An eBay seller was left out of pocket thanks to a glitch that he said is a persistent problem involving returns. Whether or not it is as widespread as the seller suspects, it's costly for sellers and pure profit for eBay when it does occur.
Here's how he described the problem:
"It happens when sellers receive return items back from buyers. Some recurring glitch makes it impossible to refund the buyer after receiving the returned items. As seller you have to ask eBay to step in for them to manually make the refund to the seller. As soon as you do this you do not get your Final Value Fees back any more from eBay. You asked them to step in which means eBay no longer pays your FVF (Final Value Fee)."
Many sellers understand that the listing fee is an expense that they pay even if things end up going wrong with a transaction. But when a transaction is not consummated, they feel a commission is not warranted. FVFs can be quite hefty since it's a percentage of the selling price.
Nevertheless, eBay policy states: "You're responsible for final value fees whether you complete a transaction with a buyer or not. In a few circumstances, however, you may be eligible for a final value fee credit."
One of those situations is "You resolve a transaction issue and refund the buyer." eBay provides the following example: "A buyer asks to return an item or reports that they didn't receive an item, you resolve the issue, and you refund the buyer." In that case, eBay states it will refund the FVFs
The eBay help page describes what to do and notes, "Important: You won't receive a final value fee credit if the buyer asks us to step in and help with a return or an item they didn't receive."
In the case of the reader, he accepted a return and had to ask eBay to manually credit the buyer since it wouldn't go through for him. "I did not get my FVF back. And now have to contact eBay again."
The seller searched Google for "the refund you sent didn't go through" eBay problem and found there were other complaints about it. "It makes me upset that honest sellers are hurt this way."
The story doesn't end there, though. The reader told us he thought it was ridiculous that he would have to "beg" eBay to get his FVFs back, and said some sellers won't know this is happening and would be left out of pocket.
However, when he requested the FVF credit, eBay denied his request. And he lost the appeal.
It's troubling that eBay didn't honor its policy in this instance and even more troubling that sellers have no recourse in such cases.