eBay Tips 2008: Return Policy

When it comes to considering a Return Policy for your eBay listings, two things immediately spring to mind. I’ve spoken to countless sellers and it seems to me that the number of returns that most sellers get, compared to the despatches they make, represents a tiny percentage. For most, they are a pain and a hassle but not necessarily frequent. Needless to say, the better the listing is, the less likely a return. And sometimes, of course, you’ll just get someone you just can’t please.

My other thought relates to buyers. A good Return Policy is a huge reassurance to a buyer. It encourages them to bid because it makes them feel safer: they can return the goods if they want to. It soothes a furrowed brow.

So, while we’re thinking about customer focused listings, reviewing your Return Policy and making sure it’s as clear, flexible and friendly as possible is one thing that can make a difference and convert browsers into buyers.

Some things to consider:


Legal requirements
: The Return Policy you offer will depend upon what you sell and be determined by the style of business you run. But as a basis, know what you’re legally obliged to offer. Of course, regardless of whether or not you express your legal requirements, your buyers can enjoy the benefits. Find out about the legal obligations here. Again, even some of the legal obligations are dependent on the goods sold.

It’s a cost of doing business: There’s not much point fretting too much about returns. They are an inevitable cost of doing business, whether you’re a small time trader or a high street giant. Some canny sellers I know specifically budget for returns across all their sales when they calculate their prices (perhaps a little extra on your P&P?) to therefore generate a ‘Returns Fund’ that covers the ones that go awry.

Be as flexible as you can
: It’s hard to over-express how popular Return Policies are with buyers. Don’t forget that many eBayers aren’t that tech savvy or experienced as online shoppers. For many, still, coming to eBay is scary and daunting. Offering a Return Policy which appeals to that massive number of convenience orientated shoppers, makes sense. By being flexible, you may attract many more buyers and not see a corresponding rise in Returns.

Tomorrow: Pictures Perfect.Â

Visit Dan at wilsondan.co.uk.
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Comments

Going back to when I sold clothes, I wrote our returns policy with absolute trepidation because I was sure that just saying "yes you can return stuff" was going to open up the floodgates of returned goods, but it never happened. I think only about half a dozen things came back over two years - and since then, my beady buyers have returned precisely two items in four years (and one of *them* I'd already told her that she was buying the wrong thing, but she didn't believe me!!). It's an infinitessimally small price to pay to offer your buyers peace of mind.

Sue Bailey • 9th January 2008 •

I don't have a "returns policy" as such - I simply tick the box that says "returns accepted" and specify 7 days - and imn my emails to customers I ask them to contact me if they have any problems. I would treat any complaints on a case-by-case basis. I've only had 2 pairs of earrings returned - one because she said one of the beads was "chipped" (it wasn't, it was a natural mark in a gemstone bead, but I replaced the earrings anyway) and the other was to have them changed to clip-ons because the customer forgot to tell me that she wanted clips. I've hardly had any CDs returned either - despite the fact that they are second hand CDs I hardly get any complaints. It's not worth stressing over - if they want to return it I just let them (although for overseas customers it's occasionally cheaper to just refund them and tell them to keep it if the complaint seems genuine).

Kate • 9th January 2008 •

I have so far had three items returned just because the buyer didn't like something about them when they were received. I find this fine - a picture (or umpteen pics for that matter) can't tell you everything about an item, and if it just doesn't create a spark when you open the package, I would much prefer to have the item back, a happy customer, and most likely another sale in the future, than a disappointed customer who might not give you another chance. And won't tell his/her friends that you are the best dealer in the world, and can be trusted through hell or high water.

Josordoni • 9th January 2008 •

well to be honest its because its cost effective time effective we dont argue, we dont kid ourselves we are special or better, we just dont need the expense and hassle of arguing with the buggers all day

northumbrian • 10th January 2008 •

in my shop i say you can return the item if you don't like it but haven't had anything back for that reason yet but i doubt people take that much notice . i get hairstraighteners back because they don't work but only about 6 a year . Although one that got sent back did work and one had been dropped but its not worth my time arguing with them so i just send them a new one.

liz • 10th January 2008 •

" we just dont need the expense and hassle of arguing with the buggers all day" So true North...

Josordoni • 10th January 2008 •