eBay are gradually making the new Managed Returns process a requirement for all sellers throughout 2014 and 2015, for some (who are being notified by email) as early as from the 13th August this year.
From Autumn 2014, buyers will be able to print Royal Mail postage labels (starting from £3.00*) and then drop off their parcel to any UK Post Office. There’s also the option to use Collect Plus, so with the combined 11,500 Post Offices and 5,500 local stores where you can send parcels with Collect Plus, that’s some 17,000 locations from which returns can be sent.
Although mandatory Managed Returns has received a luke warm (or cold!) reception from many sellers, there are some advantages, not least of which is the unspoken “If it’s going to cost me £3 to return this 99p item that cost the seller 60p to post, I may as well bin it and not bother the seller“. More importantly eBay will be able to view all returns and weed out perpetual returners or buyers who abuse the system claiming not as described instead of change of heart – all returns information will be recorded.
eBay have also made it easier to report an issue through eBay Managed Returns. When a seller reports a returns issue, eBay will put the return on hold until they’ve decided the outcome, so if a buyer is mis-using the system, sends back a brick in the post or severely damages an item (beyond reasonable unpacking so that they can examine the goods), make sure you hit the report button.
Postage will either be paid for by the buyer or added to your next eBay invoice. If the buyer ordered the wrong item or just changed their mind they’ll cough for the postage, if the item was damaged or not as described then the postage cost will be added to your next eBay invoice. You can also create a rule on eBay specifying that if the item is low value, or you don’t want it returned for any other reason, it can automatically have the refund applied and you avoid paying the minimum £3 return postage cost.
eBay are currently working with third party tool providers to help them integrate Managed Returns into their software. By the time mandatory Managed Returns affects your account it should be a pretty hands off process for sellers, no need for buyers to contact you, they’ll be able to initiate the tracked return and all you need do is tick it off for refund once the goods arrive back in your warehouse.
*Edited to add: Since publication eBay have contacted us to say that postage prices will start “from under £3.00” not starting “from £3.00“. Currently we don’t know how far under £3.00 that might be.
Here’s a short clip explaining how the Managed Returns process works: