eBay made a change to its returns policy with the recent Fall Seller Update, but an unannounced change in practices is stinging sellers. We've received reports that eBay is telling sellers it will no longer investigate reports of buyer returns fraud - specifically cases where a buyer returns an item different from the product they received.
A seller described the change in this recent letter to the editor
. "Historically, whether through Hassle Free Returns, a Protection Case or a Return Request, eBay would require a buyer to return an item in its original condition. If it was not, a seller was able to dispute it, escalate it or appeal it with evidence that the item was not the original item sent out or altered from its original condition. Then eBay would protect the Seller through Seller Protection." But the seller said they verified with eBay that that protection is now gone.
In another case, a seller sold a part on eBay with a stated 14-day money-back guarantee. The buyer opened a "Buyer Protection Case" and returned an old used part - not the item the seller had sent them. "It was missing components, was dirty, the serial number did not match the item I sold and it was even carelessly stuffed into a photo mailing envelope with no static protection at all."
An "Appeals" representative told the seller that eBay did not cover sellers in this type of situation any more - "the only proof they now require is that the tracking number on the return label show that an item was delivered to the seller."
When eBay announced the Fall Update changes to returns
, it made no mention that sellers would be unable to appeal returns in cases of fraud - it paints the overall changes as more beneficial to sellers who are victims of buyer fraud. "Along with new customization features, eBay is adding improved protections to help prevent misuse of the returns process."
eBay is well aware of bad buyer behavior and in fact, it's inviting certain sellers to participate in a new pilot program
to help them deal with false claims from buyers.
Some sellers say eBay has never helped sellers when a scam buyer returned a different item, but the seller above said several eBay reps told him it's a practice that went into effect at the end of September. It was always difficult for sellers to prove a case, but what appears to be different now is that eBay won't open any investigation on a seller's behalf.
Have you encountered instances of buyer returns fraud (sometimes called "rocks in a box"), and what do you think of these reports that eBay will no longer investigate those cases on behalf of sellers?