Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
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.

Comments (23) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

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

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 01:38:26 2020

It's been too apparent for too long that ebay CANNOT fairly administer returns on a large scale.
They should hire an independent contractor with no skin in the game.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 07:14:50 2020

Vertical experiences = just a different way to screw the sellers.

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

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 08:18:01 2020

I had a customer last week send me a message. These dont fit. You threw in a 50mm in with the other 2 52mm. I asked him what did you order. He says 3x 52mm.

I then showed him the order showing he ordered 1 x 50mm, and 2 x 52mm. He immediately puts in a return request for doesnt fit. So now I have to pay return shipping. Thats bull.

So I put in a report buyer. Explained the whole thing and this is what I get

We'll review your report with any other information we have, including reports from other sellers. Your report is confidential and won't be shared with the buyer. However, keep in mind that we won't be able to tell you about any specific action we take.

"keep in mind that we won't be able to tell you about any specific action we take." Means we wont do anything. Means I have to take the return or they will refund him and let him keep the item.

This behavior is rampant on ebay. It's disgusting, and I am disgusted from it. I normally restock my items regularly, but I am in one of those moods, and for a little over 2 and a half weeks probably half of what I have is actually listed right now. Rather than get aggravated listing these items I just said I'll just let it wait.

Meanwhile I had "one of those buyers" yesterday.....you just know, because they ask a million questions before they buy. When its not the answer their looking for they press more. Just dont want to spend a few bucks more for exactly what they want. I had to block him, I knew he was one of the ones that would be returning. You just know after a while.

I would say it's like a game, but it's not, games are fun. This is a sick joke. And it just gets worse and worse.

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

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 10:47:22 2020

Geetar...I'm amazed that ebay hasn't seized the opportunity to offer COMPLETE seller protection insurance for 10 cents on every sale.

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by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 10:54:28 2020

@ebayout

Ha. Yea. Cause the problem, then offer a solution, and of course make money off of it. Sounds like ebay!

It would probably end up being a fools deal, just like cell phone insurance....$100 deductible or something like that.

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by: Ophelia1 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 12:19:12 2020

Forced returns....one more reason to stop selling on eBay!

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 12:25:54 2020

Geetar - just another nail in the coffin

Is anyone else getting "The Phone" calls? beggin us to come back?

things must be pretty messed up when you have to call the sellers who have left to find out why things weren't working anymore - humm:

1 - absolutely no seller protection whatsoever
2 - hiding our listing while you try to extort money from us to show them
3 - taking a commission on the shipping
4 - making us pay the processing fee for the taxes the buyer pays even though
     the seller shouldn't be taxing the buyer because I don't make enough money
     to warrant the tax (because you hid my listings)
5 - the constant never ending hoop jumping you keep throwing at me to keep me
     too busy to explore alternative selling venues
6 - the unjustified one way feedback system
7 - protecting the buyer/scammer no matter what while throwing the seller under
     the bus
8 - the pain of knowing your sitting at the bar getting drunk and laughing at how
     stupid the sellers are for even building you a bar

Something eBay always forgot - sellers built the site - we're just building another one elsewhere

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

by: Shanna This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 12:27:11 2020

Mercari! Buyers have 3 days from receipt to ask for a return. Not 3 business days, 3 days. Buyers agree to this when they buy.

Oh, and Mercari only charges 10% on the item's cost, no charge on shipping or sales tax.

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

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 12:42:01 2020

Shanna - ssshhh - quit telling sellers where to go - once they figure out what a great place it is we will be buried under - getting that way now - I kick  myself I didn't go there 2 years ago - I'm actually making more money on Mercari than I ever did the last 2 years on ebay.  What an idiot I was for sticking around thinking someone with a brain might shake up ebay instead of just kicking the sellers.
Is it a perfect site? no - do they have alot of snazzy features? no - I've learned how to work around them and for me it's great

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

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 13:31:02 2020

scam returns makes too much money for fleecebay.

mr walmart 1 and mr walmart 2 will not make any significant changes to returns

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

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jul 31 13:41:23 2020

Poshmark has one of the best policies as it relates to returns:  The buyer has 3 days to accept or try to return. Once they ask for a return they have 7 days to return.

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

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 13:54:28 2020

The issues with returns (as said above) are:

1) nothing is EVER eBays fault so blame the seller
2) buyers never lie and if they do - so what - eBay "needs them" and dont "need sellers" therefore blame the seller
3) eBay makes money off shipping both ways (in most cases)
4) eBay makes money off the float - holding sellers funds until the 30/45/60 or so days have passed


theres plenty more of course - thats why eBay SHOULD NEVER be involved in returns to start with since they always have their thumbs on the scale.

There's a reason they are known as the San Jose Mafia.

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

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 16:22:54 2020

@Whatever

The process fee is paid by the state. All states let you keep a percentage of the sales tax to pay you for collecting it for them. So ebay keeps that and charges you fvf fee on the whole amount.

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 18:17:04 2020

Millions of transactions, and mindless offshore people reading scripts.
What could possibly go wrong?
Better...what could possibly go right?
WHY does eBay not have a DETAILED, published set of criteria for returns listed?
If a buyer lies, and the lie is readily documented, how does it ever proceed?
Sorry...I'm assuming real world functioning.

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

by: fashionista This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 19:41:21 2020

@shanna & whatever

i agree that there has to be a better place, but I don't know if Mercari is it....I've purchased a few items on there and everything has been shipped at the 4 oz rate......nothing I purchased weighed 4 oz.  Most are Priority.  Gives sellers a bad name
Also, they really don't support a regular computer, only mobile devices.
There is no such thing as 3 day returns, all you have to do is go to your credit card and you'll get your money back.

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

by: ddigler This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 1 08:44:25 2020

An Item Not as Described Case .

"hi, i got the item but my son changed his mind and wanted something different so I'm returning it"

In this scenario your only choices are accept return or get a defect. If you contact ebay they will say "you have 3 business days to work with the buyer...... and contact ebay after 3 days and they ebay will step in and help"

But if you wait 3 days and buyer asks ebay to step in and help you get a defect. Maybe if you wait 3 days and ask ebay to step in and help the robot will ask buyer to return item.

It is just a broken system.  

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

by: Shanna This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 1 08:47:43 2020

@fashionista

Yes, they did start as a phone app, but last month they changed so everything on the app is now available on desktop. I hear on other forums that if you initiate a chargeback that Mercari bans your account, so you can try that once.

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

by: Christopher Maxey This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 1 11:23:49 2020

FYI about automatic returns:

If you enable the option to allow you to provide an RMA number it gives you more flexibility with returns and takes away some of the "automatic" flaws.  I have no need for the RMA number but the extra options given to me at time of assigning one allows a little intervention by me when a customer selects the wrong reason for the return and also allows for greater flexibility in dealing with the return since they can be fairly unique situations.   I got that this tidbit from a unicorn ebay rep.

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

by: justchangecarriers This user has validated their user name.

Sat Aug 1 23:27:47 2020

I just want them to not auto accept the returns. I cant even work it out. Returns have increased 100 fold since they did thr free auto returns.

Automated returns does not help a seller. I end up with dumb idiots buying something for 5 shipped then returning it for changed mind with me having zero recourse besides refunding withiut return which i feel they are trying/fishing to get. I used to get maybe a return a month. Free returns zi het 10-15 a month. Pretty much completely cancels oit any TRS discount. I just have a geeling once I take it off I will be cutting off my visibility. I hate this company so much.  

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

by: lancecorp This user has validated their user name.

Sun Aug 2 18:04:11 2020

I've been using Mercari for over a year and only have a PC. I've made more sales there lately than on Ebay. The $4.99 is a USPS flat rate charged for anything 16 oz or less. I pay to ship my own if the weight is over 16 oz as I seldom use anything but USPS. fashionista may be thinking about Poshmark as I have not yet found a way to download that to my PC.

By far - Mercari is one of the best selling sites these days and you don't have to worry about shipping international.

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