Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Jan 5 2020 16:43:33

eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay is open to the concept of giving sellers greater flexibility in the returns policies they can offer, which would be a major change from the one-size-fits-all policy to which sellers must currently adhere.

News of management's change in thinking came from the head of eBay Americas Jordan Sweetnam in December. He was responding to a question on an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) discussion board in a thread about claims, returns, and how eBay protects sellers from bad buyer behavior. A seller had referenced eBay's position that its current policy requiring sellers to offer a generous returns policy was "industry standard."

"Can you provide a couple of instances where an online known merchant give free 60 day returns & will pay for the return shipping without the buyer returning items to the closest store," the seller asked. "I have not been able to find one yet that gives free company paid shipping."

Sweetnam responded to his question by stating that some areas of the site would continue to require sellers to have generous returns policies - sellers would have to factor that into the cost of selling in those categories "if that is the competitive benchmark."

But in some other categories, eBay "can dial back the open approach to returns today and deliver an experience that still fully meets buyer expectations without exposing sellers to situations where they can be taken advantage of."

Sellers had had much more to say about returns on the December AMA board. In a separate thread, a different seller called eBay's ban prohibiting sellers from charging restocking fees for certain returns "an unnecessary blow."

"eBay does not run our businesses," he said. "eBay is a marketplace facilitator, even Uncle Sam says so. So stop telling us how to handle our operations. Buyer doesn't like the restocking fee? He can go to a different seller. That's how a market is supposed to work."

A third seller raised yet another concern about returns on eBay in this thread on the AMA board, asking why returns count against sellers. "My personal pet peeve is the return metrics. You promised if we offered free returns that our returns would not be counted against us, however a year later you implemented return metrics where they are now counted against us. Very frustrating. I had a return opened yesterday because a lady did not know how to put a light bulb in a lamp. On top of 3 returns for wrong size and just did not like. Why are these being counted against me?"

Sweetnam did not respond on those two threads in the Ask Me Anything discussion board. But in a thread titled, "Simplified Returns / Return Issues for Sellers," he again addressed the issue of more flexible category-based policies in the following excerpt:

"There isn't one eBay category, we have hundreds of millions of items spread across different categories and different item conditions. By extension, there shouldn't be one retail standard. Buying a brand new TV, the retail standards need to be consistent with a new retail store experience where customers fully expect returns. So if you sell new TVs you need to be able to offer a customer experience (including returns) that is consistent with what buyers can get elsewhere (and as you all know sometimes those customers can be demanding). However, if you're selling collectibles, one of a kind comics or even closeout/final sale the "retail standard" is totally different. Buyers should have no expectation of returns - that isn't how it works if they shop for those products anywhere else so we need to recognize the same on eBay."

The approach Sweetnam describes is such a change in management's philosophy that some sellers might ask, who are you and what have you done with eBay? One thing is sure, eBay is setting up 2020 to be an interesting year. We're eager to hear what sellers think of more flexible returns policies and how well they think eBay could/will execute.



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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: 1st Armored Division 1971-1973 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 5 17:59:20 2020

I have said for a long time collectible one of a kind items is a different business model than commodity items and needs different treatment.

Ebay's one size fits all does not work.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Sun Jan 5 18:55:35 2020

There isn't a combined IQ among the top that would equal 100. I say they can't handle the TRUTH!

It's just more verbal BS. They know they are sinking and they have no clue that even doing ONE removal on a policy that sellers HATE, ex GTC, they might have some credibility.

Sweetnam....DO IT.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: buffalochick This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 5 18:58:19 2020

New lipstick, same old pig. Nothing good ever comes to them telling you that they listened! They are going to implement some form of seller protection! Anyone remember Rich Matsura? No one should believe anything will ever change here, they are in too far to China. China doesn't buy on ebay. Small sellers make up ebay's buying pool. You'd think ebay would have figured that out by now.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: industrystones This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 5 20:10:44 2020

RIDICULOUS. . . . . . . . . . AS ALWAYS.

There is NO flexibility. End of story.
Call paypal, "Item not as described" - Return in progress.
The ONLY flexibility they can offer is to eliminate seller PAYING for the item to get back into their own hands. Other than that - whats the difference between calling Paypal to get your money back or Ebay?
99.9% will call Ebay, because Ebay makes the seller PAY TO GET THEIR OWN ITEM BACK.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sun Jan 5 20:53:15 2020

"[T]here shouldn't be one retail standard."

Haven't sellers been trying for years to get the people in charge to realize that? And the seller who wrote "So stop telling us how to handle our operations" is my new hero.  

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: thievesBay This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 5 21:44:47 2020

Laughable that eBay keeps talking about seller protection or that they'll help in any way. They spent all of 2019 pushing out this propaganda and nothing has changed at all. To witness, check out how eBay really handles "seller protection". Like and retweet Brian's post if you're on Twitter and listen to the Dropbox file:

https://twitter.com/BrianFromTexas/status/121114139122247
6801

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 5 22:50:53 2020

Too little too late. You cant now untrain buyers. You opened that can of worms.

Why dont they cut fee's a bit. While they're at it not include sales tax into the sales total. And not charge a fee on shipping. Stop hiding listings. Fix search. Fix the problem with messaging. Do a new mobile app. Work on the sales reports...........
Theres plenty to do.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 5 22:51:39 2020

Too little too late. You cant now untrain buyers. You opened that can of worms.

Why dont they cut fee's a bit. While they're at it not include sales tax into the sales total. And not charge a fee on shipping. Stop hiding listings. Fix search. Fix the problem with messaging. Do a new mobile app. Work on the sales reports...........
Theres plenty to do.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 5 22:53:15 2020

Ha, look at "letters from readers" How appropriate!

"How eBay Counts Business Days for Its Returns Policy"

Thats the real story on returns......They dont care.....It's not their money so.....Bug off!

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: ChristyM This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 00:12:56 2020

Can you provide a couple of instances where an online known merchant give free 60 day returns & will pay for the return shipping without the buyer returning items to the closest store," the seller asked. "I have not been able to find one yet that gives free company paid shipping."

That was my question: Note a direct answer was "never given" because there is not a company as we all know that would ever do this.    

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: hawk This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 05:17:46 2020

it's the same old BS , year after year , and nothing ever happens except more BS , and more fee increases. there needs to be a stop put to the corruption these venues are doing to innocent working sellers. the question is , where are any non corrupt law officials that aren't getting paid off ??

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: Shanna This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 06:54:34 2020

ChristyM,

Ebay doesn't even follow there own standards. Take a look at one of their favorite sellers, Best Buy. They have a 14 day return policy on everything they sell. Now some categories do allow a 14 fay policy, but certainly not toys. Why are they allowed to have a 14 day return policy in toys or books, and no one else can?

And if 30 day free returns is the industry standard, and eBay recommend it for all buyers, why do NONE of their big Diamond sellers and big box partners offer it? Why doesn't eBay require them to offer it? Why do they force their policies on small sellers, but not all sellers? Some animals are more equal than others?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/LEGO-City-Garbage-Truck-60220/
324015996785?hash=item4b70dbbf71:g:fisAAOSw-~td-WQe
 

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 06:56:28 2020

IMO sellers are not under such stringent requirements with management payments and returns if they ONLY do auctions, like I do.  Since going all auctions, I have not had not one problem with Ebay.  Plus I find that buyers who wait 7 days to win the bid are the "honest" ones.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

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

Mon Jan 6 08:47:35 2020

I have a NO RETURN POLICY.  I recently had someone ask to return an item because it was not the same color as pictured, BULL.  I sent the person a return label.  Then I was notified later that day that the case was closed.  I contacted the customer to find out why?  It was a bead sequin belt, she did not like the color of it and painted it with nail polish?????  THIS IS WHY I HAVE A NO RETURN POLICY.  She was informed that the item was nonreturnable because she altered it.  There was nothing wrong with the color of the belt, she just chose to change it.  

I tried to comment on the high priced sales for cares and could not get in.  So I'm commenting here.  With sales like that on ebay, don't ever ask me to cut a price again.  My Designer Bead Embroidery bracelets are prices comparable to where they should be and so is everything else I sell.  I am on ebay to make money, not charity.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 10:12:06 2020

You ever get numb ?
I am... I no longer CARE what 'policies' these online 'venues' impose.
My sales are down, on each 'venue', by 75%.
It - no longer matters - what the fees are...
Or what return policy is abused...
Or how long MY money is held.
The economy is NOT 'booming'.
If I'm not SELLING... none of it matters anymore.
Postage rates going up... more than the ITEM.
It's a death spiral...
Wake up, people.

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 10:25:18 2020

he is doing exactly what ebay wants him to do, and he's doing his job perfectly

This guy's only job is to convince you he's going to actually do something to help you, and to divert attention to real the issues that hurt sellers,

it's truly laughable to watch,

you would seriously be an absolute moron to believe a word he says, or to even engage in his mind games

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Jan 6 10:26:08 2020

I accept all returns, always have always will.

I get about 2-3 returns a year of the thousands of items I sell.

Returns aren't a problem, fees on shipping are!

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Jan 6 10:38:22 2020

I just got an order in my eCrater store, and the following note was attached: "I rarely use other sites other than eBay. But I'm getting tired of eBay."

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 12:32:50 2020

more lies being spewed by a fleecebay talking head

Perminate Link for eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies   eBay Open to Flexible Seller Return Policies

by: Mark4 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jan 6 13:45:11 2020

@iheartjacksparrow    That is the common theme at the local flea market which has seen a huge increase in business over the last 2 years. Flea market was empty 4 years ago, now not enough tables. You hear the same from sellers and buyers, everyone is sick of ebay. Folks now are using the flea markets, facebook marketplace and their own websites rather that using that dumpster fire of a marketplace. Besides looking at how well their stock is performing ebay can't stay afloat much longer.  

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