|Tue Mar 18 2014 08:17:12|
eBay Overrides Seller's Return Policy
I'm writing in regards to the latest change by eBay on seller listings. Sellers are required to select a returns policy on all listings, and one of the options in the listing process is "no returns". That is still the case as of this morning, when I listed new items to the website.
In the past, sellers who selected "no returns" had a statement on their listings, in the "Returns" section of the standard eBay listing, that stated "Seller does not accept returns. Your purchase may be covered by the eBay Buyer Protection Plan" or similar. I cannot find the actual wording as eBay has changed it on all prior closed sales, as far back as December 2013 (farthest back I could find one of my sold listings).
At some point last week, eBay changed the wording in the Returns section of the listing to "Seller did not specify a returns policy. You are covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee if you received an item that is not as described in the listing." This is wrong on so many levels.
First, eBay did not notify sellers of the changes. We found out by accident and/or postings in groups and on the eBay forums. This is a significant change that will have a major effect on many sellers. It's arrogant and condescending at the least of eBay to do this without notification to sellers. It is direct interference in our ability to do business on eBay.
Second, eBay changed closed listings, both sold and unsold, to the new wording, meaning that the policy was changed AFTER the sale was completed, and the new wording was not the wording/policy under which the buyer originally purchased the item. I found this change on closed, sold listings as far back as December 2013. This was not my returns policy at the time of sale, and for eBay to change something after the fact borders on fraud.
Third, the sale transaction is between two parties - the seller and the buyer. Last I looked, eBay was still just the transaction venue (as they are soooooooo fond of saying). The agreement to buy is between the seller and buyer, not between seller/eBay, buyer/eBay, or seller/buyer/eBay. Buyer and seller, period.
Fourth, the wording currently presented to the buyer simply states "if you received an item that is not as described in the listing", but by prefacing it with "seller did not specify a returns policy", it misleads buyers into thinking that the seller provides returns for any and all reasons.
Fifth, the seller IS selecting a return policy during the listing process from eBay's stock selection of policies (return or no return) and is listing their item with the understanding that their return policy (no returns) will be clearly displayed to buyers. There are only two options to select in the listing process; neither informs the seller that their listing will in fact state "seller did not specify a return policy". By providing the seller with an option to select "no returns", then not showing that policy of "no returns" to buyers, could possibly be construed as bait & switch.
Sixth, this may be illegal under California law. CA consumer law states that a retailer may have any return policy they wish, INCLUDING NO RETURNS, but that it must be clearly displayed to the buyer prior to the purchase conclusion (ie., signage in the store). The "policy" that eBay is currently presenting for No Returns sellers does not clearly state the sellers return policy. Again, eBay is just a venue, and the current wording presents the Venue's protection policy, not the SELLERS return policy. The buyer is not buying from eBay, the buyer is buying ON eBay from independent sellers.
I urge all sellers on eBay affected by this wording to file complaints against eBay with the FTC and the California Attorney General's office.