eBay UK Seller Release 2014: Mandatory Managed Returns for all business sellers

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From this autumn, all Business Sellers on eBay UK will be required to participate in the Managed Returns process. As I understand it, sellers will be gradually enrolled in the system. Before you are required to use it, you will be given at least 2 months in advance.

And in the run up to the changes there will apparently be some improvements made to Managed Returns:

• Royal Mail and Collect+ to be available with more drop-off points for buyers.
• Increased seller protection: improved processes to help eBay to investigate reports in buyer cases.
• Integration of managed returns with third-party listing tools.

It’s clear that an unambiguous returns policy inspires buyer confidence and is good for shoppers. There are also legal requirements for businesses.

But the question mark remains as to whether eBay is competent to administer such a programme. At the very least, from what we know of current buyer/seller disputes, it’s safe to say that eBay Customer Support lacks the verve to adjudicate fairly in the event of a disagreement.

What do you reckon?

Here’s the relevant page on eBay for more on Managed Returns.

164 Responses

  1. I opted in then opted out of managed returns as buyers know if they mark it as INR they get free return postage and eBay always sided with the buyer

  2. argh help
    managed returns not as described count against the new seller defect rating,
    all a buyer needs to do to avoid paying return postage is to invent a reason or even maliciously damage an item to gain free return postage and a ding for the seller ebay blither on about reporting and sending pictures but we all know thats a waste of effort

  3. Does anyone have any idea how much the charge will be for Royal Mail.
    Our average selling price is Around £5.00 to £10.00.
    When the customers start saying they will return because an item is slightly unpolished or whatever excuse they will use, will ebay automatically use Special Delivery?.
    At what price to us sellers?

    What happens if I reject a parcel?
    Ebay have told me a few months back when a customer hadn;t entered their house number in their dispatch details that the onus is still on me as a seller to ensure delivery to a customer. I wonder if that works in reverse? Sly smile.

    Does this also mean international orders?
    We charge £8.50 for an airsure packet of 20 grams to the USA.
    If a return came via UPS, UPS charge over £50.00 for a 20 gram packet.


  4. Quote from ebay

    “For all other business sellers, the use of managed returns will gradually become a requirement, but we encourage you to already consider opting in now to prepare for the change.”

    So as such we do not really know the time scale

  5. I still can’t see how this will work for sellers who sell big/heavy/fragile goods? You can’t send a fridge freezer by Royal Mail/collect+ ?!

  6. Ebay are increasingly taking over and interfering with seller owned areas of sales/returns under the pretext of “better customer experience”.

    I have wondered for several months about these mysterious ever increasing little boxes on size, weight, “abnormal parcel” etc on both turbo lister and ebay listing pages under shipping.

    My money is on this data becoming compulsory in all listings very soon under the pretext of ‘streamlining managed returns’.

    However I now see ebay as sticking its nose into product data and customer interraction that is not their concern nor their business and smell a long term plan to start selling top performing products themselves, once they get their catalogues pre-filled with this most precious of fulfilment data.

    As all us sellers know, the most difficult data to obtain is the size/weight/packaging for each individual product to minimise shipping costs and final sale price.

    With shipping data banked ebay just need to buy up a fulfilment company and they have instant market dominance and can challenge amazon, and us on our own products, head to head.

    Ebay, get this, I dont want you to carry my goods, i dont want you arranging and holding me to your return shipping.

    By all means offer discounts to buyers with 3rd party deals but dont tell me how, when and where I will be receiving customer returns from customers WE earned and take the risk over all over aspects.

  7. We’ve been using the managed returns process for a number of months since being asked by the product manager to try it out and give feedback.

    It’s a great idea and we like it, but it’s not really finished yet and there’s still a lot more to be done before it’s half way as good as not using the managed returns process. We gave our feedback but had no response whatsoever from the product team — as is usual at eBay, a few months have elapsed so you are never sure if they are still excited about / working on this product or indeed still employed by eBay.

    The prices negotiated by eBay for the returns are a joke. This is an organisation that is considerably better at writing a powerpoint presentation than it is at arm-wrestling a decent deal out of a courier. They should be ashamed. And then to have a system that uses a more expensive Royal Mail service for smaller items than the cheaper box courier service. Well that’s just sloppy coding.

    The inevitable problem is buyers learning the system (if you lie and claim SNAD then your postage is paid — otherwise you pay it). There is an option in the product flow for sellers to report this. Nothing happens if you do: you are still charged the postage and everything goes the buyer’s way.

    This is a great idea. It’s just not been built yet. Forcing people to use it should come after it has been finished.

  8. being poked in the eye by paying for a return because the buyers not being honest is one thing ,
    but the follow on kick in the nuts to your seller standing is simply revolting

  9. Many thanks for the feedback, just a few answers to your questions and comments:

    eBay only requires you to pay for the return shipping if something is wrong with the item, if the buyer tries to abuse the system then you can ‘report a returns issue’, and eBay will investigate. We are also refining our buyer abuse detection systems every time you report a buyer to prevent buyers ‘learning the system’.

    The postage rate we have at present with Collect+ will be useful for some sellers but not for low value items, but we are working to get the rates as low as we can with Royal Mail on board from Autumn. The rate used will be a tracked return rate from Royal Mail, the buyer doesn’t get a choice of service, we will simply go with the cheapest service available for the weight of your item (remember the buyer pays unless the item is damaged). If you have low value items in the mean time you can opt-in and set a rule to not have them returned.

    For large items that our couriers won’t take, we don’t ask the buyer to use managed returns, we direct them to contact you directly as they currently do today.

    Please do keep any questions coming, I am very keen to hear what everyone thinks and help to clarify where I can.

  10. “If you have low value items in the mean time you can opt-in and set a rule to not have them returned”

    So a buyer can claim a refund on any flimsy pretext and get to keep the item anyway?

  11. Hi Emma, I would just like to know why ebay seem intent on penalising sellers?
    why should an after sale query from buyer regarding delivery or an items use go against seller?

    why should a refund for an unwanted item go against a seller? why should a 3 for item as described go against a seller, it’s overkill,
    I can understand why negatives / 1 and 2’s would be a defect but the amount of cases that are opened just when buyer wants to ask a question is going to affect a sellers account standing is wrong,

  12. Although I’ve only scraped the surface of the Seller Update so far, impressions are that it’s all just a step too far. The amount of effort to sell relitively low value items really isn’t worth the effort and hoop-jumping anymore. Sad that it’s come to this after being a member for 14 years and a business seller for the last decade. eBay is just too much effort for increasingly poor returns. I’m going to be dedicating 100% of my effort towards my website from now on, probably puling the plug on eBay by August or sooner if things go better than planned.

  13. DAN
    “Id like to remind everyone that this is a forum for professional business people and exchanges should be framed with that in mind. A spirit of fairminded discussion will also be appreciated.”

    could you please make this point to emma, and add patronising to your comment

    to emma,
    has any seller every won a case for wrongful claim for INR

  14. Emma
    have you every experienced the futility of reporting a buyer to ebay
    costing even more time and frustration

  15. @ Emma,
    You make it sound so simple with: ‘remember the buyer pays unless the item is damaged’.

    But that isn’t so is it?
    What about wrong item, wrong size, wrong colour (that’s a particularly difficult one), and then there is a whole tranche of sellers who currently offer to pay for change of mind returns as well.

    There are sellers whose service is personal, who get to know their customers and who encourage dialogue and who are happy to have returns sent untracked. Buyers and sellers are going to be stuck with an overpriced service.

    And then there are items that are small and cost little to return – the rate card from RM will be very interesting. Unless the rates are very cheap indeed, the service will fall into the ‘rip off’ category. And that will do very little for the eBay image will it?

    This is imported procedure from US where tracking is very cheap, not so in UK.

  16. For seller’s outside of the UK, but registered on the UK site, what happens when this becomes mandatory? eBay simply say in their FAQ:

    I am based outside the UK, but I list items on eBay.co.uk. Can I use managed returns?
    – You can use managed returns if you actively list on eBay.co.uk and you have:
    – An account on eBay.co.uk
    – A registered address in the UK
    – A returns address in the UK

    Will we be exempt?
    As it stands I sell low value items so just refund rather than ask for a return, which I see eBay will make provisions for, but I still don’t know what happens with international selllers?

  17. For transactions completed between November and December, you’ll need to offer an extended holiday returns period to continue receiving your eBay Premium Service benefits. This includes accepting any returns until 31 January.

    I am going to buy all of herefords gifts sets on the first of November any that have not sold sell I will return in january

    FFS on a bike 3 months return sanctioned by ebay is just plain crazy,
    no trs seller discount for us over Christmas then

  18. yes of course just the 2 busiest months of the year,
    though we could simply buy up all our competitions stock and return it to them in January if their daft enough to offer such a ridiculous return policy

  19. Hi All

    In the spirit of this being a professional forum, I would hope you would exchange me the same courtesy as any other professional and refrain from personal jibes.

    I am happy to answer questions and clarify where I can.

    eBay are not getting a kick back from this, it is not in our interest to do so, we want to keep the prices low for both buyers and sellers. As you have all identified they are currently not low enough at the moment and we are working on this.

    Majority of returns we are seeing come through are for remorse reasons and in this case the buyer pays for the returns shipping. I would like to understand which category ‘Northumbrian’ is in if he is seeing all of his items come back with him having to pay shipping.

    No signature is required for the parcels, it’s all done with a scan, this scan is also shown to the buyer so they know the item has come back to you and changes the next steps you need to complete in the returns dashboard.

    In terms of sellers who would like to pay for the return shipping for their buyers this can be done by changing your structured returns fields in your listing to say ‘sellers pays’ for the return shipping. You are right though in that this won’t be on a customer by customer basis, and in this way we will be losing the personal touch, but ultimately we need to get a consistent returns process for our buyers on site.

    The system does offer up a label, very similar to the Amazon process, however the reasons selected by the buyer for the return decide who pays for the postage, but of course as I mentioned before you can ‘report a returns issue’.

    I would like to hear your thoughts on if you see buyers abusing returns today and what you do about it? The law is quite lenient towards buyers in this country right now on this. Is this just a hazard of doing business online? How would you protect against buyers abusing the returns reasons to get free returns shipping if you were eBay?

  20. Emma even though you request courtesy I find your comment distasteful and close to accusation
    our category is jewellery

  21. to help you “understand” last 3 returns below we can email you item numbers if you wish

    ~ 25-Feb-14 Item defective Return closed £101.01 £101.01 —
    04-Mar-14 Item defective Return closed £99.00 £99.00 —
    05-Mar-14 Item defective Return closed £252.99 £252.99 —

  22. “but of course as I mentioned before you can ‘report a returns issue’.”
    emma have you
    any evidence or data ,that any seller has every been refunded or
    had a case found in their favour concerning a return Issue?

  23. Emma,

    Can you possibly shed any light on whether it will be a particular group of business sellers (e.g., Premium Service sellers) that will be opted into managed returns first, or will it just be a rolling cohort of business sellers, in general?

    This is important to us for planning purposes, as we would like to gauge how long we will be remaining on eBay. We will NOT sign up for the managed returns programme, as we refuse to rip off our customers. We do not require them to pay for tracked postage in order to obtain a refund, and while we very rarely experience returns, most of them can be sent to us via Royal Mail at £1.20 or less. Nor will we allow our customers to keep merchandise in lieu of returning, unless the item is clearly defective or damaged.

  24. Emma

    I would also like to know timelines as I think I will also have to leave eBay.

    My sales 1 year ago were over £30k per month. They have now dropped to just over £11k.

    I sell items that generally cost me around £2.5 and I make around £1 on each item.

    I can not join in this process.

    If I start telling customers that they can keep the product if they don’t like it I might as well take all my stock to the charity shop and save myself the bother of wrapping it.

  25. were not imagining it nor are we making it up ,were in the trenches at the sharp end ,a full time business ,
    ebay can stick its head in the sand!
    its real
    many buyers manipulate and game the system with impunity, ebay can say report them, though anything ebay are doing seems not to be having any effect, we feel on our own and unsupported by ebay

  26. If we know that we made an error in the listing or the buyer can prove it wasn’t as described then we always refund the buyer for return shipping (or let them keep the product if it is low value).

    If we are unsure whether it is SNAD then we get it returned and then act accordingly (refunding the return shipping if buyer is correct),

    If we categorically know the buyer is lying then the only recourse we have at the moment is to make them pay to return the item (even if we don’t want it back!) .

    This is our business decision to make as we can not rely on ebay to know when the buyer is lying. For example we may sell and send out a green jumper and the buyer claims it’s red…we have never had red jumpers but how would ebay know that?

    Just as an example…we sold a product to a guy that then emailed us to ask how to use it…we explained. He then said that he was unhappy with the product as it was too fiddly for him to use even after he had modified it. Factor into it that this item was a hygiene product. We declined the return stating he had used it (it had been in his mouth) and he had modified it. He started a SNAD dispute claiming it was broken and ebay found in his favour EVEN after we rang them and referred them to all his ebay messages. So if you can not trust ebay to realise when that buyer was lying and ripping a seller off then what hope have you got with the smarter more devious buyers!

  27. I am a seller on ebay selling personalised invitations and I’m worried about these changes. It is already hard for sellers in this recession and to be forced into paying extra charges for returns or letting the customer keep the goods just to avoid the costs or bad feedback will no doubt put many sellers at financial risk – why make this harder for sellers to earn a living.
    From years of experience I carefully list what I sell and a customer will always win in a dispute despite having evidence stating otherwise. Because I sell personalised items I always state the type of card I print on and provide a emailed proof to them for approval to avoid errors. Some customers have then raised a claim of the item not as described because the card is not thick enough or a spelling error has been made, by them, yet I lose the case very time. I can’t even re-sell the product because it is personalised so I am out of pocket each time. This does not happen often and I am happy to work with the customer to agree a solution, but this will change things automatically that they can return and get a refund for a product that I cannot resell and will be out of pocket for the cost, postage and return.
    Emma, please can you tell me how you will deal with personalised goods for returns?

  28. admiralhardinge asked:
    “Processes and requirements are poorly designed, not robustly tested, and give the impression of never having been near anyone who actually does business through the platform”

    I must clarify that I am one of the lucky folks who are invited down to the eBay Seller Council meetings on a regular basis. We chat with the polite and respectful eBay glitterati – the delightful Emma included of course.
    The contents of this eBay Seller Release are discussed with sellers from various selling categories to gauge opinion.
    I think that eBay get the true opinions from the sellers in the meeting but in my experience I have not known an expressed opinion to be acted upon or for it to have changed the way that eBay wanted to go.
    With this particular hot potato I expressed my concern in my particular category meeting and highlighted ALL the issues to eBay on the day that are being voiced here. So before the Seller Release was sent out yesterday, eBay were aware of the type of concerns that sellers have. They are proactive in wanting to hear what sellers have to say. They do listen. They do take notes and discuss. However I get the impression that the mind is made up before such opinions are solicited.
    As for me, I always look for ways around something if being bullied by the big companies. I must admit though that I am struggling with a way to find a loophole with this one. But my postman did say to me today, when I asked him, that if I didn’t accept a scanned item back then he could not scan it as being delivered to me. So where would that leave us all if nothing was confirmed as being delivered back to a seller, and sent back to the buyer as “return to sender”?

  29. admiralhardinge asked:
    “Processes and requirements are poorly designed, not robustly tested, and give the impression of never having been near anyone who actually does business through the platform”

    I must clarify that I am one of the lucky folks who are invited down to the eBay Seller Council meetings on a regular basis. We chat with the polite and respectful eBay glitterati – the delightful Emma included of course.
    The contents of this eBay Seller Release are discussed with sellers from various selling categories to gauge opinion.
    I think that eBay get the true opinions from the sellers in the meeting but in my experience I have not known an expressed opinion to be acted upon or for it to have changed the way that eBay wanted to go.
    With this particular hot potato I expressed my concern in my particular category meeting and highlighted ALL the issues to eBay on the day that are being voiced here. So before the Seller Release was sent out yesterday, eBay were aware of the type of concerns that sellers have. They are proactive in wanting to hear what sellers have to say. They do listen. They do take notes and discuss. However I get the impression that the mind is made up before such opinions are solicited.
    As for me, I always look for ways around something if being bullied by the big companies. I must admit though that I am struggling with a way to find a loophole with this one. But my postman did say to me today, when I asked him, that if I didn’t accept a scanned item back then he could not scan it as being delivered to me. So where would that leave us all if nothing was confirmed as being delivered back to a seller, and sent back to the buyer as “return to sender”?

  30. Hi
    I can see clearly that the issue with this new return scheme is not only providing the customers with great service and experience, it is selling the return service to the sellers.
    obviously eBay will get a cheap return service from royal mail or collect plus and sell it to the sellers at higher prices.

    If eBay honest and transparent about the new return policy, would ask the seller to provide or upload their own return postal labels as many sellers have their own return service with curriers or the royal mail.

    Any seller protection or safeguard brought by eBay is only a joke, many buyers have been reported for blackmailing and abusing all these policy and the are living on eBay happy ever after abusing and blackmailing more and more.

    there are 3 types of items are sold on ebay
    1- cheap small items, according to the new return policy obviously, eBay asking to refund the buyer and writ off the item it is not worth the return cost.
    2- large items which ebay is still not sure how to deal with it
    3-quite valuable items which worth returning but you will be lucky as a seller if you receive it back as one piece.

    Im not sure why all these discussions about the new policy as it will not make any different as ebay has taken the decision aleardy to sell the sellers to buyers very cheap. what you need to do as sellers is that doubling your prices and make the buyers pay for all these jokes.
    at the end if every case will be counted against the seller, what is the incentive for the sellers to deal and solve it as the damage has happened.

  31. An observation.
    eBay already sells RM postage on the site. It is sold at non discounted RM rates. eBay gets a kick-back from RM for ‘selling’ the postage.
    It is likely that the RM ‘rate card’ for managed returns will be at the same prices and will therefore be uncompetitive compared with RM contract rates that are available to business sellers.
    If the RM ‘rate card’ is at any sort of discount to the prices at which eBay sells first time postage, any seller simply MUST INSIST that eBay sells the first time RM postage at no more than the prices for return!!
    This is because the service provided by RM for either first time delivery or return IS EXACTLY THE SAME.
    eBay will be accused of nefarious practice if there is a difference and any referral to the OFT would likely find against eBay.
    What do you think?

  32. How much will ebay actually pay RM for a returned parcel? Will we see prroof or will that information be commercial in confidence? And how much will they charge the seller? I bet there’s a difference in ebay’s favour.

    I don’t like the idea that ebay will now have an incentive to see parcels returned to a seller. It spells trouble for us.

  33. Dan

    Could you ask Emma to respond to the questions? It was great that she came on but now she seems to have disappeared.


  34. As far as i’m concerned, these new rules leave Sellers open for more theft,dishonesty and abuse from Buyers.
    Ebay loves to talk about how it will punish Sellers for perceived poor performance, but how does it root out dishonest Buyers exactly ?
    For instance, how is it possible that a Seller can be penalized for having an item returned as “Not as Described”, when that particular listing has 100% Positive Feedback on 1000 sales !!!
    A Buyer can send back anything they like in a packet as long as it weighs the same as the original item, and they WILL get refunded.
    Id like to know EXACTLY what Ebay are doing to deter dishonest Buyers. I cannot see anything on my dashboard that monitors my performance as a Buyer.

  35. A lot of well informed sellers making valid reasoned points here and clearly underlining that they already adhere to DSR and seek to give (genuine) customers additional services over and above the minimum.

    Ebay, given its size and buyeing power, have no reason to not obtain a courier rate with a major carrier for up to 30kg large items up to 1.5m x 1.5m for under £6. We did, and we are way smaller than ebay.

    That leaves just small items to be processed at RM packet rates, on a non profit basis. Other than monster items which reasonably can be exempt.

    Should the return rates be higher than these rates then it will serve as evidence to anyone who has their own carrier contracts of clear profiting on the sale of return shipping to buyers, and profiteering at the expense of sellers in inflated/disproportional charges.

    Given that ebay take a firm stance on sellers inflating shipping charges and consider it a breach of policy to do so, it would be a serious matter of bad faith and possible contractual breach to seek to profit in the same way from returns aspects of the contract of sale in any way.

    As we are business people, not buyers or moral crusaders, we see the angles in these proposals as contrary to ebays view we do actually know our own businesses and markets and customers needs and wants.

    It is good that Ebay Emma has engaged in this forum as too often the silence from her masters is deafening. However ‘Nonny’ has demonstrated that listening, and acting are two entirely different things.

    Personally I see ebay glancing at intermediary companies like parcel2go, parcelmonkey etc and see a win-win situation to control returns to make it easier for THEM (not us) to fast track dispute cases in the buyers favour. To do that whilst tacking on a nice money spinner in a re-sellers commission per parcel for returns is christmas come early.

    In summary, if the rates are 1) market rates commensurate with a global company’s contract rate and 2) only enforce against a seller once proof of return DELIVERY has been obtained then I doubt us sellers will complain.

    But try to enforce inflated returns shipping costs on a seller on the pretext of being a condition of selling on ebay and I believe there is grounds to consider breaches of tort law on mitigation and profiteering by placing sellers under duress.

    Ebay rules are one thing, but there is a bigger stick called UK and EU law. Amazon found that out with their ‘parity’ clauses they refused for years to concede were unlawful.

    Ultimately, its just seeking to herd entrepreneurs who by definition are not animals who like being herded anywhere, by anyone.

  36. “We are also refining our buyer abuse detection systems every time you report a buyer to prevent buyers ‘learning the system’”

    its like trying to prosecute every speeding offence on the MI motorway,
    only the unlucky ,,the stupid, and the dangerous will be caught,,
    the difference is we get the points on our licence for those that slip the net

  37. This returns system is just none sense. Where there are large sums of money involved, and the Buyer and Seller cannot resolve the dispute, there should be a Return Address owned by Ebay where the Seller can request the Buyer to send it to for inspection.
    I would gladly pay two return fees and an admin fee to root out the dishonest Buyers.
    I have to be honest, I am quite worried about selling expensive items when Ebay always sides with the Buyer who returns something using tracked post.

  38. Hi All,

    Once again, thanks for the comments, I am taking all of your feedback and will be looking to see how we can make you feel better supported from abusive buyers in the returns system and I can assure you I will do all I can to improve this. To David’s point you are right, we need better visibility and a well tracked flow for when you do report a problem with a return, and clear notifications of the outcome. I am also working on some pieces to try and catch abusive buyers before they even initiate a return.

    I can only keep telling you we are not making a profit from the returned shipping cost, it makes no sense for us to do so, we want to ensure that the cost of the shipping is as low as possible and as you have all identified it’s not cheap enough yet.

    To ‘Nonny-Mouse’ we have had quite a few seller councils over the years and we do take on board all of the feedback and make changes, I can give examples of projects that have been completely pulled thanks to seller’s feedback and others that have changed beyond recognition. Returns is not one that can be pulled if we as a Marketplace want to ensure we all have a competitive future, the changes that online retailers are making in this space and the ways they are using it to their competitive advantage mean that we have to have a consistent returns experience for buyers or we will start to lose them to others who do provide this.

    A lot of the changes that were talked about at the council are also being talked about here, which is good as we are already working on solves where we can. The council was only in Feb, so I may need a bit more time than a month.

    I am taking on board your feedback and will work hard between now and Autumn to make things better.

    Keep telling me what you would like improving with returns. Thanks all. Emma

  39. Hi, Emma, good to see that you still engaging with us.

    I note that you have not responded to my query above, about when eBay plans to have all sellers enrolled in the Managed Returns programme. Could you kindly answer my question?

    Thank you.

  40. Everyone is going to react differently to the changes. It simply would have been nice if Emma had done me the courtesy of at least acknowledging my question. My business partner has just agreed that we will shut down our eBay shop when it gets quiet in the summer – no point wasting money on shop fees at that time of the year. So, Emma and her colleagues are free to continue giving me the same level of attention that they have so far.

    Edited to add: Done with Tamebay, done with eBay. No point wasting my time further.

  41. we’re in the home and garden category, we’re also getting a 10% increase in final value fees (from 10% to 11%, may not seem like much, but is a 10% increase in costs), along with managed returns which will be impossible to facilitate on half our items.

    “Yes Granny Smith, eBay wants you to self-label this quarter-ton of bedroom furniture and carry it down the post office yourself. we used to offer a very reasonable doorstep courier collection, but they wont let us offer you that any more, enjoy your free eBay return.”

    i can see my customers being ecstatic with this revelation, no doubt tripling our “defect” rate overnight.

    we just had a buyer refunded, with a message from eBay along the lines of “we’re very sorry, we can see that the buyer has clearly agreed with you that they will bear the return costs since its clearly her fault, however we told her we’d give here a full refund anyway, so we’ve given here a full refund, out of your pocket”

    we do not trust you eBay, we have very good reason to not trust you. it comes from us seeing every day what you do with our trust. we all have first hand experience of it, every one of us. coming here and telling us we’re imaging it and you’re really nice and fair to us will win you no more trust or respect. it is an insult.

    imagine if you emptied a buyers bank account without warning, told them that you did it because of no fault of theirs, but no you wont refund them, you’re keeping it, and they better appreciate how damn nice you are to them. imagine it. now realise you do that to us lot EVERY SINGLE DAY.

  42. Hi Emma,
    I have a few questions. The majority of the items I sell are low value £2-£3. They tend to weigh under 100g and go as a large letter size with royal mail. I have a royal mail business account, as I’m sure most of the sellers on here do. I can send my items as a 2nd class large letter for an average of 58p, 71p for 1st. Will eBay be able to match this price, or better it for the managed returns? If you can match or better the prices we all pay, I’m sure everybody would be a lot less concerned, but at the moment we have no idea, and the only info I can find on eBay says a second class return through the managed returns will cost £4.50 & a First class £5.90 with collect+, which compared to the prices most of us pay, is extortionate.

    Will the managed returns system account for large letter sizes, or will we be forced to send large letters at a parcel sized rate. And if you will be accounting for large letters how do you determine which is which & the return postage to charge, will we have to go through every single listings and put the weight/size of the packages in?

    Also if I am forced to have items returned tracked/recorded instead of just via standard post, more often than not the return postage cost will be more than the item cost the buyer to purchase (including p&p)

    If eBay can not match or better the return postage price, then I will be paying more for the return of an item than I could get myself through royal mail – in which case it would be cheaper for me to send return postage labels out with every purchase. However because the managed returns will be compulsory I won’t have this option.

    If the return postage cost is more than the item cost what will happen? Will I have to pay it anyway; will the buyer have to pay it if it’s a simple change of mind? Or will I have to tell my customers not to return the items, which seems really unfair – the buyer gets to keep the item AND get a refund? I thought that under the distance selling regulations a buyer had to return an item in order to get a refund/replacement – but eBay are telling sellers we don’t have to do this, you can tell your buyers don’t return it/change your setting so you don’t require a return?

    At the moment I do not get many returns, I’m lucky if I get 1/2 every 3 months. I am also concerned that’s this new managed returns will increase the returns I get and therefore defects.

    If you could assure us that the return postage costs will be better than the over the counter costs, around the same level/better than we all pay with our royal mail business accounts, then I’m sure everybody would feel a lot better about the managed returns, If every single eBay return is going to go through royal mail, that is a vast amount, so surely eBay can negotiate a postage rate better than all us small business’s can? But at the moment we have no idea what the costs will be & no confidence that eBay will give us reasonable prices, We feel that we are going to be paying extortionate return costs.

  43. Alana-Alice,
    You have written words from my mind and I’m in the same boat as you with regards to low value cost items. I recently sold some white balloons to a customer who then raised a dispute saying they weren’t white. We replied asking for them to return or explain what colour they received so we could deal with it. Overnight the customer escalated the dispute to ebay and they refunded the customer from my palpal account immediately without even investigating it. Where is the evidence of wrong goods received? Or the chance to deal with the claim? Yet again the customer is always right, they get a free product and money back whilst I have to bare the cost and bad feedback.
    Ebay should not even consider applying managed returns without full testing and concrete return prices. I also sell on amazon and even though they have managed returns I do not have to pay for it unless I approve this. I very rarely get returns through amazon or bad feedback, but ebay is a different story as the buyers know the loopholes and how easy it is to get free products.
    This will just increase it-thanks ebay!
    I wonder if the large outlets will be exempt from this? If so it’s just another kick in the teeth to small businesses trying to survive.

  44. I predict widescale use of the returns process as a ‘try before you buy’ service.

    It is clear, in ebays recent lexicon, that the phrase “the cost of doing business” is how they dismiss sellers valid concerns.

    The principle being that like woolworths pick and mix you expect some shoplifting/theft, or you are as big as Next to hide returns as a free for all service in gigantic turnover.

    This ‘cost of doing business’ however only works on the fact you are making enough overall to give some back.

    Unfortunately as we ALL know and testify, our ebay sales are generally going DOWN so until ebay fix the consistency and reliability of their shoddy IT and stop interfering with our listing presence most of us cant afford the “cost of doing business”.

    This “cost” is also, ultimately, discretionary and at OUR convenience not ebays to give away as they choose without our say so.

    I would reclassify it as the “cost of doing business on EBAY”, and that is a cost many of us are seriously questioning as a price worth paying compared to other outlets which have no such issues.

  45. So.. What happens for those of us that have a Royal Mail License freepost address that we give customers for returns that are our fault?

    On Amazon, we use their returns system, and either select our freepost address if its our fault, or unpaid postage label if change of mind – WE decide based on the customer return request – not the customer

    This would be simple to implement – let US manage the returns

    Not happy that I have to pay Collect + or RM to return using their standard rates – as most of our items go large letter and return using freepost is simple – also customers like just being able to put the item in the postbox – not taking / dropping off somewhere.

  46. As a 10 year+ ebay seller, I have seen traffic fall considerably, sales drop, margins drop – this despite being a 100% positive account with most DSRs at 4.97 or above (i.e. near perfect) , Top Rated etc.

    Whats interesting is ebay dont realise that chronic under investment in tools, whist increasing the burden of TIME to actually list item, this together with retrospective changing of historic listings (with e.g. photo improvements, items specifics changing etc) causes me to just list all my inventory FIRST on Amazon, and then if I have time put it on ebay.

    The result is a switch of % share of Amazon v ebay from last year of 70% ebay / 30 % Amazon to around 60% Amazon/30% ebay.

    ebay need to make it easier to sell, not more difficult. Changes to shops is just window dressing – its irrelevant – IT WONT INCREASE SALES.

    ebay has a place, but you have lost the hearts and minds of the traditional sellers, and ultimately it will just be a place to buy crap from Debenhams et al that no one wanted in the last season sales.

  47. The items that we send from our shop are packed carefully and go as large letters … If returned and packed badly (which will be the case) … they will be small parcels which costs more ….. How does ebay account for this in their calculations?????

  48. Emma,

    Good day to you. Apologies if you have answered this or sim. already.

    It states in the seller release about managed returns that ‘It’ll then gradually become a requirement for all business sellers.’

    We sell jacuzzi’s, have done so online for 12 years (10 on eBay) the delivery is very specialised, the avg. size wrapped is 200x100cm, so as you can imagine if a customer wanted to return something the same applies. All products go via specilised pallet networks, not just because they are better at it, but the sizes of our products are not accepted by parcel carriers.

    I’m assuming the managed returns will develop further before you force us to use it, or, the statement about forcing everyone to use it was actually a mistake, or you will close down the accounts of anyone who sells large items?

    Take another example. lady buys a new sofa, it’s delivered, she comes to unwrap it and discovers it’s too big, she lives in the country and doesn’t own a car, her nearest collect + is 13 miles away by bicycle, what does she do?

    I buy some gym equipment with weights, in total 150kg of equipment, do I have to hand ball that to the local spar shop to return it?

    Let’s say all 3 buyers eventually manage to get to the Collect + shop without dying of exhaustion or a having coronary, what then?

    Collect +
    Please remember that we also cannot carry any item that is outside of our maximum dimensions of 60x50x50cm or our maximum weight of 10kg.

    Post Office
    1.5m in length and 3m length and depth combined
    Weight limit: 30kg
    Large parcels can only be sent via Parcelforce

    None of the items above are eligible for either carrier network.

    Just like beds, wardrobes, tables, dinning sets, bathroom suites etc etc etc would be.

    Be grateful for some more info.

  49. Emma

    I have just been left a neutral feedback. The customer has not contacted me and they left the following comment.

    “Very good service thank u”

    Please can you confirm if this will count as a defect.


  50. Emma

    Can’t you see that it is wrong that a customer decides whether the return is free or not? Quite often faulty can mean I haven’t read the instructions correctly? Not as described can mean I didn’t actually bother reading the listing before I bought it?

    How the system should work is the buyer initiates a return for whatever reason, the seller has 2 working days to issue a returns number and this point the seller decides to issue a paid postage return or a non paid postage return or just refund the item without the customer having to return it. If the seller doesn’t reply within 2 working days or they are not happy with the sellers decision, they have the choice of accepting a non paid postage return or they can escalate it to ebay who can review the communication between the seller and the customer and make a decision.

    The other problem is the cost of the returns, £4.50 is too expensive. On the items we sell Royal Mail 2nd Class plus recorded is £2.80. If we use Royal Mail Tracked returns the price is £1.86.


  51. someone with some clout should make a list of grievances that need to be addressed by ebay and then organise a day of action where every hacked off seller simultaneously starting at midnight put the holiday settings on and hide all listings for 24 hours .No sales no fees for them and if thousands act together maybe they will start to listen to the people who have made their business what it is .It’s time Ebay realised that they are messing with peoples lives and livelihoods. Enough is enough!

  52. As far as i see it, if Ebays managed fiasco won’t except anything over 100cm x 50cm x 100cm, just make sure all the size and weight bands on the SYI pages are over these, even if you sell postage stamps.
    End of managed returns, for a while anyway.

  53. The only courier, well joke they have is collect and throw over the fence +.
    I really can’t see Royal Mail bothering with Ebay to be honest, why do this and lose trade from its OBA’s.
    Can’t see it myself, it’s pie in the sky.

  54. Emma what is your knowledge base? Have you sold on ebay? Were you a powerseller ? Did you have TRS? If not then how can we have confidence in you . I suspect the answer is no for you , Alan and Barry If it were not so these changes would be much less amateurish and have the support of the professional sellers who are currently your critics

  55. The seller has the LEGAL right to inspect goods returned BEFORE issuing any refund, exchange, or considering offering to pay additional concessions such as return shipping costs. With such costs exceeding the original sale/delivery costs paid by the buyer to the seller in the “invitation to treat” listing.

    That is enshrined in both the sale of goods act and distance selling regulations which seek to protect buyer and seller EQUALLY and without prejudice or preference.

    The act of compelling a seller to effectively accept liability for return shipping costs, upfront, without ability to inspect/test and validate goods/complaints as genuine or reasonable, in my view, prejudices the legal right of the seller under the sale of goods act and introduces a term within the ebay policies that is NOT enforcable under law.

    To seek to compel a seller to waive their rights in this way seeks in my view to supercede contract law and the sale of goods act, and constitutes placing one party (in this case seller) at a disadvantage without placing the complainant (buyer) under the onus of proof and duty to act in utmost good faith at all times as laid down in law.

    It is a fundamental cornerstone of contract law that no party should enter a contract with the intention to gain an advantage over the other.

    I believe a case could be argued that where a seller has legitimate reason to suspect exaggerated/fabricated or manipulated grounds to return goods on the part of a buyer they have the legal right to expect the buyer to first return goods, at buyers cost, for inspection.

    To do otherwise is, in my view, a potentially unlawful act in placing a seller under duress to accept terms that prejudice their legal rights, as a pre-requisite to offer goods for sale on the ebay platform.

    I’d love to hear from someone in ebay with some legal qualification on this as I would hope someone has checked the law before coming up with new compulsory demands on businesses to increase their costs in this way?

  56. “You should refund a customer’s money as soon as possible after

    they cancel an order, and in any case, within 30 days at the latest.

    The right to a refund is not connected either to the return of the

    product nor the customer’s duty to exercise reasonable care of

    the goods. Even if the customer fails to take reasonable care

    of the goods, you must make a full refund. You can bring a claim

    for damages separately.

    You must refund the customer’s money even if you have not yet

    collected the goods or had them returned to you by the customer.

    You cannot insist on receiving the goods before you make a refund.”

    Page 28 DSR Hub https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fdshub.tradingstandards.gov.uk%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2FDSexplained_PDF.pdf

  57. If eBay are not taking any commission because they want to keep prices down…why did they just add 10% to outward postage?

    If I have to use your managed returns it will be the end of 12 years selling on site…with 100% feedback! Why? Because I want to decide whether the buyer returns and pays or not for the return or keeps the item (subject to DSRs)! Not everything is black and white! You can’t put that you will pay for the return and handle it before it’s sold….before the problem has surfaced ….it’s barmy! AND who is going to ensure that it is fully insured …..

    The new seller policy is utter rubbish ……the problem is that eBay sets ridiculously high standards and does not inform buyers as to precisely how they evaluate DSRs left! Any normal person would see par as 3 …..however because buyers are often sellers ….and know that to get the MINIMUM 4.6 you need the majority 5 and no lower than 4 …..you can see the problem! It is a totally distorted system with some thinking 3 is AVERAGE whilst others and eBay see 4 as par! Unfortunately eBay are not informing EVERYONE that to leave a 3 means the transaction is now DEFECTIVE!

    No-one has said just what happens when you become Below Standard either. I am TRS WITH 100% pos feedback from day 1….3 monthly DSR score of 5 in everything….12 month 4.94 4.99 4.97 4.93 ……no open cases …..no eBay interventions ….and I’m predicted to be downgraded to Above Average. On that basis, next re-evaluation I would probably be Below Average! It’s easy to think its about clawing back 15% discount on FVF…but is it more a matter of eBay wanting rid of small sellers? John Donohoe has stated that he wanted rid of the ‘noise’…..I’m part of that ‘noise’! I reckon thousands will be culled just as they were last autumn! Will boost the UK Economy no end won’t it…lots of excellent small businesses going to the wall….

    Lots of people will get nasty shocks in August/Feb!

  58. in my 30 plus years in business it constantly changes ,tescos on the way out ,small shops nice food on the way in ,still have my bricks and mortar shop ,high st will become a lot cheaper than the internet and more pleasant after 14 years of ebay ,and it has been good business ,though no pleasure,,nothing lasts for ever ,there are other ways of making a living

  59. I’ve always been happy to offer free returns to all my customers and all my listings clearly state this. As a result of this announcement I have decided to end this offer (on ebay anyway).
    Sorry if I’m straying off-topic but can anyone tell me if there is a quick way to do this. I’ve been playing with ebay’s bulk edit thingamy-jig for half hour and have got nowhere.
    I have over a thousand items listed on ebay stating ‘14 days refund, seller pays return postage’. Do I have to go through each item one at a time to change them all to ‘buyer pays return postage’? If so, I’m in for a very busy and very un-productive weekend.

  60. SUSPENDED BY EBAY OR HAD BAD EXPERIENCES WITH EBAY? We are in the process of assembling/compiling what people are saying nationwide about their experiences at eBay. Two books are being created to be released in the near future both as online ebooks and possibly in print media as well. THE EBAY PAPERS Death and Destruction of an American Economic Juggernaut. “Book of Gideon” working title “What You Don’t Know About Ebay Will Hurt You” exposing malfeasance and the abuse of sellers by the world’s second largest online electronic selling platform. The author of the two books, Rich Vernadeau, is himself a former ebay seller and the founder of two Facebook groups (Former Ebay Sellers and Former Ebay Sellers 2 Open Forum). All submissions from former and current ebay sellers, users in their own words. Stories may also be submitted to (and will be used from) the OPEN FB group Former Ebay Sellers 2 Open Forum. You may submit your stories/experiences at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/formerebaysellers2openforum/

  61. Hi I am a member of the public and an eBay buyer and just thought I would add what I think – I hope this is OK – sorry of I am ‘butting in’. If I buy something online I need to be absolutely sure that I can return it free of charge. This is why I use Amazon mostly and not eBay. In my experience, Amazon just let you print a label and send the item back. I have never ever had the slightest problem with Amazon (I have bought about about 100 items over the past six years and returned about 7). I would never buy anything major from eBay as I am scared of not being able to return it – or at least, scared of getting into a protracted fight with the seller. It would have to be absolutely crystal clear and guaranteed by eBay itself that I could return items – then I would price compare eBay with Amazon and use both. Hope this helps.

  62. We are a managed seller in the apparel category. PLEASE do not go ahead with this eBay. We provide a prepaid returns label with every item and charge 2 pounds for a Customer to use it. This is the cost of RM Tracked returns. Works just fine. You guys at Ebay have a nasty habit of tinkering with that which is not broken. We have almost 200,000 feedback and I should add that if your managed returns became mandatory it would mean the end of a fair returns system. U would render yourselves powerless to abuse of the system. STOP FORCING IT DOWN OUR THROATS EMMA, EBAY AND ALL THOSE SITTING IN LONDON HQ.


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