Mandatory Managed Returns start to go live

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ReturnseBay 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:

41 Responses

  1. “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 –”

    There is no historical evidence to support this claim only ebay’s say so… which is at best unsupported and therefore suspect.

    We have no confidence in ebay’s ability to manage this.
    It will also mean prices have to go up to cover financial losses incurred and the new cost of “try before you buy” style returns – no buyer in their right mind is going to fork out cash when they can get it returned FOC by just saying not as described.

    Maybe ebay have noted that the increase in price applied by the sellers means their cut also grows, combined with the kick-back they get from the courier, is their new way of increasing next years turnover numbers for shareholders. Personal view.

  2. If the buyer ordered the wrong item or just changed their mind they’ll cough for the postage,

    A flock of flying pink elephants dressed up as pigs, have just landed in our garden

  3. This is going to be a complete disaster for many sellers although I am sure some will want to wait and see what happens before taking decisive action.
    We will not be told by a supposed ‘trading venue’ how we will run our business and deal with customer returns after many years of successful trading on eBay.
    Put simply you have to decide a strategy for only listing those products that are expensive enough to warrant a £4/5 return cost and anything too cheap just gets completely delisted from the site.
    For expensive items we will also be delisting many items as we don’t see the point in countless arguments that just lead to wasted time with eBay support and an ever longer list of supposed ‘defects’.
    Our approach now is to completely reconfigure the eBay offer into a online advert for our other sites and simply use them as a marketing tool.
    Basically every sale will be designed to get our customer off eBay and onto our main sites through various promotional tools and special offers using a small subset of our complete range offered on eBay.
    It won’t hit sales as they are on the floor after the best match/cassini search/google debacle and frankly our efforts need to be directed into venues/channels that actually deliver which does not include eBay anymore.
    Good luck everybody especially those of you in sectors where return rates are high already – the final Q4 trading is going to be most interesting for all of us!

  4. If a consumer pays £1.00 for regular (non-tracked) shipping and then gets hit for £3.00 (tracked) to return for change of mind I think that it is certainly against the spirit of the new consumer rights bill.

    Trading Standards may yet have a say on this, particularly if the consumer is not told of the return costs before making his/her supposedly informed decision to buy in the first place.

    A nasty surprise like this could actually be illegal.

    I was hoping that we might by now have had a legal insight?

  5. eBay are a bunch of cowboys at times, logistically they are thick as bricks. No wonder so many people have moved onto Amazon. The stupid new defect system is a joke, google ranking and also this bullshit returns process, which in theory is good but realistically what a load of crap. £3.00 for mandatory returns cost, a buyer may select the wrong option for returning the item that was purchased, won’t this have an adverse affect on the sellers metrics i.e. a defect?

  6. What about international refunds? is it still the magical £3.00 for tracked delivery? even for EU countries?

  7. Does anyone know with the “FROM” £3.00 what method of postage that is.
    The ebay clip above shows that it’s all tracked.
    I had a look on collect plus and that seems to indicate I have to goto my local collect plus point to collect these returns ?? is that correct?

  8. As someone who has used ebay managed returns for months, from experience we can tell you right now, eBay will favour the buyers. It does make a life bit easier but in our experience there is no way eBay will side the seller.

    We accepted all returns, refunded and never reported any issues but we received one abused return 10 days ago. We were so furious and upset that we decided to call eBay for advice. We thought we were already using managed returns and have never complained or challenged any return so eBay will be a bit considerate


    Seller support responded,

    “tracking shows delivered and we have no proof that he abused it and we cannot verify the abuse claim, you can either refund or if he escalates, eBay will refund”

    This meant a mark on our account which is currently showing no disputes closed or escalated to resolution and neg from the buyer. Buyer previous history and negs showed he was a serial offender and was proud of being a sparky!

    eBay were clear “you refund or we will”. We refunded and then opted out from managed returns and will keep it that way till they make it mandatory.

    Today their email does not even mention that when buyer uses a returns label, not only sellers will be charged but will have a defect too!!

    No mention of it anywhere!

  9. like Sam we have been using the managed returns for a while now, works OK until you, as a seller, have a problem with a return.
    We had the old ’empty box’ returned trick, called Ebay to complain, were told it shows as delivered back to us via their Managed Returns system so refund the customer…
    freebay is alive and well.

  10. How is managed returns going to work for heavy and bulky items? Most of the goods I sell are sent via pallet to the customer. I don’t get many returns but if there is I usually arrange the return via the pallet courier myself and deduct the cost from the customers refund. I do this after speaking with the customer and they are usually glad that I am arranging as it would be much cheaper than arranging the return themselves.

  11. Lets also not forget that ebay are likely to advertise this new free return feature in every marketing advert and campaign they can think of. Much like the grinning t**t we currently have tellling customers it’s ok to steal, sorry get your money back from sellers. Every Tom, Dick and Harry on and off ebay is going to know about. It’s going to be a nightmare and a potential financial headache. We are currently cutting our ranges to dump those items most likely to warrant any kind of return. The choices on ebay are going to get smaller, prices are generally going to rise to cover this new cost of selling on ebay. It should be a voluntary option by seller with a great big free of charge banner across the listing and the customer gets to choose. Not Mandatory!

  12. Appologies from accross the pond – we dont yet have to do either of these hairbrained ideas as they are opt in not mandatory.

    This entire episde is a train wreck in the making – sellers of course once again are on the loosing end.

    Of course customers want to return things. They want ZERO hassles but more importantly ZERO responsibilities.

    While most customers are good normal people, eBay seems to attract the WORST of all people, ones (via my experiences since joining eBay in 1998 and being a TRSP) who will lie, cheat and steal with no feelings whatso ever.

    As an aside, forcing sellers to take things back (and please dont for a moment think that this isnt reall yabout eBay and THEIR reputation amongst buyers)(both seller and buyers know how bad eBay rally is)(they make the mafia look like choir boys) is a cheap and easy way for eBay to get “street cred”. “I bought something, didnt want it one week on, and sent it back with no hassles.

    eBay doesnt tak into consideration the costs – shipping, inventorying, wharehousing, the product getting roughed up in transit and many other factors.

    Its easy for eBay to have these types of policies as they cost eBay NOTHING – its all on the seller.

    In 2014 THAT is eBay. eBay does nothing (they cant even protect passwords or get Google optimisation right) and then explains to you how your loosing money, time and effort is a GOOD thing.

    Its not any different then the lies of “seller protection” (sort of like the Loch Ness Monster, Yeti or Big Foot), VERO (who make money by using a website called verowatch – they charge companies to scour ebay listings to remove – 150 pounds per half hour) or any other eBay scheme.

    My company is a TRSP and we have a 4 day return policy – but we would NEVER do eBay managed returns, and will not participate in the forced 90 day return over the upcomming holidays – even if it means loosing that status.

    eBay ISNT an ecommerce company. They dont sell anything, they dont buy anything, they cant even get Good submitions to work right, and apparently their security is piss poor. They DONT know more about your business then you do – no appologies to Lyin Ryan Moore and JD (Nike you must be SO desperate).

    Most of my manufactorers understand the high cost of returns (companies like Pioneer have a 1% yearly return policy) and if eBay WAS an ecommmerce company – they would know about such things.

    Best of luck fellow sellers and good selling

  13. Yes, there are bad sellers and buyers on eBay. I have never sold there but have bought a lot. I have bought items that truly were not what I paid for. I post a picture with my complaint and almost always get my money back. I do a lot of buying from China but that’s for thing like jewelry or nail stuff. I have bought several things in the US too and those sellers seem to be more honest in what they sell. I try to work with a seller when there’s a problem. As angry as eBay makes you people remember there are a lot of sellers from other countries selling crap that hurts you. That’s why these rules went into effect.


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