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Tue July 31 2012 12:01:15

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

By: Julia Wilkinson

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A recent survey that was apparently sent to some sellers in the Fashion category had many questions for them about whether they accept returns, and if not, what were the reasons.

One of the big reasons I had heard anecdotally over the years for sellers, especially in the clothing category, for not liking to accept returns was because some unscrupulous buyers would use the purchase as a free rental service, in essence. They'd buy the item, wear it once or twice, then cite some random problem with it, and the seller would feel pressured to accept the return to maintain their TRS status, standing in search results, etc. 

Some of the questions on the survey highlighted this problem, so at least eBay is aware of it:

"When a buyer requests to return a fashion item to you for any reason, what are the main reasons why, or circumstances under which you would not accept the return from the buyer?"

The answers included "Concerned about buyer fraud (buyer switches item, sends fake item back, etc.)," and "The buyer purchased a new item, wore it, and then wanted to return it used."

Many of the questions had to do with seller concerns about losing money on the item, such as if the seller already didn't charge for the initial shipping, the item would lose value over the course of the return, the item was time-sensitive (such as holiday), and simply that "I don't want to lose money potentially by accepting the return." 

Some of the sellers on the discussion board talking about this issue were puzzled by the framing of the question as why they would not accept a return, because they felt they had to: "I don't know why they would ask why you wouldn't accept returns per E-bay - I accept returns because I HAVE to accept returns not because I want to."

And: "I accept returns also because I HAVE to, I definately would prefer not to have stuff come back, but it happens and I just hope that when it does it comes back in the same condition. Most are returned because they didn't fit."

My feeling is that although selling clothing on eBay does expose you to potential buyer fraud, or just plain dunderheadedness because they didn't read your size specifications, this survey could be a good sign that eBay at least trying to find out what the problems are with returns from the sellers' perspective.

How do you feel about product returns...do you accept them, or feel you have to accept them to stay competitive? What are your biggest problems with returns, and do they make a significant dent in your bottom line?  What do you think about eBay sending out a survey like this? Post a comment here!




Comments (13) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Jul 31 12:35:27 2012

There are some categories like clothing where shorter time frames for returns are fair and reasonable for both the buyer and the seller, but eBay fails to accept the premise because they want a one size fits all approach to returns.

Clearly, eBay is the only party that does not realize their one size fits all approach with regards to returns negatively impacts seller profits.

If eBay is going to enforce a return policy which allows, permits and condones buyer abuses such as clothing rentals, then they should have some skin in the game just as sellers do.

Items returned to sellers based on eBay's flawed decision making process regarding returns should be deducted from eBay's GMV. If eBay is going to mandate sellers accept returns, then eBay should not be able to claim GMV credit for the transaction.

Sellers should also be automatically credited by eBay for all Final Value fees in cases where the return is prompted by eBay outside the sellers stated return policy.

Perhaps if eBay shares in the pain of returns they compel sellers to accept which are outside the sellers stated return policy time frames, eBay will develop a policy which will be less detrimental to their sellers to save their own bottom line.

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

This user has validated their user name. by: basset

Tue Jul 31 15:19:56 2012

I posted the following 2 paragraphs on Ina's blog & it bears repeating here:

''Do ya think eBay just puts these surveys out, then makes a hot rush to the forums & blogs to see what people are saying?

If 2 survey respondents agree to what eBay's planned path is, then they can truthfully say: ''sellers are telling us they want this''. Then they just do what they planned all along.''

I'm guessing eBay is planning to ''tweak'' the return process.

Before eBay mandated the ''no returns, 14 day, 30 day'' return choices, I had been thinking about going to a 3-day decision (keep or return) period on the pre-owned clothing I sell. 14 days is too long, so I'm still ''no returns'' now.

That aside, I have almost always accepted returns when a buyer contacts me - whether with a found issue, or whether the color looks horrible on them. Primary reason I do this is I buy clothing on eBay & understand that seeing it on a screen & on your body are 2 different things. However, there are some returns that should not be allowed based on the buyer's behavior & actions. But I (and countless others) feel compelled to accept them because I don't trust eBay. Resolution seems to be a crap-shoot, DSR's are one sided, Feedback is one sided.

With 100% FB, soon to be Missing in Action TRS, 5 & 4.9 DSR's, & several years experience - you'd think eBay would have some trust in me (and other sellers like me) to know what I am doing. I would like to be able to professionally cut off an abusive buyer and know (KNOW! not ''hope'') that eBay has MY back.

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

This user has validated their user name. by: TheUglySweaterShop
Web Site

Tue Jul 31 23:40:49 2012

The nature of the clothing I sell opens me up to "rental" buyers, which is why I don't accept returns (learned that quick the first Christmas season my website was open).

Of course I've made exceptions when people have approached me nicely about it. But over 1,000 sweaters sold with no returns and I have nothing but glowing feedback from my buyers.

How?  I don't sell them on eBay.  

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 1 02:37:04 2012

I sell high end clothing ---generaly "gently used" or new no tags.  Sourced from various places so I almost never have more than one of an item--I am not Macy's and I don't have a warehouse like Zappos.  So NO I cannot go in the "back room" and find you another pair of shoes in your size---you were supossed to KNOW your size BEFORE you clicked that BUY button.

But like an earlier poster I do mostly end up--even with a NO RETURN policy---taking back items.  Not all depending on how I am approached and how popular the item  or seasonal etc.  And hwo annoying the nuyer seems to be--I feel threatened when the FIRST demand in the FIRST email is for a "partial refund".  

Now they don't HAVE to mention leaving me NFB---since they KNOW that the power of that is implicit in EVERYTHING ebay does from the Home Page to every email they send out.  Snagged your hangnail on the new knit dress you bought?  Blame it on the seller and we will back you with all of our Big Guns and nail that nasty sellers balls to the WALL with our super duper BUYER PROTECTION.  

Oh yeah they got YOUR back.

I DO fear that I could very easily be used as a rental service.  

I also fear getting items back damaged or worn or smelly or stained or or or or-----

I fear getting stuff "back" that I never sent OUT.  

Why oh why do I have to live in fear?????

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: feline This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 1 02:44:47 2012

I think any survey is cosmetic from Ebays oint of view and they will do as they please regardless of the result. They insult everyones intelligence
Many surveys are cut off short when the  person filling out the survey gives answers Ebay doesn't want to read.

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 1 03:33:40 2012

I prefer not to screw with my buyers heads like that. I prefer to sell a good well-described product, to communicate with them well (and not get a free star for NOT communicating), to ship to them fast, and to thank them (Sir or Maam) for their business.
But it is sort of interesting.
Mass Howler

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 1 03:34:58 2012

When you do things well and you are honest and polite. you do not need tricks.
Mass Howler

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 1 03:41:28 2012

(I am sorry folks, I thought I was commenting on the RED BACKGROUND tread).
My mistake.

The old classic "rental" buyers are all over the place on the TUXEDO and PROM DRESS categories and that is why folks really cannot sell them on feebay under the current system. It seems as if every single tuxedo I have ever sold has been a free rentalk on me, no more TUXEDOS and feebay loses the business. There are sill several tux sellers on ebay and their fb still looks good but I don't know how they do it- lots of refunds I would guess.
Mass Howler

The 2 responses above should have been placed on the red background "tricks" thread.

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: Terry in Texas This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 1 14:51:56 2012

re: by: TheUglySweaterShop --- your web site is awesome and your merchandise totally fun! i would love to hear from you on setting up your own web site. it's an avenue i'm giving more and more thought to every day.

this survey is totally meaningless to sellers, in my opinion. not going to change anything. and i didn't receive a survey, i suspect they are only sending it to new sellers who don't have the complaints/issues. i have a no returns policy and won't change that. while i sell mostly used clothing i will accept returns on a case by case basis. usually it's a new buyer who (naturally) did NOT read the listing description that included the material, measurements and details/flaws.

i also will/won't issue a refund depending on how polite the buyer is. i got over the TRS deal/worry. usually the concerns are legitimate and i'm happy to work with the buyer to resolve the situation. that would be because i'm a good, honest seller. and i watch my own back because no one else is.

i can only imagine the high end sellers and the "rental" hassle they endure. not worth it.
 

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

This user has validated their user name. by: LDS Brother

Wed Aug 1 17:59:58 2012

RIC said:

"Sellers should also be automatically credited by eBay for all Final Value fees in cases where the return is prompted by eBay outside the sellers stated return policy."

Any seller who give a full refund and it is provable through ebay or pay pal, should be exempt from any DSR ratings also.

In my case, I describe items accurate, and if a buy has buyers remorse or made a mistake on their own accord not reading, why should they be entitled to ding you a 1 or 2 star rating ?

Sick of Donahoe and his sick standards and rules !

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: Ron This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 2 10:42:19 2012

We used to have a vibrant vintage clothing business on eBay, but I haven't listed there in 4 years, preferring our own website.

We never have a problem with returns and it happens very infrequently.   But I do suspect that if we were dealing on eBay that it might be a problem.

We stopped selling that type of merchandise on eBay, not because of returns, but because of serious price depression.  Why, I'm not sure, but there is a plethora of unprofessional clothing sellers on eBay, not to say that there are also very professional ones, but I think that the bad ones have an impact on buyer confidence.  And eBay policies simply make it easy for a whole swath of bad buyers to take advantage of sellers.

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Fri Aug 3 02:23:41 2012

Ebay puts these "surveys" out so they can fine complainers and CUT THEIR EXPOSURE- THIS IS THE REASON- if you answer your exposure will be CUT THAT IS THE PURPOSE and I have Lived in EBAINS DECEPTION LONG ENOUGH!!!!
This partnership is OVER!
Mass Howler

eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems   eBay Clothing Sellers Survey Highlights Return Problems

by: manzana698 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Feb 3 06:33:21 2014

UK startup HireJungle has launched a new scheme 'try before you buy' any eBay items: http://www.hirejungle.co.uk/rent-ebay.html

This will solve all the issues with eBay's returns.



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