eBay released the Spring Seller Update on February 26, 2020 and announced changes to its User Agreement that take effect on March 27, 2020 for existing users.
It’s easy for sellers to miss changes that could impact them since seasonal updates contain so much information. Included in this spring update are crucial changes to seller protections that impact Item Not Received claims and Item Not as Described claims. Also included is a new requirement for sellers to use shipping carriers that are integrated with eBay in order to be fully protected from Item Not Received claims (INR).
Another significant change going into effect on April 1st: eBay is giving buyers more time to prove they’ve mailed back a return before eBay will close returns claims in sellers’ favor – up to 35 business days in some cases.
eBay is also granting sellers new protections against buyers that get around seller blocks and purchase from them again.
Those are just some of the changes around seller protection. eBay also announced that it would add support for the Global Shipping Program to Managed Payments in early spring, a feature that has been a long time coming.
In May, eBay will roll out changes in 4 categories and will introduce “required” Item Specifics in the Electronics and Home and Garden categories – pay attention, required Item Specifics can impact listing visibility.
Those are just some of the highlights of the changes sellers can expect. As it typically does with its updates, eBay classified the Spring Seller Update changes into several broad categories (we’ve hyperlinked them so you can go straight to the page on eBay where the changes are described in full detail):
We classified the major Spring Seller Update changes that will impact sellers into 7 categories and will cover the first 4 in Part 1, and the remaining three topics in Part 2:
1) Seller Protection
2) “Seller Help” Issue Resolution Portal
3) Managed Payments
4) User Agreement
5) Seller Tools
7) Category and Item Specifics Changes
1) Changes to Seller Protection
INR Claims Granted in Buyer’s Favor in 3 Days without Tracking
eBay is making changes impacting Item Not Received claims (INR). Sellers must upload valid tracking within 3 business days of a buyer opening an INR claim, otherwise eBay may find in the buyer’s favor automatically.
“We may decide a case in a buyer’s favor without requiring the buyer to contact eBay if tracking that proves shipment of the item was not provided by the seller within 3 business days after an “Item not received” case was opened. We recommend you upload the tracking to eBay within your stated handling time. Buyers are more confident their orders will arrive when they receive regular updates on the shipping status, and are less likely to file “Item not received” claims when not received by the estimated date.”
The FAQs section of the update offers additional information – eBay wrote the following:
If I uploaded tracking but the first scan from the carrier surfaced later than 3 business days after the case was filed, will I be protected?
“If the first scan from the carrier surfaces late, and the claim has already been decided, you will not be protected. For this reason, we recommend you refund your buyer if the item hasn’t been shipped by the time the case is filed.“
Can I provide a tracking number through member-to-member messages and still be protected from losing an “Item not received” claim?
“No. In order to be protected, tracking must be uploaded and cannot be sent through member-to-member messages. Learn how to upload tracking.“
Preferred Shipping Carriers Required for Protection against INR Claims
Beginning in June, sellers must use “marketplace preferred shipping carriers” in order to qualify for seller protection for Item Not Received claims (INR) filed through eBay’s Money Back Guarantee.
“In order to protect you from “Item not received” claims filed through eBay Money Back Guarantee, starting June 1, 2020, we’ll require you to use shipping carriers that are integrated with eBay and provide regular shipment scans. We’ll also publish a list of recommended eBay-integrated carriers that offer tracked services.”
eBay Gives Buyers Extended Time to Prove They’ve Shipped Returns
eBay is pressuring sellers to send buyers eBay-generated return labels. If they do, buyers have 15 business days to prove they’ve shipped returns, otherwise, buyers have 35 business days to prove they’ve shipped returns.
“Starting April 1, 2020, we will no longer close returns early at the request of a seller when the buyer has not shipped the item back. Instead, we will wait to ensure buyers have sufficient time to provide proof items they requested to return were shipped back. If we do not receive proof of shipment from your buyers while the return requests are active, we will protect you by removing any negative or neutral feedback left on that transaction.”
eBay doesn’t define “sufficient time” in the announcement, but an eBay moderator posted the following response on this eBay discussion board post:
“When buyers are sent an eBay-generated return label, the return is closed if the label is not printed within 10 business days. If the buyer prints the label, we allow the return to remain open an additional 5 business days to ensure shipping scans are captured. When buyers are not sent an eBay-generated return label, we wait up to 35 business days before closing the return.”
SNAD Claims Granted in Buyer’s Favor in 3 Days without Seller Response
eBay is automating Item Not as Described (INAD, also known as SNAD) resolution, stating the following:
“eBay Money Back Guarantee requires sellers to respond within 3 business days when buyers request to return items that don’t match listing descriptions. When you do not respond, we may refund the buyer and seek reimbursement from you without requiring the buyer to ship the item back. Starting June 1, 2020, we may decide these cases after the 3 business days elapse without requiring the buyer to contact eBay.”
An eBay moderator fielded a question about this policy change on this thread on the eBay boards, although he did not respond to a follow-up request for further clarification.
Greater Buyer Protection for Certain INAD Return Requests from International Sellers.
International sellers must provide a US return address or face an automatic loss of INAD (Item Not As Described, also known as SNAD) claims after 3 business days for returns valued at up to $25.
“When you do not provide a US return address and your buyer requests to return an item that doesn’t match the listing, you need to accept the return and provide the means to return the item within 3 business days. Otherwise, we may refund the buyer and seek reimbursement from you without requiring the item to be shipped back under eBay Money Back Guarantee. Starting June 1, 2020, we may decide these cases after the 3 business days elapse without requiring the buyer to contact eBay. This change will apply to returns valued up to $25.”
New Protections against Buyers You Previously Blocked
Sellers have long relied on Blocked Bidder/Buyer lists to avoid dealing with undesirable customers, but in recent years, some have reported eBay does not grant them full protection from those determined to buy from them again.
As part of the Spring Seller Update, eBay said it would extend protections to sellers in cases when blocked buyers get around seller blocks, stating in part:
“When you identify a buyer who shares the same name or shipping address with a previously blocked account, or is engaged in the same abusive behavior, you can cancel the transaction. We’ll protect you from any feedback or defects associated with the transaction when you request we remove the Feedback and defect in the Seller Help page.”
It also advised sellers, “Whenever a buyer violates the Abusive Buyer policy, report the buyer to us.”
2) “Seller Help” Issue Resolution Portal
eBay launched a new “self-service” Seller Help portal to help sellers resolve common selling issues and claims for “Item not received,” “Item not as described,” and low average selling price returns.
With Seller Help, you can:
- Manage refunds, returns, and “Items not received” and “Item not as described” cases all in one place.
- Submit requests to eBay to review feedback and defects for removal.
- See your recent policy notifications, including anything that went wrong and what you will need to do to correct an issue.
- Report buyers who abuse eBay policies.
eBay said in 2020 it would add functionality to help sellers manage unpaid items, canceled transactions, vacation settings, and chargebacks.
3) Managed Payments
New Features for Managed Payments
eBay announced new and forthcoming features for sellers enrolled in Managed Payments, including support for the Global Shipping Program (coming in early spring) and new options to schedule payouts.
Also becoming available in the spring: more ways to pay for shipping labels. “For domestic orders, you can continue to pay for your shipping labels using your PayPal account, or for sellers for whom eBay manages payments, you will be able to deduct shipping label costs from pending payouts.”
Managed Payments Expanding to New Markets and Becoming Mandatory for Most Sellers in 2020
eBay will require sellers who are using eBay features and tools that are fully compatible with Managed Payments to join in phases through this year, and eBay advised sellers to make sure they are signed up to receive its emails.
“Once enabled, your existing feedback profile and existing listings will be automatically updated, and will reflect the different ways buyers can pay for purchases from you.”
eBay Managed Payments and Working Capital loans
eBay told sellers that if they have existing business loans, including PayPal Working Capital loans, they can still enable managed payments with eBay, and wrote, “Reach out to PayPal to discuss your options.” eBay also plugged an option offered through a partnership it has with Square Capital.
(See this March 5th AuctionBytes Blog post, “PayPal Proposes Direct Deposit for eBay and Etsy Sellers,” for information about PayPal’s proposed solution for eBay sellers who have PayPal Working Capital loans.)
4) User Agreement
eBay changed its User Agreement (effective March 27, 2020 for existing users), describing the changes as follows:
- eBay intends to manage payments for more sellers in more markets in the near future.
- Clarification of which user agreement applies when you buy or sell in other countries.
- Know when we hold or restrict seller funds.
One provision worth pointing out that could impact the cash flow of sellers enrolled in Managed Payments in the event they close their eBay account:
“In the event that you close an eBay account that has utilized managed payments, we may retain an amount that we reasonably believe may be necessary to pay for any refunds, reimbursements or other payments associated with returns, Disputes, or other post-transaction activity. We will settle any unused retained amounts within 180 days of your eBay account closure.”
Links to eBay Announcement and Resources
Link to Part 2, which includes changes to Seller Tools; Shipping; and Category and Item Specifics Changes.
Do you have thoughts about the Spring Seller Update? Comment on this February 26th EcommerceBytes Blog post.