Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Sept 30 2015 21:36:59

eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

By: Ina Steiner

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Remember last year when eBay tried to coerce sellers into offering a 3-month return policy during the holidays? An eBay seller forwarded me a newsletter eBay sent them this week that encouraged sellers to offer a 60-day return policy, and without the coercion. 

The seller wrote, "Note that contrary to what sellers were told last year under Donahoe's regime, offering 90 day holiday returns is NOT mandatory after all this year."

Here's what eBay said in this week's missive: 

Apply a generous returns policy to your eligible listings. Gift-givers want to make sure their loved ones love their items, so offering a generous 60-day returns policy is a great way to capture buyer attention - and close more sales - during the holiday season.  Also, be sure to optimize your returns settings to give great customer service after the sale. 

Last year, eBay had a program called Extended Holiday Returns - when sellers chose to participate, eBay displayed a message to shoppers in November and December that they would have until January 31st to return the item. eBay also highlighted listings that offered extended holiday returns on item pages and search result pages.

But many sellers felt it was draconian, preferring to offer a 14-day return policy (or less), especially in certain categories like clothing or collectibles. 

To push sellers into offering extended holiday returns last year, eBay tied the program to Top Rated Seller discounts, which are 20 percent off Final Value Fees. 

But as we noted last October, eBay exchanged the stick for a carrot midway through the holiday season: rather than penalizing Top Rated Sellers by taking away their 20% discounts if they didn't offer extended returns during the holidays, eBay decided to give them a bonus 5% discount if they did choose to offer extended returns during the holidays.

We wondered at the time if eBay actually saw a decline in listings as a result of the policy due to sellers worried about customers using items and returning them in late January.

Do keep in mind that eBay is making a change to returns as part of the Fall Seller Update that TRS sellers may not welcome: Starting May 1, 2016, listings from Top Rated sellers must offer at least a 30-day money-back return policy to earn the Top Rated Plus discount and seal.

You can learn more about the Fall Update changes to the returns process on this page and on this page.

What do you think of the changes? And do you extend your return policy around the holidays? Why or why not?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: aim04744 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 30 22:29:29 2015

I actually think it was because so many sellers went to No Returns after the entire group of return policy snafu's made last year that is causing the change of heart this year. That and I am fairly certain that stores like TRU and Best Buy didnt offer a 90 day return policy.  

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Sep 30 23:48:46 2015

eBay can afford to retract the 90 day return policy given that PayPal is required for payments and with that - a 180 day return window.

eBay is taking the path of least resistance here..... why rile up sellers with an eBay policy that is already in place and doubled with PayPal.

I would not be one bit surprised if the Donahoe led PayPal requires eBay to display display a PayPal banner promoting " 180 day returns through PayPal" on every sellers holiday listings.

Short of that, I can see PayPal emailing buyers with a reminder to "...shop this holiday season with PayPal... every holiday purchase is covered by our 180 day return policy...."


Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 30 23:51:49 2015

eBay is STILL an unreliable business "partner/platform" and the Update does little to comfort sellers.

As far as holiday returns go - its just another simple abuse of eBays coercive powers - but at least THIS time its "abit" better.

ALL sellers (well except tooguy) hated it. It took advantage and once again let eBay mandate things it knows nothing about, on the backs of its sellers.

Sure - offer a zillion days returns - why the heck not? eBay doesnt care.

Alot of sellers went to NO RETURNS, since it makes ZERO sense from a sellers point of view. Who can afford to take back goods. MONTHS later?

Tell ya what eBay - Ill see your 60 and go 90 - but I get to take %75 restocking fee - hows that?

dummies, its no wonder they keep loosing sales.

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: moto-science This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 1 00:17:37 2015

Of course, now that actual seller sales are far and few, it's hard to get any enthusiasm up. Who cares?
We already got our own web site up and running and it does 85% of the sales....we used to get on Ebay.

The New Ebay...."without the coercion"

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu Oct 1 01:13:50 2015

No, my return policy (14 days) is not fattened by Christmas goose. I've always subscribed to the caveat emptor business model and want complete autonomy in setting my selling policies. Sorry to hear Wenig did not receive a coveted visit from Pope Francis.  

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: skl3255 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 1 05:11:45 2015

I sell on Ebay and no longer offer any returns.  I generally don't bother with the auction format and sell at a fixed price, occasionally with a best offer option.  I'm a very small seller and barely sell enough to have TRS status. I just sell for pocket money to augment a fixed income. It helps me pay for things I buy on Ebay or Amazon.  Sales were so bad this year that I only sold 7 items in May, June, and July. Of course I lost my TRS status.   Then in August and September I sold 86 items so I get my TRS status back in October. I don't have a store and I don't get discounts on my fees because I don't want to hassle returns.  I went to fixed price to prevent non paying bidders. The only time I get non-paying bidders are on items that have a best offer option.  I tend to sell used items, or handmade.  I also sell new items but at a substantial discount off retail.  My thought is that my buyer is buying my item generally at 50-60% off retail and no taxes.  They get a huge discount, but no returns because I can't sell an opened item as new again.  But to the holiday issue I'm not a store and I sell random things. Mostly things I bought over the years and no longer need or want.  I bought many things I never used and I'm trying to downsize. I won't have TRS status if Ebay wants 30 day returns because I'll never do it. The 86 items I sold in August and September were when I didn't have TRS status.  I only cared about the TRS status because of positioning in searches.  I think that 30 day returns are ludicrous for most sellers and 60 for holidays for most sellers just as bad.  I buy for Xmas on Ebay but I'm very careful with my purchases because I don't want to hassle returning things either.  If I want a return policy I go buy local retail during Black Friday or later. Paypal's 180 day return policy is a huge problem too.  I am vehemently against having the TRS status tied to a return policy.  TRS should be the way it is now the 100 sales with over a thousand dollars in revenue and good customer service  Why would I want to sell a used video game or book at 2.99 and then let someone return it 3-4 or four weeks later after they used it all month.  What about that used prom dress.  They wear it to prom and then return it after they wore it.  I don't think so.  I'm not going to sell my used evening wear in November so they can wear it during the holidays and then return in January after the New Years Eve party.

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 1 06:24:07 2015



This change amounts to nothing, changes nothing, and means nothing, as mentioned by @Ric, eBay's paypal only site, already has a 6 month return,

They must be truly crazy If they believe that they will save ebay, by simply hiding some of their draconian policies, customers have been insulted, offended, cheated, and that's a whole different problem in business, that is not easily fixed.

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Oct 1 07:28:57 2015

Ric is absolutely right.

Until eBay fix their broken search (that they so heavily manipulate), stop hiding small sellers' listings, stop favoring enterprise sellers over small sellers, and get rid of selling limits I have nothing good to say about this company.  

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Oct 1 09:52:04 2015

I get very few returns maybe 1 every 3-4 years.

But last night my brother in law saddened me with his eBay experience.

He was bragging about how he got 2 LED lights for FREE!

He bought 3 lights and decided he didn't like any of them.

He put in 3 return requests, 1 seller sent him a shipping label and the other 2 did not.

He was telling all of us how he got to keep the 2 for FREE and that he could buy almost anything on eBay and get to keep it for FREE if he didn't like the item.

What could I say? His words were truthful as I could see for myself he got 2 FREE lights!

I told him it was unfair to the sellers but he could care less :-(

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Oct 1 09:54:34 2015

@Rexford

What "Big Box" seller on eBay sells the same merchandise that you do?

My "Big Box" competition would be Zoro Tools but they sell only new as I sell mostly used. . .

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Oct 1 11:33:44 2015

The banner "Wrap Your Items in Peace of Mind" makes me laugh. The sellers certainly aren't going to have peace of mind; they'll have non-stop sleepless nights worrying about SNAD claims and coerced returns. The only individuals with peace of mind are the buyers (who know they can return anything for six months), and eBay (who knows they won't be out any money).

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Oct 1 11:37:18 2015

@iheartjacksparrow

I have a customer that paid with a USPS money order.

Do they get the same 6 month return policy?

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: Orwellwasright This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 1 11:52:57 2015


Ebay remains utterly disengenuos and dishonest

They are continuing to play Good cop/ Bad cop .
As paypal continues their Heavy handed policies, and ebay forces paypal onto their seller victims, This is just more offensive nonsense

Simply put there is NO seller protection on ebay period

ANY cheat can operate freely , and continue to steal indefinitely so long as they understand how ebays "buyer Protection " works

Old management/New management two rotten apples from the same stinking Barrel

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: Randy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 1 12:01:38 2015

I opted in on the extended holiday returns last year and had exactly 0 returns on eBay and only 1 on Amazon. And in other news...If you people would stop publicizing the PayPal return policy, people wouldn't even know about it. Hell, I didn't know anything about it until I read about it here!  

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Oct 1 12:31:44 2015

@toolguy - Your shtick is getting old. And if you are accepting money orders for selling in a category that eBay only permits payment via PayPal, you could find your joyous days of selling on eBay coming to a swift end. Because the eBay minions do read the comments here, and I'm sure they know your ID (since it's been posted here before).  

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Oct 1 12:56:43 2015

@iheartjacksparrow

When a customer INSISTS on sending a USPS money order what else can a seller do? Refuse it ~ LOL

Once in a blue moon I get cash in the mail, should I return it as NOT ACCEPTABLE?

My "shtick" is getting old?

My customers don't thing so. . .

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Oct 1 13:29:01 2015

iheartjacksparrow says "The sellers certainly aren't going to have peace of mind; they'll have non-stop sleepless nights worrying about SNAD claims and coerced returns."

And toolguy's brother-in-law getting free stuff and bragging about it.

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Thu Oct 1 13:32:13 2015

It means nothing when PayPal offers 180 days. There was no action last xmas , it was all given to china & every other on the band wagon. FIRST you have to have traffic. Then you need buyers , which there are none worth the hours listing on a dull , no traffic , no sales venue. May as well make a pile & burn it , then sell on deadbays useless site.

Re-name their garbage site> "how low can you go . More psycho babble by the execs.

  Im looking forward to getting my % of shipping back. Its illegally taken , & should be given back. I have a great shipping record , & should be refunded , being penalized by others ways just not kosher. Give me my money you stole from me ebay. Read That thieves!

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Oct 1 14:00:28 2015

@toolguy - You tell the buyer that according to eBay's rules you can only accept payment by PayPal, otherwise you will find yourself NARUd. As a small seller, you're just the type of seller that eBay is looking to exterminate, and will use any excuse they can to get rid of you. Your 1000 transactions over 17 years means nothing to them.

Perminate Link for eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns   eBay Backs Off 3-Month Holiday Returns

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Oct 1 16:03:14 2015

As for alternative payments, unless eBay changed policy, sellers can accept alternative payment methods.

When eBay discontinued i.e. checks, money orders, live chickens etc... the policy stated that sellers could not solicit these forms of payment in their listing descriptions or in communications with buyers.  

However, if the buyer requests to complete payment with these methods the seller can - but is not required to accept the buyers request.

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