How to handle eBay returns

How to handle eBay returns

Published in Returns

Returns are a part of all retail business, but when you’re an eBay seller you have to follow eBay’s returns procedures and the outcome is sometimes out of your control. We take you through the eBay returns process, who pays the return postage, and how eBay’s Money Back Guarantee works.

What returns policy do you have to offer on eBay?

All sellers on eBay, business and private, have to state a returns policy (private sellers can state that they don’t accept returns, but they’re still subject to eBay’s Money Back Guarantee). Business sellers have to make customers aware of their right to cancel and give buyers a minimum of 14 days to request a return. Find out about setting up your eBay returns policy here

Your returns policy needs to have clear instructions on how to return an item, and any exceptions such as international sales. Refunds should be made using the method that the buyer paid with, unless you come to a different agreement.

Find out more about the regulations for selling online here

Who pays postage for eBay returns?

Whatever the reason for a return, as long as it’s requested within the appropriate time frame, you have to refund the original postage costs. Who pays the cost of returning an item depends on the situation:

  • If the item is returned because it's faulty, not as described, or damaged in the post, the seller has to pay return postage costs. 
  • However, if the buyers want to return the item for any other reason within 14 days, they have to pay to send it back (as long as you made this clear in your listing). 
  • If you have to pay the return postage costs and use an eBay label the cost will be included on your next monthly seller invoice as a fee.

eBay’s returns process

eBay make it very easy for buyers to return items, so it’s important that you fully understand the process, and when you have to take action:

  • The buyer requests a return in their My eBay and you'll be notified by email. 
  • You have 8 calendar days to review the return request and take action. 
  • You can either: 
    - accept the return and provide the buyer with a return label
    - refund the buyer and let them keep the item (if it's not worth the time and money to process a return)
    - offer a partial refund and the buyer keeps the item
    - send a message to the buyer to try and resolve the problem. 
  • If you accept the return the buyer has 14 working days from when they first opened the return to send it back
  • Once you receive the item you have to inspect it and make sure it meets eBay's policy for the condition of returned products. You then have to refund the buyer within 6 working days. eBay final value fees will show as credit on your next seller invoice. 

eBay’s Money Back Guarantee

If a buyer claims that they haven’t received an item, or it doesn’t match the description, then it’s covered by eBay’s Money Back Guarantee.

Time limits for eBay's Money Back Guarantee returns

Item not received

  • Buyers have 30 days after the last estimated delivery date to report an item as not received. They should contact you so you can try to resolve the problem by sharing the tracking details, investigating where the parcel is, or offering them a refund. 
  • You have 8 days to respond to the buyer: If the buyer isn't satisfied with your response, they can escalate it to involve eBay. 
  • 30 days after reporting the item not received the request closes automatically if eBay isn't involved. 
  • If eBay becomes involved the review the case, and if they find in favour of the buyer then eBay will refund the full cost and postage costs via PayPal, which you have to pay eBay. 

Item not as described

  • Buyers have 30 days after actual (or latest estimated) delivery date to request a return
  • You have 8 days to respond to the request: you can either offer a refund or a replacement. If you don't reply, or don't offer those options the buyer can ask eBay to step in. eBay will look at the item description and any other details - if they decide the item doesn't match the description, eBay will ask the buyer to return the item but you will be responsible for return postage costs. 
  • The buyer must send the item back within 14 days of starting a return
  • One you receive the returned item you have 6 business days to refund the buyer. If you don't refund them, the buyer can ask eBay to step in for up to 10 business days after the refund deadline. 
  • If the buyer doesn't ask eBay to step in within 30 days of starting a request for return (or other deadlines for refunds), the request will close automatically

Problems with eBay returns

If you have any issues with eBay returns, such as an item isn’t returned or it’s damaged, then you should only contact the buyer through Messages in My eBay so that there’s a record of the conversation. If the issue can’t be resolved, then you can ask eBay for help during or after the refund process, or you can report a buyer in Seller Central. Once the issue is escalated, eBay Customer Service will review your communications, and you can provide up to 10 photos as evidence of an item’s condition.  You can also block buyers from bidding on your items in the future. Find out how to avoid problem buyers and eBay scams here

eBay returns: summary 

  • Business sellers have to offer a minimum 14 days return policy. 
  • You have to refund the original postage costs. If the item is damaged or faulty you have to pay return postage costs. 
  • Once a return is requested, for any reason, you have 8 days to respond. 
  • When you receive a returned item you have 6 days to issue a refund. 
  • eBay guarantee buyers a refund if the item doesn't arrive or is different from the description. 

Read eBay’s returns process here

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About the author

Verity is a journalist and content producer at Zenstores.

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