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Mandatory Managed Returns start to go live

By Chris Dawson June 19, 2014 - 12:08 pm

ReturnseBay are gradually making the new Managed Returns process a requirement for all sellers throughout 2014 and 2015, for some (who are being notified by email) as early as from the 13th August this year.

From Autumn 2014, buyers will be able to print Royal Mail postage labels (starting from £3.00*) and then drop off their parcel to any UK Post Office. There’s also the option to use Collect Plus, so with the combined 11,500 Post Offices and 5,500 local stores where you can send parcels with Collect Plus, that’s some 17,000 locations from which returns can be sent.

Although mandatory Managed Returns has received a luke warm (or cold!) reception from many sellers, there are some advantages, not least of which is the unspoken “If it’s going to cost me £3 to return this 99p item that cost the seller 60p to post, I may as well bin it and not bother the seller“. More importantly eBay will be able to view all returns and weed out perpetual returners or buyers who abuse the system claiming not as described instead of change of heart – all returns information will be recorded.

eBay have also made it easier to report an issue through eBay Managed Returns. When a seller reports a returns issue, eBay will put the return on hold until they’ve decided the outcome, so if a buyer is mis-using the system, sends back a brick in the post or severely damages an item (beyond reasonable unpacking so that they can examine the goods), make sure you hit the report button.

Postage will either be paid for by the buyer or added to your next eBay invoice. If the buyer ordered the wrong item or just changed their mind they’ll cough for the postage, if the item was damaged or not as described then the postage cost will be added to your next eBay invoice. You can also create a rule on eBay specifying that if the item is low value, or you don’t want it returned for any other reason, it can automatically have the refund applied and you avoid paying the minimum £3 return postage cost.

eBay are currently working with third party tool providers to help them integrate Managed Returns into their software. By the time mandatory Managed Returns affects your account it should be a pretty hands off process for sellers, no need for buyers to contact you, they’ll be able to initiate the tracked return and all you need do is tick it off for refund once the goods arrive back in your warehouse.

*Edited to add: Since publication eBay have contacted us to say that postage prices will start “from under £3.00” not starting “from £3.00“. Currently we don’t know how far under £3.00 that might be.

Here’s a short clip explaining how the Managed Returns process works:

  • Danny
    3 years ago

    Starting from £3 ? So what about those who use Large Letters. Kind of unfair.

    • Rich
      3 years ago

      We can send 75% of our product 1st class for £1.24. So the start from £3 is too much.

    • 3 years ago

      The high entry cost of mandatory managed returns is the worst part in my view. For those sellers happy to supply a pre-paid returns label it’s a bad deal for the buyer (or the seller if they have to pay).

    • Gemma
      3 years ago

      We already have a prepaid returns service which cost a substantial amount to set up. It works well with the Amazon returns process as we have the facility to upload our own label, but we are told by eBay that we will not be able to do this with the new Managed Returns System. eBay’s rates are double our current rates. Surely they can’t expect us to accept this?

      The new Consumer Regulations allow a retailer to withhold an amount if the return service used is disproportionate eg purchased by standard 2nd class post but returned Special delivery/courier which is what eBay are effectively forcing customers to do – use a premium service when a cheaper alternative is available.

      Also retailers are entitled to withhold part of a refund for items that are return for change of mind in unsaleable condition eg where packaging has been opened or where an item shows signs of use which is beyond that necessary to establish that the goods are as expected. This is for the retailer, not eBay to decide and it seems to provision has been made for this in the process.

      Maybe eBay would like to comment on these issues? Retailers have rights as well as consumers…

  • mw
    3 years ago

    “More importantly eBay will be able to view all returns and weed out perpetual returners or buyers who abuse the system claiming not as described instead of change of heart –”

    There is no historical evidence to support this claim only ebay’s say so… which is at best unsupported and therefore suspect.

    We have no confidence in ebay’s ability to manage this.
    It will also mean prices have to go up to cover financial losses incurred and the new cost of “try before you buy” style returns – no buyer in their right mind is going to fork out cash when they can get it returned FOC by just saying not as described.

    Maybe ebay have noted that the increase in price applied by the sellers means their cut also grows, combined with the kick-back they get from the courier, is their new way of increasing next years turnover numbers for shareholders. Personal view.

    • 3 years ago

      There is no historical evidence to support this claim only ebay’s say so…
      Hardly surprising, it’s a new program and the first time eBay have had insight into returns. You can hardly expect them to see buyer returns behaviour before the program rolls out

      It will also mean prices have to go up to cover financial losses incurred and the new cost of “try before you buy” style returns – no buyer in their right mind is going to fork out cash when they can get it returned FOC by just saying not as described.
      That’s the bit about hitting the report button and notifying eBay that the buyer is abusing the system. Return will be put on hold until eBay rules. Try before you buyers should be paying return postage themselves and eBay indicate buyers so far are pretty honest and picking the right option. However like you we’ll be interested to see if that remains the case once mass roll out takes place.

      On the pricing to cover financial losses, as a retailer you’re obliged to take returns no questions asked anyway so building costs into your sales price should be routine.

    • mw
      3 years ago

      “You can hardly expect them to see buyer returns behaviour before the program rolls out”…. Yes I can if they are choosing to make it a mandatory option. A sanity check should have already been applied and suitable test period applied to asses the success.

      “Try before you buyers should be paying return postage themselves” …… Not all buyers are honest. I know I have worked front line High Street Retail Management for 20+ years. I used to work for a high street business that sold catalogue returns. I joke not it was not uncommon to have soiled underwear, ripped clothing, fakes, pans (still with the rotting half cooked meal in it), bricks in place of taosters, smashed mirrors, etc. The list was truly horrendous.

      “eBay indicate buyers so far are pretty honest and picking the right option.” Conflicts with your first point Chris. They either have the stats or don’t.

      Try before you buy will happen. How many returns at £3+ a pop before ebay act 1, 2, 3, 10, 12, 20, 40…….. All the while we pick up the cost (or rather put prices up to cover that cost).

      This truly worries us. We have no faith in ebay’s ability to handle this. How many reports do you thing they can rule on in any given day? Much easier and quicker to deny the appeal and refund the buyer. Leave the seller in the lurch.

      I think this should be done as a voluntary opt in trial, where sellers can include it and have a great big ebay generated banner on their listing that says THIS SELLER OFFERS FREE RETURNS ON ALL THEIR ITEMS. Let the customer vote by choic not ebay by dictatorship.

      I am not alone. See pigs might fly comment below!

    • 3 years ago

      “eBay indicate buyers so far are pretty honest and picking the right option.” Conflicts with your first point Chris. They either have the stats or don’t.

      eBay don’t have tons of data yet as it’s a new program. However they do have a small amount of data for indicative results as it’s been tested with volunteers, plus data from the US that they can extrapolate from.

      In fact if you want to try the program you can already opt in to Managed Returns voluntarily and add to their data.

    • mw
      3 years ago

      Sounds like a well thought out plan…. Sweeping reform to the returns process that sellers pay for based on a small amount of data. Not like ebay at all!

      What volume of referals do they think they will get and what do they think they can cope with in as reasonable timescale??

    • chrissieboy
      3 years ago

      “There is no historical evidence to support this claim only ebay’s say so…”
      “Hardly surprising, it’s a new program and the first time eBay have had insight into returns. You can hardly expect them to see buyer returns behaviour before the program rolls out”

      Maybe not, but there is plenty of historical evidence where what ebay say and what ebay actually do are 2 different things. They won’t be able to cope with the huge amount of “reported” cases and will end up a la paypal, buyer wins whatever, with no recourse. Yes we can block buyers as at present, hey presto, buyer sets up another id and carries on. Another fine mess ebay have thought up. Will the last seller on ebay turn out the lights……

    • radroach
      3 years ago

      There seem to be a widespread view that eBay will be making a lot of money out of this system.

      However the official answer to the FAQ:

      Will eBay receive a percentage of the return postage cost?

      is…………………………………

      We’re negotiating the best possible rates to make sure we keep return postage costs low for both our buyers and sellers.

      We aren’t making a profit from this process – we only cover the costs of processing the return. To do otherwise would undermine what we’re trying to achieve: a low-cost, easy returns process for both seller and buyer.
      ……………………………………………………………….

      Why does no one believe this?

  • northumbrian
    3 years ago

    If the buyer ordered the wrong item or just changed their mind they’ll cough for the postage,

    A flock of flying pink elephants dressed up as pigs, have just landed in our garden

  • Cambridge_Blue
    3 years ago

    This is going to be a complete disaster for many sellers although I am sure some will want to wait and see what happens before taking decisive action.
    We will not be told by a supposed ‘trading venue’ how we will run our business and deal with customer returns after many years of successful trading on eBay.
    Put simply you have to decide a strategy for only listing those products that are expensive enough to warrant a £4/5 return cost and anything too cheap just gets completely delisted from the site.
    For expensive items we will also be delisting many items as we don’t see the point in countless arguments that just lead to wasted time with eBay support and an ever longer list of supposed ‘defects’.
    Our approach now is to completely reconfigure the eBay offer into a online advert for our other sites and simply use them as a marketing tool.
    Basically every sale will be designed to get our customer off eBay and onto our main sites through various promotional tools and special offers using a small subset of our complete range offered on eBay.
    It won’t hit sales as they are on the floor after the best match/cassini search/google debacle and frankly our efforts need to be directed into venues/channels that actually deliver which does not include eBay anymore.
    Good luck everybody especially those of you in sectors where return rates are high already – the final Q4 trading is going to be most interesting for all of us!

  • JD
    3 years ago

    If a consumer pays £1.00 for regular (non-tracked) shipping and then gets hit for £3.00 (tracked) to return for change of mind I think that it is certainly against the spirit of the new consumer rights bill.

    Trading Standards may yet have a say on this, particularly if the consumer is not told of the return costs before making his/her supposedly informed decision to buy in the first place.

    A nasty surprise like this could actually be illegal.

    I was hoping that we might by now have had a legal insight?

    • seller007
      3 years ago

      If the customer received the wrong item and wanted to return it for the correct one the seller would recieve a defect if i’m not mistaken?

      If the customer received the correct item and wanted to return it for a refund as they didnt like it, they then selected “wrong item” received would the seller still receive a defect as the customer has selected the wrong option?

    • mw
      3 years ago

      Yes is my understanding. And you foot the return bill.

    • Rich
      3 years ago

      If the customer paid £1 postage, and then was charged £3 to return it, who do you think the buyer would take it out on? The seller. So more defects.

      So much for a better Buyers experience.

    • seller007
      3 years ago

      Honestly, do the eBay execs just spin a wheel every month with various options on how to screw sellers over? Do they want sellers to move elsewhere?

  • seller007
    3 years ago

    eBay are a bunch of cowboys at times, logistically they are thick as bricks. No wonder so many people have moved onto Amazon. The stupid new defect system is a joke, google ranking and also this bullshit returns process, which in theory is good but realistically what a load of crap. £3.00 for mandatory returns cost, a buyer may select the wrong option for returning the item that was purchased, won’t this have an adverse affect on the sellers metrics i.e. a defect?

  • seller007
    3 years ago

    What about international refunds? is it still the magical £3.00 for tracked delivery? even for EU countries?

    • JD
      3 years ago

      The current scheme does not apply to International returns.

    • seller007
      3 years ago

      Give it time, eBay like to f*** sellers. Come august so many sellers will jump ship if they haven’t done so already.

  • 3 years ago

    Does anyone know with the “FROM” £3.00 what method of postage that is.
    The ebay clip above shows that it’s all tracked.
    I had a look on collect plus and that seems to indicate I have to goto my local collect plus point to collect these returns ?? is that correct?

    • Rich
      3 years ago

      If the buyer uses to collect plus then yes, you would need to go and collect it from your local collect plus.

    • 3 years ago

      Thankyou. Looks like I shall have to be walking a little to get the mail then.
      How do you know that there is something to collect.
      Do you, as a seller have to keep checking emails – tracking every day. Then take proof of id in.
      I wonder what disabled people will have to do. Maybe like international sellers they too will be exempt.

    • mw
      3 years ago

      Wonder if you can charge the buyer for staff time, parking and fuel for doing that?

    • Chris
      3 years ago

      Well I have just checked and my nearest collect+ is 12 miles away,
      my postage is either £1.24 or £2.80, collect+ seems to be £4.89 !!!

    • 3 years ago

      If a customer purchases and we send via Signed and the customer fails to collect, ebay sees that as non delivery and it goes against the seller for non delivery. I wonder if the reverse is applicable. The customer returns via collect + and I don’t collect it gets returned to the buyer.
      Seems like a fair balance :-)

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      we have had items returned by collect plus, unknown to us the pillock driver left it in our royal mail collection box, , royal mail then returned it to the sender,.
      with no stamp on and charged the sender, sender gives us grief about returning the item and royalmail charging the return

    • Wayne Morris
      3 years ago

      For me the distance isn’t too bad and I’m in the shop almost every day but I’m still not going along with it on principle. Why should I have to walk to a shop, show proof of ID etc when I don’t have to now. I’m relisting everything on Amazon and then ebay can take a long walk off a short pier while dancing the Irish Jig around my one fingered salute.

  • Toby
    3 years ago

    We’ve been directing customer to the UPS Shop to Shop service for our returns which is 75p + VAT upto 1Kg; http://www.parcel2go.com/service/ups-shop-to-shop

    Makes you wonder what the muppets at eBay where negotiating when Parcel2go can get these rates

    • Sam
      3 years ago

      Great information, Can you tell how this actually works? the site says 10 parcels per customer?

  • Sam
    3 years ago

    As someone who has used ebay managed returns for months, from experience we can tell you right now, eBay will favour the buyers. It does make a life bit easier but in our experience there is no way eBay will side the seller.

    We accepted all returns, refunded and never reported any issues but we received one abused return 10 days ago. We were so furious and upset that we decided to call eBay for advice. We thought we were already using managed returns and have never complained or challenged any return so eBay will be a bit considerate

    BUT,

    Seller support responded,

    “tracking shows delivered and we have no proof that he abused it and we cannot verify the abuse claim, you can either refund or if he escalates, eBay will refund”

    This meant a mark on our account which is currently showing no disputes closed or escalated to resolution and neg from the buyer. Buyer previous history and negs showed he was a serial offender and was proud of being a sparky!

    eBay were clear “you refund or we will”. We refunded and then opted out from managed returns and will keep it that way till they make it mandatory.

    Today their email does not even mention that when buyer uses a returns label, not only sellers will be charged but will have a defect too!!

    No mention of it anywhere!

    • tinker
      3 years ago

      managed returns is of no advantage to any individual seller its a cost of doing business on ebay,

      we treat contacting ebay support as a challenge a little like the telegraph crossword we never complete ,but feel satisfied if we get some right

  • ayd
    3 years ago

    like Sam we have been using the managed returns for a while now, works OK until you, as a seller, have a problem with a return.
    We had the old ’empty box’ returned trick, called Ebay to complain, were told it shows as delivered back to us via their Managed Returns system so refund the customer…
    freebay is alive and well.

  • paddy
    3 years ago

    How is managed returns going to work for heavy and bulky items? Most of the goods I sell are sent via pallet to the customer. I don’t get many returns but if there is I usually arrange the return via the pallet courier myself and deduct the cost from the customers refund. I do this after speaking with the customer and they are usually glad that I am arranging as it would be much cheaper than arranging the return themselves.

    • paddy
      3 years ago

      Actually forget that last comment. I’ve just noticed there are a few exceptions. This includes items over 10kg, which everything I sell is!

  • mw
    3 years ago

    Lets also not forget that ebay are likely to advertise this new free return feature in every marketing advert and campaign they can think of. Much like the grinning t**t we currently have tellling customers it’s ok to steal, sorry get your money back from sellers. Every Tom, Dick and Harry on and off ebay is going to know about. It’s going to be a nightmare and a potential financial headache. We are currently cutting our ranges to dump those items most likely to warrant any kind of return. The choices on ebay are going to get smaller, prices are generally going to rise to cover this new cost of selling on ebay. It should be a voluntary option by seller with a great big free of charge banner across the listing and the customer gets to choose. Not Mandatory!

    • Sam
      3 years ago

      That is absolutely true. We too have expressed our same concerns about ebay plans to invite everyone to join in and beat the sellers as hard as they can and have fun on ebay. We are and will be cutting down on the range. Most expensive and popular car audio products will be moved to Amazon and our own site. We will keep low budget items on eBay and when customers will inquire then obviously we will be able to “redirect” them. Similarly low value items will be moved too. It wont be worth offering bargains at cost.

      It’s not just the cost side of it but the fact that we will be hit with defects the minute buyers chooses to abuse this process, that was a final nail in the coffin for us. We have tested managed returns for months and have found that eBay will refund as long as the tracking shows delivered, even if it is an empty box.

  • SamG
    3 years ago

    Appologies from accross the pond – we dont yet have to do either of these hairbrained ideas as they are opt in not mandatory.

    This entire episde is a train wreck in the making – sellers of course once again are on the loosing end.

    Of course customers want to return things. They want ZERO hassles but more importantly ZERO responsibilities.

    While most customers are good normal people, eBay seems to attract the WORST of all people, ones (via my experiences since joining eBay in 1998 and being a TRSP) who will lie, cheat and steal with no feelings whatso ever.

    As an aside, forcing sellers to take things back (and please dont for a moment think that this isnt reall yabout eBay and THEIR reputation amongst buyers)(both seller and buyers know how bad eBay rally is)(they make the mafia look like choir boys) is a cheap and easy way for eBay to get “street cred”. “I bought something, didnt want it one week on, and sent it back with no hassles.

    eBay doesnt tak into consideration the costs – shipping, inventorying, wharehousing, the product getting roughed up in transit and many other factors.

    Its easy for eBay to have these types of policies as they cost eBay NOTHING – its all on the seller.

    In 2014 THAT is eBay. eBay does nothing (they cant even protect passwords or get Google optimisation right) and then explains to you how your loosing money, time and effort is a GOOD thing.

    Its not any different then the lies of “seller protection” (sort of like the Loch Ness Monster, Yeti or Big Foot), VERO (who make money by using a website called verowatch – they charge companies to scour ebay listings to remove – 150 pounds per half hour) or any other eBay scheme.

    My company is a TRSP and we have a 4 day return policy – but we would NEVER do eBay managed returns, and will not participate in the forced 90 day return over the upcomming holidays – even if it means loosing that status.

    eBay ISNT an ecommerce company. They dont sell anything, they dont buy anything, they cant even get Good submitions to work right, and apparently their security is piss poor. They DONT know more about your business then you do – no appologies to Lyin Ryan Moore and JD (Nike you must be SO desperate).

    Most of my manufactorers understand the high cost of returns (companies like Pioneer have a 1% yearly return policy) and if eBay WAS an ecommmerce company – they would know about such things.

    Best of luck fellow sellers and good selling

  • Vamp
    3 years ago

    Yes, there are bad sellers and buyers on eBay. I have never sold there but have bought a lot. I have bought items that truly were not what I paid for. I post a picture with my complaint and almost always get my money back. I do a lot of buying from China but that’s for thing like jewelry or nail stuff. I have bought several things in the US too and those sellers seem to be more honest in what they sell. I try to work with a seller when there’s a problem. As angry as eBay makes you people remember there are a lot of sellers from other countries selling crap that hurts you. That’s why these rules went into effect.

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