Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Oct 12 2015 13:46:31

eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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A Top Rated eBay seller noticed over the weekend that when they are in the listing form, it's hardwired to read "Accept holiday returns until December 31" with no way for them to change it. (See the accompanying graphic.) Their default return period is 14 days (not by choice - it's required in order to receive Top Rated Plus benefits, including TRS discounts). 

Their listings continue to show their default 14-day return period, but they're concerned eBay will impose a special holiday return policy soon - "It appears that this December 31 thing is coded to start on a certain date," they worried. (See update below.)

Last year, eBay had a special "extended holiday returns policy" that required Top Rated Sellers to offer returns through January 31st beginning on November 1st if they wanted to receive Top Rated Seller discounts, though it later moderated the policy that had been, in effect, a 3-month return policy.

We have a question in to eBay about the messaging the seller is seeing in the listing form about holiday returns - is it some holdover from last year, or signs of an as-yet-unannounced policy change?

Regardless of the answer, this seller - and all Top Rated Sellers - will have a new hoop to jump through this spring when it comes to returns - they'll have to extend their 14-day return policy to a 30-day return policy in order to receive TRS discounts and badging: 

"Starting in May 1, 2016, as part of the updates to seller standards, listings from Top Rated sellers must offer a 30-day money-back return policy to qualify for the Top Rated Plus discount and seal. The same day or one day handling requirement still applies."


Amazon sellers have their own concerns around returns. We heard from an Amazon seller in the UK who said they received a message in their news feed in Seller central at the end of September:

Some key elements of the Amazon.co.uk returns policy are:

Buyers can return products for a refund of product cost and outbound shipping (cheapest postage is refunded) up to 30 days from order delivery.

If a product arrives in a defective state or becomes defective within 30 days then the buyer can return the product for a full refund (product cost, outbound shipping and inbound shipping/return postage costs).

Shoes and Clothing items are entitled to refund of return postage costs, irrespective of reason for return (up to 30 days from order delivery date).

The seller was most concerned about the last line and said the implications for "loan shopping" are disastrous for clothing sellers on Amazon UK.

What concerns do you have as a marketplace seller, and do you offer different policies on your own shops? And what are your other concerns as holiday shopping gears up?

Update 10/13/15: eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore responded to our inquiry, stating eBay would not have a special holiday returns policy this year. 




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Oct 12 14:21:05 2015

Article states " it's required in order to receive Top Rated Plus benefits, including TRS discounts)."

eBay just can't stay out of sellers' businesses.  I have a feeling that come springtime there will be a whole lot of sellers voluntarily giving up their TRS status because they no longer wish to jump through the ever increasing hoops and micro-management of their businesses.

The return postage costs (nothing like having to pay for return shipping for a liar buyer) is where they really stick it to the sellers and it is the ultimate slap in the face, and not a red dime comes out of eBay's pocket. I'm guessing that eBay actually make money on the return postage label.

Dying a death of 10,000 cuts.  

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 12 15:00:53 2015

It always easy to be generous with another persons money

Therein lies the underlying basis as every ebay policy is cobbled together

I have been robbed over and over by fraudulent returns which would never happen outside the ebay closed shop environment

Since they have far more sellers then the buyer base can support, they can easily continuously enforce increasingly egrigous terms upon the beleaguered sellers KNOWING full well a percentage will simply leave, while the remainder simply suffer one more attack on their ever diminishing bottom line

I have said before and I will say it again , IMO the entire management has become so poisoned by their utter disdain for the vast majority of sellers , they are INCAPABLE much less willing, to respect their sellers as partners, as opposed to disposable annoyances

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Oct 12 15:07:10 2015

Looks like I'll be offering a 30 day return policy. (free rentals anyone?)

But why fight it?

There's no winning being a seller on any venue if the customer does a credit card chargeback.

WOW, this hoop is a doozy but I think I can make it!

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

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

Mon Oct 12 15:17:51 2015

It seems to me regarding ebafia's December 31 return policy that the point is that Devin Wenig either 'misled' or lied sellers when he stated at the ebafia love fest that sellers should offer a "generous" return policy this holiday season. He said NOTHING about imposing/coercing any kind return window.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Oct 12 17:20:14 2015

It's easily far more dangerous to sell online today than it ever was to buy online years ago.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Oct 12 17:53:24 2015

toolguy writes: "There's no winning being a seller on any venue if the customer does a credit card chargeback."

Except the credit card companies are willing to examine evidence submitted by the Seller before making a decision. Unlike PayPal/eBay who instantaneously decide that the sweet, innocent Buyer couldn't possibly be telling anything but the absolute truth.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 12 18:28:07 2015

Ebay posted somewhere (and I can't remember where) that if you opted into Holiday returns last year that you will not be opted in this year. In order to offer holiday returns ebay suggested you offer 60 day returns. If your items show in your dashboard that x number are holiday returns it will not impact your listings, or change your return policy. They only way you will be offering holiday returns is if you change your return policy THIS season.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 12 19:48:31 2015

EBay and Amazon need to rethink their bias toward buyers. The customer is not always right, and these days a great many are scammers. I just got a return request for a book I sold online. The buyer got the textbook over 5 weeks ago and now wants to return it because it has no CD, which was clearly stated in the listing. I also offered the book with the CD at a higher price at the same time, which they could have purchased if they really needed the CD. The buyer filed for a return due to the book missing parts (the CD). I expect that the online site will side with the buyer. I even shipped the heavy textbook by priority mail at $6 out-of-pocket expense. As sellers we try to do the right thing but not all buyers are honest.  

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

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

Mon Oct 12 23:54:16 2015

@comments

"They only way you will be offering holiday returns is if you change your return policy THIS season."

I listed manually this evening nd the December 31 holiday returns was in the listing form.

I have NOT changed my return policy this year.  

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

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

Mon Oct 12 23:56:29 2015

@alaska

If you receive a defect, call what bypasses for ebafia customer service and keep calling until until the defect is removed.

This is clear cut case if the facts of your listings are s you stated.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Oct 13 03:32:58 2015

It must be something they are phasing in.  I created quite a few listings today and I did not see this yet.  It is probably coming, but has not yet arrived for me.

Ebay already announced the Holiday return policy for this year.  They are recommending 60 days.  However unlike last year, there are not offering any benefits or penalties for participating.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: cillianred This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 13 09:39:14 2015

I'm curious, did the seller mentioned in the article try clicking on the ''change your return policy'' link that's directly under the return policy? When I click on that link, the ''offer extended holiday returns'' shows up as a box to be checked or unchecked by the seller. Unchecked = no extended holiday returns.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

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

Tue Oct 13 09:41:02 2015

I get very few returns but, of those, about half the jewelry came back positively wreaking of perfume--clearly a "wear and return" situation. Or I get Halloween themed items returned after Halloween. I bet these people don't think of themselves as thieves but they are online shoplifters.  If the item has been worn or used then returned, it's the same as stealing.  It's not just online, though.  This guy at an office supply place was telling me how people buy cameras then return them after their vacation.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: JUMP From eBay and Etsy This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Oct 13 10:10:19 2015

I offer 30 day returns on my websites, but the requirements are strict and they do not apply to all items. Items that are no returns are clearly stated in the TOS. Here is what I do with some apparel: Purchase neon security tags (from ebay seller)and place on apparel. On tag it has my company name and that item is not eligible for returns if removed or tampered with. Each tag has a serial number and the item is photographed with the s/n while packing it.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: GotToGetOut This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 13 10:43:05 2015

With Paypal now offering free returns for any reason other than not as described or defective, that means sellers will have to eat the cost of outgoing shipping for items. Sometimes shipping is more than the item, so even that is a big chunk out of any profits.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 13 10:48:56 2015

STOP.

Everybody, please stop for one minute here...

> A Top Rated eBay seller noticed over the weekend that when they
> are in the listing form, it's hardwired to read ''Accept holiday
> returns until December 31'' with no way for them to change it.

Except that it isn't hardwired. This whole article appears to be based on a lack of understanding of how to change one's return policy settings using that form.

Just below the portion of the form that appears in the screenshot accompanying the article, just one or two lines down (depending on whether you have added any Additional Return Policy Details), there is a blue link for ''Change your return policy.'' Click on that and you will get a popup form for adding, removing or changing settings relating to your Return policy. One checkbox there allows you to offer or decline the Extended Holiday Returns option. It is a user setting, not an eBay rule, and the complaining seller is free to turn it on or off as desired. At least for now, anyway.

Now returning us to our regularly-scheduled eBay bashing... ;-)

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

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

Tue Oct 13 11:37:15 2015

This holiday return policy may be fine for sellers who control their items, but it is patently unfair for sellers who DROPSHIP. Individual suppliers set their own return policies. In this case one size does NOT fit all.

Ina, eBay and Amazon, etc. should be reminded that NOT all sellers sell items from grandma's attic or their garage. A simple email to eBay sellers to determine IF they wish to participate in the 3 month holiday return program - based on their individual business model would suffice?

Please advise.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Oct 13 12:15:38 2015

@ladmo

There is NO 90 day [three month] return policy available on Ebay.  That was last year.  This year if you CHOOSE to participate, you can have a 60 day return policy.  But it is completely the seller's choice.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Tue Oct 13 13:50:55 2015

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore responded to our inquiry, telling me today that eBay would not have a special holiday returns policy this year.

Also see PayPal's new program, Return Shipping on Us, in today's issue.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers   eBay and Amazon Return Policies Put Strain on Sellers

by: cillianred This user has validated their user name.

Tue Oct 13 14:06:35 2015

@a_c_green

You basically said the same thing I did in my earlier post. I agree with you, I think the seller simply didn't understand how to change his/her return policy settings.

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