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eBay Top Rated Sellers Debate Pending Returns Policy Change

Recently eBay sellers designated as Top Rated by the company began receiving reminders that an upcoming change to the returns policy will soon be in force. Effective May 1, Top Rated sellers will have to provide a 30 day returns window for listings in order to receive “Top Rated Seller Plus” benefits, which include a TRS Plus seal displayed in listings along with a 20% discount on Final Value Fees for eligible listings.

Discussion of the topic at LinkedIn found mixed responses to the forthcoming shift. Seller Don Hammalian Jr said, “We don’t often get returns/return requests, but in the nature of OUR business, 14 days was really the limit for us. They (eBay) have to remember that buyers are not their only clients.”

“Perhaps different return times for different types of items?” Seller Rich Meliska suggested, noting his antique and collectibles buyers usually know right away if there’s an issue with their purchases, while other types of items might need more time before a buyer sees a possible issue.

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“Again, this is eBay’s “one size fits all” approach to solving issues and enacting policy,” he said. But other sellers were more sanguine about the forthcoming change.

“We made the switch to 30 day returns about a year ago and it made absolutely no difference in our return rate,” seller Robert Wolf commented. “There are several studies out there that show longer returns build confidence in buyers and can actually lead to fewer returns because the buyer has time to love the product.”

Others in the discussion expressed similar views, or at least a resigned nonchalance about complying with the 30 day policy to maintain one’s Top Rated status. Some insisted 14 days were more than sufficient, but one found an even longer returns window serving his business well.

“Our tests show we get higher conversions (more sales) when we offer longer return policies. We are now offering 60 day return policies,” seller Neil Waterhouse said. “We have split tested seven-day, 14 day, 30 day and 60 days with 60 days giving the highest conversion rates.”

You can find more information about the requirements for attaining Top Rated Seller status, and eBay published a chart showing a list of exclusions to the TRS returns mandate during a recent weekly chat session.

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David A Utter

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR’s “All Things Considered” with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.


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