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eBay remind sellers 14 day returns now mandatory

By Chris Dawson October 7, 2013 - 11:32 pm

ReturnsIf you’re like most sellers you’ve probably already updated your listings to meet the new returns policy which has now come into effect.

All sellers must now specify who pays for returns (the seller or the buyer) and offer a minimum 14 day return policy. eBay today reminded sellers that not only is the new policy mandatory for business sellers, but that in 2014 the EU law on returns will be raised from 7 working days to 14 days – eBay are just getting policies in place to ensure they and their sellers are compliant when the law changes.

eBay say that “Research shows that buyers appreciate the peace of mind of shopping from sellers who offer returns and items with a clear returns policy typically sell better than those without”. Here at Tamebay, although we like the sound of more sales, think it’s a bit of a moot point – if all sellers have to comply then there’s no competitive advantage available (bar offering an even longer returns period), all that really matters is that we have to comply or we won’t be able to sell on eBay. That being the case a quick check that all your listings are compliant wouldn’t be amiss.

  • JD
    4 years ago

    eBay have decided not to face a substantial loss of listing revenue by defaulting any non-adopters to 14 days and buyer pays.

    Trouble is that a lot of non-adopters, and even some who are not, will have return policy details underneath the 14 days etc. that are in total conflict with the defaulted result!

    Another shambles.

  • northumbrian
    4 years ago

    14 days is a very moot point, you can return or get your money back using ebay with little trouble within 60 days in reality

    • 4 years ago

      Bricks and mortar stores have to factor in the cost of shoplifting as well – at least most online sellers don’t have that to worry about!
      If you taking returns is enough to put you out of business, you need to look at your business model! of course, returns reduce profits for the seller, but it’s just one of those things you have to factor in when deciding your sales prices.

  • Mark Ellis
    4 years ago

    Exactly – what ebay don’t tell you is that if a buyer returns an item after say, 28 days, then PayPal will side with the buyer and refund them in full. You can hardly send it back to the buyer and tell them that they are too late to return the item – so the return period is NOT 14 days

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      Really it just a sales pitch and to increase buyer confidence.

  • Sam
    4 years ago

    What I’m wondering is, when the law changes from 7 days to 14 days will we also have to extend the terms to match to refund original P&P if returns are received as change of mind?

  • Jane
    4 years ago

    I really don’t understand why sellers are annoyed with eBay about this. I don’t know what the laws are in the US, but here in the UK and indeed, throughout the EEC, the Distance Selling Regulations have been in force for some time. These mean a buyer can cancel any online purchase within 14 days and return the item for a full refund including original postage.

    That’s what the law says, so eBay are only coming into line with that – it’s not as if they have any choice! There is no distinction made between an item returned because it is not as described and a buyer who just changes their mind – you have to refund original postage to all.

    Yes, it’s unfair, as sellers have already paid out for the postage, but that is the law and NOT something that eBay have dreamed up. As a seller of lingerie, I don’t like getting returns (for obvious reasons) but I have no choice, so I may as well do it with good grace.

    What eBay need to do now is pull ALL the listings with terms and conditions that are in conflict with the DSR’s. As JD says above, many sellers have T & C’s that completely contradict what the law says, which is both confusing for buyers and also against the law. (The Office of Fair Trading take a dim view of sellers who misinform buyers about their rights.)

    As a buyer, it drives me mad when I see sellers saying they won’t refund postage unless the item is faulty and several times when I have returned something, I have had to open a dispute case to get my original postage back. Ebay have supported me each time I have done this (and it is often the big companies who try to pretend they can do what they like) and no doubt the sellers concerned have blocked me as a result, yet I am acting within the law in demanding they repay the postage – they should do it automatically.

    So stop moaning and blaming eBay. If you want to challenge the law, go see your MP. Ebay have no choice but to insist sellers accept returns.

    And in the end, if you are buying something online, what would you rather see? A returns policy that clearly states your right to return someting for any reason, or 10 paragraphs of weasily-worded meaningless terms and conditions that make you think the seller doesn’t have to take returns? I know which seller I’d rather buy from, so eBay is right in saying that the new clear returns policy DOES improve buyer experience.

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      although, I’m not sure if you are obliged to refund postage if the buyer has opted for a premium postage service.

    • Jane
      4 years ago

      Jimbo, I’m pretty sure the return of original postage only applies to the ‘basic’ option you offer. If the buyer pays extra for a Premium postage service – next day Special Delivery for example, you don’t have to return that.

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      Thanks Jane.

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      there needs to be a balance , law or no law returns cost profit , not enough profit means you cant survive,
      were happy to accept returns though someone has to pay for it somewhere somehow , or were out of business

    • Jane
      4 years ago

      Northumbrian: then I suggest you go and have a chat with your MP. The Distance Selling Regulations have been challenged by some of the big mail order companies in the European courts – they all lost.

      If taking returns (and swallowing the cost of the postage you’ve paid) is enough to put you out of business, you need to look at your business model! Yes, returns reduce profits for the seller, but it’s just one of those things you have to factor in when deciding your sales prices. Bricks and mortar stores have to factor in the cost of shoplifting as well – at least most online sellers don’t have that to worry about!

      And you also have to consider that by having a decent, straightforward return policy, you probably get more sales, which offsets the (small) losses somewhat.

      [Just a note here: what I am saying applies to sellers of small-ish items with nominal postage/courier costs. I imagine if you’re paying out £25+ per time to get your item to the customer, and have to refund it if the item is returned, this issue becomes a lot more significant. I feel for those people…]

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      jane we have been sucking eggs for decades

    • northumbrian
      4 years ago

      Bricks and mortar stores have to factor in the cost of shoplifting as well – at least most online sellers don’t have that to worry about!

      what about TONY and his promises, and INR or SNAD then?
      we get online shoplifted most days

    • DBL
      4 years ago

      I totally agree, correct in every way.

      As a seller you have to cost these original postage loses into each product you sell, keep a record of the amount of returns you have and the cost of the postage you ‘lost’ and divide this over the same period (the longer the better) by the number of items you have sold, the figure (usually pence) should be added to your pricing so every item that is sent back is already paid for.

      This cost needs to continuously monitored over a rolling period to keep it up to date.

    • Jimbo
      4 years ago

      Not sure if you have to micro manage to such an extent. If you do you are getting too many returns or your margins are too narrow (in my opinion).

    • Karen
      4 years ago

      It is not just the fact that you have to take back the item that eats into the bottom line.

      We sellers loose 10% of our original shipping paid to eBay as part of their final value fees.

      When a buyer wants to return an item but not have to cover the cost of return shipping, all they have to do is claim the item is not as described or worse open a case. Then the seller has to bend over backward or risk the strike against them.

      It takes time to issue a call tag or send a return shipping label. The buyer doesn’t have any motivation to back it well for its return shipment.

      On some items, you have to take them to an expert to be examined to make sure nothing was done to the item. I had a buyer switch out the pickups on a vintage guitar with reproductions before returning it. Surprise, they got away with it!

      This all takes up precious time and money. Believe me, it adds up.

    • 4 years ago

      I don’t know what the laws are in the US

      There are only a few US laws that I’m aware of that have any parallel to the DSR.

      If a door to door salesman comes to your home to sell you something you have a 3 day cooling off period where you can cancel the contract. There may be something similar for large infrequent purchases.

      Children can cancel purchases for all goods except necessities like food. Returned condition doesn’t matter. This includes goods purchased in person and goods purchased where the kid lied and stated they were an adult.

      In the US we go to our local brick and mortar store, waste their time and resources, and then order the product online making laws like the DSR unnecessary.

    • Damien
      4 years ago

      If someone opts for higher rate postage then you only need to refund the cost of basic postage. However, try explaining this to your buyer without incurring the wrath of negative feedback.

  • max
    4 years ago

    I have never had a buyer write to me to cancel a contract under the distance selling regulations. And, Under the DSR, the buyer must write to you via email, letter or fax confirming cancellation of the contract if they wish to do so.

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