Setting your automation rules for eBay returns

No primary category set

Old Return ReasonseBay announced in the Autumn Seller Release that they would be making changes to the returns flow for sellers, and the options that would be displayed to buyers. With this in mind we thought it time to take a closer look at what buyers see when they wish to return an item and how it impacts sellers.

Currently when a buyer wishes to return an item there are eight options that they can pick describing why they want to return the product. Three of these options are classified as buyer problems and so the buyer will pay the return postage. Five options are classified as seller faults in which case the seller will be billed the return postage on their next eBay invoice.

New Return ReasonsWith the new return reasons eBay are due to add soon, the balance swings towards the seller. Once the new return options are added there will be Five options where they buyer will pay the postage and six seller fault reasons where the seller picks up the return postage tab. Importantly the first options presented to the buyer are the options where the buyer is responsible for paying the postage.

As the new returns flow is introduced and sellers start to set up their automation options, you’ll be able to set up some basic automation rules to decide what happens when a return is requested. Buyers (and eBay) probably won’t want you to actively put buyers off returning items, but if I was a seller today the first rule I’d be setting is to automatically approve returns when the buyer is paying the postage. If your buyer selects any of the first five return reasons, why waste time manually approving the return when at the end of the day you’re going to have to refund anyway? If you mess around there’s a chance the buyer might change their return reason and pick an option where you pay.

Buyer Fault ReturnWhen a buyer chooses a buyer fault return they’ll automatically be prompted to choose a postage method where they’ll be paying for the return postage label so automate the process and make it super easy for them to manage their own returns.

You may well find (especially for low value goods) that as soon as they find they’re paying for the postage that they simply decide that they may as well keep the item anyway.

If the reason a buyers selects is a seller fault, they the buyer won’t be presented with return postage cost options, they’ll be directed to use the lowest possible priced return option as you’ll be paying the cost. How you set your automation rules for these products may well depend on the value of the item and the exact return reason given.

If it’s an item which costs less than the return postage cost you may simply decide to refund and not bother getting the item returned – especially if it’s broken anyway. This is when you may wish to take a look at the advanced automation return rules where you can be more specific in setting your rules.

Finally, when you as the seller are paying the return postage cost, don’t forget that you can choose upload your own returns labels. This means you can pick the return carrier and service that suits you and if you’ve negotiated a better price than eBay this may affect the automated return that you set. Both you and your buyer will be able to track the return without leaving the site as eBay will still upload the tracking information.

5 Responses

  1. does anyone recall seeing the guy who wrote an automated ebay buying script? it was also parodied on (or from) XKCD:

    basically; he gives the robot a set amount of cash, and it randomly bids on low price items, and he gets a random ‘gift’ delivered every day.

    absolute childs play to amend such a script to also request a return for each item.
    – no obligation to actually post the thing afterward.

    since we’re now expected to automatically refund certain items, just for asking, this will be a simple script to get free stuff at others expense with no work involved.

  2. And what do we do when the buyer simply lies about the return reason so they don’t have to pay the postage. The seller has to end up paying the return postage even when it’s not their fault and also will get a negative rating on seller performance. I think it’s ridiculous. Also this system makes the buyer go for the easy option of getting money back without even discussing the issue first with seller.


Wahaaj Shabbir - From sneakerhead to Head of Sneakers at eBay UK

Wahaaj Shabbir – From sneakerhead to Head of Sneakers at eBay UK

eBay UK returns as Love Island sponsor to promote pre-loved fashion

eBay UK returns as Love Island sponsor to promote pre-loved fashion

eBay Roadshow Belfast - 13th June

eBay Roadshow Belfast – 13th June

eBay's new resell button transforms recommerce experience

eBay’s new resell button transforms recommerce experience

eBay & Small Business Britain Webinar: From Side Hustle to Main Hustle

eBay & Small Business Britain Webinar: From Side Hustle to Main Hustle

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.


Take a look through a selection of the latest articles on ChannelX

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars