I just read your article dated May 25th about eBay refunding a buyer's handling fee on a return (link
). I have been a longtime seller on eBay since prior to 2000 and make a living selling on there, I know their system very well. I deal with them daily and have been witness to all the changes they have implemented to hurt sellers, open up sellers to return fraud, and ultimately cost sellers more.
Just recently I experienced this new handling fee refund issue. I sell alot of larger items with calculated shipping. When using calculated shipping we always add a few dollars hidden handling fee in the "handling fee" box on the eBay listing in the calculated shipping section when setting up the listing. We charge the handling fee to cover the box, tape, labels, and packing material.
I recently had a buyer purchase a $144 item and pay $29 shipping. In that $29 shipping was a $3 hidden handling fee, the $3 fee is hidden from the buyer as it was put in the handling fee box when setting up the ad.
The buyer opened a return for the item as he purchased the wrong thing. This was not an item not as described claim, just a simple no seller fault return in which the buyer has to pay return shipping.
I approved the return and then noticed on the return details page on eBay it said item price $144 estimated refund $147.
I called in to eBay and asked what was going on. The rep came back on and said it's the handling fee. I questioned is $147 the amount I have to refund and she said well yes it's the item price plus handling fee. I said the buyer had no idea about the $3, it was hidden - if I refunded $147 when they paid $144, it would just confuse the buyer.
And why should the buyer get back more for returning an item than they paid for the item?
I questioned who gets the extra $3 back the seller or eBay? She said she couldn't answer that.
When you close out the return through eBay's return system and eBay refunds on behalf of you they issue the refund to the buyer and the seller never sees how much eBay actually refunded the buyer. It would be real easy for eBay to pocket the $3.
If you bypass eBay and go to PayPal and refund just the item amount, then eBay will not refund any of the selling fees as they say they have no way of knowing the buyer was refunded.
This is just another way for eBay to make money on returns, sell the shipping label through eBay inc. shipping to ship the item, then sell the buyer the return label through eBay returns to return the item, and then pocket the sellers hidden handling fee.
I told her it's one of two things going on here, it's either a glitch in your system or you guys are now pocketing the hidden handling fees.
I know from years of dealing with eBay they never do anything unless it makes them more money. I'd be willing to bet eBay is not refunding the buyer more than they paid, that would just expose the handling fee and confuse the buyer as the purchase and refund amount would be different, invoice and credit card amounts wouldn't match, etc.
After reading your article I now know it's no fluke. They secretly made this change. They never did this in the past, my closed returns history on the site proves it. This is new.
Has anyone confirmed if eBay is pocketing the handling fee, or is it really being refunded to the buyer? The buyer would have to tell you what amount showed up in their PayPal account when refunded.
Note: Numbers changed to protect the seller's identity.