|Sun Apr 1 2012 21:58:14|
eBay Buyer Protection Changes Include Partial Refunds, Returns
By: Ina Steiner
Sellers are concerned over changes to the eBay Buyer Protection Policy that will allow eBay to issue partial refunds to buyers without requiring them to return the item to the seller. Sellers are talking on several eBay discussion boards about a letter they say eBay sent only sent to buyers.
One poster explained why it has sellers upset: "It's a BIG DEAL because eBay gets to decide the value of a partial refund not the SELLER, and it seems the seller doesn't even get the choice of saying "no partial, return for full refund". eBay can't inspect the item to know what's missing etc (if it IS so) they'll rely on the word of a buyer who wants money back?"
The provision that has sellers buzzing is the following:
"In some cases, we may refund part of the cost of the item to the buyer to cover differences between the item described and the item actually received, in which case we will try to recover that refund amount from the seller and not ask the buyer to return the item to the seller."
Another change in the Buyer Protection Policy that eBay's letter did not mention is the parenthetical statement in the following paragraph:
"If we resolve an item not as described case in the buyer's favor, we will in most circumstances ask the buyer to return the item to the seller (and the seller needs to accept the return even if the seller's return policy indicated "no returns accepted") before we refund the buyer and try to recover the refund amount from the seller."
The letter, sent last week to some registered users, states:
Dear (buyer name),
I'm writing to let you know about important updates to the eBay Buyer Protection Policy that will go into effect on June 19, 2012:
A provision has been added that in some cases we may refund part of the cost of the item to the buyer and receive reimbursement from the seller to cover differences between the item described and the item actually received, such as small parts missing or minor repairs needed. In these cases, we will not require the buyer to return the item to the seller.
A clarification has been included that delivery signature confirmation for items $250 or more is only required in order to protect sellers from losing a case where such service is offered by at least one shipping company. Similarly, when we ask a buyer to return a $250 or more item to the seller, delivery signature confirmation is required if it is offered by at least one shipping company.
A clarification has been made that items purchased from the Businesses & Websites for Sale category will not be covered by eBay Buyer Protection.
A provision has been added regarding the relationship between eBay Buyer Protection and the new managed return process. If a buyer uses the process to return to an item purchased from an eligible transaction under that process, and the seller fails to provide a timely refund in accordance with the new process, the buyer may file a case under eBay Buyer Protection. If we resolve the case in the buyer's favor, we'll refund the buyer, the amount of which will depend on the terms and conditions of the process.
As with earlier updates, other changes have been made to keep the eBay Buyer Protection Policy up-to-date with our product and service offerings.Thanks,
eBay Buyer Protection Policy
One seller reacted to the letter by writing, "Taking the buyer's side in a he said-she said and requiring the return of an item for a refund is one thing but how on Earth do they think this is a good idea? I'd really like to know what's supposed to stop a buyer from claiming missing pieces in order to get a forced discount aside from eBay's standard "if a buyer does it enough, we'll maybe look into it." They're seriously going to start letting buyers keep the item and a portion of the money based solely on their word? This is insanity. Regardless of what eBay puts in their TOS, I find it difficult to believe this is legal."
You can find the current eBay Buyer Protection Policy on this page - it went into effect on June 20, 2011 - and you can access the eBay Buyer Protection policy effective June 19, 2012 at the bottom of that page.