Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Apr 1 2012 21:58:14

eBay Buyer Protection Changes Include Partial Refunds, Returns

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers are concerned over changes to the eBay Buyer Protection Policy that will allow eBay to issue partial refunds to buyers without requiring them to return the item to the seller. Sellers are talking on several eBay discussion boards about a letter they say eBay sent only sent to buyers.

One poster explained why it has sellers upset: "It's a BIG DEAL because eBay gets to decide the value of a partial refund not the SELLER, and it seems the seller doesn't even get the choice of saying "no partial, return for full refund". eBay can't inspect the item to know what's missing etc (if it IS so) they'll rely on the word of a buyer who wants money back?"

The provision that has sellers buzzing is the following:

"In some cases, we may refund part of the cost of the item to the buyer to cover differences between the item described and the item actually received, in which case we will try to recover that refund amount from the seller and not ask the buyer to return the item to the seller."

Another change in the Buyer Protection Policy that eBay's letter did not mention is the parenthetical statement in the following paragraph:

"If we resolve an item not as described case in the buyer's favor, we will in most circumstances ask the buyer to return the item to the seller (and the seller needs to accept the return even if the seller's return policy indicated "no returns accepted") before we refund the buyer and try to recover the refund amount from the seller."

The letter, sent last week to some registered users, states:

Dear (buyer name),
I'm writing to let you know about important updates to the eBay Buyer Protection Policy that will go into effect on June 19, 2012:

A provision has been added that in some cases we may refund part of the cost of the item to the buyer and receive reimbursement from the seller to cover differences between the item described and the item actually received, such as small parts missing or minor repairs needed. In these cases, we will not require the buyer to return the item to the seller.

A clarification has been included that delivery signature confirmation for items $250 or more is only required in order to protect sellers from losing a case where such service is offered by at least one shipping company. Similarly, when we ask a buyer to return a $250 or more item to the seller, delivery signature confirmation is required if it is offered by at least one shipping company.

A clarification has been made that items purchased from the Businesses & Websites for Sale category will not be covered by eBay Buyer Protection.

A provision has been added regarding the relationship between eBay Buyer Protection and the new managed return process. If a buyer uses the process to return to an item purchased from an eligible transaction under that process, and the seller fails to provide a timely refund in accordance with the new process, the buyer may file a case under eBay Buyer Protection. If we resolve the case in the buyer's favor, we'll refund the buyer, the amount of which will depend on the terms and conditions of the process.

As with earlier updates, other changes have been made to keep the eBay Buyer Protection Policy up-to-date with our product and service offerings.Thanks,
Heraldo Botelho
eBay Buyer Protection Policy
eBay Inc.

One seller reacted to the letter by writing, "Taking the buyer's side in a he said-she said and requiring the return of an item for a refund is one thing but how on Earth do they think this is a good idea?  I'd really like to know what's supposed to stop a buyer from claiming missing pieces in order to get a forced discount aside from eBay's standard "if a buyer does it enough, we'll maybe look into it." They're seriously going to start letting buyers keep the item and a portion of the money based solely on their word? This is insanity. Regardless of what eBay puts in their TOS, I find it difficult to believe this is legal."

You can find the current eBay Buyer Protection Policy on this page - it went into effect on June 20, 2011 - and you can access the eBay Buyer Protection policy effective June 19, 2012 at the bottom of that page.

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Readers Comments

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by: Sunflower This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 5 23:56:20 2012

Since when can you buy something  let's say at a major department store or at the mall and then call and complain expecting a partial refund? I don't know of any store that will take your phone call and your word and give you a partial refund. You would have to return the item, plain and simple.
eBay does NOT own my items, I do.
I sell cosmetics. All it will take is buyers to complain-their lipstick weeped a bit with the heat and they want a partial refund? How about an expensive face powder selling for $149? A buyer calls and says it cracked in the mail and they want a partial refund. Many of the scammers get these items, try but don't buy. They don't like the color, buyers remorse etc. How am I do deal with that? Return it to me in the condition it was received and I am happy to work with you, but don't force me into partial refunds because of a buyers whim. I have my listings set at no returns due to the items that I sell and recently had a buyer complain that something she bought from me was ''too orange''. The description in the listing was ''orange'' but eBay decided in her favor and I had to take it back. She then wanted me to pay return shipping and left me a negative because I wouldn't.
Fair? I don't think so! But in eBay land the only fairness is when your a buyer with complaints! I will struggle through as I have too much money invested in stock to walk away, but I will fight eBay's attempts to own my items!

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 6 01:26:16 2012

It is my opinion that even though the seller is forced to comply to furnish a buyer who wants a full or partial refund and also wants to keep the item too, will still get the old Neutral at best, or a Negative in worst case. A few too many neutrals or negatives and you are history on Ebay, anyway. So whether you comply or don't comply will make very little difference in the long run, you will  still end up selling on Amazon, Etsy or other venue, or not at all.  

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by: biane This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 6 02:26:11 2012

I have been a Top Rated Seller for 1 year. During January 2012 I had a vacation to Asia, when I was coming back in February 2012, I did open a sale 30% off everything in my store, and my sales in February increase 400% from January 2012, but only increase 100% if compared to December 2011 (since I was closing my store in January 2011 due to vacation). However, Ebay now required me to only sell 1700 listing a month (auctions + fixed listings) or 30000 US$ a month which comes first. Really upsetting. However they wouldn't do anything even I had explained it. So in March I was stuck for 2 weeks without any ability to list anything. :(  

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by: spirit-of-shiloh This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 6 07:03:58 2012

I am a small seller for now. When time allows I will be listing several hundred items. I sell mostly used collectables and small antiques. I am a TRS,all 5's on stars, in good standing,no returns yet ,never received a neg or neutral,and a 14 day return,30 days for some antiques.I have been a seller since 2000,taking a 7 year break. With the new Buyer Protection coming into effect,I am worried.What if a buyer decides they want my item but feel they paid too much so decide to tell eBay there is a flaw and eBay gives them a partial refund? I would rather have the item returned on my dime. All my BIN's are free shipping with 1 day handling time. I bend over backwards to describe any and all faults an item may have. I am still worried about the buyers who have larceny in their hearts and will take advantage? How does eBay know what a buyer claims is true? With the millions of buyers ,they are not going to look at each case closly,it will probably be done by robots? Also,if I decide on an auction,whos to say the bidder will not go on a bidding frenzy just to win,then when they get my item put in a claim to get a partial refund? I think eBay really needs to rethink this rediculous change.  

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by: Laura This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 6 12:09:26 2012

I have some comments from a buyer's point of view. I am a small time hobby buyer who buys regularly from a variety of sellers on Ebay. My purchases are usually but not always in connection with my collecting hobby. I value the small  sellers on Ebay very much as they give me  access to items on a global basis that I would have difficulty obtaining otherwise. However I also value the price I pay, OK everyone loves a bargain but too many and the value of my collection decreases. I actually want to pay a price that reflects true value and keeps the sellers in business. I do not want policies that puts them out of business or encourages them to sell elsewhere. Nor do I want an Ebay which only offers cheap plastic tat.

Ebay should be very careful about what it wishes for with this new policy - a unique global auction house or a run of the mill global cash and carry. I know what I would prefer and as a buyer I do not think I am alone.        

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by: charliestown This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 6 15:58:31 2012

Well 4 years ago i left the clutches of feebay the writing was on the wall regarding the treatment/and removal of small/collectable/antique sellers although how they were going to do it was open to debate, this part refund /and keep the item is not new its a game some buyers have been playing for years, but now ebay/ paypal endorse it, unbelivable!im sure glad i packed my bags from that site, the sooner people vote with there feet get themselves established on one of the upcoming e-commerce sites the better,  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Apr 12 08:43:26 2012

Selling on eBay is like renting a house from a landlord who comes through the front door unannounced anytime he pleases.

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by: Abernathy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 15 17:48:31 2012

I have encountered a small set of buyers that routinely asks for a partial refund for anything from flaws clearly described in the listing, imaginary flaws, not liking it as much as they thought, or even 'because it's used' when the item was clearly listed as used. When given the chance to return the item for a full refund, these buyers always refuse. They like the item just fine, but they want to cut the price as much as possible.

A seller who would never agree to sell an item at a lower price might agree to a partial refund after shipping the item even when they know there is no basis to the buyer's complaint. They may do so just to appease a buyer who is threatening to make things difficult, or because at this point taking a loss on the item may seem preferable to the greater potential loss of an item coming back damaged and unsaleable --or perhaps the potential negative feedback will cost more than the refund. eBay claims to protect against feedback extortion, but in my experience they don't consider it extortion unless the buyer  clearly states a malicious intent to extort.

Honest buyers may occasionally be willing to accept a partial refund to resolve a disagreement as to whether the item is as described. Buyers who regularly try to cut the price after they have received the item are essentially extortionists, waiting until they have something of the seller's to hold hostage--the item, the seller's reputation, the costs of processing a return. And at this point, it is eBay that is enforcing the malicious buyer's ability to hold the seller's property or reputation hostage.

Until now, I've been able to effectively limit my contact with this type of buyer by raising my prices. I won't list below a certain price point because it seems to bring these undesirable buyers out of the woodwork in droves. Unless eBay has addressed the issue of protecting sellers against this type of extortion, putting the decision of partial refunds in the hands of eBay's return center will simply expand the opportunities for this type of buyer, and I don't see that price point is going to offer much protection any more. I'm interested to see how the legalities of this work out--whether eBay will put themselves in a position where someone could make a charge stick of either seizure of property or partnering in extortion.  

I don't plan to leave eBay entirely, but this development is certainly speeding my work on my own storefront.  

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by: Abernathy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 15 17:57:29 2012

@rexford....right on. The landlord that messes with your stuff and has no respect for your personal property.

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

Sun Apr 15 18:42:44 2012

Good ole observations-of-life Larr Dickerson
http://toolhaus.org/cgi-bin/negs?User=observations-of-lif
e&Dirn=Left+by
http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2011/1/1296156756.html
http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/comments/2009/11/1258839253.html/12/220
Venting
is a good thing to relive pressure but it never solved anything.Perhaps it is time to set up a system wide boycott that is well researched with established goals.The power actually rests not with each individual but with a collective voice and actions.

Larr pouted
I ask my sellers if they have experienced what this group complains about day in and day out.Not one has registered a major complaint.

But Dickerson Bellowed
http://www.my3cents.com/mobile/showReview.cgi?id=47235


Larr
pouted
Not one has registered a major complaint.

But Dickerson Bellowed
http://www.ripoffreport.com/employees/ebay/ebay-ebay-s-rep
ly-o-conflictin-4454p.htm
http://www.ripoffreport.com/miscellaneous-companies/ebay/ebay-employees-rewriting-the-u-8p9d3.htm

Larr
pouted
Whom do I believe,the people on AB,who by the way,normally the only voices heard,or do believe my own sellers?

But Dickerson Bellowed
http://www.ripoffreport.com/attorneys-general/e-bay-incorp
orated/e-bay-incorporated-definitive-b9dzb.htm

Larr
pouted
calling people names

But Dickerson Bellowed
http://web.archive.org/web/20081010122937/http://blogs.eba
y.com/observations-of-life/archive/2008/05
''Now
tell me you arrogant little smart ass, what are you doing for the next generation?''

Larr pouted
I hope you taught your children differently.

Larr multiple divorces and your child died from your neglect. What could you possibly teach us?

The Real Dickerson
http://www.amazon.com/forum/science?_encoding=UTF8&cdForu
m=FxZ58KVEERYS5E&cdThread=Tx30Y7UO7A8GHIP
http://www.amazon.com/forum/history/ref=cm_cd_pg_next?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx33HXI3XVZDC8G&cdPage=60&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx1TE0RJ2R9IS3Z
http://www.amazon.com/forum/science?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=FxZ58KVEERYS5E&cdThread=Tx30Y7UO7A8GHIP

Ming's
Law Corollary
Larr Liar

http://world-news.newsvine.com/_news/2010/04/05/4119000-us
-pilot-seen-firing-on-people-in-iraq?commentId=13412684#c13412684
I
too am from the 60s and served in Nam riding those helicopters and laying down a sheet of fire that an ant couldn't crawl through.
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3CVfj
HtVyGQJ:www.veteranstoday.com/2010/07/13/gordon-duff-vietnam-decades-of-liars-blacken-the-names-of-real-heroes
Somehow
I missed Viet Nam

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by: screwtheseller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 26 17:17:51 2012

I cant believe ebay hasnt had this all along.

Tell me why I should have to return the whole lot of $100 of scrap silver when only $10 of it is not real. Why not get the $10 refund and leave a positive review. If the seller had the choice to choose,%90 of the time hes gonna be an asshole and make you send it back.
By the looks of all the comments you guys are expecting this to happen to you. If you get a negative review or a buyer protection case, its because your a shitty seller. Not because the buyer is a scammer.

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