The case for eBay auto-accept returns

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I don’t often return anything on eBay, in truth until yesterday I can’t remember the last time I did actually return a purchase. But, having to go through the current returns process I’m all in favour of eBay auto-accept returns which started to roll out last week.

We are all aware of the downsides to sellers and buyers of auto-accept returns – no exchanges, no chance to send spare parts, no chance simply to give some customer service and get the product working when the buyer doesn’t know how to use it… and that’s before buyers claiming not as described to get free postage. However from a buyer perspective returns on eBay are currently a nightmare and something has to be done and that something is auto-accept returns.

I don’t think I’m a nightmare of a buyer and the back story is I made a purchase on eBay which I was delighted with. So delighted in fact that I ordered a second duplicate item to match the first. The problem arose that the seller was out of stock and sent me a different coloured item and it doesn’t match the first – they look daft together.

I started emailing the seller on the 13th of September to point out they had sent the wrong product. Each time it took a day to get a reply which was first of all “Sorry, other customers have been happy”, followed by “Can you send me photographs” to which the response was “We’ll give you 20% off if it’ll make you happy” and finally when I exasperatedly asked if they could just exchange the item they told me “no sorry, we don’t sell this item now”. After four days of trying to resolve the issue and having run out of options I opened a return case on the 17th of September.

Opening a return case is bad for the seller because I opened a significantly not as described case. However it’s even worse for me as the buyer because the seller had 8 days until the 25th of September to respond and if they and I can’t agree then it could drag on until the 16th of October.

eBay Return Request approvedAfter 48 hours, the seller did agree to the return. I still can’t return the item however as I’m now waiting for a return label which could take until the 25th of September to arrive – eBay allow seven days for them to get the return label to the buyer who in the mean time can’t return the item and can’t get their refund.

When eBay Auto-accept returns roll out, the minute I click the return this item button I’ll be able to print a label and get shot of the item and await my refund. Even with the worries that sellers have, as a buyer that’s given my seller ample opportunity to correct the error without impacting their metrics, I’m all in favour of eBay auto-accept returns.

Sooner or later I’ll get a label to return the item and then doubtless I’ll have to trek to a shop to post the item by Royal Mail or some other carrier such as myHermes or Collect Plus (I don’t get a choice in this). This is all over an item that cost £7.46 and you might be thinking it’s hardly worth the effort and I’m starting to agree with you. Returning an item on eBay is just too difficult and time consuming and having taken four days sending messages having to now wait to return the item is getting tedious. I have to ask myself do I really care about the loss of £7.46 and would it be easier to leave the seller a negative feedback and move on… as a seller would you have sympathy with a buyer that did that when a return is just too onerous?

I’m not eager to return another item purchased on eBay, as a buyer I hate returns – I just want the right item the first time, but hopefully next time the wrong product is delivered by an eBay seller returning it will be a trouble free one click procedure.

eBay Messages Return RequestFinally, in passing in normal contradictory fashion, whilst the eBay return case in the image above clearly states that I can escalate the case to eBay on the 25th September if the seller hasn’t resolved the issue, the eBay Message states the relevant date is the 26th September. Happy to take opinions on which is correct?

32 Responses

  1. I sell very low value items and what I’m worried about is that wouldn’t this mean that people who want free stuff (or you could say thieves I suppose) just need to message me and say the item isn’t up to scratch for some reason or other and I would need to refund them straight away because it’s not worth the postage and back and certainly not worth to have a returns case count? At the moment I ask people to open a Returns case and claim the item isn’t as described and then issue a refund without the need to return because I feel that if this person opens up too many returns, they might be flagged up as being a potential bad apple. As soon as I ask people to open a Returns case (obviously super politely), I don’t hear from 90% again.
    I understand eBay’s point of view about not wanting to turn customers off eBay but wonder what is being done to protect honest sellers.

  2. The trouble we find is the exact same problem BUT in reverse.
    Customer asks for SNAD return and mentions the “Keyring” doesn’t match the description or photos.
    I don’t sell keyrings.

    So I reply, within a few minutes. “can you send photos of what you have received”
    No reply after a day.
    I ebay message the same and also add to the case.
    Again no response.

    I will have to accept the return anyway as ebay won’t change the reason mid case, now.
    To me an hopefully ebay, it is a case of buyer remourse.
    I have to message via the case and the ebay messages to back up my case of trying to communicate with the buyer, so that when – IF the item is returned, I can then phone ebay and ask for the return label to be refunded to me.

    The whole process a waste of my time.

    When the seller and buyer communicate then it all works well, but ebay especially take the buyer down the case route before even advising messaging the seller.
    It should be like Amazon where if you don’t respond to your buyer’s message within 24 hours then you get a slap.

  3. We sell large items such as baths.

    I’d be very interested to see the label and/or courier that eBay produce for any of our customers requesting a return – I can;t imagine that any auto return of these items would progress without a hitch.

  4. It also seems that the Return scammers are using this to their advantage, as we’ve had a customer return the old item in return of the new item, all communication automated by eBay.
    Upon receipt of the old item contacted eBay to inform them of the customer defrauding us & they escalated the case & found in favour of the buyer, as the return has been received. Appealed against this & stated as the item returned ws not the item sent, customer has now admitted via messages he has made a mistake of sending back the old item, eBay still found in their favour.
    eBay are not in the least bit interested in the buyers fraud via their returns system & we’re now following our own external processes.

  5. 100% of our items are hygiene sensitive. Going to be fun receiving items back and saying that they can’t have a refund. Not good for any party…

  6. As a seller Ebay returns is a nightmare too, there is no option for exchanges and I think this would be a valuable additional option.
    I’ve lost count of the number of times customers start a return or open a case because they want to exchange the product for a different size etc… Every time I have to explain the Ebay returns process and either rely on them closing the return once we have manually sorted out an exchange (which is made even more trickier by the “auto accept returns process as it does’t allow you to send messages relating to the return to each other” or asking them to purchase the correct item they need and refunding them the wrong one once they send it back.
    I’m sure its equally complicated from Ebay’s point of view as surely if there was an easy option to manage returns they would have done it in the first place??!!
    But whatever the solution it is long overdue for an overhaul.

  7. Oh Chris… really?
    ‘I started emailing the seller on the 13th of September to point out they had sent the wrong product. Each time it took a day to get a reply which was first of all “Sorry, other customers have been happy”, followed by “Can you send me photographs” to which the response was “We’ll give you 20% off if it’ll make you happy” and finally when I exasperatedly asked if they could just exchange the item they told me “no sorry, we don’t sell this item now”. After four days of trying to resolve the issue and having run out of options I opened a return case on the 17th of September.’

    So, firstly the seller tried to help… before the seller can just start throwing refunds and returns around they often need a little more info. Quite often i find a customer asks for a refund, if say an item is faulty… but then is happy when i offer a replacement. I like to call it communicating with the buyer and trying to help. Something which every time i have an issue witha buyer ebay tells me i should be doing. Yes it’s not instant, but why should it be? If you bought from a shop you would still have to go back and queue! The key is that the seller is trying to solve the issue.
    …………..
    ‘However it’s even worse for me as the buyer because the seller had 8 days until the 25th of September to respond and if they and I can’t agree then it could drag on until the 16th of October.’

    So why don’t ebay just reduce the time to say 2 days. More than enough time to be honest. If as a seller you can’t reply in 2 days, then you need to ask some serious questions about your business practices. No need to start throwing instant returns around.
    ……………….

    ‘eBay Return Request approved After 48 hours, the seller did agree to the return. I still can’t return the item however as I’m now waiting for a return label which could take until the 25th of September to arrive – eBay allow seven days for them to get the return label to the buyer who in the mean time can’t return the item and can’t get their refund.’

    Again, here we see the request agreed within 2 days ( still could have ben done in day to be honest, but are we talkinga business seller or a private seller?). So now the issue is the long possible wait for a label. 7 days?! That is ebays issue. Again the return label should be done quickly, say 1 day at this point. Again no reason for the throwing around of instant this and that.
    …………….

    ‘When eBay Auto-accept returns roll out, the minute I click the return this item button I’ll be able to print a label and get shot of the item and await my refund. Even with the worries that sellers have, as a buyer that’s given my seller ample opportunity to correct the error without impacting their metrics, I’m all in favour of eBay auto-accept returns.’

    ‘seller ample time’ for what? You gave them no time whatsoever. The first they knew of anything was that you were returning something for whatever reason. Yes yes we must protect our metrics at all costs. This is what is driving fraud on ebay. Too many buyers know that most sellers will knowing have to put up with fraud just to stop ebay punishing them for trying to protect themself. Personally i sick of damn ebay promoting a culture of risk free fraud.
    ………….

    ‘Sooner or later I’ll get a label to return the item and then doubtless I’ll have to trek to a shop to post the item by Royal Mail or some other carrier such as myHermes or Collect Plus (I don’t get a choice in this). ‘

    Sorry but if you would rather go back to high street shopping and all that entailed then so beit. The fact is if you want to return something for whatever reason, well we all know that this will be the way. I can’t see how you can whine over it. Maybe sellers should just start auto refunding as well…. after all it’;s not like we are trying to run a business or anything.
    …………….

    ‘I have to ask myself do I really care about the loss of £7.46 and would it be easier to leave the seller a negative feedback and move on… as a seller would you have sympathy with a buyer that did that when a return is just too onerous?’

    No i wouldn’t. I’m expected to put some effort into every part of my side of things, is it too much to ask for the buyer to do a few simple things? Oh and of course it’s now all the buyers fault, I accept that, as i detailed above, ebay should get to grips with the existing time frames first. Then look at the issue again! Typical case of buyer issue due to poor ebay policy….. So hammer the seller and pretend ebay is great!

    ………………
    ‘I’m not eager to return another item purchased on eBay, as a buyer I hate returns – I just want the right item the first time, but hopefully next time the wrong product is delivered by an eBay seller returning it will be a trouble free one click procedure. ‘

    Yes yes… and prices will go up to cover all the people who abuse the now gift wrapped fraud opportunities it presents. Congratulations aon paying more for everything.

    Sorry but ive been a seller on ebay for over 10 years and i can safely say that i see ebay growth based on encouraging systme of fraud when only the sellers loose out. oh and genuine buyers when prices goe up ( more ebay fees) to cover it.
    Why can’t we have a FAIR system. Why is the seller always expected to do everything? It can work… Via my own website i have only every had one difficult case witha buyer… ONE. Ebay i get them all the time. It’s so easy, open a case, refuse to communicate with the seller… exacalate and win. Seller told to communicate better!
    Now they don’t even have to do that. One click and it can all be yours!
    Yes im alittle angry today. 2 more fraud cases lost over the weekend, that will leave me out of pocket. ( Faulty – Didn’t put batteries in. Listing states battery powered, box states batteries required. Buyer states doesn’t work… then it didnt say it needed batteries, then they DID use batteries and still doesn’t work. Then went quiet until they could escalate. Case won. Ebay ignore my comments about the three changes of reason and simply state i need to give better decriptions, communicate better and of course as they can’t see the item they can’t tell if it is faulty so the best option is for me to refund!!!! Imagine how easy this now is with auto returns? Woo hoo. I going on buying spree!
    Now where is the lavender oil?

  8. I found the customer service at Flubit.com to be worse than useless, as was there system, so closed my account.

    Total waste of time.

  9. Customer wanted to return a bath the other day, clueless as to how the buyer sends a bath across the UK with a £3.05 label on it.

    Label Cost: £3.05

    Charged to your monthly invoice when the buyer uses the postage label

  10. We had a very similar issue couple months ago. Seen a game which should have known was too good to be true price wise on eBay so bought a unit. Turned up couple of days later, guy was just resealing used units and mis-selling as brand new. Not Microsoft seal badly resealed and disc just buffed and you could tell on further examination of the feedback he has done it multiple times. I deal with all the proper suppliers and have not seen this game trade for years either.

    Anyway typical eBay mis-seller, so we opened a return, got all the BS and bribes, and rubbish (they guy is at it all the time). TOOK to the very last minute for this so called trader to accept the return, that is what annoyed me more than anything. This seller could not care a jot and is in it for the quick buck….and is not worried about the long term negative impacts they have on the marketplace. These are the sellers that cause us all the problems.

    We get a return here we deal with it their and then (and YES they are miss-handled and abused on eBay, this is the highest risk platform), but it is a platform because of sellers like I dealt with above that is losing traffic left right and centre…

    What I don’t agree with is eBay trying PROFIT from it and have NO trust in them dealing with abuse of returns…

    It will be the NEW INR scam as they don’t manage it.

  11. Shopping, healthcare, banking, transport/logistics, TV/video games … what next? Amazon dating? Possibly I could have an Amazon robot wife? Getting a bit much though.

  12. Seeing how ebay is all caring and touchy-feely about positive user experiences, I wonder when they will get round to addressing “negative selling experiences” ?

  13. I agree with Tom T above, sellers should be allowed some time to talk to the buyer before a return is automatically processed. Why not give us 24 to 48 hours (Monday to Friday). To offer some customer service before an return is started. So many times product advice can be all that is need to help a buyers issue. You can put a lot of detail in the listing but not all aspects of using an item can be covered, so ebay stating people need to add more detail to listings isn’t the answer in every situation that can arise.

    Returns are the new stick to beat sellers with at the moment, if you have more than your so called peers, soon you will be charged a penalty for it. So to increase the odds of more paying a penalty ebay are automatically accepting all returns, I wonder how long it will be before ebay run a banner add to make sure buyers know returns are easier now. Or am I just giving ebay marketing a free money spinning idea?

  14. Tried to register… can’t get passed the 2nd page. You need to be located in either UAE, KSA or Egypt.

  15. So you get a bad seller and think that’s a reason to implement a terrible system for all sellers you shouldn’t be writing for Tamebay because you have little to no idea. This is open to massive abuse will raise prices and reduce sales but hey you got a bad apple so it’s fair to punish every seller. There is much better solutions like giving less time for returns to be resolved. Did you get paid at tamebay for writing this rubbish?

  16. Bare faced cheek of these sellers who hijack popular generic items and then to call on Amazon to threaten other sellers who do not remove their own item from the sale. Then when all competition is wrongly forced off the listing the price rockets plus dozens of other listings are created for the exact same product. Not to mention the hijacked listing now has a 3-4 week delivery window where as before the customer could have received their item from a local seller within a day or two.
    I feel some empathy for sellers who produce branded packaging for a generic item if the exclusive branded packaging enhances the offering but most of these deviants are simply inserting their registered brand name in the item title to hijack it.
    Come on Amazon, it’s time to act

  17. Funny that. If you join Adyen directly the fees are 0.90 – 1.1% plus 10 cents of a euro per transaction. You can guess where the rest of the money is going to.
    Plus at the moment we get our payment through Paypal and our rate is 1.9%. I thought Adyen was going to be cheaper?

  18. Ebay is dead, its what happens when a company has a nepotistic board structure and one incompetent CEO hands over to the next acolyte, who starts their own ‘Reign of Error’. ebay is just a vehicle now for self enrichment of a nepotistic cabal of sychophants.

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