Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue Sept 4 2012 15:45:48

What Do Sellers Think of the New eBay Returns Process?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

eBay announced a new managed returns process in March, and it is now available to eBay Top-rated Sellers on an opt-in basis. According to an eBay spokesperson:

"This new and easy way to manage returns is designed to give buyers a consistent way to initiate returns, and give sellers a more efficient way to offer and manage returns. From September 1-30, eBay is offering Top-rated sellers a 5% discount on final value fees - or an extra 5% on listings that already qualify for the 20% Top-rated seller discount."

An overview of the new returns process can be found on this page, and more details are found on this page.

Once a seller has chosen to opt in to the new managed returns process, buyers will be permitted to return an item for any reason - including if they change their mind.

Online merchants and brick-and-mortar retailers are sensitive to the problem of buyer fraud - shoppers who "rent" items,  using them before returning them - or who substitute inferior products for the one purchased from the seller, or even send back counterfeit goods.

Online and marketplace sellers are at an even greater disadvantage than retail stores, since shipping costs are incurred when the item is sent and when it is returned, and they aren't able to see the item the buyer is returning until it's arrived back to them in the mail.

On the other hand, online merchants are eager to give shoppers a sense of security when buying online, and allowing shoppers to return items can increase conversion rates. One way some retailers get around this is by charging customers a restocking fee.

What do you think of the new returns process, and will you be opting in? What questions would you ask eBay about the new returns process?

UPDATE: See accompanying news story.




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for What Do Sellers Think of the New eBay Returns Process?   What Do Sellers Think of the New eBay Returns Process?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Sep 4 16:02:21 2012

"buyers will be permitted to return an item for any reason"

Yeah, after they used it and made it impossible to resell; wore it and got stains all over it; or just plain broke it. What protection will sellers have against all the fraudsters that are running rampant on eBay?  

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by: up74 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 16:08:03 2012

Just one more NIGHTMARE eBay has opened for sellers to deal with.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Tue Sep 4 16:09:02 2012

I got the invite, but I’m too small of a seller to allow returns for any reason, any time.  14 days is even too long, since that is quite enough time to wear the item & send it back with jewelry snags, cigarette smoke or even worse, perfume scent all over it.  I do allow folks to return stuff if I missed something, made a mistake & even take it to the point of accepting returns for color & fit. BUT I request they contact me within 3 days of receipt to let me know of any problem so I can give them instructions. 3 days is plenty time to decide if clothing works, or not.

What I would like to see would be the ability to generate a return label, and email it to the buyer to print if they have that capability.  It would be nice to not be charged for the label until USPS actually scans it. Therefore, if it is never used, no charge

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by: go-figure This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 16:22:33 2012

Tread carefully before you leap at zomBays new carrot. I see a whole new rash of NAD and Defective Item returns coming to those who opt in.

From zomBays own FAQ's on the subject:

Can I issue a partial refund (if, for example, the item is damaged or worn)?
At this time, the new process can’t accommodate partial refunds. It only allows you to refund 100% of the original item cost.

However, we understand the new returns process may not accommodate every scenario. Should you decide a partial refund of the original payment is in order, you will need to do this outside of the managed return process.

Keep in mind, if the buyer returns the item because it is not as described, the item is defective, etc., you must refund the original shipping charges that were paid by your buyer, pay for return shipping, and you will not be able to charge a restocking fee—regardless of what your return policy states.


You can hear it all now--I ran over the item with my car, and now it doesn't work so it's clearly defective or the dog p'd on it so it's not as described, or I wore it for a few weeks but now it doesn't fit, etc, etc, etc. Yes, the seller should pay for me to return it. Now they can buy it without shipping costs, use it, return and claim any of the above and YOU the seller, will be paying the shipping both ways. No choice once you've opted in.

And BTW, yea, good luck getting a CSR at zomBay to take your side.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 17:13:51 2012

I wont even think about it until Im forced to!

go-figure has it %100 correct! EVERY item will come back SNAD and you will loose your shirt on the return shipping, then end up with a broken/used item.

I would think that any semicompitant eBay seller - especially one whos here often - knows that EVERY SINGLE "new process", "seller update" etc is only to a ssellers detriment. None has ever been nor ever will be to HELP A SELLER. Helping sellers is exactly what JD tells his underlings NOT to do. Its all to help the buyers.

RIGHT .... get eBay to enfore a %15 restocking fee - and watch your negatives

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 17:14:14 2012

oops and watch you negatives explode exponentially!

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by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 17:58:47 2012

Another carrot for the TRS to leap for in the future.....Before long they are going to look like old bobble heads.

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

Tue Sep 4 18:07:38 2012

Not interested. And 5% is my only ''carrot''... sorry, eBay... that's not much of an incentive.

For the sake of nice-round-numbers... let's assume that an item sells for $50 with a final value fee of $5.

By participating in this program, I'd ''save'' TWENTY-FIVE-CENTS in final value fees!!

Whoop-dee-damn-doo! A whole QUARTER! --- WOW!

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by: Disgruntled_Seller This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 18:16:55 2012

Dearest JD

You are officially invited out to the farm where we will properly instruct you on where said return policy goes.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Tue Sep 4 19:21:33 2012

So now eBay will be advertising to every buyer along with the Buyer Protection and We Got You Covered, RETURNS FOR ANY REASON. I can see it now sellers will be open game. Expect a big percentage increase in returns.  The only positive is the automatic refund to sellers of their FVFs which should automatically be refunded anyway.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Sep 4 19:25:27 2012

We will not opt in to this new process primarily due to the fact that we have a very low return rate despite offering 14 returns and on some items a 30 day guaranty.

Second, I believe the benefits for buyers are minimal, the benefits for sellers even less, but the primary beneficiary will be eBay.

When returns are completed through the new process, eBay will benefit more so than either buyers or sellers.

You see, when buyers return through this process, eBay plans on invoicing sellers for the return postage costs as well as for the original amount of the sale. This is all pretty much boiler plate and would not be objectionable except for one fact; when eBay invoices sellers for these costs they will be charged as fees payable to eBay. eBay will of course,  be reporting the proceeds from these fees as earned revenue to Wall Street, a practice which is grossly inaccurate and quite possible fraudulent in that is intentionally misstates actual revenue.

So, to be clear, eBay counts every sale ( even when the item as never paid for) as part of GMV and reports that figure to Wall Street every quarter. When items are returned eBay does not deduct the value of the return item from GMV, there is simply no accounting on eBay's books for returns. Now, under the new return process, if sellers opt in, they are agreeing to allow eBay to charge the cost of return shipping and the amount of the original purchase back to the seller as a fee, which will grossly misrepresent eBay's revenue figures to Wall Street as well as to investors.

This smoke and mirrors accounting practice is creative bookkeeping at best, and outright fraud at it's worst. I feel that by opting in to this process, I would be contributing to eBay's ability to misstate revenue figures and facilitating fraud upon investors.

I will not be an accessory to eBay's borderline criminal activities by opting into this process.

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 20:22:11 2012

I've had one return, one neutral and two negative feedbacks  out of several thousand sales. Why would I want eBay to screw things up for me?

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This user has validated their user name. by: windsorbear

Tue Sep 4 22:43:41 2012

Up until recently, I worked at a Walmart that allowed returns for any reason with full refund.  I was a bike assembler.  Unfortunately, many people would "buy" bikes for the weekend, and then return them on Monday.  The condition of these returned bikes was unbelievable... many had been wrecked, some had the entire brake systems missing, bent rims, seats ripped or missing, flat tires.... one lady even backed over a bike with her pickup truck, brought the bike back, and management gave her a FULL refund.  The bike was then brought to me with the message "fix it and resell it."  Yeah, sure.  eBay has no idea what it's about to get into!!!  Sellers, start having ALL of your returns held at the post office and then open them in front of a postal employee or postmaster.  The attempted fraud is going to be unbelievable.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Tue Sep 4 22:57:19 2012

More details in Wednesday's story:

http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/abn/y12/m09/i05/s01

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Sep 4 23:32:41 2012

More thoughts... ebay's idea of managing things rarely works out fairly for the seller. As we have already seen the way eBay "manages" things is to put a kick me sign on seller's backs.

Enabling buyers to return items on a whim is going to be an experiment most sellers are going to regret and the financial implications will be devastating to those sellers.

The scam artists will be out in force, I see sellers getting worn clothing returned, items that have been scavenged for parts, substituted item returns, the coming scams will be many and sellers will regret the day they let eBay manage returns for them.

Buyers will misstate package weights and dimensions in order to squeeze higher postage refunds out of sellers naive enough to allow themselves to be victimized by eBay's 'management' of returns.

eBay does not specify how the automated program will alert eBay to buyers who are serial returners and what repercussions if any serial returners will face. My guess is there will be more invisible - ineffective enforcement similar to UPI strikes which have done nothing to end Unpaid Items or removing non paying bidders.

This program is wrought with potential pitfalls for sellers and any seller who is even considering opting into the program would be well advised to wait about 18 to 24 months until eBay gets all the bugs out and demonstrates how effective their abuse protection practices will be.

Of course, there is always the possibility that eBay will make this automated process mandatory by then whether is is ready or not.

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by: Jane Dough This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 4 23:44:19 2012

What part of A-B-S-U-R-D does ebay not understand?  Becomes more that way weekly if not daily. So grateful for Craig and his list, where I do most of my selling these days.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Sep 4 23:50:17 2012

According to the new article Ina provided a link to:

"If sellers receive an empty box instead of their item, they can file a "misuse of return" case and won't have to issue a refund until eBay has investigated the case."

Has eBay ever investigated a case that didn't end up in favor of the buyer?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Sep 5 02:49:35 2012

Well, that return policy will heal the wounded winning bidders of auctions.

''I changed my mind and you can have it back... unless you want to give me a discount.''

Listers: prepare to lose that ''glow'' from successful auctions.

This is a real death blow to listers. Now you will never be confident the transaction is over and you made a few cents.

I thought there was not enough imagination left to abuse eBa'al customers and they pop out this disruptive innovation. Perhaps there is no limit to tactics aimed to separate listers from their money.

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

Wed Sep 5 08:52:38 2012

There's another problem with this. Sometimes it's important to have interaction with the seller prior to a return.

The new returns process keeps sellers completely out of the loop... and will likely result in MANY unnecessary returns that could have been avoided with a quick email to the seller.

==============================================
eBay'
s
way (NO Seller Involvement)
==============================================


Buyer:
Dammit, my widget doesn't work! I want to return it!

eBay: Okay, here's your shipping label.


==============================================
A BETTER way (WITH Seller Involvement)
==============================================


Buyer:
Dammit, my widget doesn't work! I want to return it!

Seller: Did you turn it on? Is the power-light lit?

Buyer: Yes, I turned it on, but the power light does not light up.

Seller: Did you open the battery compartment to remove the clear plastic divider that prevents the batteries from making contact during shipping? Just remove the piece of plastic so that the batteries make a complete circuit.

Buyer: Oh, no... I didn't see that. Let me try. ~~ Hey! Great! It's working beautifully now.

Seller: Do you still need to return it?

Buyer: Absolutely not! I love it! It's just what I needed! Thank you!


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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 5 09:31:45 2012

Why is eBay so hot n bothered over returns?

Yes I completely understand RIC's point - hes got it exactly (more illegal manipulations in eBays accounting) but why in a more broad sence?

eBay - PLEASE stay out of things that are NOT your business. The MORE you do, the less works.

I dont want to make it ''easier'' to return things ON EBAY. Its bad enough as it is.

I had virtually NO troubles till eBay enforced MONEY BACK over exchange. Until then, my customers knew that defectives were taken care of - up to 30 days in most cases, but that they coudnt get away with the use it and refund game.

Now that Im forced to to refunds, the flood of ''magic defectives'' has increased to a tsunami. eBays slick customers know how to came the system - and 99% of those customers have less then 20 feedbacks!

I was offered this last night and I opted out. I want eBay to just stay out of my business - we arent partners so I dont care about your opinions and what ''your'' buyers want. (psst they arent yours - YOU dont sell anything .. yet, though I heard THAT'S comming too)  

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