We have recently, over the past three months, run into many issues with the automated returns process and are curious if other sellers are having the same issues. We have been with the automated returns process since the beginning and for the most part have been very happy with it.
As a clothing seller on eBay, you can expect a higher percentage of returns. Managing those returns prior to the ARS was very challenging. The ARS seemed to streamline the process for many years.
However, in October eBay seemed to make a bunch of changes to the ARS or rolled out a new version. Since then we have seen a tremendous number of glitches and issues that have negatively impacted our account. For the first time ever we have lost our TRS and have been dropped to Below Standard based entirely on Returns escalated to cases and closed out.
Here are the glitches we are continually seeing:
- Auto Approval Settings not working. We have a list of return reasons set to auto approve. The system is randomly not auto approving and waiting for the seller to accept the return. We did not realize this and customers were escalating when the return should have been auto accepted.
- Tracking not populating or showing delivery. Return is constantly stating awaiting shipment even though buyer has returned item and it is delivered. Once buyer escalates to a case, the system verifies delivery and closes in favor of the buyer. In our case, returns are delivered to a PO Box we checked every week or two. We relied heavily on the system showing delivery to refund buyers. Now we can not.
- Refund glitches where the system states either a timeout error, a Pay Pal ID error, or some other tech error.
- Previous version of the system would automatically process a refund after 6 days of delivery. Now the system sends multiple emails to the buyer suggesting they get eBay involved and no longer automatically refunds. While most of our refunds are processed within 3-5 days, vacations, life, sometimes get in the way and the automated refund was great and kept everyone happy. Currently 3 of our return/refund cases came in over the Christmas Holiday while we were on vacation. Previously this would not have been an issue. Additionally, eBay did not notify ARS users of this change.
We have spoken to several eBay reps who have verified that there are issues. eBay knows about them and in some cases eBay will remove the defect. However, in most they will not.
For example, where the tracking update is not showing, eBay has yet to remove one of those defects. They can see in M to M messaging that we have been working with the buyer to get a tracking update or delivery update. They can see that the buyer and we are seeing the glitch, but they state that ultimately while the system is automated it really comes down to seller managing it regardless of the technical issues eBay is having with the system. WHAT? REALLY?
Here is the kicker. If you are bumped down to below standard due to this eBay then views every return or requested return as a case and puts the entire transaction payment on hold. Regardless of the buyer's reason, the payment is place on hold. Multiple issues with this:
- Often buyers open a return for reasons like doesn't fit, changed mind, color etc. and ultimately never returns the item. The return is open in your dashboard for 60 days or longer and the payment will be on hold the entire time.
- Multiple Item Orders. A buyer purchases 20 items. Wants to return 2 out of the 20. The entire 20 piece transaction is on hold until the buyer returns to the 2 and you refund.
- Say you have a restocking fee (we do on suits and sport coats as these items are often "rented" items). The hold does not account for this and the entire amount again is on hold.
I am interested to see if other sellers are seeing these issues and, if not, be on the lookout.