Boomerangs – Easy returns goes live on eBay

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easyreturnseBay have enabled Easy Returns on the site to enabling buyers to inform you they wish to send items back for a refund.

A drop down allows buyers to select a reason for the return, although they can if they wish enter a message to the seller to expand upon why they’re returning the item.

The page kicks off with the message “Please use this form to make use of your right of withdrawal according to the Distance Selling regulations” (DSRs), although even eBay advise that the DSRs only apply to fixed price formats and not to purchases won on auctions. There is no option to differentiate between the returns policies for different selling formats.

Although many sellers (including myself) choose to allow returns on auctions as well as it makes good business sense, many do not. The page doesn’t mention that only business sellers are obliged to accept returns and that private sellers are under no obligation to offer exchanges or refunds.

The link to Easy Returns is from the drop down in My eBay and appears for 35 days from the sale of an item. After 35 days the buyer may still have legal obligations to offer returns but the buyer will have to contact the seller directly.

I’m wondering how long eBay measure returns for before they start to impose limits which can affect your account status. Possibly in the future if the number of requests for returns exceeds a certain amount it could affect Buyer Satisfaction Ratings and even Seller Discounts.

Currently eBay have given no indication that returns monitoring will affect your seller account status, but it’s almost certainly a metric that they’ll be measuring over the next few months. Easy Returns have gone live for purchases on eBay UK and eBay Germany, but expect to see them rolled out to other sites around the world in the near future.

40 Responses

  1. As someone who always accepts returns as a private seller and knows the forums inside out, there are a huge number of people out there who deliver less-than-adequate service. I also buy and find a lot of frankly buyer unfriendly terms on auctions.

    In this case, I think that the more it is drummed into sellers that they have to encourage buyers to buy and it is their responsibility that their customers are satisfied with the product, then to be honest I think it is a good move for the site to allow blanket easy returns. It is important that the site maintains a reputation and is regulated in such a way that bad sellers are made uncomfortable and that the rest of us who really do try to keep up a good standard even on private listings are able to rely on our fellow sellers keeping the site going.

    Penalising buyers – the customers – for returning items to bad sellers – would go against any sort of customer service issues whatsoever. If someone complains – as they frequently do – in the shop which I work at IRL, then I am hardly likely to mark their card in future and treat them worse as a result.

    The better metric to use would be INR claims – which don’t require the return of an item – rather than returns. If a return is made, the buyer doesn’t get to keep the item, whereas with INR, there is no item to return.

  2. I agree mostly with Louise however, unlike the high st eBay does tend to attract a different “type” of buyer. For example INR’s on eBay far outway INR’s from website sales.

    Also, because of the FB system, an eBay buyer is more likely to react more aggressively when not satisfied. There are also serial “returners” out there, who like nothing better than buying and returning items every week.

    You could be the best seller in the world but the above is something you have no control over.

  3. now that returns are “easy” and all will pay by Paypal why is there still a feedback system that stresses the seller, also the relation between seller and buyer, why still fear of account restriction, why ………..

  4. Chris there are no Distance Selling Regulations in the USA and there is no legal right to change your mind and have the seller pay shipping both ways, at present.

    If eBay implements this in the USA it will have to be through the User Agreement.

    Having said that, I have always offered a Satisfaction Guaranteed Period return policy, and have had one return, the PO mangled a set of prints. Not the buyers fault or mine they were well packed but had tyre marks on the box. Go figure.

    As Pete said, eBay does attract a ‘different type of buyer’.

  5. I think the time period is far too long. Very few high street shops give customers 35 days to return an item – and I don’t know of any websites that do.
    What happens if I refuse to accept a return after the 14 days that is stated on my terms and conditions?

  6. High St Shops are not covered by the Distance Selling Regulations ( mostly coz there is no “distance” )

    What would happen to you?

    Technically?.. a court date

  7. Hiya Henrietta – I think you’re right – good service keeps customers coming back 🙂

    Kat, 35 days is the max eBay will display the link. I’ve waited in the past almost two weeks for an item to arrive (some sellers are not only really slow to post but also choose really crappy delivery methods 🙁 ) Tag onto that maybe I pay a few days late, plus the obligatory 7 working days (in reality 10 days), and I can see why they settled on just over a month.

    If you state 14 days from receipt though you’re quite entitled to. The law states 3 months and 7 days, but you can reduce this to 7 working days if your inform the buyer before the contract is concluded.

  8. You can opt out of using ebay easy returns so why don’t people who are concerned about it just do that?

  9. Chris, do you know if sellers can dispute a return? Quite often we get buyers return goods not in their original packaging. We can’t resell these goods, but the customer still demands a full refund.

  10. #9 The DSRs make no reference to the saleable condition of the goods when they’re returned. All that is required is that the buyer take reasonable care of them.

    Requiring them to be repackaged may be expected, but in fact all you can actually request is that the original packaging is returned with the product. If it’s a product requiring assembly you can’t even insist that they disassemble it.

    For those selling personal items you can request that tags and/or hygiene slips are not removed, but even then the goods don’t have to be in a condition that you’d resell them.

    The only way around this is not to sell at a distance.

  11. Thanks for the link Chris.

    Will be interesting to hear how sellers get on with Easy Returns (at the moment, we’ve opted out).

  12. Never mind returns how about getting paid ? Anyone else having major Paypal issues this morning ?

  13. I had my first experience with this today. I had already processed a refund but the buyer still requested a return using this. I rejected it and now I have lost the final value fee…

  14. Can anybody clarify if there are any guidelines as to if and when a seller is required to pay return postage?

    There is a real prospect of all sorts of malicious activity from idiots and aggressive competitors, unless there are clear guidelines.

    Paypal refunds are fairly easy to implement, but paying extra for returned goods is messy.

  15. #15 “legally” a buyer only has to make an item available for collection and is under no obligation to actually send the item back let alone pay for its return.

    In practical terms it is always good for the seller to refund the return postage ( helps turn a bad sale into a returning customer)

  16. Just had my first one of these. The bit I know Sue will like is that once you have accepted the return, you’re told that if you issue a refund, “We’ll credit your final value fee on your next eBay invoice.”


  17. #15 As I understand you can specify that return postage costs must be paid in your terms & conditions (under DSR) but if this is not specified in your terms the buyer can insist that you arrange collection/return. If the buyer decides to return the item without prior arrangement you are not obliged to refund costs (but I could be wrong!).

    If an item is faulty/mis-sold/sent in error I normally return the postage cost but if the item is returned because the customer has changed their mind I don’t,

  18. we always collect the item from the customer, it saves messing around with paying them postage costs etc.

    If the item isn’t faulty, and they’ve just changed their minds, then we ask them to send it back to us themselves, and always say that as it isn’t faulty, we aren’t able to refund any postage costs.

    seems to work ok 🙂

  19. oh and #8, there is currently the option to opt-out, but that option will be removed at some point.

    #17, if you do it the old way (claim fees back through unpaid item dispute), then your fees are credited on your next invoice anyway.

  20. If you do a refund using this process do you have to do a !00% refund or can you refund a proportion ie: All except the postage costs?

  21. HUF, I don’t think anyone’s going to know that until they actually try it. But FWIW, the Distance Selling Regulations say that if you’re refunding for change of mind, you have to refund the outward postage too – so it’s not likely to be that much of an issue.

  22. #23

    That is what worries me. I know the regulations say that but I don’t do that. I have not had a customer yet who has raised an issue. I don’t want the new process to force me into changing my policy.

  23. Your policy can say almost anything, for example you could say:

    “I don’t refund postage costs”

    But, you must also state that it does not affect your statutory rights, which are that you are entitled to a FULL refund including postage costs.

    The seller is only breaking the law if he refuses to give a full refund when asked.

    The buyer needs to know their rights. However it’s good business practice to go beyond the minimum that the law requires.

  24. I agree Sue, we will do almost anything to keep a customer happy but I think Hereford is also correct in what he does, if that is the way he wants to do business.

    You don’t have to inform the customers of their cancellation rights, however if you don’t then the terms of return are skewed into the buyers favour (3 months + etc days blah blah).

    If you don’t have any terms and conditions then the maximum is applied under the DSRs.

  25. If Sue is right and business sellers are legally required to inform buyers of their right to cancel then why doesn’t eBay just do it at checkout and save everyone the hassle?

  26. #30 There are lots of exceptions, it doesn’t apply to all products bought at distance or all buyers (business to business are excluded for example).

    #29 Looks like you’re right. I thought you only had to make customers aware that their statutory rights are unaffected. We go beyond this anyway but most “webshops” are a very long way from being compliant.

  27. #25

    Sue I always exchange the item and make no issues. I have not met a customer yet who did not think it was reasonable to only refund the cost of the item. I always make sure customers are delighted.

    If you follow DSR to the letter of the law they are allowed to actually use the item and then return without the box meaning it can not be resold. I would go bust if a large number of buyers did this.

  28. I’ve lost count of the number of websites or eBay sellers who say they don’t refund wigs, hats etc due to hygiene reasons.

    Not to mention the websites that don’t display a phone number and say that the reason is that “we can answer your questions quicker via email” …?!?

  29. I have a reported a number of sellers who do not show business addresses including one that uses it websites in its photos. I have reported them at least 30 times and ebay still do nothing about it.

  30. I love the easy returns… I only get perhaps a couple of returns a week BUT you usually get an envelope with little details as to why, what and who from.

    Easy returns makes it easy….

    Slightly OT but why are Chinese sellers not ‘business sellers’? Anyone know? It seems incredible that there are now hundreds of ‘private’ sellers in China flooding the Beads catagory with FREE under 99p auction listings….

    (They must be free as only about 5% sell… if that .)

  31. eBay rules only state that you must register as a business seller once you reach a certain level of sales or at least thats the only time eBay enforce it.

    Maybe once they reach that level they drop the account and start another one.

  32. Pete @ 38: I assume that’s what happens. Strictly speaking, it is the intent and not the amount that is relevant.

  33. @36 “I have a reported a number of sellers who do not show business addresses including one that uses it websites in its photos. I have reported them at least 30 times and ebay still do nothing about it”

    30 times? Why do you do this? Surely you could find something more constructive to do with your time?


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