Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Apr 2 2016 14:01:17

Is Advice about Returns Helping or Harming eBay Sellers?

By: Ina Steiner

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A reader sent me a link to a blog post he recently discovered about returning items on eBay. Our reader felt the advice offered by the blogger to buyers about eBay's Money Back Guarantee was harmful to sellers.

"Basically he is saying "If it's junk, or you don't like it, or if you have buyer's remorse, just return it and get a refund regardless of whether the seller wants to accept returns, ignores you, or whatever". I've never had a return, but this guy should be banned from buying on eBay!"

In his blog post, the blogger said buyers can ignore a seller's return policy:

"If you bought it over eBay and it isn't right, it's the seller's problem - not yours.

"If the item isn't as described, if it's damaged or was damaged in shipping, if it's just plain junk or never arrived, it goes back at the seller's expense and you get a full refund of the original price and your shipping charges. It costs you NOTHING!"

(I should note here that the blogger is an eBay affiliate - he makes money if you click on his link to eBay and go on to bid and buy there.)

Although the blogger strongly encourages buyers to utilize eBay's Money Back Guarantee policy, he doesn't explicitly say buyers should abuse the policy.

What raised my eyebrows was this line further down in the post: "10% of what I get over eBay is defective." Would you keep ordering items from a marketplace (or from any retailer) that you're so unhappy with and advise others to shop there too? 

Interestingly eBay keeps all of its seller fees if a buyer makes a SNAD claim. As long as a return-happy buyer keeps coming back, eBay makes more money than if it banned such buyers from its site. 

Meanwhile, sellers on eBay must deal with the negative consequences of returned items including significant costs of SNAD returns (shipping both ways and eBay's commission fee), even if a SNAD claim isn't justified.

On the one hand, buyers who read the affiliate's blog post might feel reassured to know that they can get their money back if they encounter a bad seller, leading to more sales for sellers. 

On the other hand, it might encourage readers of his blog post to take it as an invitation to abuse sellers' returns policy.

What do you think?




Comments (25) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Is Advice about Returns Helping or Harming eBay Sellers?   Is Advice about Returns Helping or Harming eBay Sellers?

by: sellerchick This user has validated their user name.

Sat Apr 2 14:30:22 2016

Ebay's policy seems to mimic the dreaded A-Z claims on Amazon. And I've won some SNAD claims and lost some. Same on Amazon, I've won and lost not as described there as well, resolving with everything from full refunds to partial refunds. It just comes down to how prepared and aggressive your buyer is in pursuing it, and you as a seller has to be 3 times as relentless. And depends on the subjective opinion of the person or bot that is processing the claim. By the same token, it really underscores the need to bring back negative feedback for bad buyers!

That being said, the big picture is this kind of buyer scamming is a cost of doing business. It just hurts our seller egos more than any other cost.(Except maybe income tax, I think I resent that the most) After doing this for 18 years, compared to all my costs: utilities, rent, postage, taxes, etc, returns and buyer rip-off are the least significant cost I have as a percentage of sales. And they really end up being a small part of sales. Your best protection starts by pricing everything you sell with enough margin that you can absorb a sting once in awhile, and prepare every sale/shipment that you can't afford to lose, with anticipation that you will need to fight a claim later.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Sat Apr 2 15:53:41 2016

I wonder if that blogger ever mentions the buyers who intentionally destroy items to claim "item not as described".  We had one of those gems recently.

The blogger sounds like part of the problem, not the solution. And yes, he/or she is encouraging returns abuse.  He/she should work for eBay.  He/she would fit right in--no ethics whatsoever.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sat Apr 2 19:33:29 2016

Ebay is known as the buy it and use it then return it site. Buyers return items after using them all the time. We get stuff back with dried on food, grease and hair. We don't have a choice Ebay forces a return on us.

With the new delisting that they have been doing the past two weeks we have been moving those items to our web site as we are seriously considering leaving ebay after 19 years. When buyers can return items food encrusted and greasey and Fleecebay won't help us then we are done.

By the way EBAY WE ARE TAKING A FEW OTHER SELLERS WITH US.

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by: calthomas This user has validated their user name.

Sat Apr 2 21:25:20 2016

At one time ebay was interested in helping good sellers and good buyers. You could leave feedback for a bad buyer and that would flag him for the next seller. Now they think if you are stupid enough to sell there you deserve what you get. It is unbelievable the things they have done to sellers since '08.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 3 00:02:47 2016

eBay is ONLY interested in helping itself - and that means keep buyers - by defrauding sellers.

Thats NOT to say that every seller is honest and does what they are supposed to.

The issue is that eBays goal is to do as little work as possible and WORK would equal separating the good sellers and have them observe 1 set of policies, while having "the others" observe another.

Theres no reason why "taking returns" should mean having to take back 1) buyers remorse 2) different items (in any fashion) or 3) used/abused items.

I used to have that 14 day return policy - but too many losses caused by eBay made me change it to NO RETURNS (and yes before every one chimes in - yes theres no such thing as NO RETURNS on eBay due to their MBG policy)(different topic).

Why should I have to eat used/abused items when I sold them NIB?

Why should I have to take back items I never sold (the old switcheroo)

And, why should I have to take back the same item with a different serial number?

THOSE arent legitimate reasons for returns (they are as described and in the NEW condition as listed)

eBay likes to do zero OR a hundred - all or nothing, and the ALWAYS side for the buyer - Ive been here since 1998 and its ALWAYS - as far as I can see.

That guy ... most of what he said is in eBays own rules - he just thinks hes a wise guy. Hes simply making money off people who dont know all of eBays rules. Hes a wisenhiemer know it all kind of guy - the smarmy ones that in life we all try to avoid.

What he said goes right up to the line -  but I didnt see where he crossed it.

When eBay take some of that off shore $5 billion and invests it into REAL CS agents and creates a policy in returns thats fair - then eBay can be a place thats recommended to sell on. Between stealing from sellers and the slow traffic .... you're better off with Amazon. On Amazon the A-Z's and returns can overwhelm you - but the sheer traffic can help fix those issues.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Sun Apr 3 02:54:31 2016

Ebay does not keep FVFs on a return if the case is NOT escalated and won by the buyer.  Meaning if you get a claim, for whatever reason, and you resolve the claim without Ebay having to step in, you do get your FVFs refunded once you have refunded your buyer.

http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/return-process.html#fees


What
I find is that most buyers are not searching to buy something on Ebay only to have to return it because they feel it is defective or it is junk.  My experience is that buyers that actually want to return something either actually feel there is an issue or it is just simple buyer's remorse.  Buyers like this are typically not the overall problem on Ebay.  It appears to me that the blogger was simply telling buyers that if they are not happy with their purchase there are ways to return it.

Seasoned sellers know that even if they state they have a no return policy, they really don't have one.  There is the Money back guarantee we all have to adhere to.  

The problem as I see it aren't really the buyers that want to actually return a purchase for whatever reason they may have, but the buyers that DON'T want to return it yet still get their money back.

With that said, I know there are a few categories that buyers tend to use sellers as if they were allowed to rent items for a period of time, then expect to return them for a full refund.  Fashions, jewelry, etc. have real problems with this.  But from what was posted here in the article it doesn't appear the blogger is trying to encourage this behavior.

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by: HoneVille This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 3 08:10:12 2016

I'm not going to judge anybody else's business but I do want to share my experience. I sell new, BIN T-shirts.  I switched to a FREE RETURN policy 2 years ago and absolutely love it.  There was no sharp increase in returns, just a sharp increase in satisfied customers and repeat business.  Returns remain between 2 and 3% and the free return policy was paid for by a increase in retail prices.  Contrary to popular opinion, most buyers aren't out to get ya.  The touch and feel weakness is an inherent problem with the internet and the problem ebay had is when that weakness is butted up against the prevalent theory has been "somebody must be punished"... kill the buyer... kill the seller...  buyer against seller, fight til death... and I just think there is a better way. Maybe my model isn't for everyone but if taking care of customers isn't important to you then don't be moaning and groaning when they all went to someone with whom taking care of them is their top priority.  As for me... You couldn't pay me enough to go back to a non- free return model and I continue kicking myself in the butt because I didn't embrace this earlier.    

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 3 09:56:12 2016

This goes both ways. Dumpster diving sellers are a cancer, one that has spread though the market place causing one sided anti seller policies. The problems caused by a few effect us all.

Example. I have a 100% on time shipping rate. I never shipped late before the policy and still don't now. But thanks to sellers who made a regular practice of printing the label in 24hrs and shipping the item in a week.....Now I have to spend half my life fighting with postal workers for acceptance scans to keep my ontime shipping rate. Who do we blame? Ebay for trying to make an unenforceable policy enforcable or the sellers who abused the small amount of leeway they were given and exploiting the system?

Unfortunately ebay is on a one way path to total destruction. They repeatedly target the wrong problems with the wrong fix. Stupid policy makes ebay go after the quality sellers leaving the junk.

Sellers who sell new in the box quality merchandise hand picked and purchased by them for resale are the ones who fight claims when the new item gets returned used and ultimately get banned for having too many cases. Or the sellers who sell branded items that get unfairly vero'd and ultimately banned. But the walmart drop shippers have nothing invested, nothing to lose and just return returned items back to walmart. Today this is the type of junk ebay is full of.

I completely stopped buying all retail like items on ebay. I don't even look anymore. The last several purchases I made on ebay of retail non collectable products came drop shipped from walmart, samsclub, and amazon. Now I just go to those places. By contrast in 2007 there was virtually nothing I didn't buy cheaply at auction on ebay. Sure I got a few SNAD items but the dispute system back then was more then adequate for dealing with them.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Diaper Mess

Sun Apr 3 13:33:50 2016

I do (now) know for a fact, after keeping up with a buyer (seller) I first commented to ECB (Feb 2015) blog titled (eBay Motivated to keep Quiet about buyer Fraud) located at
http://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/blog/blog.pl?/comments/2015/2/1424
658702.html/4/60#comments

where I specifically wrote (quote from Page 04) I was taken back after clicking to read all 20 pages of negative ratings of the FEEDBACK LEFT FOR OTHERS by this member http://www.ebay.com/usr/toronan

Shortly after, that buyer (also a seller) stopped leaving future feedback for few months but is now back to the same old practice leaving (5) negative ratings (to date) to sellers that appear to be reputable. eBay continues to allow this type of behavior to exist from buyers.

What a diaper mess!

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

Sun Apr 3 14:27:03 2016

I've never received an item as described and not been refunded on ebay or Amazon, but have lost on return shipping, which is wrong and had lengthy delays in being refunded; especially on ebay.

 One problem with ebay is that sellers can choose to delay returns, so buyers deal with inconsistent rules.  A seller who accepts returns means that when a buyer hits the "return item" tab and says the item is not as described; the buyer can then immediately print a label for free and send the item back.  But when a buyer buys from a seller who doesn't accept returns, then the buyer has to wait 5 business days for the seller to make a decision and sometimes has to pay the label.  So for some returns, I've immediately printed a label and been refunded in 3 or 4 days, but for other items it can take as long as 3 or 4 weeks to be refunded.

In the past 3 years I've received many more used items, that are not as described than in my first 12 years on Ebay.  I think as Ebay has jacked fees(especially store fees), that more and more sellers are making less and less profit and have decided to cheat a bit  on their grading.

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 3 16:52:19 2016

Advice is one thing, teaching them how to scam sellers is another.

I.hope all ebay employees of every level burn in hell

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by: harlleycow This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 3 17:30:27 2016

Ebay is ruining it for sellers.  There is no question that they are always on the buyer's side.  They are promoting dishonesty in people.  It's really a shame.  I used to enjoy selling on Ebay and since a recent problem with Ebay, I'm considering call an end to it.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Sun Apr 3 20:21:39 2016

Marie, the biggest difference is that we don't have the types of buyer problems that we have on any other site that we sell on. On two sites that we sell on that have very good sales, we've never even had an item returned.  However, on eBay, problem buyers are a dime a dozen. This tells me that eBay has created a culture of these types of buyers.  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 3 23:11:58 2016

@honEVILle

Your actions/policies for your business may work for you - but NOT for most.

You sell $2 t-shirts. Get one back and you can use it to clean your car.

THAT is NOT how the REAL world works - NOT at all.

Here in the REAL WORLD, where you buy items from distributors and manufacturers - THEY make a majority of the rules.

Pioneer - up to %2 of all purchases YEARLY can be returned - good or defective. Anything beyond that is REPAIR ONLY

Casio - REPAIR ONLY

Denon - REPAIR ONLY

CLARION - REPAIR ONLY

D&H, Ingram (2 largest distributors in the US) returns for NEW - 30 days from receipt, defective - 45 days. (that means if you dont sell it on day 1 you own it if it comes back since you will be out of the return window).

I could go on - but I think the point has been made.

Just because people sell $1 store items can afford to eat abusive returns - doesnt mean the rest of us can.

A sane returns policy is needed, not an abusive one.

Its NOT at all the same on Amazon - theres its Amazons sand box. Here its supposed MBAs with no real world understandings of how things work - who make up stupid rules and then say "what? us? we are the best ecommerce platform EVER" ..... hint - they arent.

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by: songe-d-automne This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 4 09:34:07 2016

Thankfully, most of the time I sell old, unique items.

I get someone claiming damage or SNAD I say "Return it for a full refund" and inform them it's all or nothing. They send it back or they keep it as they claim they got it.

I always request pictures of "damage" This has happened three separate times with rather expensive antiques. I have never been sent a picture nor did these things get returned in the end.

After they see that they won't be getting anywhere without a return or photos, they usually go away leaving me to believe they are probably discount seeking scammers.

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by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 4 09:40:30 2016

If they claim SNAD they do not need to destroy the item to get their money back from ebay.  I had one that I just fought who actually took a photo of an undamaged item, claimed damage, assuming wore it since the tags and packaging is gone although it looks fine otherwise. Ebay gave them all the money back.
I knew this was the case before the claim from the emails she sent me. She originally wanted to keep the item and get a new but slightly different one due to the ''damage''. She has not left me a negative yet, but I sure wish I could leave one for her! But, I did block her and report her for abusing returns but as we know this will change nothing. She may not leave feedback for me, it is a huge clue when they have left a lot of bad feedback for future sellers to fight them and I think some have learned it can backfire on them.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 4 10:50:23 2016

>That guy ... most of what he said is in eBays own rules
> - he just thinks hes a wise guy. He's simply making money
> off people who dont know all of eBays rules. He's a
> wisenheimer know it all kind of guy - the smarmy ones
> that in life we all try to avoid.

All true. The only thing I would add to that is that if he's having to return 10% of what he's buying, he's clearly learning nothing from his own experiences, as far as being a smart or discerning shopper.

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by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 4 11:35:46 2016

Maybe put this in your terms: In order to offer FREE shipping TO and FROM the customer and NO QUESTIONS ASKED returns, we will be increasing our prices by X %.

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by: scaryguy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 4 13:22:15 2016

Ive have more return requests in the past 2 months than Ive had in the past 2 years!!!! WTF!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Don Wagner

Tue Apr 5 11:12:41 2016

This is old news - eBay told me pretty much the same thing years ago, but then added not to worry because most buyers aren't aware of this 'loophole' in their policy. Yeah, right!  

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