eBay CEO Devin Wenig told shareholders on Thursday that sellers should expect to hear more about enhanced protection as the year progresses. But many sellers say that in practice, eBay continues to move toward enforcing policies more favorably to buyers than to sellers. Some say that stinks - literally.
A major challenge facing sellers is returns abuse. If customers suffer from a case of buyer's remorse, eBay policy
states sellers shouldn't be forced to accept the return or pay for return shipping. But eBay buyers know that if they file a "SNAD" claim (Significantly Not as Described - or INAD, Item Not as Described), then they will automatically be able to return the item - at no cost. And sellers say eBay has made winning against SNAD claims nearly impossible.
During a recent weekly chat session, eBay sellers raised the issue using a classic example: when a buyer files a SNAD claim alleging the item smells of smoke or other foul scents.
In one of the response to sellers' questions about eBay's policies and practices around smells, an eBay moderator stated
in part: "It may help you to see the return reason and the messages from the buyer as "and" statements the buyer has made; what this means is that the buyer has said "Item not as described" AND "Has a strong smoke smell". While the smoke smell by itself may be considered remorse depending on the situation, the return reason is not considered remorse. These are not contradictory statements, nor does the smoke smell concern invalidate the not as described concern."
And, he went on to say, "The return reason is the primary source of information when deciding what to do in a request. While a buyer can also let you know that the item was not described accurately through messages, and you would need to address their concerns appropriately based on those messages, if the return reason is a not as described reason and there is no evidence of abuse or fraud on your buyer's account, you will need to accept the return, provide return shipping compensation, and issue a full refund."
The issue is especially confusing given the response from an eBay moderator last year
"Smells would only be a valid return reason if a) the listing states the item comes from a smoke free home b) the listing states it comes from a pet free home c) the smell is an integral part of the item ie. a vanilla scented candle or d) the smell reported poses a health risk, such as the smell of chemicals. In these instances, we would cover a smell. If the seller has no disclaimer about smoke or pets, then the buyer's concerns regarding odors related to these factors would not be covered. We do not cover "musty" or "perfume" smells (unless of course the item is perfume and the concern is that it does not smell like the specific odor it is meant to smell like)."
The bottom line is that when the smoke clears, SNADs are SNADs, even if buyers complain of odors and don't come up smelling like roses.