Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Jan 3 2021 14:20:57

Timing of eBay Refund Tutorial Was No Coincidence

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay published a tutorial on how to issue refunds through Managed Payments on December 22. Good to know, but it doesn't appear the timing of the video was coincidental. Buyers were frantic over late packages in the run-up to Christmas, and as sellers reported, some buyers insisted on getting refunds even when the seller had met their stated handling time.

In this thread on the eBay discussion boards, a seller described a situation where they were pressured to refund a buyer before Christmas, just days before the item finally arrived. The seller asked, "So What Happens When Refund Issued Item finally gets Delivered?"

"Item was shipped on 11/26 and finally out for delivery today 12/28," the seller explained. "Delay was caused by USPS. I had to refund the buyer several days ago as per eBay Dictator rules."

"So," the seller asked, "am I just out the money unless the buyer decides to step up and do the right thing? Or is eBay on the hook? I am sure I am not the first this has happened to. Thanks in advance for advice."

As buyers like those were pressuring sellers to issue refunds, eBay published a tutorial on YouTube, writing:

"Need to refund a buyer? You can start a full or partial refund in the eBay Seller Hub. Search for the "Refunding buyers as a managed payments seller" help article in the eBay Help Hub."


It would have been helpful if eBay had also published a video explaining how sellers should deal with antsy buyers demanding refunds for packages delayed due to the USPS logjam. 

eBay did announce enhanced seller protections in this YouTube video, but it would have been helpful if the company had provided more details. Did it expect sellers to ignore such requests and trust that eBay would do the right thing?

It's disheartening to read about sellers' experiences like those described in the discussion board thread above. There was a lot of support offered to sellers and small businesses in messages in the spring at the beginning of the pandemic, but will corporations like eBay step up now? Keep us posted on what you're experiencing in the coming weeks.

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by: lessthanthreerecords This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 15:42:52 2021

"So," the seller asked, "am I just out the money unless the buyer decides to step up and do the right thing?

That's the way it's always been.  Unfortunately, with MP, there's a lot less ability for the buyer to "do the right thing" even if they want to.  Since MP can only be used to make a payment for an item sold on eBay, at least as far as I'm aware, you cannot simply send money to a seller as you can on PayPal.  Buyers and sellers to not have each other's e-mail addresses and cannot simply send money to an e-mail address.  Of course, the buyer could return the item to the seller, but let's say they still want it?  To the best of my knowledge, there is no way for the refunded buyer to reissue payment.  If I am wrong in that assumption, someone please fill me in.

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by: COVID-19 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 15:45:50 2021

SleazeBay!

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by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 16:08:41 2021

Very tricky for us in Canada, due to the extremely high cost of sending anything with a tracking number.  On eBay Canada, I sold a postcard for $18 to a buyer who lives about 8 miles from me.  This was mailed via FCM on December 2nd - within 1 day of receiving payment.  On the 15th, the buyer opened an INR case.  With no "within the system" means of contacting the buyer, I tracked down contact via Facebook (the buyer had actually posted an image of the card he'd bought, as it showed his grandfather's CEF battalion on its way to Europe in WW1).  When I explained how an INR would affect my standing, he promptly closed the case, and said he'd be happy to wait "as long as it took".  He received his packet on the 29th - 27 days in the Canada Post system to deliver something 8 miles. - which had absolutely no postal markings of any kind on it.

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by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 16:23:43 2021

On another "late" issue, I had a regular buyer (always good to deal with), purchased a postcard, received it in reasonable time, and posted positive feedback stating "fast shipping".  At the same time, he gave me a star rating of  3, for "late delivery",resulting in a ding on my service metrics.  He thought he was just commenting on the overall problem with delays in the mail, and did not intend to make it specific to me.  I went through the "appeal" system, providing this information, and (of course) got the bot reply that it had been reviewed (yeh, sure) and the matter was closed, I had to live with the ding, and that it could not be appealed or escalated.  Yet, somewhere in the 'help' part of the eBay system it states that, in such situations, once the buyer left positive feedback mentioning the shipping speed, I was good to go, and the ding would be removed.  Has anyone ever had a ding removed, in similar circumstances to those I've described ?   As the situation is supposedly "non-appealable and non-escalatable" is there anything else I can do ? This was a low priced card sent via non-trackable FCM.  Basic shipping was $2.50.........the cheapest trackable method (Can Post registered mail), would have boosted the shipping cost to around $14.50 - way more than the card cost.  Canada Post has informed me personally that even purchasing a much higher level of delivery service (e.g. Xpresspost, which in this case would have boosted the shipping cost to around $22) would not ensure delivery any faster than using FCM..........due to COVID and reduced staffing, combined with the seasonal mail volume increase.

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by: acc756 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 16:30:06 2021

@ lessthanthreerecords - it is my understanding that eBay has said it's OK to exchange contact info through eBay messages when there is an existing transaction.  They have advised in these situations to either ask the buyer to provide an email address so you can send a PP invoice or to provide your PP email to the buyer and ask them to send payment.

So yes, technically there is a way, but the irony here is mind blowing to me.  eBay has forced sellers into Managed Payments, then forced refunds on these INRs, but when items are delivered the only mechanism to seek repayment is to beg the buyer to send money through PayPal?!  

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by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 16:41:36 2021

Thanks for the note acc756.

Here's a direct quote from eBay policy:

We also don't allow members to offer, reference, or request email addresses, phone numbers or other contact information, physical addresses, web addresses, or links within eBay messaging systems .  

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by: acc756 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 17:43:48 2021

@ Michael in BC -  I know appears to violate policy as you've pointed out, so I would certainly advise any seller to proceed with caution and possibly even reach out to eBay customer service directly for confirmation if you are concerned.

However, reports on the eBay community and across Twitter and other social media are that this is how eBay support is advising sellers to handle the situation and they have said that requesting contact info after a transaction has occurred is not a violation.

The other solution I have seen reported being advised by eBay support is to create a "new" listing for the item for the buyer to buy and pay for to reimburse the seller, with the understanding that the seller will simply mark it as shipped without actually sending anything.  Reports I've seen of sellers using this method have said they did need to call CS later to get the ding for not uploading tracking removed.

My sharing this info should not be taken as an endorsement or guarantee that there won't be negative consequences if you go either route. Obviously there are risks involved and as a seller I would not feel completely comfortable with either option, but unfortunately it's the position eBay has put us in.

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by: Ebay_Seller_Since2009 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 3 18:20:05 2021

I had an experience where the buyer was not on ebay Managed Payments, but I (as the seller) was.  I tried to provide a partial refund (for a partial return) but ebay would not allow it.   The ''send refund'' links as shown on the 12/22/2020 ebay tutorial were not operational for my transaction.  Ebay customer service said to request email from buyer to send partial refund through Paypal.  I did that but Paypal denied the refund and Paypal customer service said the reason was ebay was denying/blocking the transaction.  Despite my calls to ebay customer service, ebay eventually ''reviewed the return'' and send the buyer a full refund when our ebay messages exchanges (between buyer and myself) clearly stated the return was partial.  
 In short, ebay took my money, dinged my metrics (transaction was deemed ''closed without seller resolution'') and wasted hours and hours of my time waiting on hold to talk to clueless ebay customer service reps.

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This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Sun Jan 3 18:45:41 2021

Oh sweet Lord.....isn't it the case always.

I am documenting on a cases opened for item not received. The package did go into limbo for 2 weeks but started moving again on December 24th. The buyer was not pleased with the delays even though I tried my best to explain the circumstances (Covid, Christmas, staffing, etc). She was just plain nasty on the 24th. When I received her message on Christmas Day, I showed her the information that her item was moving and she would still receive it. I apologized and said unfortunately, I cannot control the mail system. I also added Merry Christmas for good measure.

It should arrive either Monday or Tuesday, four weeks after it was dropped off at the post office. I have updated the case daily showing the movement. Somehow eBay has managed not show any updates at all and that it was never scanned in the first place.

January 3, 2021, 3:51 am Departed USPS Regional Destination Facility SANTA CLARITA CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER Your item departed our SANTA CLARITA CA DISTRIBUTION CENTER destination facility on January 3, 2021 at 3:51 am. The item is currently in transit to the destination.

So, my money has been tied up ever since December 24th.. They won't close the claim even though I've provided proof it is not missing and release my funds. Their excuse is that only the buyer can close it.

I am fully expecting a return when she receives it.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Sun Jan 3 20:01:11 2021

Unfortunately, this is the result of poor leadership and terrible H1B IT (oops, repeated myself there).  The executives don't use eBay so they can't fathom an edge case like this and the offshore IT can't fathom much of anything at all.  Thus, something obvious and easy to implement goes undone because of the know-nothings asleep at the wheel.

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by: selling stuff This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 4 01:01:28 2021

This is why I include one of my business cards in every package along with a note that thanks them for the purchase & encourages the buyer to use the "contact seller" option rather than the "return this item" option.

Unfortunately, one of my buyers having not received the item did not have the information & even though I had messaged her several times filed an item not received case.

The package never got scanned at the originating post office when it was mailed on 12/11. It finally arrived on 12/31 after miraculously appearing in Philadelphia on 12/29.

I figured that I was out of money & the item but was glad it was a very low-cost item. I was very pleasantly surprised when I received a phone call from the buyer using the information on the card on 1/1 telling me she would like to pay me again for the item. She was able to enter payment through PayPal without any problem.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: cfrphoto

Mon Jan 4 01:28:55 2021

I also had a package incarcerated in a truck trailer parked outside the Philadelphia Mail Distribution center for more than two weeks. The package started moving again on December 21st and was delivered on Christmas Eve. The buyer had opened a case, but eBay suspended it until early January 2021. I had to open another case by email to get eBay to release the payout hold. The email links are hard to find.

Legislation to block market facilitators from withholding payments while items are still "in transit" unless the delay persists for longer than 30 days.

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

Mon Jan 4 08:05:43 2021

We never signed up for Managed Payments on any of our accounts, those accounts are now deactivated until we do. As things stand now I doubt we'll be joining the program going ahead any time soon as it is obvious the company has some genuine issues to work out.

It's pretty obvious eBay hasn't really thought it all out beyond wanting a system that further inserts the company like the Iron Curtain between the users of the site..

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by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 4 15:03:18 2021

I refunded a buyer after 3 weeks and item ended up being delivered a few days later. I have been with eBay 23 and I went right ahead and broke the rules by sending him a paypal invoice on my own (I am in managed payments) which he ended up paying. eBay gives ZERO help with the postal delays issues.

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by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 4 20:57:52 2021

You most certainly can exchange contact information with a buyer after they have completed a transaction with you. They should edit that help page because Ebay CS reps have confirmed this is OK and we've never had an issue out of hundreds of messages where we exchanged a phone number with a buyer or sent them an address to return something. Now, if you exchange this without having a completed transaction with the buyer...that can get you in hot water.

Second, let me tell you people how you should be handling these INR's. If you are confident the package is not lost and will arrive....LET EBAY REFUND THE BUYER AUTOMATICALLY AND TAKE THE CASE CLOSED WITHOUT SELLER RESOLUTION hit. You then call them after the tracking confirms delivery and they will reverse the case in your favor (which automatically refunds you and removes the case closed without seller resolution defect). Now, that is ASSUMING you shipped the item on time (as opposed to you shipping it after the buyer opened a case). If you voluntarily refund the buyer, you are SOL and that has always been the case. Again, unless it's near the 20th of the month for seller evaluations and that seller closed without resolution hit will put you in below standard territory...you would be wise to do that.

Now, you take a risk of you do this on a package that, say, hasn't been scanned for 20 days....because that package very well may not ever end up arriving and you won't be able to get the case reversed then. Regardless, you should be covered under Ebay's protections for the shipments from November 15 (I think) to December 31 anyways so it's moot.

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by: justchangecarriers This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 4 21:23:49 2021

The worst buyers ever are out at christmas season. Ive had so many unjust and just idiot returns. Always this time of year. People buying vintage items they dont know how to operate.

Since ebay streamlined returns, its been more of a nightmare than usual.

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by: Neophyte2019 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 4 23:49:47 2021

I am a new eBay seller and have experienced the "delay of delivery" issue by USPS thrice since I started selling. Thankfully, I managed to remedy this issue by opening a USPS claim to put a tracer on the package on behalf of the buyer. My rule of thumb is to give additional 2-day grace period on the supposed "estimated delivery date." If the estimated delivery date is Monday and the buyer still haven't received it, I then open a claim to put a tracer on Wednesday night. USPS made every effort to locate it and surprisingly delivered it the following day. I just could not leave the package status in "limbo." As a seller, I still need to perform my due diligence in monitoring the delivery status given the package is in transit. This is a small act on my end compared to receiving a negative feedback which would adversely affect my seller status.  

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by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 5 05:28:59 2021

You have their address... get some postage stamps and send them a bill like a bill collector

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by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 5 12:27:10 2021

"Now, that is ASSUMING you shipped the item on time "

the problem with that, at least for me, is that the PO is not scanning on receipt and then back scanning when they do.  i will ship a package from atlanta, no scan until it gets to memphis, then it will magically have a receipt scan timed an hour before it got to memphis making it appear that i did not ship on time.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Tue Jan 5 16:27:47 2021

Well it is happy days for me. Item delivered after 1 month. Case closed.........so far.

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