Sellers are debating the impact of emails eBay sends to shoppers that highlight free return shipping. The discussion began when a seller vented on an eBay discussion board
about an email they received on Wednesday.
"To send out mass emails asking buyers to return Items before they have even purchased them? I'm being bombarded by emails asking me to buy items simply so I can return them and not pay for them."
Not everyone agreed with that premise, however. "Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see where buyers are being asked to return things," a seller replied. "It's a marketing message, nothing more. Free return shipping is a selling point for a lot of buyers. I don't know of anyone who buys something with the sole intent of returning it, but they do consider a seller's return policy before buying."
The original poster included a screenshot of the email they received - it featured a thumbnail picture of an item they had recently viewed with a link to "View Item" along with the message: "The seller offers free return shipping on this item."
A seller who also found the emails problematic wrote: "This email is encouraging free inspections of items to decide if they want the item. I have even had buyers tell me that they wear some of the jewelry to parties and then return it at my cost."
But another seller saw the value in encouraging shoppers who had viewed a seller's listing without buying: "That does not look like they sent a message to buyer suggesting they return their items. It looks like you viewed an item and did not purchase it. The message also looks like they are trying to get you to make a purchase by telling you if there is a problem the seller takes returns. So perhaps you might be persuaded to buy the item if you were on the fence about purchasing it. It is not like they said, hey buyer please send this item back so the seller can not keep the money. If they did that, they would lose the final value fees."
Knowing they can return an item may indeed get shoppers to hit the buy button - and what seller doesn't want more sales?
On the other hand, returns can present a hardship to sellers depending on the profit margin and the size and weight of the item being returned, especially as shipping costs continue to increase. But it's not just about the cost of return shipping. Sellers must worry about items not being returned in the same condition.
And now that PayPal no longer refunds payment processing fees for returns, it's becoming even more costly for sellers when finicky shoppers return goods.
Do you think sellers should be allowed to make the decision on a case-by-case basis on whether eBay sends such emails to customers who have looked at their items but haven't purchased? What would you focus on in reminder notices to shoppers?