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Clarifying When Returns Result in eBay Defects

We’ve been hearing a lot of angst from eBay sellers about under which circumstances product returns result in defects for the seller. eBay instituted a defect policy in August somewhat similar to Amazon ODR (Order Defect Rate), and sellers are concerned that unjustified and unwarranted defects could harm their businesses.

One seller recently wrote to EcommerceBytes, “Just a request if you can verify something with eBay. It looks to me like Returns where the buyer selected “Item defective or not working” no longer result in defects, only if the reason is “Item does not match description”. Not sure about the exact wording of their reasons but I hope it is clear enough.”

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore provided a screenshot showing what the buyer sees when they request to return an item purchased from an eBay seller (see accompanying graphic).

Buyers are asked to select one of the eight reasons for why they want to return the item. The first three don’t result in a defect against the seller, according to the screenshot provided by eBay:

  • It’s the wrong size or doesn’t fit
  • I don’t need it anymore
  • I found a better price elsewhere

The last five reasons do result in a Returns defect against the seller:

  • It’s defective or doesn’t work
  • It doesn’t match the listing
  • It’s missing parts or accessories
  • It arrived damaged
  • It’s counterfeit or fake

It’s not that simple, however. Sellers say buyers have learned which reason to provide so they don’t have to pay return shipping for the return. Unscrupulous buyers trying to save some bucks could lie when selecting the reason for the return, meaning the seller eats the cost of return shipping and gets a defect.

How big a problem is this?

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.