Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Jan 6 2013 21:46:49

eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?

By: Ina Steiner

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Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day - all the major holiday shopping days are behind us. And no sooner had the calendar page flipped to December 26th, and it seemed everyone was in a hurry to talk about returning unwanted presents, from marketplaces to shipping carriers.

Returns are the boomerang of holiday shopping for online sellers, and of course, shipping carriers benefit a second time from online purchases that are returned.

The USPS did its part to encourage returns by running an ad riffing on the ugly holiday sweaters theme: "When the gift-giving is over, let the gift-returning begin! This new TV commercial from the Postal Service is reminding people that when that holiday gift doesn't fit, doesn't work or is a duplicate - like the beautiful sweater featured in the spot - USPS offers stress-free returns. The commercial highlights the ease and convenience of returning packages using Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, online postage and payment, and free Package Pickup."

Amazon embraced returns, posting an ad on its home page explaining how easy it was to return unwanted purchases. Amazon.com has an extended return policyfor the holidays - items shipped by Amazon.com between November 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, may be returned until January 31, 2013, for a full refund.

Amazon tells customers, "While most sellers offer a returns policy equivalent to Amazon.com's, some seller returns policies may vary," a message that makes it sound as though merchants who don't comply are churlish.

Amazon also promoted the idea of reselling unwanted presents - it posted on its Facebook, "Did you upgrade any gadgets this year? You can sell your extra stuff on Amazon. http://amzn.to/UpsXD3."

eBay also encouraged users to resell unwanted presents - it said it expects $815 million in resold gifts this post-holiday season and said, "whether it's ugly sweaters or duplicate electronics, new owners are waiting to scoop up some post-Christmas loot."

eBay pressures sellers to accept returns, and it has a new managed returns feature. If you've tried it, let us know how you made out, especially during and post holidays.

The silver lining in the unwanted-gift cloud is the buying opportunities it presents merchants. Sites such as Liquidation.com take returns off the hands of retailers, and then count on discounters and online retailers to purchase them for resale. The Today Show featured Liquidation.com in a story in which it said $63 billion worth of holiday gifts would be returned.

FedEx surveyed 1,000 people about returns in December and found that clothing is the most often-returned gift (45 percent), followed by electronics/gadgets and toys (both 8 percent).

It also found that most gift-recipients return unwanted items shortly after the holidays. "Thirty-five percent will have all gifts returned before New Year's, while another 55 percent say the return process will be done before the end of January." The FedEx Holiday Returns Survey also found that more than two-fifths of online shoppers (43 percent) reported being more likely to purchase something online when free return shipping was available. A practice it's happy to encourage, since it gets the shipping fees coming and going.

Feel free to share your "worst return" stories and how this holiday season compares to previous years.




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Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?   eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?

by: teddychan This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Jan 6 23:38:30 2013

Absolutely amazing -- excellent holiday sales, ZERO returns, ZERO non deliverables, ZERO insurance claims, one tiny eBay complaint.

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by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jan 7 00:02:16 2013

It got rediclous for me just before xmas. I'm done selling on ebay for quite a while because of all the returns crap. I'm in the selling business not the rental business.They have it setup now where a buyer can buy an item try to sell it for more and if they cant make money claim not as described or some other BS claim to get a refund.  

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by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jan 7 00:05:00 2013

PS: A dismal holiday selling season on ebay at best for me.

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by: dkkdolls This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jan 7 00:05:11 2013

So far no returns from my website, my Collector Online of Tias.com website, or my Ebay store. Jan. still is not over. I have No Returns on Ebay (unless it is not as stated--I never expect to reach their top rated seller status anyway, so why hassle). Sometimes there's exchanges but the buyer pays shipping both ways. I had all the business this one woman show could handle as it was, so no complaints on my part. It is a little slow right now though.

My husband has been going through like new gifts  from past years he has not used (and they are really nice), and I will be listing them on Ebay and both of the other websites, though I may confiscate one of them for me. It will be nice to have a few more non-doll items. I am afraid to re-gift them because they are likely to go to the person that sent them to us. It has been a few years now. People rarely return dolls or doll clothes unless it is a duplicate and a gift; it is not quite like people clothing. Donna

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This user has validated their user name. by: Island_Sam

Mon Jan 7 02:30:15 2013

2 returns so far on ebay. None on Etsy or Website. Dismal sales on ebay. Weekly sales are yo-yo-ing, swinging wildly. Search "Enhancements" are still affecting my sales. Huge efforts to advertise/SEO our site. Ebay becoming too unpredictable/unstable selling platform.

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by: Jim S. This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 7 06:52:00 2013

Personally, I am finding the new eBay managed returns process much easier than having to complete all the refund and transaction cancellation steps manually. Have only had a few returns but they were effortless.

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by: Gypsy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 7 07:45:04 2013

So far, I have had to deal with refunds from 2 buyers who are very obviously scammers. One asked for a refund for a "damaged" item and her tune changed drastically when I reminded her that the item was insured and she can file a claim with the USPS. The other buyer is pulling a "bait and switch" by stating that not only is the item damaged but is also yellowed! This scammer sent 2 photos and you can very clearly see that the item, a mug, is not only not damaged but not yellowed either! This creep is also saying "Item Not As Described". I'm going to be forced to issue a refund because even though this person is lying thru their teeth, we all know ebay whose side ebay is on.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Jan 7 07:58:45 2013

On the buying end I used the automated return process with a seller I have bought several items from. I found it rather easy, printed the label issued & there are automatic informative emails sent to the buyer end.

It was more of an exchange - with the seller saying it was easier on them to do a return/refund - then I re-purchase new item.  So I assume the process worked well for them, too.

I have not received any returns lately but I am not a holiday oriented business. I do allow returns  -  The one return I would have had was a rather heavy, bulky, lower value item & I asked the buyer to just donate it to charity rather than return. Refunded, of course.  Nothing at all to indicate this was a questionable buyer, just my choice.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?   eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jan 7 08:36:13 2013

As for eBay, the Christmas season was luke warm at best. Sales decreased if anything. September, October and November sales were better.  Ho, Ho, Ho! (No pun intended)  

It would help if our items could actually be seen, but with the constant manipulation by eBay with regards to search and listings placement it is not a surprise.  And due to patterns that have been on-going for over a year now I do believe in the "rotational server" theory.

No returns, but we do have "no returns" on our listings and we only accept them if we have made an error or if the buyer is clearly unhappy.

We continue to ramp up on Amazon and could not be more pleased. It is a whole different set of buyers on Amazon--they are not whiny and cheap and are not high maintenance.  Ebay have created and environment that constantly creates and enables the worst "nightmare experience" buyers.

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by: jdlkreations This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 7 09:12:08 2013

Months before December were MUCH better for selling ~ I never get returns so I opted in to the new managed returns ~ Now 1 Return on Ebay which turned into a total nightmare thanks to the managed return process. She claimed item was not as described since the color did not match her pillowcases so she didn't have to pay return shipping. That was after she used the item and sent it back full of pet hair. Amazingly enough paypal covered my rear when she filed a case and did a chargeback LOL ~ She was not a happy camper shall we say when she got her new credit card statement and the charge was back on there. Yes I received a negative feedback out of it but I laughed at it and said I knew that one was coming and so much for my 100% positive feedback ~  My husband thought I was losing it :) Oh wait.......I have lost it...... from selling on Ebay ~:o)  

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 7 09:28:05 2013

Only returns are from Amazon. Reason-changed mind.  No returns on ebay or Etsy (so far).....
Must admit sales way down from last year.

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by: racecarguy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 7 10:01:27 2013

No returns, to date, either on the website or eBay. We sell vintage toys and diecast and we had a strong upward season. So, no complaints so far.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jan 7 10:33:39 2013

At this point no returns.

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

Mon Jan 7 10:49:49 2013

One return (replacement) for a defective item.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Mon Jan 7 16:52:24 2013

Amazon Seller Support today published a post about returns:

http://ebyt.es/109MVqC

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 7 17:11:00 2013

Dismal sales on ebay doesn't even BEGIN to describe it!!!!

Seasonal items that SHOULD be flying out of here---ie ski and snowboard items--are--sitting.  When I DID get a few sales there was an obvious regional viewing pattern.  For the Upper Mid West!   Usually I get a LOT of sales for people from Down South this time of year when they are heading out for ski vacations.  Nary a one!

And just today I am dealing with someone who was MAD that I did not IMMED or sooner respond to her DEMAND that I CHANGE my shipping cost to FREE SHIPPING just for her.  She then BOUGHT the item and is NOW telling me that WHEN she gets the ADJUSTED TO FREE SHIPPING INVOICE---then she will pay!   She "bought" a brand new pair of $300 snowboard pants (Burton) for $49 and is quibbling on the---shipping????  And---it is MY fault that her kid will "Outgrow these in the few months that snowboarding is available".  Um--again----how is this MY fault???

Um--nope.  Not happening.

My personal return story was with LL Bean--we had purchased TWO spendy snow suits for our grandkids;  both of the plastic "wrapped spiral" type zippers on the jackets BROKE.   This was $260+ worth of snow stuff!  Their Live Help--which was actually real LIVE HELP--let me know that ANY item could be returned no questions asked either to a STORE;  an OUTLET STORE or mailed back with a pre-printed mail label avail on their site.  

We took the jackets to a local LL Bean retail location and the very NICE salesperson---a real live human!!!!---matched the jackets to the in store available models and cheerfully explained the extremely easy returns process.  The cashier who processed the return was also cheerful and friendly even tho the place was PACKED and he had LOTS of people in line.  We know that there is a "process" to these things that can be annoying but this was handled swiftly and with a smile.  

No problems with a sizeable return and exchange.  Grandkids thrilled with new jackets--and we noticed that the zipper design had CHANGED to the better!  We also got follow up email to make sure we were happy!  

And THAT is why LL Bean is STILL in business 100 years later--and ebay?  In 100 MONTHS will anyone remember ebay????

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

Mon Jan 7 18:22:24 2013

Comet wants to know: ''In 100 MONTHS will anyone remember ebay?''

I'm sure it will still exist, but I'm equally certain that it will be even weaker than it is today.

I truly wish that all of the departing sellers would coalesce around one alternate venue... enough to bring it to a ''critical mass'' that would finally push eBay into the scrapheap.

As it is, each exiting seller just wanders away with no particular destination in mind. It's almost as random as the wind, and as unique as each seller's needs and niche.

eBay became eBay because it came to life at a unique point in the development of the Internet. Now, there are so many other options out there... even if eBay were to magically disappear tomorrow, it's unlikely that any of the alt-sites would be able to duplicate eBay's growth. The conditions that allowed eBay to become eBay just don't exist any more.

Even though I'm ''over'' eBay... it still makes me sad to think about what we've lost. It was all avoidable and unnecessary. But the thing that makes me most angry is when I think about all the honest hard-working sellers whose lives were ''disrupted'' by JD's myopic greed and his failed ''innovation''.

College business and economic textbook writers will be able to devote multiple chapters as they analyze the psychology and mechanics of JD's failures.

Maybe Amazon will buy it. Can't you just see the logo now? ''ebay: an Amazon company''

A silly notion... but it's funny to think about.

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by: JoJo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 7 22:04:09 2013

I can't imagine Amazon wanting anything as dysfunctional as ebay, but it did give me a laugh, Annie.

Only one return where someone ordered two but really only wanted one.  No big deal.  That was on Amazon.

Zero on Etsy or website.

Don't sell on ebay any more.  Fortunately.

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by: nothingnew This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Jan 8 03:29:55 2013

A.Annie........I Tied these sites the last decade,amazon 1,epier 1 year,Ruby lane 2 years,ecrater 2 years, artfire 6 months and currently junkables 2 years and bidway i think it was called. many others no Longer around. problem is the buyers wont leave ebay .now ebay is teaching buyers how to scam  sellers.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?   eBay and Amazon Sellers, Are You Dealing with Returns?

by: baldmosher This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Jan 9 03:55:30 2013

I'm by no means a volume seller but by offering no-quibble unwanted returns at buyer expense, fully insuring all parcels, and offering a full and immediate refund if the item is confirmed lost, not only have I retained my 100% feedback for almost 10 years, but I've never had a return (I suspect the small economic hurdle prevents scammers) and in the rare cases the item was misdescribed I've been able to write it off.

In fact I've even had a lost parcel (mobile phone) paid out on insurance and then it arrived the same day I was about to refund the buyer in full, so I can certainly recommend cheaper couriers without POD!

On the subject of eBay going to pot, it's great for offloading junk, but the average internet buyer isn't a mug. They will look on Amazon at least and in my experience the service and prices are better on there. I've a stack of CDs to sell (600) but I'm wary of putting them on eBay. Collectible stuff will fetch its true worth, but common stuff goes for pennies. Amazon's marketplace fees were always slightly off-putting, but they're just as bad on eBay now.

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