eBay seller to fund Return Postage for SNAD/Faulty

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ReturnsIf a buyer returns an item because of a change of heart, it’s right that they pay the return postage so long as the seller has specified this up front in their terms and conditions. If however the item is faulty it’s up to the sellers to fund the return postage. This hasn’t always been the case on eBay, but with the new Managed Returns eBay will enforce this according to the return option the buyer selects.

Tamebay reader Roger received an email from eBay which says:

Many of our sellers have already started using eBay Managed Returns and are paying for return postage on faulty or not as described items. Starting from 15 September, we will introduce requirements that all sellers take responsibility for return postage on items which are faulty or not as described. The majority of our sellers are already providing a great returns service, but for those sellers who choose not to facilitate a return or provide/fund return postage for items that are faulty or not as described, we may refund their buyers without requiring them to return the item and in turn we will seek reimbursement from sellers

In other words they’re making sure that the return policy tmatches the law. That’s a good thing.

We’re well aware that some sellers will worry about items being claimed as “Not As Described” when for instance it’s a garment which was correctly described but simply doesn’t fit the purchaser. However eBay with their mandatory Managed Returns program have told us that more buyers simply return as change of mind than abuse the system adding “We continue to monitor the managed returns program and we’re still seeing a high number of buyers selecting the remorse return reason when they want to return an item“.

What isn’t quite so clear is what happens with overseas sales. They fall outside the managed return process, but buyers (at least in the EU) have similar rights to those in the UK. Whilst sellers are able to negotiate great rates for shipping overseas, they’re unlikely to have access to great rates for returns from the EU.

It’s also been unclear what happens if an item is claimed as faulty or not as described if it was shipped under eBay’s Global Shipping Program, the seller will only have paid for UK postage in the first place. eBay have clarified this telling Tamebay “If an item is claimed as faulty or not as described and has been sent using the Global Shipping Programme, we’ll normally offer the buyer a voucher. This will be in line with the cost of sending the item back to the seller”.

Ultimately it’s your business and up to you to make sure that you follow the law. However eBay’s managed return process has been designed to assist those not familiar with the law to be compliant. Even if you don’t have the correct Ts and Cs, by agreeing to eBay’s user agreement both the seller and the buyer will be guided to the correct resolution.

The only area for sellers to worry about is when you actively ship to overseas destinations (as opposed to the Global Shipping Program). Inside the EU you still have an obligation to take care of buyers when items arrive faulty, what do you do in these circumstances? Do you refund and ask the buyer to dispose of the goods, have a preferred method of getting the items shipped back, or simply refund whatever postage costs the buyer incurs?

30 Responses

  1. Managed returns are disgusting, had countless fraudulent returns already.
    for example
    “this doesnt fit the space i wanted it to”.
    either refund now, or pay for buyer to return.
    – no option to send a message, refuse, point them at the return policy. either refund now or pay more and refund later.
    i DO know the law, and this is illegal.

  2. As a seller we should also be able to claim the original postage if the item is incorrectly ordered or they change the mind.

  3. My items are low in value and before the mandatory returns process came about I would tell the customer not to worry returning the goods and refund/resend if the item received was damaged etc.

    Now I have to set up a rule which refunds whenever a customer starts the return process. This has now created the following issues:

    1. I have no chance of communication with the customer, so I can’t calm them with a message explaining the situation.

    2. It doesn’t tell you why the customer has started the returns process, it just states a refund has been issued due to a return request so I can’t see what needs to be improved.

    3. I can no longer resend items under the same order. For example, if a customer sends me a message stating an item is damaged, and then I resend an item they could then innocently go through the returns process for the 1st item and get a full refund for the order. So they get the item for free, and I have sent 2.

    For my business this has made the “Customer Experience” worse. Ebay have made it harder for the sellers who abided by the distance selling regulations act in the first place.

  4. Of course the seller should pay the return postage if the item is damaged or wrong but so far we have had 4 returns due to Not as Described where we the seller have had to foot the bill.

    One stated: Didn’t like the colour
    One stated: didn’t fit (even though full mm measurements were in listing)
    One stated: They felt it was too expensive
    and finally One stated: The hat looked like a pizza on their head and not like in the photo – the buyer should wear it a little differently on his head!

    Now, out of the four above which is our fault? We have had to pay for all the returns – stinks of fraud to me and there is nothing a seller can do except refund refund or refund. As James says above, it’s so illegal it’s unreal!

  5. I’m sorry Chris but many of us here on Tamebay are professional online sellers and we are well aware of the law in respect of both SOGA and DSR and the relevant EU legislation including the need to ensure website T&Cs and emails contain the appropriate text.
    What we do not need is to be treated as a bunch of children by eBay and told how to run and manage our businesses because of a few dodgy sellers.
    Even Amazon allows marketplace sellers to choose whether to pay for a return regardless of the reason stated and if a buyer does get messed around both the feedback mechanism and the A to Z Guarantee process usually gets things sorted.
    Mandating payment of returns like this will be abused on an increasing scale and for many sellers in sectors with high return rates (fashion, clothing, shoes etc) it will mean either delist or raise prices to all buyers to maintain margins on eBay.

  6. When we trialled Managed Returns we had to turn it off because of the high levels of buyer fraud we were seeing.

    As with so many initiatives, it’s great that eBay are experimenting with ideas that will increase sales and buyer trust, but they do need to fix stuff before they make it mandatory.

    Also – this must be about a dozen changes to returns this year so far. It’s too much of a burden on businesses gearing up for Christmas sales to cope with all the moving targets that eBay throws up. Stop wriggling so much and let us grow on the platform. It’s exhausting.

  7. The really disgraceful thing is that the real bad sellers are those hiding in Hong Kong and still appearing on listings as if they are in the UK – at least they somehow manage to sneak past the Item Location filters.

    These sellers send crappy items and will not refund unless you return the item, which you can’t do cost-effectively, so they get to keep the money. Even if eBay issue you with a coupon, as they did very graciously for me last week, still the seller keeps the money. These are the real bad guys on eBay, and the main reason why eBay are clamping down on the good guys. The reason they do this is because they can. We live in a country where trading laws are enforced properly; these HK creeps are outside the law. I personally think that eBay should blank out HK completely and not allow any of them to sell at all.

    But I bet they’d still manage to get through the Item Location filter…..

  8. There is money in managed returns for ebay that’s a big reason for implementing it.

    How long before compulsory managed dispatch with eBay’s shipping methods.

    I’m getting ripped off because ebay are allowing buyers to rip me off. They want sellers to give items free and just stomach the loss.

  9. Like I added to my original email :


    So, a purchaser changes his mind on a purchase or breaks it because he didn’t read the instructions first, now he gets his return postage paid for as well!

    It hasn’t been a level playing field for sometime, it shows no sign of ever being one again!


    It isn’t that eBay are now more aware of EU rules, it’s simply that fraudulent and/or uncaring buyers can sit behind eBay rules and demand legitimate P&P costs back.

    Like I said . . . it hasn’t been a level playing field for sometime, it shows no sign of ever being one again!

  10. As an overseas seller I am still hostage to bad ratings and inevitably end up offering the same level of service as anyone else. So I offer to pay return postage or sometimes simply refund if the buyer is gracious enough to admit error.
    Like others I would classify most returns as buyer error.

  11. so ebay encourage us to ‘communicate with the buyer’….. and quite rightly so, many issuescan be resolved within a message or two… but managed returns implies that communicating is bad… just return it via a automated system, no need for the human element.

  12. OK, just had another thought on this change and, I do believe, it explains why I feel the revised eBay rules, though being more in line with UK/EU Laws, so favour the buyer.

    Buy something major that is technical and if it goes wrong under warranty, though there will be an established means to return it, you will need to “work with the seller”.

    Part of this will be make contact first for a “Returns Authorization” number or reference, then you can send it back to be investigated for fault. If faulty then no problem, returned because the buyer couldn’t read the instructions, extra cost to send back . . . though how few commercial sellers would do so?

    Thing is under these eBay revisions then a stupid or corrupt buyer is always right and always entitled to FULL REFUND . . . and what if they send you back an empty box or a broken version bought in a car boot sale of what you sold them? Too late! eBay have already taken your money!

    Working to a higher sales standard is one thing, working in full consideration of the Law another, risking giving your hard earned stock and profit away for free? Stupidity!

  13. The whole managed returns has been a pain for me also. I opted in earlier on in the year but had to opt out again pretty damn quick when it became apparent how appalling CollectPlus were. I had returns take 14, 20 and then 30 days to come back to me, that was in transit with CollectPlus!!

    I wasn’t looking forward to getting opted back in. Thankfully CollectPlus have been better, but 10 days still seems to be the norm to get items back to me.

    So far I’ve had 5 returns where I’ve been forced to pay for the return shipping as the buyer stated that the item was faulty, but in all cases the item was not faulty (I sell Bluray players, Freeview recorders etc., so items of reasonable value). I have 100% feedback, TRS Platinum, and don’t want to lose that by having an argument with a buyer over £5 who’s sent something back using the returns process claiming that its faulty when it’s not. eBay say that they’ll protect my feedback, but we all know that if the buyer doesn’t say anything untrue that CS won’t remove it.

    I escalated one claim to CS, but after pressing the button to escalate it, instead of finding a text box to add any comments or reason for escalating it, a case just gets opened. Surely enough, they found in the customers favour as I’d had the item back, even though they’d damaged the DVD player themselves. Again, they hadn’t left me feedback, so what was I supposed to do?

    I’ve been in contact with CS, and they tell me that there is no process in place for re-claiming return shipping costs if a buyer sends something back claiming it to be faulty and it’s not.

    There seems to be no way out for us good sellers.

  14. some horror stories there! making me think about my ebay selling in general. time to move on?

  15. I’ve just had another back today – the buyer has pulled the DVD tray off its rails. This was a cheap unit, so I sent them a replacement a couple of weeks back and asked them not to return the faulty one so I don’t get charged for the return shipping. But because we sellers can’t close the return, add any info, or in fact do anything whatsoever apart from supply an RMA number and then a refund, all I could do was send the buyer in a message unattached to the return asking them not to return it. But this customer HAS used the shipping label which I’ve been charged for. This item cost me about £3, so I was happy for it to go in the bin (I wish it had gone in the bin as I’m now more pee’d off that it’s my buyer that’s damaged the item in the first place!).

    Of course, eBay are now asking me to refund the buyer, even though they now have a replacement item! It’s a pathetic returns management system.

    My previous role for some 15 years was in returns management for a large company handling the returns and then re-distribution/resale for most of the major high-street retailers and their consumer electronic tech, so it really grates that eBay believe that they know my job better than I do and present us with this awful system.

    You’d think that with a Top Rated Seller Platinum status, getting on for 6000 100% positive feedback and have put almost £500k of sales through eBay that they might realise that I know how to run my own business.

  16. not sure if its just a glitch or by design
    though were now not receiving my messages notification of returns and just find them sitting there in the returns section
    could have caused all sorts of problems with escalation etc,

  17. How many people are getting the ‘ I await your response’ mail from customers trying to get partial refunds on items.
    I have has around four messages very much the same in structure saying these exact words – when I eventually got through to customer support after waiting on hold 35mins after being transferred and one failed call back they did not seem at all interested in this.

  18. Ebay Returns – My Latest Headache

    How can something so simple become so time-consuming and unproductive.

    Lastest issues:
    1) Ebay gave a partial refund when the partial refund had already been done. Been told it was done automatically because of option chosen in Returns. Well the only other option was refund in full! Where was the option to close the return as buyer/seller have sorted this out without ebay interference.
    2) Ebay closed a case and gave a full refund before the item came back. No communication to us or request for input.

    AND the standard of emails back from ebay customer support has hit an all time low. They have no idea what is going on. From not understanding how the return process works – to sending flawed instructions – it is beyond diabolical.

    I have had to transfer 2 staff from listing/product research/sales to dealing with ebay returns.

    And as for providing customers with return labels that I will be charged for without my consent is making my blood boil!

    AND – as buyers keep choosing the wrong option to return in an attempt of getting out of of paying return postage – our defect rate is going through the roof.

    Advice from ebay: If a buyer has used the incorrect option/do not refund when the item comes back – report the buyer instead and let ebay sort it. Not sure what this means exactly – but you can be damn sure that either the buyer or the seller will end up dissatisfied.

    The easy solution is just to add another 2 options onto the return; refuse return & the buyer/seller have resolved this matter.

    Off for a strong coffee!

  19. Another return came in today, a guy has ordered a remote and it doesn’t match the item he’s bought it for (i.e, he bought the wrong one or can’t set it up) hence he’s claimed item not as described / faulty.

    Ebay have basic systems and inexperieced process guys who base decisions on a focus group of 5-10 people, there is no joined up thinking, how can they be so incredibly poor at running a business.

    Options are limited but I used to sell only on Ebay, I’ve transfered to amazon over the past year and will be doing more so in future as Amazon are so much better organised and sensible.

    In the meantime I do report and ban every customer who sends in a fradulent claim, if I get a big one I will consider small claims. I also ban and report all customers who claim INR without sending me an email prior, I doubt it does any good but at least I won’t have to trade with them again

  20. I’ve had a couple today:

    A Freeview recorder that’s incompatible with the buyers existing (old) TV because they didn’t bother to read the listing. Obviously they’ve ticked the item defective box so I have to pay for the return shipping and get another defect on my account.

    Another Freeview recorder that’s well out of its warranty period with us but has a developed a problem that I can resolve easily enough if the buyer wants to return it to me. But, I can only select:

    Choose a reply:

    X Accept the return
    You’ll pay for return postage and can send our return label or send your own. Wait to get the item back before you refund the buyer.

    X Refund the buyer
    The buyer will keep the item, and you can fully refund the buyer to close this request.

    X Offer a partial refund
    The buyer will keep the item and you have one chance to offer an amount.

    X Decline the return
    This will automatically close the buyer’s request.

    X Send a message
    You can reply to the buyer.

    I don’t want to do any of those things, I’m happy to sort the problem but not pay for their postage back to me, but I guess I’ll have to decline the return and deal with the issue outside of the returns process which makes the whole thing pretty pointless.

    I’m in the process of getting a load of flyers printed off to pop in the box with all of my sales inviting my buyers to contact me directly with any problems/issues. I’m hoping that it will stop me spending several extra hours per week beating my head against a wall talking to CS getting defects removed and sorting out this stupid returns shambles, and hopefully allowing me to engage with my customers once more.


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