Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Dec 16 2012 21:19:35

Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

By: Kenneth Corbin

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In Monday's NewsFlash, we report on the experience of three sellers who have had mixed results in their efforts to obtain credits from eBay for a portion of the Final Value Fees (FVF) on transactions when they refunded some of the shipping costs that shoppers paid.

The one thing they all had in common? They encountered customer service representatives who told them that they could not issue a refund. One seller got that decision overturned by appealing to a supervisor, while the other two were turned away empty handed.

But in earlier attempts, each seller had obtained a refund from eBay.

That left us wondering -- what is eBay's policy on this issue, and has it changed over time?

If eBay has a policy for issuing FVF refunds related to shipping overpayments, it's not saying. After a week and a half of back and forth with the company, a spokesman ultimately declined to comment.

In some of the phone calls the sellers recounted, the customer service representatives sounded confused, as if it was the first time they were hearing such a request. Another representative said that company policy stated that no partial credits could be issued, that eBay would only issue a refund when the entire transaction had been canceled. That rep ultimately was overruled by a supervisor, and the seller received her credit.

Hearing these stories left us with the impression that eBay does not have a formal policy for refunding FVFs for postage overpayments, or if it does, it's not applied consistently. In some cases it seems like it depends on which customer service representative (or supervisor, if necessary) a seller reaches. Also, in the case of the sellers featured in our story, it appeared that eBay has been getting stingier on issuing refunds over time.

But three sellers make an admittedly small sample. We'd like to hear more of your stories! Do you commonly issue buyers a credit if they overpay for postage? If so, and if you've then gone to eBay to ask for a partial refund of the FVF you paid, then please take a minute and let us know in the comments what your experience has been negotiating a credit.

About the Author
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.




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Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 16 22:16:52 2012

I called ebay this past friday third time on FVF refunds and TRS discounts no given on LTL shipped items and still nothing they told me they will look into it and email us two CSR's said they would call
To date nothing no call from ebay no emails no credits

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Sun Dec 16 22:33:24 2012

This appears to be yet another example of an eBay policy (or non-policy?) that is designed to benefit eBay in the short-term... but which will ultimately backfire and have negative consequences in the long-term.

It won't take long for sellers to realize that it's more trouble than its worth to obtain FVF refunds when a buyer has been reimbursed for overpayment on shipping. Ultimately, sellers will stop refunding for overpayments.

Hooray for the sellers, right? Extra cash in the sellers' pockets for the overpayment! Right?

Not so fast!

eBay's inability (or unwillingness) to be fair does also appear to have an immediate benefit for the seller too. But... there are some sellers who really find it distasteful to benefit in such an underhanded way. But, the other option is to take a LOSS because of eBay's greed.

The short-term gains will eventually be replaced with falling sales when the buyers start to catch-on... and when they realize that overpayments will not be reimbursed.

Even if at some future date... (fa-a-a-ar into the future, most likely) if eBay ever decides to develop a definitive policy regarding this issue... the damage will have been done. The buyers who left and stopped buying because they felt abused and cheated won't come back.

I often get the feeling that eBay execs believe that the buyers have short-term memories and that they never hold a grudge. But they'd be wrong.

Did eBay execs come to that conclusion based on the apparent ''short-term memory'' and ''grudge-free'' sellers? Perhaps that's part of it, but their conclusion is deeply flawed. It's not that the sellers have forgotten... and it's not that the sellers don't hold grudges. Instead, it's that the sellers feel that they have no other choice than to take the abuse that eBay heaps upon them.

Buyers, on the other hand, DO HAVE A CHOICE... and every hour of every day, it seems that buyers are CHOOSING to spend their money elsewhere.

Nice going, eBay.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: pawpurrz This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 16 23:15:50 2012

Because I sell multiple types of the same item I have a good number of buyers that make several purchases at the same time. Despite the fact that I advise in several places on my auctions to wait for a combined invoice, almost all of them send separate payments for each one. It has just gotten to the point where I refund the overage less the amount of additional fees I had to pay. It is time consuming but I hope that the buyers appreciate the fact that they are getting a refund - almost no one has ever responded to the receipt of the refund of the overpayments.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

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

Sun Dec 16 23:43:04 2012

I routinely refund (rough guess) $200 in Ebay calculator overcharges per month.  I DO NOT refund the extra 10% takes from me, nor the multiple .30 charges Paypal takes when Ebay's stupid cart transacts multiple items sepatately. The buyer loses, it costs me a half hour each morning sorting it out, and EVERYBODY loses but stupid Ebay and their nickel/dime greed.  It's infuriating.

Joe

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: Quality First This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 00:14:15 2012

Like Pawpurrz, I estimate the fees that eBay will keep and deduct that from the shipping refund.

An estimate is all it takes and my buyers are pleased to get any money back.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Dec 17 00:19:56 2012


eBay will never make it clear, simple and easy for sellers to obtain partial shipping fee refunds - as eBay created this fee to boost corporate revenues.

The process is designed so that sellers realize the amount of time it will take to accomplish a fair refund for honest shipping refunds will cost them more than the value of that refund.

By the time eBay's left hand meets their right hand John Donahoe will have amputated one or both hands under the guise of destructive innovation.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 02:20:49 2012

I currently have a bug report open with Developer Technical Support and they have been making some changes over the past 2+ months. Here's the last documentation I provided:

http://exdwh.com/ebay/shipping_bug.htm

eBay allows something called 'weight-based shipping discounts'. The idea is that you can subtract-out some of the weight of the initial package for each additional item. However, the current logic is wrong. They use the unadjusted weight to determine how many packages will be required and then subtract the discount. This makes it very easy to overflow the First Class 13-ounce limit. eBay then promotes to multiple packages-- each with its own handling charge. I can provide even more extreme examples than in the link above.

--David  

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Dec 17 06:59:28 2012

Same as Pawpurrz -

I deduct an amount for fees from every overage and send the remainder back to the buyer as a PayPal ''Payment'' NOT refund.

I email the buyer so they can check that it is in their account, but other than an occasional ''thank you'' - I usually don't hear back from them.

Because of the fee deduction, the buyer usually ends up paying a bit more for shipping than they would have if they waited for an invoice.  

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Dec 17 08:09:06 2012

Why doesn't information like this ever hit the mainstream press? Ebay are effectively stealing from their sellers. And they seem to be ok with that. Another example of their complete lack of ethics.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Mon Dec 17 08:17:34 2012

Ultimately, its up to sellers to lobby mainstream press on issues they deem important or unfair. We provide a conduit for sellers to air their issues, but we're not going to send every questionable policy and glitch report to the NY Times. That's your job.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: Carol This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 08:44:14 2012

Instead of railing at ebay over a policy they're unlikely to change, wouldn't it be more productive to figure out how to avoid the problem of overcharging for shipping?  

Possibilities:

1.  Include the shipping cost in the price of the merchandise and offer free shipping.  This raises your per-item prices and profit but disadvantages customers who buy large quantities at once.

Ask yourself whether customers care.  If they don't ask for reduced shipping after seeing how much it is going to cost, perhaps they are willing to pay the extra charge.

2.  Let the customer take responsibility for not reading your notices by including in every listing your present verbiage about waiting for an invoice and in large bold print:  UNFORTUNATELY I CANNOT PROCESS PARTIAL REFUNDS AS EBAY'S RULES DO NOT ALLOW FOR THAT.

3.  Stop using ebay's shipping calculator and quote shipping cost in every listing.  Include verbiage in #2 above in every listing.

A more positive way to phrase it might be:  I can offer reduced shipping for multiple items IF YOU CONTACT ME AFTER YOU PURCHASE BUT BEFORE PAYING.

4.  Call ebay and insist on a full explanation of how to use their combined shipping feature so you can determine whether it would alleviate the problem.

It's often easier to blame ebay/paypal/the weather than it is to work on solving the problem.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: seewhatimselling This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 10:34:00 2012

Very seldom is my calculated shipping the exact amount of the actual postage that I pay. Since my various collectibles are never packaged until they are sold- I can only estimate the final weight.

Normally, if the ship cost charged is over $1.00 of the estimate- I will refund the buyer, however I am STILL charged a fee based on the original (incorrect) calculation.

The problem with contacting Ebay's Customer Service, regarding this- trying to get a refund- is that there is no consistency in the replies from the many different CS workers. One will tell you one thing, and something different from another. Many of the CS workers are totally ignorant when it comes to the policies- many will have NO idea what you are talking about.

There IS a solution to this problem. If Ebay would WAIT until the shipping label is actually printed out- THAT would be the time for them to take their final value fee- which would be correct. Why should they (Ebay) get paid before the seller does? This would also reduce, or totally eliminate,  the wait-time in applying for and receiving refunds of FVFs due to non-paying buyers.

Presently, Ebay is taking their 'cut' from monies that have NOT been received. Only the shipping label shows the TRUE price of the cost to ship, and the label form shows the price paid for the item.

Ebay is 'jumpig the gun' by grabbing their fees before they are paid to the seller.    

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: Susan Averello This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Dec 17 10:50:58 2012

I wa going to say, just charge the correct amount for shipping and if there is extra, conidered it for packaging etc. The was before someone mentioned combined shipped and I was just reminded why I rarely more than than 1 item at a time on Ebay.
No shopping cart. I can't place items in one cart to check out all at once. Etsy and their stuff lets you add "if shipped with another item" so you can set the shipping and don't need to constantly refund  for purchases of multiple items

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: Susan Averello This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 10:59:26 2012

@purpurrz

Despite the fact that I advise in several places on my auctions to wait for a combined invoice, almost all of them send separate payments for each one.
-----------------------
As a buyer I am guilty of this too. usually don't want to wait for a second invoice, I just to pay and get out. Once again, if Ebay had a way to check out everything at once , that issue would be resolved. I don't think many people want to wait to get that second invoice

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 11:42:54 2012

@Susan Averello,

eBay DOES have a shopping cart. However, the formula for calculating the combined weight may be wrong for any service with a low weight limit. The problem is most severe for First Class-- both domestic and international. Sellers with heavier items or who use UPS are not going to experience as many overcharge situations. With UPS, the seller is more likely to lose money due to dimensional weight or other surcharges.

If someone can provide concrete examples of incorrect combined shipping, I can submit them as formal bug reports through Developer Support.

--David

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: winecountrybiz This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 13:05:13 2012

Ebay used to automatically give sellers FVF credits if they gave partial refunds for whatever reason. Those stopped a few years ago. It was built into the whole process, and it was FAIR. Then that stopped. Now Ebay has figured out how to take yet more money from sellers with shipping fees, which by the way is the only way Ebay can manage to please stockholders. Just keep gouging the sellers. Now that they charge us fees on the shipping, if we refund part of it due to customers not waiting for a combined invoice, Ebay should AUTOMATICALLY refund those fees. But nope, they make it too time consuming hoping we will all go away. Ebay has got to come up with another way to increase their PROFIT.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 16:32:09 2012

@Carol-

''It's often easier to blame ebay/paypal/the weather than it is to work on solving the problem.''

You don't think most of us Sellers work everyday on trying to solve Ebay problems?  It is like trying to hop a moving train, which slows down and speeds up without notice. Or, sometimes we can't even find which track the darn train is on today.

I sell postcards, and offer Combined Shipping. I ask, in my simple listing description, for Buyers to ask for a combined shipping invoice before paying. Sometimes they don't and pay for say four postcards, where shipping is $1.00 each, so they pay $4.00. I enclose a printed invoice with every order. If I don't refund part of that money, and they see the invoice where they paid $4.00 for shipping, they get upset. Then they whack my DSR Shipping stars. Many Ebay Buyers are not rational thinkers. They only see what is right in front of them, and take it personally, and get angry.

When I do give postage refunds, I rarely get an acknowledgement, let alone a thank you.

In my listings, I will start saying that I can no longer give refunds for overpayment on combined shipping, in capital letters, but I doubt if it will do any good. Too many Buyers just don't read the description. And, like I said, mine is short and simple. They think we Sellers are all psychic, especially when it comes to them personally.

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: bb6 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 19:27:32 2012

This has been going on for a long long time. I also have a short description that includes discount prices when buying multiple items. A lot of people use them but most people that buy, pay, buy, pay are newer customers on eBay. I have discussed this with eBay people before even a trade show or 2 and they all tell me it our job to educate the buyers. The problem with that is everyone sells different. Up until last year I would subtract the extra fees from the amount they sent and refund it. But I stopped in 2012. It was taking way too long to do the refunds and document everything. We rarely ever received responses from the buyers.  We did have a few email us back asking why we refunded them. Or when we explained how to do it they said its impossible to purchse multiple items on ebay.  Its not if you have the immediate paypal payment turned off. We explained and they still didnt understand.  So in 2012 we added to our description something allong the lines of the discounts below are only when you make one combined Payment. I now only do a refund if the buyer asked.

One thing we do that I don't hear other sellers do is take the time to set up the multiple shipping options. This way a buyer doesn't have to wait for an invoice. If they buy a bunch of things and then go to pay the totals are always right. I guess you need to know the weight of your packages. If you do, this is very easy. If the buyer doesnt pay then we send them an invoice the next day. As for DSRs, we are .1 off of all 5's.

In response to some people above, why would you ever take the hit on the fees? And why would you send a refund as a payment and not a refund? The buyer then has to pay 2.9% + $.30 to accept the payment.

Bottom line is eBay is making money off of it and has been for years. They won't change it. You just have to work around it whether it be eat the fees (which we will never do because we are running a business), pass on the fees to the buyer or don't use eBay.  

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 19:53:00 2012

@bb6,

FYI: I don't believe there are any PayPal fees to receive a payment funded from a balance as long as you categorize properly.

We also offer multiple shipping options, but the buyer rarely chooses anything other than the first. This is because eBay displays the 'undiscounted' rates in the drop-down. Those can be some scary big numbers. You have to select an option before you can see the 'discount' and actual shipping.

There was a time when eBay suppressed a shipping service when/if the combined weight exceeded the service limit. That would be my preference. The problem is, many sellers only specify First Class and shipping would be undefined if the only service were suppressed. Then the buyer gets an empty blank and enters $0.

My wish list:

1) Fix the formula for combining weights. The current logic is wrong.

2) Get rid of the entire 'discount' spin and just show the final rates in the drop-down. Sorting those rates would be even better.

3) Support fractional ounces. This is the major source of error for lightweight items. We sell some items that are 0.2 ounce including a bag and label. If I round that up to 1 ounce, international buyers get creamed on combined shipping.

--David

Perminate Link for Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?   Ever Tried to Get a Credit on Your FVF from eBay?

by: Ed This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 17 20:24:18 2012

We have the same problem as  Rocky Mountain Glass Crafts.

We are The Candle Warmer Store. We are a training center for the disabled for the past 7 years. We are losing people interested on learning how to sell on ebay. Our disabled workers have lost several hundred dollars each due to ebay's policy or lack of shipping policy.

Haft of our business are combined orders. Every listing ask the buyer to contact us for combined shipping many don't they just over pay and then give us a positive feed back and maybe a 1 or 2 DSR. This has cost us several of hundred dollars in lost shipping discount.

We spend about $30,000 a year in shipping. We have to offer combined shipping since we ship from Georgia and we can't compete with other sellers that may not have to ship 3,000 miles. The Free Shipping is not really shipping included, it is a 3,000 shipping rate included some thing we feel is a deceptive business practice.  

We feel there lack of shipping policy could force us off ebay.

Every one know the postal rates are not very reasonable and now we are going to get another rate increase. With over 10,000 items sold a year how many buyers are going to agree that $10.00 shipping for a $5.00 item is not very reasonable. Is this the way ebay wants to help the blind and disabled.
 

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