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Sun Dec 4 2011 22:26:46

Tis the Season for Returns

By: Ina Steiner

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Are you finding you're getting more requests for customer returns lately? One in 10 gifts bought online during the holiday shopping season last year were returned before Christmas, according to UK company CollectPlus, which warned online merchants to expect a surge in returned goods following Cyber Monday (called "Mega Monday" in England).

Mark Lewis, former Managing Director UK at eBay, is CEO of CollectPlus, which predicted the peak day for returns would be December 1st, or, "Boomerang Thursday," and predicted the next five weeks to be one of the busiest periods for returns.

It seems inevitable that as sales increase, so do returns, and there can be many reasons - wrong size, defective product, buyer's remorse, didn't like the product,... and of course the merchant may have shipped the wrong item.

The eBay boards and other forums are full of horror stories from sellers about returns. Do you have any strategies for avoiding returns in the first place, and how do you handle them when you get requests from buyers who wish to return an item?

Comments (12) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: wooodjungle! on ebay
Web Site

Mon Dec 5 02:23:50 2011

I get very few returns. I just received a request for one last week from a buyer who, what a surprise, didn't really read the listing or look at all the photos.  To combat that them, I try to offer a deep discount on the item to avoid eating the shipping refund.  That's the best way for me to avoid them. Sometimes they are inevitable if you want to maintain TRS status.

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Mon Dec 5 08:19:36 2011

The Clothing and shoes categories get a lot of returns, I wonder what percent of them are "renters" versus legitimate returns.

I haven't been able to find any recent statistics on return rates.

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: buck efay

Mon Dec 5 11:22:51 2011

Just had a $100 return on a 18 year old New in Box toy, the buyer "thought she was buying something brand new" didn't bother reading the description, lied to the venue about item condition, and wants full refund + $10 return shipping. The item is exactly as described, and I see no reason to refund her return shipping when it was her error & she lied to the venue to force a return. Got hit a couple times with unfair/fraudulent feedback too, just like last year.

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 5 12:23:14 2011

I have a really simple return policy. If you don't like it, for any reason send it back and I will refund you.

I have had two in 12 years. One was mangled by the Post office and I honestly don't remember the reason for the other one. Since my guarantee is 'for any reason' it is only useful information in so far as preventing a repeat unsatisfactory transaction to the buyer.

If an item is over my comfortable loss tolerance I insure at my own expense (built into item price)

I think the reason for my low rate of returns is is my low ASP. Without the benefit of commercial shipping discounts the shipping cost and sheer hassle for your average buyer in returning an item costs more than the refund is worth.

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Mon Dec 5 14:52:44 2011

I'll also accept returns for ''any reason''. It's good for customer confidence... it probably results in MORE sales... which help to compensate for the occasional customer (1 or 2 per year) who DO decide to return for ''any reason''.

Nevertheless, if their reason for returning is buyer remorse, or general stupidity, then I'll still give them a refund (upon RETURN of the item)... and then I'll block them.

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: leslinka9

Mon Dec 5 16:00:07 2011

I accept returns for any reason, but rarely get them.  I do require the item be returned in the condition I sent it.  I DON'T require a broken widget to be returned in order for a buyer to be refunded - what am I going to do with a smashed plate?
I accept them with good grace, and refund purchase price only, unless it's my error.  Then the buyer is refunded in full, including shipping both ways.  
I'm expecting my first return of 2011 this week.

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: Gary Overton
Web Site

Mon Dec 5 18:29:00 2011

This questions begs an answer.
Those of you who only get 1 or 2 returns a years what are you selling and how many do you sell a year?
If you only sell 5 items a year and get 1 to 2 returns that is a lot. If you sell thousands and get 1 or 2 returns that is not very many.
Not trying to be a smart ass, just wanting to know all of the facts

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Dec 5 20:36:41 2011

Pre Ho: 1 return per 625 sales

Post "Buyer Protection:" return rate has steadily risen each year until the current rate is 1 return per 63 sales.

No change in quality -- if anything better quality of higher end products.

Improved customer service level.

"Free" shipping (which could possibly also encourage returns)

The change?

The Ho simply gave permission to buyers to rent my merchandise and effectively destroyed my and others sellers' return policies.

Lost revenue for ebafia. I file to get the FVFs back.

How can I return Th Ho to Bain?

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: Donkey

Mon Dec 5 20:47:50 2011

I don't have very many returns.
The buyer just says they did not get it or file a chargeback.

Sending an item back is to much trouble for buyers anymore.

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: Ripley

Tue Dec 6 00:52:57 2011

We sell automotive engine parts and get more returns then the others who have posted above. Many of them are a result of ''buy and try''. 99% of the time they ordered the wrong part.

A customer will buy some part like.... maybe some pushrods, try them and realize they don't fit so they either return them, file an '' item not as described'' or claim some were damaged in shipping.

When a customer files an ''item not as described'' claim on paypal and sends the item back, then uploads the tracking number, paypal will automatically refund the buyer for the purchase including shipping, even without any feedback from the seller. If an item is received missing parts, damaged or even their old used parts from their engine, the sellers only recourse is to file an appeal then hope for the best. With paypal, they rarely grant the seller a refund, they usually get hosed for the full amount.

Yes, as the Mingster states, returns are up these past few years, thanks for the HO. With auto parts, I'm not sure if they are worse during the holidays or not, probably a lot less than with clothes and shoes but we pretty much just get them all year around.

Annie, I love you're comment about graciously accepting returns for any reason then blocking them after they make a return. Hasn't ebays bad policies made ebay such a great place for a positive buyer experience? (tongue and cheek) Your comments frequently make me smile. :)

We also have a sizable blocked bidder list, well over 100 buyers who have managed to gain membership to  our blocked bidder club. Even some who never bought anything... you know they're bad when they manage to get blocked before they even buy anything! I thanked one fellow for letting me know he was trouble before making a purchase and congratulated him for being the first buyer to earn membership to the ''blocked bidder club'' before making a purchase.

Ebay is such a joke these days. Anyone noticed how hard they have been trying to get sellers to use their shipping service and holiday one day shipping promos?
What a strange experience online sales has become, all the liability is on the seller.


Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: Ed

Tue Dec 6 23:11:30 2011

I get very few returns. I just received a request for one last week from a buyer who got upset because we would not send her a return shipping label for a first Class Mail.

It is just wonderful getting 1 star DSR because we offer a 30 Day Return Policy. It was bad enough that we would have had to give her credit for the Free Shipping.

Its just great being a Top Rated Seller moving from Silver to Gold Seller. What good is it knowing as our sales go up we will lose every thing we are working for because we don't pay return shipping when the customer does not take the time to read a listing.

This DSR system is just a way for buyers to vent when they don't get their way.

How many sellers are blocking buyers that ask to many questions?

We can't afford any more 1 stars for things out of our control.

We sell fragrance products and we are now getting 1's because buyers are not reading the listing and don't like the smell of the products. We have 100% Feedback and 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9 DSR rating and because of 3 purchases out of several thousand we are looking as if we are at risk of losing hundreds of dollars.

We only buy the products from the major manufactures and we know not every customer will like a fragrance that they have never smelled. The listing describes what the manufacture says the scent smell like. Buyer don't read the listings and then don't want to pay to return the products. Why would ebay allow a buyer to ding seller on either description or communication when the problem is based on the who pays for the return of the item. How do we protect our business?

Tis the Season for Returns   Tis the Season for Returns

by: massachusetts howler

Wed Dec 7 23:41:23 2011

NEVER sell a mens tuxedo during the months of November or December or 90% of them come back right after the New Year.
''Free rental'' they call it, and YOU HAD BETTER PAY THEIR SHIPPING too!
(90% are returned worn HARD and undrycleaned- IT COSTS $$ to do business in tuxedos on JD's ebay! WHY?).

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