Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Oct 13 2013 16:21:19

New eBay Email Promises Buyers Hassle Free Returns

By: Ina Steiner

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Sellers are increasingly concerned that eBay may be overstepping their bounds in dictating seller terms, given it is a venue only, and the latest example is eBay's policies around returns.

Product returns are a big problem for retailers online and off, with some consumers intentionally purchasing items to use and then return, a practice sellers call "free rentals." The problem is especially acute for certain categories, such as clothing. It's common for retailers to complain of shoppers returning clothing with stains, making it impossible for them to sell again in the same condition.

So when eBay sent an email to users over the weekend telling would-be buyers that the best reason to shop on eBay was "hassle-free returns," some sellers were upset, saying eBay is encouraging buyer abuse.

"eBay is telling buyers how happy they will be to screw dealers," wrote one of a number of sellers who forwarded the email to EcommerceBytes.



The email stated, "Save time with hassle-free returns. eBay Buyer Protection covers your purchase price plus original shipping on most items." It pointed recipients to learn more on this eBay page.

While the protection only covers items that are "not as described," some sellers fear that hammering the message home - including this part: "If you received an item that was as described but you changed your mind and do not want it anymore, eBay Buyer Protection does not apply" - will actually encourage buyers to lie and say that an item was not as described so they will be eligible for returns.

For example, yesterday a seller posted on the eBay boards about a transaction in which the buyer claimed a blouse she purchased was damaged and stated that if the seller made her return the item, she expected the seller to pay return shipping. The seller says the item was EUC ("Excellent Used Condition"), and fears the negative consequences if she does not comply with the buyer's demands.

eBay is hoping to generate more sales by emphasizing hassle free returns, but bears no risks or costs - it is the seller who pays the price for returns.

Look for more in Monday's Newsflash, and let us know what you think of eBay's message to buyers on hassle-free returns.




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Readers Comments

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

Sun Oct 13 16:36:24 2013

It is easier to be generous with another party's Buyer.

Don't eBay Sellers "buy" a service to list, show and collect money for their items?

eBay does not treat Sellers with the respect they have for others.

Outside of not shopping or selling here, what can you do?

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sun Oct 13 16:52:56 2013

Instead of admitting Cassini is a huge failure and best match actually diminishes sell thru by NOT creating a sense of urgency, ebay tries more tactics at the seller's expense. I can see more and more buyers who have ''buyers remorse'' go the SNAD route in order to have their original AND return shipping refunded. I swear ebay is trying to take the most honest, church going buyers and tempt them into becoming corrupt dishonest folks. Ebay really is evil.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 13 17:44:56 2013

eBay ... "The corporation that doesnt care" 2013's most honest staement about the state of affairs at the "we are just a venue".

eBay, bankrupt of ideas - and since they sell nothing - can offer nothing - is as Gadfly said "extremely generous" with YOUR money.

Typical eBay.

WHen you owe them money, or thier buyers owe YOU money (unpaid buyers) the crickets chirp. All of a sudden its 1995 and eBay says "what do you want US to do?"

Its the same BS they say when you get trampled by VERO, or one of thier buyers trys to defraud you ..... "but but but we are just a venue!".


They play the game from both ends - and too bad on you if you get caught in the middle.

This is of course why EVERY seller knows well "theres no such thing as the Easter Bunny, Santa or Seller Protection".

I was invited to thier Seller Protection Outreach - such BS - like ID spend MY money to hear eBay lie!

Shame on eBay for again trying to defraud thier sellers!

 

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sun Oct 13 17:53:01 2013

FUNNY AS HELL !
Scott L. (no last name)
Picture of only his (?) forehead.
Global Trust...SHYAAAA  Right.....

(bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble)

Ebay, Ebay, and Pals that Pay.
BACK TO 1998 we say.

(bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble)

Golden Parachutes
Rot the cloth
A thousand holes
by a busy moth

(bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble)

Fall to your death
Your pockets are bare
not a penny you have
in the jail cell there

(bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble)

Eye of Newt & Tail of Yak
Return to us
our TWO - WAY FEEDBACK !

(Thunder & Lightning ! )

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by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sun Oct 13 18:37:15 2013

Just another reason to stop selling on ebay and support alt sites such as ebid.net

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Oct 13 20:19:07 2013

Apparently, Wall Street is ratcheting up the pressure on eBay to grow sales. Growing sales is a concept foreign to John Donahoe, and the fact that one of eBay's primary businesses is a marketplace is something he has managed to shrug off all these years.

The email reeks of the desperation eBay has to defy recent trends and grow sales even if it breaks the backs of sellers in the process. They have officially crossed the line and laid out a road map that clearly tells buyers to lie in order to prevail.

eBay has no compunction about telling buyers how to defraud sellers because the company has been doing exactly the same thing to sellers since John Donahoe joined the company. eBay's User Agreement spells out exactly how eBay will cheat and steal from their sellers. Given the User Agreement, it should come as no surprise to sellers that eBay is now letting buyers know how to cheat and steal from sellers too.

Honesty, transparency, corporate integrity and a sense of fair play were abandoned the day John Donahoe assumed the roll of CEO. From there, the trip for sellers has been steadily going down hill with no bottom in sight.

Sellers who have been conscripted to sail on the good ship eBay need remember only one thing - the beatings by John Donahoe will continue until morale improves.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun Oct 13 22:55:31 2013

@ ric

I also received one of those cutsey "Coffee with ebay" with the 'seller Protection Team' snail mail invitations.

For a nanosecond or two, I considered registering but then figured my purge would come sooner rather than later when I told them what sellers need most in this area is protection from ebafia and its evil twin, PreyPal.

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by: YourAuctionHero This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 13 23:28:51 2013

I received one of these "no hassle" returns myself today. The problem is, there is no longer any communication between buyer and seller. I have no idea what the problem with the item is or if there is a problem. Many times in the past I have been able to talk with the buyer and we've figured out the problem and there has been no return. But now eBay has taken us entirely out of the equation and just says, "pay the return shipping or we will take it out of your account." In another one last week they gave the refund to the buyer after the buyer said he would return the item, which he never did. There I was out the cost twice. Seems like eBay has forgotten who pays their bills and who got them going in the first place.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sun Oct 13 23:38:31 2013

@ Ming

I received and accepted the invitation. A few days later, I received an email with a link to submit questions in advance.

I have already raised the question about sellers trusting eBay citing their recent antics with PayPal and Bill Me later over the PayPal faked credit card charge back fraud.

While it would be interesting to see how they will spin that particular issue, I have zero expectations it will even come up during the session.

If they choose to sanction my account for raising the question- "How can sellers trust eBay Corp after they were caught flat footed in a blatant lie to a seller..." , then let's see the excuse they use to justify suspending a store renting powerseller with near perfect DSR's & Feedback.

The publicity they will receive in the event they choose that action will keep their department of spin employed for quite some time.



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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Oct 14 00:07:37 2013

I also received the Coffee with Ebay and when I looked into it both sessions were already filled. My thought was it already was filled when they sent it to me. I have become so cynical being a seller on ebay. Nothing on ebay is what it seems.

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by: coindealz This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 14 00:12:30 2013

I would be happy to offer managed return if ebay would step up and offer feedback protection. The problem is if you take seller communication and problem solving out of the return policy it could lead to more bad ratings from buyers. If a buyer makes a few "clicks" to return it does not carry the same weight as if the seller had "worked the problem out" for them. No personalized service may leave the buyers feeling like the refund was "owed" rather then offered as a convenience. Also when I give return shipping credits the buyers are typically left feeling happy like I went out of my way to help them. Managed returns the buyer does not see the seller helping them and again could lead to bad ratings.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Oct 14 00:13:32 2013

Ric I am sure if your questions are too confrontational then it is "NO coffee for YOU". Ebay only allows sugar and spice and everything nice. Oh and of course lots of kool-aid.

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 14 00:17:42 2013

Only a fool would buy mail order (or online) if the price wasn't right.  

Clearly if you buy something at a smoking great price on ebay, you might not get all the things you might get if you paid full price, like at Nordstom.  And any reasonable person would understand that buying things online cheap like most things on ebay well, you shouldn't expect things like easy returns.  

You might buy a $400 item for $56 and you might not get easy returns, or no returns at all.  

This is what you give up for the smoking deal.  

Ebay buyers used to mostly understand this, but ebay is promoting services and policies that cause prices to increase. Someone has to pay for all that stuff, fast free shipping, easy returns, end to end express shipping with tracking.  It's not free!

This will be the death of ebay, since the advantage ebay had was that the prices were mostly much less than retail, and you could find things that you could not get locally at all.  Everything was available on ebay.  

Well, everything might still be available but you can't find them with Cassini!  

And if anyone were willing to sell them to you the prices are not going to be nearly as cheap as they were, since we have to have all those services that no one wants to pay for, but they'd like them for free.

Ebay is giving other people's stuff away for free.  Our stuff.

It's unsustainable.

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This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Mon Oct 14 00:29:50 2013

Oh Lord I pray that eBay goes away (and soon) Amen (so be it)

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by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 14 00:59:58 2013

Wasn't one of eBay's past legal arguments that they were just a venue and weren't involved in the transaction?  Will they still be able to claim that in the future with all the requirements and changes?

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 14 02:01:20 2013

I won't shop on eBay anymore. I just don't like their practices.

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Oct 14 04:08:04 2013

What they aren't telling you is :
It ONLY works with PayPal transactions.
If you bought an item by a method OTHER THAN PayPal you're SCREWED.
But I'd rather take that chance than use PayPal any day of the week.
So, this is nothing more than a ploy to drive more PayPal business.

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by: Cloud This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 14 04:59:17 2013

Before anyone starts calling me an eBay employee or what ever other name you have for someone that says something remotely pro-eBay let me just say I'm anything but. I do get tired of the constantly changing rules, being told how to run my business and treated unfairly. I've been selling on eBay over a decade and I definitely see eBay as anti-seller for several years now. I've been unfairly suspended with no one from eBay willing to listen to my side. I've had chargebacks, freezes, been returned rocks (though I did get my money back on that one)you name it. However, I've chosen to continue to sell on eBay as long as the pros outweigh the cons (or they decide to permanently suspend me, whichever comes first). Right now I still make good money there so I'm not planning to leave anytime soon. I wasn't really happy with the email either as I do believe it could encourage morally defective individuals to abuse it, as some already do. However, I must say that I don't think the impact will be as large as some might like to think.

Case in point, I have offered 30 day returns for most of my eBay selling career, even for buyer remorse, because most items are listed as free shipping I eat the original postage. Since the buyer has to pay to send the item back, they in turn eat the return postage. I already offer what eBay is telling buyers in this email they have the right to--return for refund. The real thieves don't want to pay to return the item, in fact, they don't want to return the item at all. If you don't want to loose the item and your funds then just give in and offer refunds for returns. Like it or not it is their venue and they get to make the rules. You either choose to go along with them or you leave.

Ok, I can now hear you all saying ''Why should I have to allow being dictated what my terms should be?'' But that is the wrong question. What you should be saying is, ''How can I make this policy work in my favor or how can I lessen the impact?''

I've already said that I have been offering 30 days returns for at least a decade now. Results-- I get very few returns, maybe half a dozen a year. I have about a half dozen more that want to keep the item AND get a refund. When they find I won't budge on requiring a return they either go away, possibly leaving bad feedback along the way, or they escalate and eBay tells them to return the item. If they leave bad feedback I call eBay and show them that I offered them a refund for return and they either remove the comment (if it qualifies) and the DSR's, or they remove just the DSR's even if the feedback comment remains. In the past year I have had 3 feedback comments removed and 2 DSR's only. I know that ebay removed the DSR's because I still have 5 stars across the board and I wouldn't had these all counted. On average I do between 3,000-4,000 transactions a year on eBay. That means even if you included the no return for refund attempts that is still less than 0.5% of my volume.

All retail businesses expect a certain amount of loss due to shrinkage and theft. Right now the average is between 1-2%. If you are going to call yourself a business/self-employed then act like one. Calculate that into your profit projections. Nobody can run a business without taking a loss at some point. It's going to happen so you might as well be prepared for it.

Another consideration is your customers needs. You won't be in business long if you aren't putting yourself in your customers shoes and their point of view. How many of you can say you've never returned something? How would you have felt if you couldn't? If you are like most people you wouldn't be happy. You might even decide never to shop there again. It is much better to offer a return policy and put aside part of your profits to cover that loss then to piss off what could be a loyal and good customer. In other words, that small loss could translate into a much bigger loss if you lose future business because of it.

You can be mad at eBay all you want for forcing your hand but the truth is they might be doing you a favor, even if that wasn't their intention.

I realize that for some of you returns might be more troublesome then others, however, what ever you are selling it still should be factored into the cost of doing business. If you can't do that then maybe running a business isn't right for you.

~~Putting on my bullet proof vest now.~~  

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by: queenkim98 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 14 05:49:52 2013

I have to agree that I think pretty soon sellers will be forced to take returns and pay return shipping.  Ebay was trying to push it on us so bad, but there really isn't anything beneficial about it.  Walmart doesn't offer free shipping on returns, why should I have to??  I am making so little profit because I offer free shipping, I'll stop selling on ebay before I offer free shipping on returns.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Oct 14 05:59:53 2013

No bullets from this direction, Cloud.


For my business, the profits still lie with eBay & I choose to stay there, too.

As for returns, my business has 14 day returns for any reason & find it works out well for my customers & my business. Buyers do pay shipping, but if there is an issue with the item, shipping is covered by me.

On the flip side, given some of the experiences I've had recently as a buyer, I find myself looking at return policy before I buy.

If sellers already take unconditional returns without problems, there is no need to go the automated returns route.

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