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Mandatory Managed Returns coming soon to eBay UK

By Dan Wilson January 15, 2014 - 11:54 am

Last year, eBay announced a new flow called Managed Returns that tracked and formalised the Returns Process. We wrote about it last summer, when it was revealed as part of the seller release.

According to a new announcement from eBay UK, Managed Returns will become mandatory for certain categories of sellers from later in the year. Here’s the exact text:

“We’ve made further changes to the Returns section of the User Agreement and eBay Money Back Guarantee policy to explain that later in 2014 we will be requiring certain categories of sellers to use the eBay returns process to manage their returns on eBay, and where we will protect buyers if sellers fail to fulfil their specified returns policy during the managed returns process.”

So, here’s what we don’t know:

– Who it will affect? Will it be based on seller behaviour or seller type?
– Could it be applied rather in certain selling categories across the board?
– When will it come into effect exactly? For instance, other changes will be applied from 17th Feb. Will that be the case for Managed Returns?
– Could this be a pre-cursor to Managed Returns being applied universally to all sales?

In short, this could be a headache for sellers and the numerous question marks are cause for concern.

We’ve asked eBay for more details and await their response.

Updated at 17:53 GMT on 15th January 2014:

We received this comment from eBay just now – “We plan to introduce Managed Returns for some sellers later this year, and this will be announced in our next Seller Release in March. Sellers will receive a minimum notice period of at least 60 days before the change is introduced.”

  • JD
    3 years ago

    I have been wondering myself as to what (exactly please!) does:

    ‘We’ve made further changes to the Returns section of the User Agreement and eBay Money Back Guarantee policy to explain that later in 2014 we will be requiring certain categories of sellers to use the eBay returns process to manage their returns on eBay, and where we will protect buyers if sellers fail to fulfill their specified returns policy during the managed returns process’

    mean when I cannot find the updated UA that this seems to refer to?

  • CJ
    3 years ago

    Sadly international customers can’t access managed returns so they get frustrated and then have to return without opening the return process, which means as a seller you have to manually refund and set up a cancellation request in order to get your FVF back.

    Make it work for all customers or it’s just annoying and a time wasting.

  • 3 years ago

    Managed returns system is useless for us. £4.50 return cost on a £2.00 item. eBay need to think about how it will work for all sellers, maybe have a look at the amazon returns system

    • Gary
      3 years ago

      On low cost items managed returns are pointless. ebay don’t have an option in the case drop down menu of “economic return not possible buyer has retained item” when you close a case with a full refund.

    • Tony C
      3 years ago

      Same here. I sell low-cost items only (£2.99 to £4.99), and if the buyer doesn’t like it for any reason I give a full refund and the buyer keeps the item. The actual cost to produce my items is about 40p (I burn CDs with programs on them). It’s therefore simply not worth either my time/money or the buyer’s time/money to return the item. I do this because a) I can afford to, given the low cost of my items, and b) because I believe in giving a service that goes beyond the normal call of duty. Now eBay will spoil all that for me….and yes you can bet it will become mandatory for everyone eventually; this is how eBay roll these things out most of the time.

    • Kevin
      3 years ago

      This is the death knell for selling small value items on eBay.

    • Martin
      3 years ago

      Maybe the items with high returns.
      Most of what I sell has never had a return request at all.

  • northumbrian
    3 years ago

    most of our returns are still via royal mail even though
    we have used managed returns since its introduction,
    ebay need to stop buyers inventing reasons to evade the return cost, also
    some buyers who used the managed return are annoyed with the time and hassle it takes to return the item, using collect plus

  • Chris
    3 years ago

    Can someone explain what this will mean?

  • james
    3 years ago

    Yes thats right Mrs Olddear, we have to use eBay’s return process now, so just pack up that half ton of furniture and pop along to the post office like they asked you to.

  • Richy
    3 years ago

    We use it for about 6 weeks, but had to turn it of due to the postal cost. In some cases the seller had to pay the return if the buyer used the printable label. The cost through ebay was £4.50 when we can post it for just £1.20.

    • davelovesebay
      3 years ago

      ebay also pay 1.20. But they charge £4.50 and make a nice killing of it. eBays business is flat lining, It shows in the share price.

      Compare it with Amazon, Even Next or other retailers. Compare the last 3 years with say Burger king or Visa. How about walt disney, even facebook got a massive lift. All better than holding ebay stock.

      Why ebay is stagnated and they need to make more money, this is a great way, and a proven method to make more money. Simply find a way to get it from sellers.

      Tried and tested works everytime, and if a few go bankrupt or complain. Who cares, we got the outlets and other sellers that will pick up the slack. Who cares if they get 98% feedback.

      When you look at ebays acquisitions, there just of a company with to much money and no where to put it. Desperate for growth

      As long as the current man in charge retires with a handsome bonus !

  • jack
    3 years ago

    ebay is FINISHED, they seriously have no idea what they doing. When you speak to there ebay “specialist” team they are so useless on the phone. When Alibaba is breathing down there necks, they need to think very SERIOUSLY and strategically, but they don’t. They DO NOT care about the seller, but they DO CARE about the chargebacks and disputes on paypal/ebay. This is why they introduce this to minimize the chargebacks and disputes, thus resulting less people to employee to look at the cases. give it 5 years ebay will be finished, long live Jack Ma ~ ebay REAL competitor.

    • Martin
      3 years ago

      Been seeing people say ebay is finished for over a decade now. So far they do not seem to be finished and even these changes I cannot see finishing them.

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    Ebay managed returns cost a minimum of £4.50 up to 2kg. This will be the future minimum return cost on ebay. This will hit certain categories of seller very hard. It will also put buyers off buying. For a company that promotes itself as offering “bargains” when it comes to its own negotiating powers with suppliers of services for something ebay are going to make compulsory it seems hopeless! Do not ebay appreciate that sellers will build these costs into their prices making ebay even less competitive than it is now?

  • admiralhardinge
    3 years ago

    Typical ill thought out ebay move. I concur with everything said above. Managed returns is a rip off which just costs the seller money. Royal Mail returns process is far more effective for most items, and standard mail is much less expensive.

    Why should a Royal Mail OBA user with a license for returns have to go with a less efficient and more expensive ebay benefitting option?

    Juts try finding the Collect Plus locations in Scotland and many other rural parts of the country. And why choose the most expensive option, when Royal Mail and MyHermes are cheaper and have better coverage? That’s alright buyer, you just drive 50 miles to the nearest Collect Plus location.

    Probably overall it won’t be too damaging, but yet again ebay just don’t get it. They don’t understand the need to make sellers satisfied with the platform, they don’t understand the economics of selling lower value items, they don’t understand that their “clever” moves for customer service actually make it more difficult for buyers and sellers alike.

    Suspect they are really after removing small sellers from the platform and just having big resellers.

    However, in many niche and collectibles markets big resellers just don’t exist. Maybe ebay want to get rid of these categories as well long term.

    Is it a good customer relationship approach to have your seller customers constantly despairing and finding a platform more difficult to use? As I said at the beginning, ebay just don’t get it at all.

    • JD
      3 years ago

      “Suspect they are really after removing small sellers from the platform and just having big resellers.

      However, in many niche and collectibles markets big resellers just don’t exist. Maybe ebay want to get rid of these categories as well long term.”

      It sure feels like that when taking all the ‘initiatives’ on the chin.

  • 3 years ago

    To be fair on eBay (I know, sorry), they haven’t said who this will apply to. If it’s sellers who have given a buyer a dodgy returns experience in the last 30 days, then it could be quite good.

    The question is whether they will apply it to already compliant sellers and essentially penalise them.

    • JD
      3 years ago

      “We plan to introduce Managed Returns for some sellers later this year, and this will be announced in our next Seller Release in March. Sellers will receive a minimum notice period of at least 60 days before the change is introduced.”

      So why o why announce a half baked scheme now?

      Stupidbay.

  • 3 years ago

    This would be a bad move! I use the Royal Mail Tracked Returns which is £1.80 per return whereas ebay will be charging £4.50!? Surly this cannot be made mandatory?

    • 3 years ago

      Don’t let the name RMTracked returns fool you. This is not a tracked service as the name would suggest. There is no tracking and no compensation.

  • Robert C
    3 years ago

    On http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/return-process.html it states:

    “The managed returns process:

    1. A buyer starts the return process.
    You get an email letting you know that the buyer has started a return. In addition, funds may be temporarily set aside in your PayPal account for that sale. We ask the buyer to return the item to you within 14 calendar days. The buyer is instructed to pack the item carefully and return it in the same condition as it was received.”

    I sell very small items at low prices (£2-£3 including delivery). If ever there is an issue where a customer is unhappy and wants a refund then I usually prefer to refund without requesting it to be returned. My margins are such that it wouldn’t be beneficial to refund the transaction + returns postage – and definitely not if it’s going to cost me £4.50.

    Does anybody know if I am able to stop the customer during the managed returns process before they send it back?

    • Robert C
      3 years ago

      I’ve read further on the link http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/return-process.html and it also states

      “-Alternative return postage arrangements

      In some cases, buyers can start a return through the managed returns process, but won’t print or use a return postage label:

      – Postage with insurance
      – There are multiple returns packages
      – The item is outside Collect+ guidelines
      – The postage charges exceed the refund amount
      A return postage label isn’t available if the expected postage charges exceed the expected refund.

      -The item was delivered through freight or local collection.”

      Seems that I would be safe from this draconian nonsense.

    • Tony C
      3 years ago

      Wow, well spotted, Robert. Glad I read this far….

  • northumbrian
    3 years ago

    whats with this secret squirrel “certain seller “bollocks,
    is it the smelly sellers, perverted sellers, or the just plain barmy sellers who are going to be targeted

    • JD
      3 years ago

      No it will be geographical. North of Peterborough probably.

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      North of Peterborough ?
      Returns are by woolly mammoth cart

  • admiralhardinge
    3 years ago

    We need to know who it will apply to and how it will be implemented – just one courier or many.

    If it is restricted to Collect Plus I will be interested to see how Trading Standards. Office for Fair Trading and EU Competition Commission react. In this case I would have thought that ebay will have a hard time finding their way round the various rules on price fixing, cartels, restriction of trade etc. If you think about it, it is little different from bundling software with a PC to get customers to use your OS or applications. Microsoft already fell foul of this in the past. It forces the customer (seller) to pay a higher than necessary price (for which ebay surely get a commission) for a service that can equally be provided elsewhere at a lower cost, and it is not necessary to specify. It is equally dodgy if the money for this is then forcibly deducted from your account.

    It may even be that EU Consumer laws help here, because the law only requires the seller to refund. It does not require the item to be returned, and a seller is compliant if they do just refund. Is it legitimate for eBay to enforce something like this that is not required by the consumer laws?

    It seems to me the only way this should be implemented is if the seller can
    a. Choose the return courier providing they meet eBay’s specified performance criteria
    b. Have the option to refund without return
    c. Not be forced to pay for a return.

    Any experts out there?

  • Jane
    3 years ago

    When I got the email about this I incorrectly read it as ‘sellers in some categories’ but of course it isn’t, it’s ‘some categories of sellers’, which is far more ominous. So what catgeories of sellers do they feel need to have managed returns?

    Obviously it won’t be the big sellers – most already have their own returns systems in place, so eBay are not going to make them do it, but it beggars the question of how they ‘categorise’ the rest of us.For example:

    1. Sellers with a turnover of less than £xxx
    2. Sellers with less than xxx transactions per year
    3. Sellers of items over £10
    4. Sellers of items over £500
    5. Sellers who use auctions
    6. Sellers with a high return rate
    7. Sellers with a bad return record
    8. Sellers already on the ‘warning’ list
    9. Sellers of blue widgets, antique sticky tape and green socks (i.e. some random categories)
    10. Sellers who compete with our diamond sellers

    The list could go on – it’s not as if we sellers have any idea how eBay actually categorise us, but this just seems like yet another way eBay are manipulating the system to make it even less of a level playing field than it already is.

    My own suggestion would be to impose managed returns on all Chinese sellers – it would be interesting to see how they coped…

    • admiralhardinge
      3 years ago

      Would these be the same Chinese sellers who ship items as Gifts, thus illegally avoiding VAT and duty for the buyer?

    • davelovesebay
      3 years ago

      No it wont be them.

      Despatch from UK, and asking to return to China and tax avoidance does not seem to come up in the ebay ‘buyer’ meetings.

      Nor the issues of the Chinese having hardly any ebay fees, as well as paying less than 10% of the UK fees for featured stores and other bits.

      Or the issue of the item taking 15- 25 days to arrive in some cases. Many seem to also have top DSR

      So isnt an issue.

      I hope i get invited to an ebay ‘buyer meeting’ . Im gonna ask for a chocolate eclair to be given free with every order and it must have extra cream.

  • 3 years ago

    We accept 30 day returns on our ebay store and we do get returns quite regularly as we offer a no quibble returns and are happy to do so. In most cases the buyer is returning for a full refund as postage was free. If this happens we would seriously need to look at not selling on ebay because some of our items are 99p. If the service could work with low cost returns then fine. But otherwise simply impossible.

    • DBL
      3 years ago

      You have to give a full refund even if the postage was separate, you don’t have to refund a expedited service if this is offered and chosen at a higher price. But if I purchase an item for £10 + £2 P&P I return at my cost (as stated on eBay) for any reason even if I just change my mind, I have to have a refund of £12.

      It’s astounding how many sellers are still deducting original P&P from the refund, this is happening on eBay and Amazon.

  • Tony
    3 years ago

    Whoever did the negotiating with collect+ needs to be fired. £4.50….I can get a better rate talking to Collect+ myself.

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