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Thu Feb 24 2011 10:23:37

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

Could eBay be planning a new returns policy? Currently the policy requires all sellers on eBay to specify a return policy, whether they accept returns or not.

We learned this week that eBay is hiring a Senior Manager of eBay Returns to create a new returns flow for customers and to integrate it with the eBay Buyer Protection program.

Most ecommerce websites offer customers RMAs (Return Merchandise Authorization) so they can return goods to the retailer - often the site sends an RMA shipping label to the customer using the merchant's preferred shipping carrier. It's possible eBay could be facilitating such RMA labels via its shipping center.

The big question is whether eBay would begin making it mandatory for sellers to accept returns, and under what circumstances.

Here's the job description for Senior Manager of eBay Returns, let us know what you think, and tell us how you handle returns on and off eBay.

Job Description - Sr. Manager, eBay Returns:
The global eBay Buyer Protection team is responsible for increasing customer loyalty by turning bad post-sale experiences into good ones. The team is measured on customer Net Promoter Score (NPS), awareness and understanding of the program, program losses, and operational efficiency.

The Returns program within eBP team is focused on defining and creating a new returns flow for customers onsite. This role will be responsible for driving the returns program integration within eBay Buyer Protection, and managing the launch plus continuous improvement of the program onsite.

Goals of the Returns program are to improve buyer perception of returns, increase buyer purchase confidence, reduce friction in the returns process, and increase seller efficiency.

The Senior Manager for Returns will work with cross functional teams to identify opportunities to improve the returns flow with buyers and sellers in mind. This position will serve as a key partner with:

- Buyer Protection Customer Service teams to manage customer questions and issues

- Global Product teams to ensure that product enhancements represent the needs of Policy, Legal and CS teams globally.

- Marketing and PR teams to ensure clear communication of policy and Legal updates to the community prior to release.

- Relevant cross functional teams to ensure that member feedback and agent experience are captured, considered and prioritized in order to continuously improve the member experience.




Comments (92) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: returns

Thu Feb 24 10:27:02 2011

all I know is when ebay says:
"and increase seller efficiency"

It means one of two things.
1. take the seller out of the equation.
2. Force the seller to comply

You decide.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: old timer

Thu Feb 24 10:52:56 2011

@returns

"It means one of two things.
1. take the seller out of the equation.
2. Force the seller to comply"

and you can add:
3. transfer more money from the seller's pockets to eBay

Remember, "eBay is just a venue".

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Jim S. This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 24 11:10:39 2011

Maybe eBay will come up with an easier way to handle a refund and return payment, and refund the selling fee.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Not THAT John

Thu Feb 24 11:12:35 2011

@ old timer

Definition of venue

a. the place of a crime or cause of action.......

b.the county or place where the jury is gathered and the cause tried......

c. the designation, in the pleading, of the jurisdiction where a trial will be held......

......eBay

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Jeff

Thu Feb 24 11:29:33 2011

An improved returns program and flow could very well accomodate a sellers "no returns allowed" policy while also improving the buyers and sellers experience in a ligitimate returns case....... except for the fact that it's impossible to trust eBay to do the right thing when writing new policies.

Amazon requires sellers to accept returns to sell on the site... eBay continues to follow Amazon's lead. In our business this works fine and we accept returns and really have very few of them. Now if we were selling broken or damaged merchandise counting on bidders to gamble near retail money on a hot item that we never tested.... or were afraid to test because it looked broken... a returns required policy would decimate that business plan. So.... if you're in the business of screwing customers, this job posting should worry you.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Tired of eBay's Bullsh*t

Thu Feb 24 12:05:34 2011

@Jeff: "if you're in the business of screwing customers, this job posting should worry you."

This posting worries us, and we are most definitely not in the business of screwing customers.

We are "no returns allowed", and here are some of the reasons...

1. We prefer the "buy to try" folks shop elsewhere. "Buy to try" is a lot of overhead for a business, overhead that would have to be passed along to our other customers in the form of higher prices.

2. We always have lots of large, sharp, well-lit photos (sometimes dozens) and so feel that that adequately informs the buyer of what they are buying (before they buy). We pack the item when we take the photos, that way it cannot possibly acquire so much as even one scratch in inventory.

3. We sell antiques, and antiques always have some "wear" such as scratches etc, sometimes lots and lots of wear. What would happen, say, if we accepted a return, put the item back into inventory, and then one year later re-sold the item ... and, upon inspection, the year-later buyer finds a scratch that is not evident in the photos? Either we are then again taking the item back, or facing a SNAD claim at eBay/Paypal, right?

4. We feel that each seller should be free to determine their own TOS, and that as long as it is crystal-clear in the item listing, that a buyer should only buy if they are ok with the TOS. Speaking of which ... eBay could do a better service by allowing a separate TOS page for each seller (that way we would not have to embed the whole thing in the "description", and could much more easily update as needed). eBay could append that TOS-text to the email that it sends the buyer+seller at time of sale, and archive a copy for eBay's use, should a dispute arrive.

---

BTW...

We have been sticking with eBay through all the BS of the last few years -- including: seller leaves only pos FB, Paypal-only, Best Match, and all the other stupid Mickey Mouse stuff -- but if eBay decides that eBay or Paypal is going to dictate our return policy ... well, that'll be the last straw for us.

It's already been a couple years since we registered at every other venue (to date unimplemented), we also signed on for Google Checkout and a Merchant CC account. We've built a store with shopping cart and shipping calculator (but have not yet moved live).

eBay gives us traffic to our eBay listings -- and we pay their high closing costs because we still think it (marginally) worth it -- but there is a limit to how much incursion into our business that we will stand for, and, if this comes to pass at eBay ... we'll be moving on, finally.

- Tired of eBay's Bullsh*t

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Barbara

Thu Feb 24 12:12:19 2011

Sounds like Ebay is going to have everything but its own merchandise.  It goes along with following the Amazon model.  Stupid John just doesn't get it.  Either get in the game and sell like the rest of us do, or keep your nose out. Oh I forgot, there is a certain entrepreneurial spirit in selling; something the senior management at Ebay will NEVER understand. A returns manager when its not their sale; really clueless.  I think we all know how this will affect us.  Rock in the box even more often.

On the other side, it will be interesting to see Ebay both dance around the Diamonds and the customer at the same time with all of the imperfect seconds that are being sold on Ebay.  Its why outlet stores usually always have a no return policy.  

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Jeff

Thu Feb 24 12:23:50 2011

Tired,
Well, maybe eBay is no longer the marketplace for you. You seem to have taken all the right steps signing up for accounts, building a store/shopping cart... but why haven't you started using them? I think if this is the policy that lights your fire to sell elsewhere, it's probibly the best thing that could happen to your business. It's amazing how much better a sale from your own website feels than one on eBay.

BTW, we sell antiques with a focus on American glass and European porcelains. This is how we make our living and our return rate is less than half a percent of total dollar sales. We also sell handmade, modern jewelry. Jewelry return rate (again, based on dollar sales) is closer to 2%.  When there's a higher dollar return in either line of business, it stings... but there are some things about running a business that just come with the territory. The thing is, you've got to keep the customers happy so they keep giving you money.... make them mad or make it hard to do business with you and they stop giving you money. A seller doing business in a harsh way on eBay hurts every other seller because they scare buyers away from the marketplace and not just the inflexible seller.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Not THAT John

Thu Feb 24 12:30:18 2011

Why is it that there are buyers who post on this site or the discussion forums sometimes with elaborate and lengthy posts on how sellers should do this and how sellers should do that.

But can never read a sellers TOS and make an educated choice of whether to buy or click the X and move on. Leaving it to eBay to do their reading for them and make poor decisions for eBay's smaller group of clients

Sometimes their post being as large as many sellers TOS.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Harmony Grove Antiques
Web Site

Thu Feb 24 12:32:17 2011

We are in the exact same boat as Tired of eBay's Bullsh*t! We too sell antiques and we can ill-afford having someone return a sidebaord cuz it was the wrong color (despite the 20+ pictures in each and every one of our listings).

We have been kicking around the idea of getting on Ruby Lane but just hate to pay to have our inventory sit there when we can do that for free (and easier) at Bonanza.com, Ioffer.com and several others. Do any other Antique - Collectible sellers have ''Homes'' that work for them?

This will be the final nail so, go 4 it Ebay and kiss our posteriors (and Fees) Goodbye!

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Thu Feb 24 12:56:44 2011

Looks like yet another clueless step in the wrong direction is in the works:Forcing buyers to accept returns to improve the "Buyer experience". This just doesnt work for Sellers(Like me) of vintage & antique items...

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Digby
Web Site

Thu Feb 24 13:30:21 2011

This all goes to show that maybe the auction site sales model is a fading one.

Auction sites can't make sellers offer reasonable prices, fair shipping, good returns policies, good pictures, good descriptions, etc etc.

That's why we need to work on our own websites.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Tired of eBay's Bullsh*t

Thu Feb 24 13:38:14 2011

@ Jeff: "Well, maybe eBay is no longer the marketplace for you ... This is how we make our living and our return rate is less than half a percent of total dollar sales."

Well, that's great Jeff (that your return rate is less than 1/2 of one percent. Also great that your 2% return rate is for jewelry (which weighs next to nothing and is therefore cheap to ship back and forth).

If you read what I wrote you will see that I am NOT suggesting that you or anyone else abandon YOUR return policy. What works for your business is your business, not mine (or, for that matter, eBay's).

You end by saying: "A seller doing business in a harsh way on eBay hurts every other seller..."

• "Harsh" is taking a week to ship (we ship in one biz day, or same-day if payment arrives by 3pm),

• "Harsh" is not packing well (we double-box everything, all new boxes and packing materials),

• "Harsh" is an inquiry that goes unanswered for two days (we usually respond within two hours),

• "Harsh" is a listing with 3 blurry photos (we provide at least a dozen large/sharp pro-quality photos),

• "Harsh" is a description that is two sentences (ours sometimes stretch to several print-length pages),

... so I take offense that you are suggesting that a "no returns policy", clearly stated up-front to the buyer, is "harsh" and, in your words, "hurts every other seller".

Perhaps if/when eBay decides someday that every seller must not only accept returns, but must pay outgoing and return ship-cost, and allow returns up to 90 days from date of sale, and maybe refund 125% of money (to assuage buyer's disappointment) ... well, perhaps at that point you will decide that you'd like some control over a pretty basic aspect of your business.

If eBay wants to dictate something as basic as return policy, perhaps eBay itself should accept the return -- to be sold in eBay's very own "eBay Returns Shop", hosted, of course, at Amazon.

- Tired of eBay's Bullsh*t

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Jeff

Thu Feb 24 13:59:02 2011

Tired,
From what you have said, we do business on eBay in very much the same ways. Great pictures, great descriptions, great packing, and fast and shipping. The only difference is when one of our customers receives something other than what they expected, they can ship it back to us (at their expense) and get a full refund. I think that type or policy is necessary for great customer service in our business.

It didn't take eBay to tell me that a return policy is smart business. We have always allowed 7 days for returns and have recently talked about extending that to 14 or even 30 days. There just aren't that many people out there wanting to send our stuff back. Our low return rates illustrate to me how well we do in the other aspects of our business. If we were representing our products poorly, they would be returned much more often.

I firmly believe your (and other sellers) failure to accpet returns hurts all sellers on eBay.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Rick1313

Thu Feb 24 14:11:35 2011

I am trying to understand what AB meant by...

''The big question is whether eBay will begin making it mandatory for sellers to accept returns, and under what circumstances.''

This already exists on eBay.com (USA-based sight that has a Buyer Protection Program) and on PayPal (if buyer is using this payment method).

PayPal, in their site literature UA, states under what circumstances a buyer can return an item and seller will have to accept it back and refund (or PayPal will do it for the seller, from seller's source). PayPal believes its terms of use override sellers terms of sale to buyer (I will not get into that).

With the bad faith (and UA breaching) Buyer Protection Policy (BPP), the same PayPal scenario is suppose to exist, except that eBay.com DOES NOT list the the various ''items not as described'' scenarios in the policy itself, but in an informational FAQ link at the bottom of the policy.

Also, under the BPP, buyer will get their funds back if they have a PayPal account. No PayPal, then only a credit is issued for use on eBay.

I believe the question should be...

''Is eBay going to change and dictate sellers' return policy while still claiming not to take part in the transaction (LIABILITY section of on any eBay UA site literature)?''.

More to say, but I'll do it on another post.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Jeff

Thu Feb 24 14:11:43 2011

Tired,
oh yes... I forgot to say, if eBay ever did implement a 125% refund, seller pays return shipping policy as you suggested, we would simply stop selling there. We do control our business completely, we'd just shift sales to our our website and other marketplaces. As I said in my first message, you really should focus your energy on that and becoming independent instead of spinning your wheels, venting about how eBay is out to control our lives.

If you want to not accept returns on your own website, that's your perogative -- go for it. It doesn't bother me because that will not harm other sellers. But then, I'm also quite sure that an upstart website selling antiques with a no returns policy would fail to attract buyers.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Luxferro This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 24 14:19:47 2011

For over 5 years now, I have offered an unconditional full refund on all my items. This has brought me a lot more sales that issues.

I count maybe 2 instances where I had to eat some cost, which is nothing compared to customers not turning away because of rigid terms. "No refund" terms just scare people away.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Rick1313

Thu Feb 24 14:23:51 2011

I should say if AB meant that eBay will remove the ''No Returns'' option, then their question makes sense as then eBay would be making it mandatory for sellers to state a return policy that cannot include verbiage that says they will not accept returns.

Kind of like what they did in removing the optional insurance line item and dictating that seller could no longer state they were not responsible for lost/damaged items if buyer did not purchase insurance.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Lily

Thu Feb 24 14:29:31 2011

We deal in printer supplies and have a no refund policy. This is because we experienced a huge amount of people sending us their empty toner or ink they just replaced with the item they purchased from us claiming it was used. After about a year of that, we changed to no returns accepted, it's just a field that cannot sustain that kind of fraud, so now we don't even offer it. If ebay were to move to this type of policy, we would basically be hosed.

Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?   Is eBay Planning New Returns Policy?

by: Tired of eBay's Bullsh*t

Thu Feb 24 14:32:29 2011

@ Jeff, you write: "I firmly believe your (and other sellers) failure to accpet returns hurts all sellers on eBay."

Really?  By what LOGIC do you conclude that?

(mmmm ... maybe eBay needs to require mandatory weekly drug testing of all its sellers ;-)

Does not my policy of "no returns" actually HELP your business?

For example, consider the following:  You, me, "John" and "Jane" all sell identical widgets, all with the same pricing, packing, time-to-ship, etc -- but our returns policies are:

• ME:  "No returns accepted"

• YOU:  "Returns ok, 7 days, buyer pays return shipping"

• JOHN:  "Returns ok, 60 days, seller pays all shipping"

• JANE:  "Returns ok, and if at anytime in the next 2 years you find that the item does not meet your needs, simply return it for a full refund, our prompt refund via Paypal will include both outgoing and return shipping cost"

---

Now, how is it that my return policy hurts you as a seller? And while you are contemplating that, also explain how your return policy hurts Jane (more generous policy) as a seller.

The point is that businesses are different and have very valid reasons to offer different policies. The critical thing (already well covered by eBay) is that a particular seller's return policy be clearly stated and up-front-visible ... THIS IS ALREADY THE CASE FOR ALL SELLERS AT EBAY.

The forcing all sellers into (yet another) one-size-fits-all-box is just so much more stupidity. As I often tell friends: eBay has been trying to drive itself out of business these last couple years, and it would have succeeded by now were it not so incompetent.

- Tired of eBay's Bullsh*t

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