Returns policy and handling time compulsory from October

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The eBay Developers’ Blog brings the news that as of October, all listings must specify both a returns policy and a handling time. Until now, returns policy has been an optional field when listing on .com, though on some other sites including eBay UK it is compulsory to specify a returns policy. A new field, “who pays for return shipping”, will also be introduced.

Adam Trachtenberg spoke about this at DevCon, but this is the first time we’ve had a specific timeline mentioned. eBay have said that for sellers on .com, who do not by law have to accept returns, it will be permitted to specify ‘no returns accepted’ as a returns policy. I’d urge sellers to consider a returns policy as a selling point: ‘I allow returns’ says to your buyers that you stand by the accuracy of your description and the quality of your goods. Nothing boosts buyer confidence in the item they’re about to purchase than the idea that they can change their mind if it’s not exactly what they want.

12 Responses

  1. I do hope then that they are going to differentiate between returns postage for goods not as described, returns postage for buyers remorse, returns postage in the UK, and returns postage for International.

    All of which as far as I know have different rules within the Distance Selling Regulations (can’t just call them DSRs now, as that has a very different normal usage now…)

    Likewise handling time is a can of worms… what about Bank Holidays and weekends?

    I hope they will be careful about their wording and not just cut and paste something US.

  2. I have always accepted returns for pretty much any reason but selling CDs I thought (as did many others) that having 14 days to return stuff would be a nightmare – I was talking to someone this morning who used to sell CDs on ebay and he said “I’m not selling any more – with 14 day returns they will just copy the CDs and send them back”. I think he’s wrong, as it happens. I’ve had 7 day returns specified for ages, a couple of years I think, and now of course it’s all 14 days, and (touch wood) I’ve not had a single return. So it hasn’t done me any harm. If anything, I think it gives the buyer confidence. I really don’t think that someone would bother to buy a CD to copy it then return it – they would just find a way of downloading it illegally from the internet! (Much easier).

    Of course I know that the situation is different in other categories, but it hasn’t made any difference to me. Handling time however is a different ball game – if that became compulsory I suppose I would use a “worst case” setting to allow for bank holidays, family emergencies etc.

  3. Kate I totally agree, I accept returns for any reason, and always have done. I have had only about half a dozen items returned because the buyer just didn’t like them, and I really would prefer them to return and come back to buy something they DO like later.

    Handling time I think I would have to decide each week on what outside influences there might be and set the timing accordingly.

    But perhaps it will somehow be worked out so that we are all worrying unnecessarily!

  4. Take the point about who pays return costs.

    On handling time however you can already specify that in the UK and it’s expressed in “Working days” which nicely discounts weekends and bank holidays (assuming buyers realise that which isn’t always the case 😉 )

  5. We’ve taken to sending out a little note with each order.
    Beyond the other things we specify the following;

    If for any of the following reasons, you want to return an item,

    1/,The item is NOT what I ordered.
    The item is NOT what I ordered. (You must tell us on receipt & return the item in it’s original unopened internal packing within 5 days for full credit. (We will also pay the return postage).

    2/The item was received damaged.
    The item was received damaged. (You must tell us within 2 days & keep the item pending inspection).

    3/The item was supplied correctly, but I do not now need it.
    (you must tell us within 2 days, & return within 5 days, Item must be in
    Original unopened internal packing. You must pay return Postage.
    A restocking charge of 30% applys.
    We all have to accept that buying by mail order (online also) the law says we have to accept the item back if the buyer does not want it on receipt. Different things for different sellers will apply of course.

    As for ‘ handling time’ I saw a good one on amazon the other day ‘ We usually dispatch within 3-5 working days, but in certain circumstances please allow upto 30 days’.

  6. Apologies Sue,

    Maybe I should read the rules!!!!!!……But we’re still using it at the moment…No doubt we will reconsider it, of course…….

  7. returns are a minor problem
    one that we will happily deal with
    its getting the buggers to buy and cough up in the first place thats our big concern

  8. I won’t buy from a mail order company that applies a restocking charge. I don’t mind paying for return postage, but there are other people I can buy from without paying a restocking charge.

    If I feel like this, I have to take the view that most of my customers will too…:-(

  9. no such thing as a free lunch,
    every business needs to make a profit,
    other than charities ,even those need to make money for someone somewhere, or they dont survive,

    those that dont charge return postage or restocking
    need to cover costs somehow,
    how they do it ,and how they pass the cost on, is the clever part

  10. Ok, we accept we are wrong on our ‘restocking’ terms.
    This is no excuse, but, the reason for this as far as we’re concerned is that we sell items from .79p upwards.
    Beyond the point that at that price we make nothing after ebay/paypal get their cut. hopefully many buyers order several things to get the discount postage fees.

    Being a ‘distance’ seller’, I have no objection to someone returning an item for genuine reasons. The clause is there, to make the buyer think 1st about what they wanted to buy in the 1st place (and I reailse we probaly on the wrong side of the law here) as it costs us tonnes more in processing refunds/returns etc, that the item cost’s in the 1st place.

    An example of this, has recently been subject to NEG feedback to us, etc.
    The buyer ordered an item for 99p + 79p P&P. we sent the wrong pair (a better item than was described). The buyer did not contact us, just left a negs saying was not what they wanted etc & ‘threw away as not worth the return postage’.

    When the new ‘rules’ came in, we HAD to contact the buyer with view to mutual feedback wothfrawal. Not only did we get an earful of abuse & high handedness from the buyer, but we agreed as part of the ‘bribe’ to refund the the whole transaction costs to them.
    It then transpired that they had not thrown the item away in the 1st place, but they said they had.
    So who won, them, them, them….all the way.

    If a buyer is genuine, there is never a problem is sorting things out.



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