Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Nov 3 2013 21:13:16

Different Approaches to Returns: eBay versus Bloomingdale's

By: Ina Steiner

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Bloomingdale's is using a new technique this year to try and reduce the practice of "wardrobing" - wearing clothing and then returning it for a refund (the practice is also called "renting" by online sellers). You can read about the controversial b-tags in Monday's Newsflash newsletter.

In doing some research on the issue, it seems wardrobing is common and even considered an acceptable practice by some, but for online sellers, it's a major problem. Try reselling a returned garment that has stains or odors.

But rather than discouraging returns, eBay is sending a different message to buyers and in fact, it is changing the name of its Buyer Protection policy to "eBay Money Back Guarantee." Why is it making the change? "Confidence pays," eBay said in an email notice to sellers:

"Buyers who know their purchases are covered by buyer protection spend, on average, more than twice* as much on eBay as buyers who aren't aware of the program. Buyers feel more confident knowing they'll get what they ordered or their money back. And more confident buyers means more sales for you. By using the name 'eBay Money Back Guarantee', we're simply highlighting the benefits of buyer protection."



Bloomindale's actually has a generous returns policy, but is targeting an area overridden with fraud (expensive dresses).

Likewise, "one size does not fit all" on eBay (no pun intended), and some return fraud is rampant in certain categories or conditions of goods. Rather than working to reduce return fraud, eBay has created a one-size-fits-all Managed Returns policy and encourages sellers to accept returns for any reason.

How big of a problem is return fraud for you? What do you think of Bloomingdale's b-tags, and could eBay learn a lesson from "real" retailers about return policies?




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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Sun Nov 3 23:27:46 2013

That is the reason we stopped selling clothes on ebay 3 years ago. We were in the rental business-that is renting at no rental fee. Just use it and return.
Enough was enough.- Stop selling clothes.
Read the article about Bloomingdale's a little while ago. Wonder who else is going to jump on the bandwagon with returns????
ebay just wants sales with FVF. Don't know why they just don't come out and say try it for a couple of weeks, if not completely satisfied-return for full refund. That will be the next step they take.  Getting desperate?????

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by: AuctionMonkey This user has validated their user name.

Sun Nov 3 23:37:13 2013

There's only so many times you can explain in your listing that the colour you see on the screen can be different - We get many returns that are used/worn and obviously only sent back because they changed their mind.

Dispute? Just agree and refund, because there's no WAY you can fight and prove that the buyer is wrong as "the buyer has the item". Yet they don't even need to upload a photo, just their word is enough... Not your maaaaany years of seller history being perfect.  

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Nov 3 23:47:28 2013

I don't think it's practical to sell clothing online, with the exception of major brand clothing by a major retailer. New, only.

For instance I know what size of a particular brand T shirts I need so I can buy them from JCPenney online if I can't find them in the store. I would only buy that way if they were on clearance dirt cheap, which sometimes happens.

But selling anything someone might not be completely familiar with that way, fraught with trouble. At less than full price?  Fraught with trouble.

I think it would be a waste of time. You cannot make enough money on this type items to make a worthwhile amount.  It's trouble.

I think it's only worth selling items on ebay that are rare, scarce and expensive.  If you have to sell cheap, it's just not worth the trouble.


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by: punkin432 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 00:42:44 2013

That is wonderful that Bloomingdale's is fighting back but what are us small retail sellers supposed to do?

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This user has validated their user name. by: TheUglySweaterShop
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Mon Nov 4 00:46:12 2013

I find selling clothing online can be profitable and worth my time. Has been for over 13 years for me.

Selling clothing on ebay, however, not so much. Which is why I don't sell ugly Christmas sweaters there.

I don't take returns due to "wardrobing" (I don't want Christmas sweaters returned to me in January stinking of cigarette smoke and egg nog), therefore buyers schooled in the "eBay culture of bad buyers" are not who I want as customers.

I rarely have any issues with buyers on my website. Sometimes, despite our policy, a buyer will contact me to return something, for whatever reason, and I'm happy to accept when they contact me. In over 3,000 transactions I think I've had 3 returns--one due to size and they exchanged for another, and one package of two sweaters due to a USPS delay due to weather and they did not arrive in time for a party.

I also had a buyer not realize wool can be scratchy, and I offered to take her return but she decided to keep it. And I had one unhappy customer who said his ugly sweater was... "too ugly". But he never asked to return it (which was too bad--it was a sweater with a shark playing golf and I'm sure if he'd returned it I could have found it a wonderful owner).

Contrast that to a typical ebay selling experience and you can see why being on our own works best for us.  

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by: JustTheFacts This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 01:06:13 2013

ebays plan of driving away sellers is working like a charm.  But what they cannot seem to understand is that getting the big box stores will not end pretty because people will be so FED UP with ebay by then even the box stores will tell them to go pound sand because they have also driven away the buyers as well.

The only buyers they will have left are the ones that NONE of us want, not even the box stores.

It is amazing how buyers do not do or expect the things from other websites as they do on ebay or amazon.

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 01:37:28 2013

eBay had raised a generation of "faultless shoppers".  Customers who don't even bother to read the product description because they know that they can just send it back FOR ANY REASON THEY FEEL LIKE GIVING!  Simple, sell lingerie!  It can't be returned & once you provide proof of shipping, the customer can't attack you via PayPal either!!  "I see that you live in the US so I expect this item in one week", whereupon the customer vanishes into no-reply mode by simply using and ignoring free, web-based email programs!
I'm one who types "It is not my responsibility if you decide that my carefully written terms of sale are too lengthy to read.  They are here so we both know our responsibilities under the rules by which I operate".  But eBay is out to destroy just such sellers by automatically re-inrolling them in their automatic returns program! Watch out folks, ebay is out to get you, & they are making plans daily to do just that!

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by: Abernathy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 04:04:25 2013

The Ecommercebytes Newsflash says, ''some are concerned that buyers will believe it gives them carte blanche to ignore sellers' individual policies and instead rely on eBay's promise of complete satisfaction.'' This is not a matter for speculation. It's already fact. Ebay enables wardrobing, and I no longer sell clothing on ebay.

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by: Damariscotta This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 04:27:22 2013

I knew someone who would "shop" for winter clothing when their kid from Florida visited, then return it. It will be interesting to see how many Bloomindgales customers come in after the holidays claiming the tag "just fell off", but if this works, I see where a version of this will become available at a price where smaller sellers can use it (and then eBay will tell clothing sellers they can't. :)

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

Mon Nov 4 05:20:04 2013

Ebay does NONE of the hands on of the selling routine, and should keep their nose out of sellers' business.
Ebay's "Money Back Guarantee" should be towards the Sellers that Ebay is ripping off. Guarantee the Sellers get a 100% refund if they become victims of "Wardrobing". Refund ALL of the fees involved in that transaction. Every penny.
Ebay sells absolutely nothing, and should have ZERO influence on policies concerning the sellers own protocol.
Ebay is a textbook case of Mission Creep and Overreach.
Burn the House of Ebay to the ground.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 06:00:05 2013

I think eBay ENCOURAGES returns, even worse than enabling them. It basically telegraphs to buyers that some of our sellers sell crap AND WE KNOW IT.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Nov 4 06:30:27 2013

It may not be "practical" to make the equivalent of a professional salary by selling pre-owned clothing. But many people do it. And enjoy doing it. Whatever floats the income boat  : )

It may be a gender thing, but many buyers know their measurements, have no difficulty in shopping online for pre-owned clothing whatever reason: value, convenience, collecting clothing, or just leaving the smallest footprint possible. I have had quite a few customers for the "footprint" reason over the years.

Agreed, some sellers lack of knowledge on selling pre-owned clothing CAN make it bad for professional sellers - but that is true for all categories. Some sub-categories of clothing like prom dresses or theme clothing are buyer fraud targets and require a seller with a daily dose of krypton!.


I've experienced less problems since allowing unconditional returns. I do ask (not require) people contact me within a few days if item is returning.

Most know the day the item arrives if it will work or not - 99.9% of buyers with returns have contacted me within 3 days for the heads-up.  eBay could easily adopt a 3-day from delivery scan required return alert for clothing category. Maybe its my savvy buyers, but I don't get that many returns.


Don't get me started on mfg. label sizes. Guys may have it better, (Steevo sounds like he's gotten lucky) but it is not uncommon for women to have a spread of six to eight different sizes on labels in their closet. There is NO consistency on fit, even within the same BRAND  from season to season. It’s a conspiracy!

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by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 08:48:40 2013

Buying on ebay is a lot better now than selling. I've found as a buyer that prices have gone down on a lot of different things I buy. And for used items, many sellers are petrified with the feedback system that  they under grade used items and short change themselves.

Ebay does encourage returns which is a retarded idea. As soon as a buyer has a problem and goes to contact the seller; they're led to a page which opens a case. Returns are a negative so it makes no sense for Ebay to promote and advertise a negative.

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by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 08:49:17 2013


If you are a mass market merchandise seller, with fixed costs, you can work fraudulent returns into your selling model. And ebay certainly leads the way in fraudulent returns.

However ebays unconditional buyer no investigation, no contest here's your sellers money return fraud has led to rampant extortion and abuse for OOAK sellers.

I have absolutely no problem with returns and also have a 2 week unconditional return policy for any reason including buyers remorse

However like any business, i need to get my item back in the original condition

For those of you unfamiliar with just how fraud and theft friendly ebays policies are:

If for example a buyer pulls the "empty box" scam, ebay will NOT require the buyer to file a report with the post office, NOR will ebay require the buyer to co-operate in the sellers insurance claim.

Any buyer can claim any damage , or empty box, and ebay will refund, no matter what.

I have my own merchant services processing through my bank, and those insane policies are NOT practiced in the real world, if a buyer claims an empty box, They MUST file the appropriate claims before my provider will even look at any claim.

Ebay can afford to throw away their small sellers money through false claims as they are currently , actively denuding the small sellers. So if they are victimized by fraud and leave, all the better.

If you read the seller boards on Ebay , that's exactly whats happening. Fraudulent returns are yet another in ebays extensive seller extermination toolbox .
 

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This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Mon Nov 4 09:15:44 2013

Gotta laugh at the photo at the top of this column.

Buyer protection & seller protection in close proximity.

What happens if they touch? Is it like matter and anti-matter and they will turn in to a batch of photons & neutrinos a la E=MC2???

Or will it be a French reaction - "phifft" accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.

I'll vote for the French - there's no light here, just ennui! Check out Henri le chat (on boob-tube, er youtube) for an insight into eBay.

Peace

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by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 10:05:18 2013

'' Returns are a negative so it makes no sense for Ebay to promote and advertise a negative.''
It does if ebay wants the seller gone.????

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Nov 4 10:07:22 2013

@Basset - You're not kidding about the size discrepancies. In my closet are jeans from Size 2 to Size 7 (I'm 5'2" tall and weigh 100 lbs.). And tops are Extra-Small to Extra-Large (I always have to buy t-shirts from Hot Topic in Extra-Large; I can't imagine how tiny people are that wear their smaller sizes).

@Orwellwasright - I only sell  on eCrater now, but because the eBay mentality has infected many buyers, for my protection I videotape every item I sell being packed for shipping. So far, I haven't had anyone try to get their money back with the "empty box" or wrong item scam.  

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

Mon Nov 4 10:11:56 2013


Why eBay thinks it is THEIR business to set the rules for shipping, refunds, etc. is ridiculous and I can't figure out why sellers keep taking it. What good is having a larger customer base if all they do is cost you more money than you make?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Nov 4 10:32:44 2013

A close friend of mine owns a clothing boutique. After their store was destroyed and rebuilt after hurricane Sandy, they were interested in growing their business and wanted to talk to me about starting to sell on eBay.

Over dinner, I explained why selling clothing on eBay would be a huge mistake since eBay allows, permits, condones and encourages buyers to commit fraud disguised as buyer protection.

I explained how eBay is perpetually raising fees, and how eBay charges fees on shipping costs.

I explained how eBay states in their User Agreement that listings placed on the site may in some cases never be seen, and that despite the invisibility, no refunds for listing fees are possible.

I explained how eBay is constantly changing their site such as search, page layouts, features etc... and how most changes result in steps backwards rather than forward.

I explained how eBay constantly changes the rules, and then intentionally removed sellers ability to view their policy compliance.

I explained how eBay is hell bent on removing as many small sellers from the marketplace as they possibly can over policy violations the seller is unable to view.

I explained that in addition to being abused by buyers, as a new seller they would also see their payments held.

I explained how eBay's DSR system is designed to aid eBay in restricting and permanently revoking seller privileges.

I explained how the CEO, top management, middle management, public relations spokespeople and even customer service reps are grossly misinformed, intentionally pass along deceptive/false and misleading information, make wildly inaccurate statements, and flat out lie whenever it suits them to do so.

I explained that if one makes 2 calls to eBay's customer service they are likely to get different answers to the exact same question.

It was not very hard to convince them that cancelling their insurance and then setting their store on fire would be a better alternative than selling on eBay because eBay does not support, protect or care about their sellers.

After our dinner and discussion, they decided against even testing selling on eBay and instead, had their own website built.

Sales through their website have continued to grow every month. They are now to the point where they are purchasing merchandise specifically for the website and hiring additional staff to process orders.

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by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 4 11:52:54 2013


A couple of years ago , I had a friend at the post office who knew I sold on ebay. She asked me if I would sell her daughters used textbooks for her. I explained that i would be glad to as a favor, but the fraud risk was so high, I could not advise her to take the risk and i did not want to be responsible or create a rift...

She understood and asked me if I would help her daughter to set up a seller account, i said i would but again warned her against buyer fraud and advised her to use her schools message  boards.

The end result was her daughter put up a semesters worth of textbooks which originally cost her around $1,400 .

 I told her to send everything priority mail, insured, and with signature confirmation.
  Out of the 7 books she sold for around $700 , she was defrauded out of $400, One buyer claimed his box of $250 worth of texts arrived empty, they refused to file a postal claim, refused to cooperate in any way, and their payment was refunded to them in full with nothing returned

Another buyer bought an expensive text , claimed they dropped the course, and returned an earlier valueless edition. of course ebay refunded nonetheless

My friend informed me her daughter was in tears , not so much from the money but because she was cheated and helpless. I realised then i made a hug mistake and should have simply told her to stay away period.

Its been a LONG while since anybody asked me about to set up on ebay, my answer now would simply be STAY AWAY PERIOD
 

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