, how much does being in the Hassle-Free Returns program help your standing in search? And eBay does say you can dispute the return, but it's not clear if a seller would dispute the return in the scenario the seller above painted.

I thought I would throw it out (or up) :) to the selling community, and see what your experiences are. If you are in Hassle-Free Returns, would you please share with us if you feel it's worth it in terms of your items' exposure, and has it not been detrimental to your feedback? Post a comment here!



Comments (32) | Permalink

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by: SparklyEyes7 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 27 23:21:46 2014

The number one rule of sales is people buy from people.  When you hand your relationship with the buyer to a 3rd party, don't be surprised if you end up with buyers who think they are buying a product or a price.

You then lose any loyalty to you and the prospect for a repeat buyer who might pay a little bit more from you instead of your competition because you do what you say you'll do and offer them a good value and excellent customer service.

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 28 00:15:38 2014

Buying mail order, an item that might need to be returned, that's just messy.  

If you are buying something like that do us all a favor and go buy it locally.

Like shoes.  Why in the world would anyone buy shoes online that they might have to return?  It's nuts.  

Now if you are like me and you buy one exact style sneaker in one size, and you can get them really cheap online, that makes sense. I have done that.  But only because I know exactly what fits.

I just think ebay has the idea that they can make money selling things to people who will try them, and then return what they don't like and the seller will pay for it.  Why in the world would a seller pay for returns like that?  

Well, like if you are zappos, their sneakers, same exact one I buy online, are double what I pay.  Free return shipping.  

But since they are double the price, is the return shipping really free?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Mar 28 06:27:58 2014

Julie, will you do an article entitled Freely Hassled Sellers?

They need to stop trying to run our businesses.  We are micro-managed to the point that I feel that they are running a large percentage of our business and we have completely lost control.

This is why so many are leaving (or have already left) and setting up their own webstores.

Someone needs to beat it into eBay managements' head that a buyer's question is not a claim and therefore a claim should not be opened. We have had so many instances where a simple answer to a buyer's question completely solved the problem.  No claim needed, but this is the heavy hand of eBay.  Management seem to delight in putting the screws to their sellers.

You can count on the fact that anything that is described as "Hassle Free" by eBay will not be and in the end the seller will be freely hassled.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Mar 28 06:28:14 2014

I meant Julia, sorry about that.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 28 08:43:19 2014

eBays "Hassle free returns" is just another hair brained scheme eBay thought up that puts more onus on the seller .... while eBay gets away with doing the less then zero they always do.

Sellers should do EVERYTHING, while eBay does nothing in the process.

Sellers shouldnt do off eBay transactions , but eBay can lure buyers away with ads on the sides and bottom of your listing.

eBay demands returns (the idiots on eBays community board who still think that there really is a no returns policy are on crack) but has no skin in the game. Sellers should give free shipping, pay the return shipping and get back the used item.

Like the myth of "seller protection" you can OF COURSE click that box that says you want to dispute the return - but what do YOU THINK it will get you.

Nothing - eBay wont protect you - they have no reason to.

AS MING says - ALWAYS follow the money (when it comes to eBay). They arent your friend or your buddy or your business partner. They arent interested in whats good for you - read their SEC 10K filing - its all about the buyer.

Having a stupid returns policy does nothing for eBay, their reputation is still lower then a snakes belly.

In eBayland (this is the part they swiped from Amazon) the buyer is always right and holds all the cards.

Amazon has the funds to cover returns, shipping issues etc - they are actually IN the ecommerce business. eBay isnt - GSI doesnt count - it existed before they bought it and will again after it fails (since eBay is king midas in reverse).

If you are a seller that sells antiques, used items, vintage goods - eBay has your number. Personally I could NEVER sell those goods on eBay - Id never sleep. I see how bad it is when I sell new unopened goods and the kooks come out of the wood work!

Thankfully I dont have a huge returns issue ... yet. eBay asked me why I wont post the goods I have up on Amazon, on eBay and I told them - I cant afford their rotten thieving buyers. Bad enough I have to dodge the thieves at VERO and Trust & Safety.

Never make it easier for someone to screw you - and thats what this is (despite the rantings of the loons on eBays community board who swear otherwise).

Im a NY State Corporation - we have stock, shares etc - funny I dont remember eBay at any shareholders meetings - so I dont give them license to decide my policies.

You get 14 days to return any unopened item, you pay the freight.

Open items are not returnable, and if you force me to take them back - meet my lawyer - he gets paid to solve these issues - Im not in the loss business.

If eBay wants me to eat losses then either let them:

1) give me a cut of the ad revenue from the banners on listing pages
2) pay me off like the do to the people who they hand choose with the daily deals (more on that another time)
3) give me a cut from the VEROWATCH scam they pull 24/7 on sellers who do nothing wrong, but are bullied by manufactorers and eBay who get pay offs to kick them and their listings.

Until those funds come my way - Im not eating losses on returns.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Fri Mar 28 11:45:54 2014

eBay's "hassle free" return policy is an unmitigated disaster.

First, it took eBay 5 days to process and send the return shipping label. That delay is unacceptable.

After shipping the item using eBay's label and the item showed as delivered, the seller said they did not have the item.

Turns out that the seller  was right as the address provided on the label eBay issued resulted in the item being returned to a company in Texas. Turns out the seller was located in Florida and had nothing to do with the company that eBay had me ship the item to.

Of course, eBay customer service was zero help, and refused to admit they had me ship the item to the wrong company.

I did receive the refund from the seller 2 days after the item showed as delivered, however, I fear that the seller was now out their money as well as the merchandise.

Another case of eBay insisting that sellers absorb costs for errors created by eBay themselves and that they totally refuse to accept responsibility for.

The fact remains that it should have been eBay who issued me the refund since they were the ones who provided a totally and completely inaccurate address for the return.

eBay failed and eBay's customer service department refused to accept responsibility for their failure.

As a result, I will never again use eBay's "hassle free" return system as a buyer or a seller.




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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Fri Mar 28 17:27:51 2014

Although a streamlined return system COULD be positive - I think Ric spells out the problem.


I do not trust anyone else, venues included, to take care of my customers with the same effort I put forth. All venues have glitches, some more than others.

My folks are given both email and written instructions and assurances they will be taken care of. Many of my customers who return items are also return customers. I welcome them back as such.

I get very few bad apples - and they get  BB'd.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Mar 28 17:39:43 2014

Is eBay's Hassle-Free Returns Policy Good for Sellers?

No.

Next silly question ? ;-)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Fri Mar 28 22:56:29 2014

I agree with mean since I also have only one word to say:

NO!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Mar 30 02:17:08 2014

@Bill

Ming the Mean. I LIKE that!

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 30 09:00:07 2014

ebay is a hassle.  

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by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 30 20:19:14 2014

Hassle free .... for whom


Lets see.......
at the very least, the seller looses the original shipping cost, the time and effort spent unpacking, inspecting, listing and re-packing item plus associated costs of shipping materials.... not to  mention the possible cost of items being opened (no longer a new item )possible damage by buyer, or time sensitive items (Christmas or back to school items).
Hassle free for ebay or sleazy/indecisive buyers....not for seller.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Sun Mar 30 23:38:02 2014

IF ebay REFUSES to support their CUSTOMERS---ie us sellers---what makes you think they are suddenly going to be on OUR side when it comes to a return dispute?  

I had an item that the buyer reported as DAMAGED come back--forced return!---after I disputed it!!!---smelling SO heavily of smoke and WORN--this had been a brand NEW item---and ebay claimed altho they could NOT back this up that they have a NO BAD SMELL EXCLUSION policy!  Really?  They had so many PROBLEMS with this that they wrote it into the RULES????  Receiving back a smoke damaged item is--forbidden???   Well anyways not only did I have to accept the return BUT I also had to throw the item away as we could not even stand to have it in the HOUSE it smelled so bad.  

But--a few short weeks later I had an item that again was claimed to be defective and the buyer claimed they WASHED it---THIS one ebay forced the buyer to KEEP.  

Schizo much ebay?

And THESE are the people "Managing Returns"????

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by: dasw This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 31 00:48:03 2014

I was in ebay's Hassle Free Returns for all of 2 weeks.

1) My first return was from a buyer who had bought 5 items in a variation listing. They had been mailed to her in one package. She received 5 return labels from ebay.

2) Ebay then came out with their Spring Update and all Item Not As Described returns would be a DEFECT.  Guess what....the buyer gets to choose whether it is an Item Not As Described (where I pay the return shipping) or they just don't want it (they pay the return shipping). What do you think they will pick.

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by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 31 02:21:37 2014

HFR won't work for everyone, but I get so few returns I signed up.  Hasn't made any difference in my return rate, which is less than 0.3% of transactions.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Mar 31 08:21:11 2014

Some truly great points here and some are the exact reasons why I do not participate.  But another thing in my mind is the upcoming Defect Policy.

Why would a seller put themselves at even higher risk for defects.  Each one of those claims is a defect.  Making the claims ultra easy to open without even trying to work things out with the seller, in my mind is a huge failure on Ebay's part to offer even minimal protection for a seller.  And in fact encourages conflict between the buyer and seller.  It promotes a bad buying experience.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Mar 31 08:30:49 2014

"You don't have to be a genius when you're surrounded by morons." - Josh Lieb ...
[And the first thing Johnny Ho did as CEO of eBay was surround himself with 75 new hand-picked clones ... http://bit.ly/YvxFEg]

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by: ignatz This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 31 08:37:37 2014

''If I was in the program I would have gotten a good item returned without being able to give any input AND the customer would have been out the item they wanted.  An undeserved strike would be on my account...''

If the case was opened for SNAD, unfortunately this seller will STILL have an undeserved strike on their account under ebay's new Seller Standards (in effect for the 8/20 review) simply by virtue of the fact that the case was opened.

Assuming they have a 1-year lookback, that is.  

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 31 10:06:55 2014

Just shows how desperate ebay is for ANY buyer.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Mar 31 13:27:58 2014

Even big b&m stores with easy returns are changing their policies and are now limiting returns and/or going with no returns. After losing money, they wised up real quick and had to reign in losses from customer abuse. Ebay has nothing to lose and places this ''hassle-free returns'' on the backs of sellers.

Marie is right and deserves repeating:
''Why would a seller put themselves at even higher risk for defects?  Each one of those claims is a defect.  Making the claims ultra easy to open without even trying to work things out with the seller, in my mind is a huge failure on Ebay's part to offer even minimal protection for a seller.  And in fact encourages conflict between the buyer and seller.  It promotes a bad buying experience.''  

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