Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of
Thu July 30 2020 22:37:53

Will eBay Dial Back Its Open Approach to Returns?

By: Ina Steiner

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In December, eBay executive Jordan Sweetnam said eBay was open to the concept of giving sellers greater flexibility in the returns policies they could offer depending on the category. That would be a major change from the one-size-fits-all policy to which sellers must currently adhere.

Sweetnam made the statement when answering questions in a Q&A forum. He said that in some categories, eBay could "dial back the open approach to returns today and deliver an experience that still fully meets buyer expectations without exposing sellers to situations where they can be taken advantage of."

Nothing has changed in the 7 months since, and two recent stories show sellers find can find eBay's practices around returns painful.

A reader described an experience where a buyer reported a poor fit for an item, and eBay allowed the buyer to return it. After the buyer didn't return the item in the time period allowed, the seller asked eBay to step in. However, he was told that because of the pandemic, buyers had problems returning items, and so eBay was giving buyers 35 business days to return items (starting from the date buyers received the item).

In this case, the reader said because the item is seasonal, the window for relisting it has closed.

In another case described on a post on the eBay boards, a seller explained that a buyer wanted to return a quilt for not looking like the one pictured in her listing. "I asked for pictures. She sent pictures - and they looked exactly as the pictures in the listing. Absolutely. Also - all tags attached etc." 

When she asked eBay to step in, it forced her to give the buyer a full refund, and it allowed the buyer to keep the quilt.

According to sellers responding on the thread, that's a common practice. They advised the seller to always accept returns, pay return shipping, and then refund the buyer once the item is returned.

eBay CEO Jamie Iannone told Wall Street analysts this week that vertical experiences was a priority for eBay - but whether that will extend to category-based selling policies such as returns is unclear.

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Will eBay Dial Back Its Open Approach to Returns?   Will eBay Dial Back Its Open Approach to Returns?

by: roseland This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 3 00:31:35 2020

I haven't sold on ebay in years since I also was once burned by a customer requesting a refund from Paypal (and getting one) without returning the item.  Having thought about it over the years, I think what I should have done back then was filed a theft-by-mail complaint with the USPS Inspection Service.  Has anybody else tried that and if so, what was the result?

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by: reybo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 3 06:39:57 2020

The boilerplate on my auctions says:
Approx. 1,500 items sold since 1996
7 returns = 99.994% satisfaction

What does eBay say? EBay says my return rate is 10%. Why? I had a buyer remorse deal within the last 10 sales and that's all they look at when evaluating sellers. Last 10 sales.

They can jiggle the handle of that toilet all they like but the crap won't go away. EBay abuses cottage industry sellers, the guys who built the business. But if I sold 3,000 laser pointers and only the last 10 worked, eBay would record my return rate as 0% and love me.

When I leave I won't be jumping ship; I'll be walking the plank.  

Perminate Link for Will eBay Dial Back Its Open Approach to Returns?   Will eBay Dial Back Its Open Approach to Returns?

by: OutbackGirl This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 3 16:33:49 2020

For those of you who offer Global Shipping,  you might find the following passage in the agreement for Global Shipping that you have already accepted somewhat alarming. I certainly would and would  never offer that crappy terrible program. Fastest way to lose ALL international sales.

Power of Attorney. You grant to Pitney Bowes (and, to the extent necessary, its third party service providers) a "Power of Attorney" authorizing Pitney Bowes and/or its service providers to act as your agent(s). Pursuant to 15 CFR ยง 30.3 (b)(3), in a routed export transaction the authorized agent can be the "exporter" for export control purposes as defined in 15 CFR 772.1 of the US Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations ("EAR"). In its role as agent, Pitney Bowes will be authorized to retain customs brokers and/or freight forwarders for the purpose of transacting customs business with all relevant export, customs and revenue authorities on your behalf. In addition, you authorize the customs brokers and/or freight forwarders selected by Pitney Bowes to make, endorse, sign, declare and/or swear to any customs, entry, withdrawal, declaration, certificate, bill of lading and/or any other documents required by law or regulation in connection with the exportation, importation and/or transportation of the GSP Item that is shipped or consigned to you or your designee for shipment out of the United States and into any other country. However, you will bear the liability for any violation of US export laws and regulations or import laws in the destination jurisdiction, with the exception of violations caused by incorrect information provided by your Seller.

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