eBay seller to fund Return Postage for SNAD/Faulty

By Chris Dawson October 28, 2014 - 5:27 pm

ReturnsIf a buyer returns an item because of a change of heart, it’s right that they pay the return postage so long as the seller has specified this up front in their terms and conditions. If however the item is faulty it’s up to the sellers to fund the return postage. This hasn’t always been the case on eBay, but with the new Managed Returns eBay will enforce this according to the return option the buyer selects.

Tamebay reader Roger received an email from eBay which says:

Many of our sellers have already started using eBay Managed Returns and are paying for return postage on faulty or not as described items. Starting from 15 September, we will introduce requirements that all sellers take responsibility for return postage on items which are faulty or not as described. The majority of our sellers are already providing a great returns service, but for those sellers who choose not to facilitate a return or provide/fund return postage for items that are faulty or not as described, we may refund their buyers without requiring them to return the item and in turn we will seek reimbursement from sellers

In other words they’re making sure that the return policy tmatches the law. That’s a good thing.

We’re well aware that some sellers will worry about items being claimed as “Not As Described” when for instance it’s a garment which was correctly described but simply doesn’t fit the purchaser. However eBay with their mandatory Managed Returns program have told us that more buyers simply return as change of mind than abuse the system adding “We continue to monitor the managed returns program and we’re still seeing a high number of buyers selecting the remorse return reason when they want to return an item“.

What isn’t quite so clear is what happens with overseas sales. They fall outside the managed return process, but buyers (at least in the EU) have similar rights to those in the UK. Whilst sellers are able to negotiate great rates for shipping overseas, they’re unlikely to have access to great rates for returns from the EU.

It’s also been unclear what happens if an item is claimed as faulty or not as described if it was shipped under eBay’s Global Shipping Program, the seller will only have paid for UK postage in the first place. eBay have clarified this telling Tamebay “If an item is claimed as faulty or not as described and has been sent using the Global Shipping Programme, we’ll normally offer the buyer a voucher. This will be in line with the cost of sending the item back to the seller”.

Ultimately it’s your business and up to you to make sure that you follow the law. However eBay’s managed return process has been designed to assist those not familiar with the law to be compliant. Even if you don’t have the correct Ts and Cs, by agreeing to eBay’s user agreement both the seller and the buyer will be guided to the correct resolution.

The only area for sellers to worry about is when you actively ship to overseas destinations (as opposed to the Global Shipping Program). Inside the EU you still have an obligation to take care of buyers when items arrive faulty, what do you do in these circumstances? Do you refund and ask the buyer to dispose of the goods, have a preferred method of getting the items shipped back, or simply refund whatever postage costs the buyer incurs?

  • james
    3 years ago

    Managed returns are disgusting, had countless fraudulent returns already.
    for example
    “this doesnt fit the space i wanted it to”.
    either refund now, or pay for buyer to return.
    – no option to send a message, refuse, point them at the return policy. either refund now or pay more and refund later.
    i DO know the law, and this is illegal.

  • Nathan
    3 years ago

    As a seller we should also be able to claim the original postage if the item is incorrectly ordered or they change the mind.

  • Robert C
    3 years ago

    My items are low in value and before the mandatory returns process came about I would tell the customer not to worry returning the goods and refund/resend if the item received was damaged etc.

    Now I have to set up a rule which refunds whenever a customer starts the return process. This has now created the following issues:

    1. I have no chance of communication with the customer, so I can’t calm them with a message explaining the situation.

    2. It doesn’t tell you why the customer has started the returns process, it just states a refund has been issued due to a return request so I can’t see what needs to be improved.

    3. I can no longer resend items under the same order. For example, if a customer sends me a message stating an item is damaged, and then I resend an item they could then innocently go through the returns process for the 1st item and get a full refund for the order. So they get the item for free, and I have sent 2.

    For my business this has made the “Customer Experience” worse. Ebay have made it harder for the sellers who abided by the distance selling regulations act in the first place.

  • Jono
    3 years ago

    Of course the seller should pay the return postage if the item is damaged or wrong but so far we have had 4 returns due to Not as Described where we the seller have had to foot the bill.

    One stated: Didn’t like the colour
    One stated: didn’t fit (even though full mm measurements were in listing)
    One stated: They felt it was too expensive
    and finally One stated: The hat looked like a pizza on their head and not like in the photo – the buyer should wear it a little differently on his head!

    Now, out of the four above which is our fault? We have had to pay for all the returns – stinks of fraud to me and there is nothing a seller can do except refund refund or refund. As James says above, it’s so illegal it’s unreal!

  • Cambridge_Blue
    3 years ago

    I’m sorry Chris but many of us here on Tamebay are professional online sellers and we are well aware of the law in respect of both SOGA and DSR and the relevant EU legislation including the need to ensure website T&Cs and emails contain the appropriate text.
    What we do not need is to be treated as a bunch of children by eBay and told how to run and manage our businesses because of a few dodgy sellers.
    Even Amazon allows marketplace sellers to choose whether to pay for a return regardless of the reason stated and if a buyer does get messed around both the feedback mechanism and the A to Z Guarantee process usually gets things sorted.
    Mandating payment of returns like this will be abused on an increasing scale and for many sellers in sectors with high return rates (fashion, clothing, shoes etc) it will mean either delist or raise prices to all buyers to maintain margins on eBay.

  • David Brackin
    3 years ago

    When we trialled Managed Returns we had to turn it off because of the high levels of buyer fraud we were seeing.

    As with so many initiatives, it’s great that eBay are experimenting with ideas that will increase sales and buyer trust, but they do need to fix stuff before they make it mandatory.

    Also – this must be about a dozen changes to returns this year so far. It’s too much of a burden on businesses gearing up for Christmas sales to cope with all the moving targets that eBay throws up. Stop wriggling so much and let us grow on the platform. It’s exhausting.

  • Tony C
    3 years ago

    The really disgraceful thing is that the real bad sellers are those hiding in Hong Kong and still appearing on listings as if they are in the UK – at least they somehow manage to sneak past the Item Location filters.

    These sellers send crappy items and will not refund unless you return the item, which you can’t do cost-effectively, so they get to keep the money. Even if eBay issue you with a coupon, as they did very graciously for me last week, still the seller keeps the money. These are the real bad guys on eBay, and the main reason why eBay are clamping down on the good guys. The reason they do this is because they can. We live in a country where trading laws are enforced properly; these HK creeps are outside the law. I personally think that eBay should blank out HK completely and not allow any of them to sell at all.

    But I bet they’d still manage to get through the Item Location filter…..

  • john
    3 years ago

    There is money in managed returns for ebay that’s a big reason for implementing it.

    How long before compulsory managed dispatch with eBay’s shipping methods.

    I’m getting ripped off because ebay are allowing buyers to rip me off. They want sellers to give items free and just stomach the loss.

  • Roger C
    3 years ago

    Like I added to my original email :


    So, a purchaser changes his mind on a purchase or breaks it because he didn’t read the instructions first, now he gets his return postage paid for as well!

    It hasn’t been a level playing field for sometime, it shows no sign of ever being one again!


    It isn’t that eBay are now more aware of EU rules, it’s simply that fraudulent and/or uncaring buyers can sit behind eBay rules and demand legitimate P&P costs back.

    Like I said . . . it hasn’t been a level playing field for sometime, it shows no sign of ever being one again!

  • Rich
    3 years ago

    As an overseas seller I am still hostage to bad ratings and inevitably end up offering the same level of service as anyone else. So I offer to pay return postage or sometimes simply refund if the buyer is gracious enough to admit error.
    Like others I would classify most returns as buyer error.

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      paying the defect ransom money is now part of ebay trading
      we must get at least 2 or 3 messages a day
      with contrived complaints asking for discounts and partial refunds

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      of course we keep forgetting we do have the ebay seller protection ,and if all else fails we can use the report a buyer option

    • Roger C
      3 years ago

      . . . and once upon a time, many, many aeons ago we could do something else too.

      We were able to leave FEEDBACK!!!

  • toby Lamper
    3 years ago

    so ebay encourage us to ‘communicate with the buyer’….. and quite rightly so, many issuescan be resolved within a message or two… but managed returns implies that communicating is bad… just return it via a automated system, no need for the human element.

  • Roger C
    3 years ago

    OK, just had another thought on this change and, I do believe, it explains why I feel the revised eBay rules, though being more in line with UK/EU Laws, so favour the buyer.

    Buy something major that is technical and if it goes wrong under warranty, though there will be an established means to return it, you will need to “work with the seller”.

    Part of this will be make contact first for a “Returns Authorization” number or reference, then you can send it back to be investigated for fault. If faulty then no problem, returned because the buyer couldn’t read the instructions, extra cost to send back . . . though how few commercial sellers would do so?

    Thing is under these eBay revisions then a stupid or corrupt buyer is always right and always entitled to FULL REFUND . . . and what if they send you back an empty box or a broken version bought in a car boot sale of what you sold them? Too late! eBay have already taken your money!

    Working to a higher sales standard is one thing, working in full consideration of the Law another, risking giving your hard earned stock and profit away for free? Stupidity!

  • Dave
    3 years ago

    The whole managed returns has been a pain for me also. I opted in earlier on in the year but had to opt out again pretty damn quick when it became apparent how appalling CollectPlus were. I had returns take 14, 20 and then 30 days to come back to me, that was in transit with CollectPlus!!

    I wasn’t looking forward to getting opted back in. Thankfully CollectPlus have been better, but 10 days still seems to be the norm to get items back to me.

    So far I’ve had 5 returns where I’ve been forced to pay for the return shipping as the buyer stated that the item was faulty, but in all cases the item was not faulty (I sell Bluray players, Freeview recorders etc., so items of reasonable value). I have 100% feedback, TRS Platinum, and don’t want to lose that by having an argument with a buyer over £5 who’s sent something back using the returns process claiming that its faulty when it’s not. eBay say that they’ll protect my feedback, but we all know that if the buyer doesn’t say anything untrue that CS won’t remove it.

    I escalated one claim to CS, but after pressing the button to escalate it, instead of finding a text box to add any comments or reason for escalating it, a case just gets opened. Surely enough, they found in the customers favour as I’d had the item back, even though they’d damaged the DVD player themselves. Again, they hadn’t left me feedback, so what was I supposed to do?

    I’ve been in contact with CS, and they tell me that there is no process in place for re-claiming return shipping costs if a buyer sends something back claiming it to be faulty and it’s not.

    There seems to be no way out for us good sellers.

    • Dave
      3 years ago

      I meant to add to the above,

      That’s 5 out of 5 returns that have been technically fraudulent!

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      your not alone Dave we have had very similar experiences
      including with lack of text box to explain that the buyer is pulling a fast one ,
      we complained on this forum some time ago about the problem when ebay was using tamebay as a pastiche support site
      though dissent is frowned upon

  • Dan
    3 years ago

    some horror stories there! making me think about my ebay selling in general. time to move on?

    • Cliff
      3 years ago

      eBay is now run by lunatics, with this defects system it is impossible to stay above standard, it is a suicide note in disguise it’s a case of jump before you’re pushed.

  • Dave
    3 years ago

    I’ve just had another back today – the buyer has pulled the DVD tray off its rails. This was a cheap unit, so I sent them a replacement a couple of weeks back and asked them not to return the faulty one so I don’t get charged for the return shipping. But because we sellers can’t close the return, add any info, or in fact do anything whatsoever apart from supply an RMA number and then a refund, all I could do was send the buyer in a message unattached to the return asking them not to return it. But this customer HAS used the shipping label which I’ve been charged for. This item cost me about £3, so I was happy for it to go in the bin (I wish it had gone in the bin as I’m now more pee’d off that it’s my buyer that’s damaged the item in the first place!).

    Of course, eBay are now asking me to refund the buyer, even though they now have a replacement item! It’s a pathetic returns management system.

    My previous role for some 15 years was in returns management for a large company handling the returns and then re-distribution/resale for most of the major high-street retailers and their consumer electronic tech, so it really grates that eBay believe that they know my job better than I do and present us with this awful system.

    You’d think that with a Top Rated Seller Platinum status, getting on for 6000 100% positive feedback and have put almost £500k of sales through eBay that they might realise that I know how to run my own business.

  • northumbrian
    3 years ago

    not sure if its just a glitch or by design
    though were now not receiving my messages notification of returns and just find them sitting there in the returns section
    could have caused all sorts of problems with escalation etc,

  • Paul
    3 years ago

    How many people are getting the ‘ I await your response’ mail from customers trying to get partial refunds on items.
    I have has around four messages very much the same in structure saying these exact words – when I eventually got through to customer support after waiting on hold 35mins after being transferred and one failed call back they did not seem at all interested in this.

  • Lisa
    3 years ago

    Ebay Returns – My Latest Headache

    How can something so simple become so time-consuming and unproductive.

    Lastest issues:
    1) Ebay gave a partial refund when the partial refund had already been done. Been told it was done automatically because of option chosen in Returns. Well the only other option was refund in full! Where was the option to close the return as buyer/seller have sorted this out without ebay interference.
    2) Ebay closed a case and gave a full refund before the item came back. No communication to us or request for input.

    AND the standard of emails back from ebay customer support has hit an all time low. They have no idea what is going on. From not understanding how the return process works – to sending flawed instructions – it is beyond diabolical.

    I have had to transfer 2 staff from listing/product research/sales to dealing with ebay returns.

    And as for providing customers with return labels that I will be charged for without my consent is making my blood boil!

    AND – as buyers keep choosing the wrong option to return in an attempt of getting out of of paying return postage – our defect rate is going through the roof.

    Advice from ebay: If a buyer has used the incorrect option/do not refund when the item comes back – report the buyer instead and let ebay sort it. Not sure what this means exactly – but you can be damn sure that either the buyer or the seller will end up dissatisfied.

    The easy solution is just to add another 2 options onto the return; refuse return & the buyer/seller have resolved this matter.

    Off for a strong coffee!

    • james
      3 years ago

      “report the buyer instead and let ebay sort it.”
      “let ebay refund the buyer for you, and record a non-resolution against you in addition to the defect you already have”.

  • Pete Loxham
    3 years ago

    Another return came in today, a guy has ordered a remote and it doesn’t match the item he’s bought it for (i.e, he bought the wrong one or can’t set it up) hence he’s claimed item not as described / faulty.

    Ebay have basic systems and inexperieced process guys who base decisions on a focus group of 5-10 people, there is no joined up thinking, how can they be so incredibly poor at running a business.

    Options are limited but I used to sell only on Ebay, I’ve transfered to amazon over the past year and will be doing more so in future as Amazon are so much better organised and sensible.

    In the meantime I do report and ban every customer who sends in a fradulent claim, if I get a big one I will consider small claims. I also ban and report all customers who claim INR without sending me an email prior, I doubt it does any good but at least I won’t have to trade with them again

  • Dave
    3 years ago

    I’ve had a couple today:

    A Freeview recorder that’s incompatible with the buyers existing (old) TV because they didn’t bother to read the listing. Obviously they’ve ticked the item defective box so I have to pay for the return shipping and get another defect on my account.

    Another Freeview recorder that’s well out of its warranty period with us but has a developed a problem that I can resolve easily enough if the buyer wants to return it to me. But, I can only select:

    Choose a reply:

    X Accept the return
    You’ll pay for return postage and can send our return label or send your own. Wait to get the item back before you refund the buyer.

    X Refund the buyer
    The buyer will keep the item, and you can fully refund the buyer to close this request.

    X Offer a partial refund
    The buyer will keep the item and you have one chance to offer an amount.

    X Decline the return
    This will automatically close the buyer’s request.

    X Send a message
    You can reply to the buyer.

    I don’t want to do any of those things, I’m happy to sort the problem but not pay for their postage back to me, but I guess I’ll have to decline the return and deal with the issue outside of the returns process which makes the whole thing pretty pointless.

    I’m in the process of getting a load of flyers printed off to pop in the box with all of my sales inviting my buyers to contact me directly with any problems/issues. I’m hoping that it will stop me spending several extra hours per week beating my head against a wall talking to CS getting defects removed and sorting out this stupid returns shambles, and hopefully allowing me to engage with my customers once more.

    • PeteStan
      3 years ago

      Dave can you not select the last one “send a message to the buyer” and send him a message either telling them what to do or ask him to pay the postage and return it to you so you can fix it and you will then send it back to them and pay the return postage?

    • Dave
      3 years ago

      Pete, yes thats what I’ve done. The point is that it should be an option on there to ask them to return it at their own cost as its outside of its warranty period, or let me send a message and keep the return open so that it can be delt with within the returns system, but the thing is so badly thought out that those are not an option. Basic stuff.

      The other return I mentioned above, where the item was incompatible with the customers TV is now amazingly coming back to me at my cost. I spoke to CS about this case and they told me just to ignore it, wait until the customer opens a case and then contest it.

      “Lar Junil 14:16:50
      Since it is not your problem as they stated that the item is not compatible with their tv, you can ignore the case they have opened if you don’t want to be charged for the postage.

      Me 14:18:30
      So are you able to change or close the return for me and remove the defect? I’d be happy to refund them if they want to return it to me because they purchased in error of course

      Lar Junil 14:18:42
      You can just ignore the case and just let them escalate it. ”

      Lo and behold, the eBay returns system has automatically provided them with an RMA number and its winging its way back to me….. At my cost.


    • Dave
      3 years ago

      I just wanted to update the above case where the item purchased was not compatible with the buyers existing equipment for other peoples info.

      I’ve spoken to CS 4 times now which has taken over 4 hours so far. The first 3 times I was told in no uncertain terms that I would not have to pay for the return shipping costs as the item was not faulty and the buyer had stated that it was incompatible, even though they’d ticked the ‘It’s defective or doesn’t work’ box.

      Here are some of the CS transcripts:


      CS 14:11:43
      I’m sorry to hear that the item the buyer purchased was incompatible with they TV and they opened a request but you’re being charged for the postage fees. No worries, I’ll be happy to check this for you.

      Me 14:11:54
      The buyer has said that its faulty so that I get charged for the shipping, but they state that its incompatible with their existing equipment, so its not a fault with the item but they have bought in error

      Me 14:12:03

      CS 14:15:03
      You’re most welcome Dave. Please let me explain your option for this.

      CS 14:16:50
      Since it is not your problem as you stated that the item is not compatible with their tv, you can ignore the case they have opened if you don’t want to be charged for the postage.

      CS 14:17:21
      Since the buyer chose the option that the item is defective, it is the reason why you’re being charged for the return postage.

      Me 14:18:30
      So are you able to change or close the return for me and remove the defect? I’d be happy to refund them if they want to return it to me because they purchased in error of course

      CS 14:18:42
      You can just ignore the case and just let them escalate it.

      CS 14:19:14
      With regards to that, you should contact the buyer and ask them to cancel the return they opened so the defect will be removed from you account.

      Me 14:19:55
      ok, I shall do that. Thanks


      Me 13:13:34
      I spoke with someone on Tuesday, chat transcript SR*********** for the return ID ********. The item is not faulty, but incompatible with the buyers existing TV.

      I was told to ignore the return and wait until the customer escalated the case, but it seems that the eBay returns system has now given the buyer an RMA number, its created a returns label which I will be charged for and its coming back to me.

      CS 13:13:52
      It is taking longer than I had anticipated to pull up the requested information, I will need an additional two minutes.

      CS 13:17:19
      Thank you for waiting.

      CS 13:18:18
      I will suggest you to escalate the return case on on 15th of Nov as case can only be escalated after 8 days from opening the case.

      Me 13:20:41
      Ok, but the buyer has yet to leave me any feedback and I don’t want to annoy them because of the returns system as its not my fault. Is there nothing else I can do apart from just wait?

      Me 13:21:08
      I don’t mind refunding them for the item, but I do not want to pay for the return shipping

      CS 13:22:18
      In this case, the best option I can suggest you to is to give the buyer a call as many problems and misunderstandings in a transaction can be resolved by having a quick talk with your trading partner.

      Me 13:23:26
      But I will already have been charged for the return postage, thats not really the fault of the buyer but of the new eBay returns system. Giving them a call won’t refund me the return shipping costs

      Me 13:23:50
      in this case the problem is with the returns system

      CS 13:24:51
      Please be assured that if the item is described then you are not obliged to bear the return shipping cost for the item.

      CS 13:25:17
      You can escalate the case once you receive the item and the fees will be waived off from your account.

      Me 13:26:56
      So I can’t refund the buyer until that has happened just to be clear?

      Me 13:28:17
      I’m a little concerned as I have already escalated a returns case, but I wasn’t able to enter any information whatsoever, and eBay found in the buyers favour even though the item returned was not faulty, so I still ended up paying for the shipping and had the defect on my account.

      Me 13:28:34
      I have very little faith in the eBay returns….

      CS 13:28:43
      Yes, you are correct you are not obliged to refund the buyer until it has been resolved.



      CS 16:07:55
      Before we proceed, I apologize for the wait.

      Me 16:08:18
      Hi there, yes it took a while….!

      CS 16:09:29
      Thank you for your understanding. Just to clarify, I can see here that you wanted to appeal the return requests filed by your buyer, am I correct?

      Me 16:10:05
      Yes, I would like the return shipping costs not to be charged to me as the buyer bought the item in error

      CS 16:11:49
      I understand.

      CS 16:12:31
      I’ve looked at the return requests and I can see here that your buyer provided tracking details. Just to confirm, have you receive the item that they’ve sent back?

      Me 16:12:49
      Yep, I have it

      CS 16:15:03
      Since you received the item, are you willing to issue a refund to your buyer?

      Me 16:15:42
      Yes I am

      CS 16:17:44
      Thank you for confirming. We can process a refund on your buyer by escalating the return requests, however, please note that this might count a defect on your account.

      CS 16:18:22
      What I can suggests is that you may issue a refund to your buyer directly through PayPal.

      Me 16:18:53
      so if I refund via paypal I won’t get a defect?

      CS 16:19:22
      Once the refund transaction is successfully completed, you may contact us again and provide us the PayPal transaction ID so that we can close the return requests ruled on your favour.

      CS 16:19:43
      Please note that any eBay Money Back Guarantee request or PayPal Buyer Protection case is ruled in the seller’s favour, the defect will automatically removed.

      CS 16:26:29
      I’ve carefully checked your account and I can confirm that the £49.99 full refund you’ve issued to your buyer’s account today was successfully completed.

      CS 16:29:39
      With this in mind, I know how important this matter for you that’s why please be assured that I have now escalated the return requests and converted it into “Not as Described” claim closing ruled on your favour.

      CS 16:31:52
      With regards to the return postage cost, as I can see here that your buyer choose the reason that the item is defective, I’m afraid that you will pay the return postage cost and you will see the payment details through your invoice.

      Me 16:32:39
      That is the reason why I am here – I was told to escalate the case and that I would not be charged for the return shipping as the item was not faulty, but bought in error

      Me 16:33:48
      The first person I spoke too some days ago told me to ignore the return case and I wouldn’t be charged, but they eBay automatically gave the buyer a returns number and generated the return shipping label.

      Me 16:34:21
      I was then told to wait until the item comes back and escalate the case, and I would be refunded the shipping charges.

      CS 16:37:30
      I certainly understand where you’re coming from.

      Me 16:38:16
      It is not acceptable that I am being charged for the return shipping

      CS 16:42:32
      I do apologise for the delay in responding. The system in my end has been updating.

      CS 16:43:36
      Here’s what I did to help you, Dave. Please be assured that I have now forwarded your concern to our appropriate department to investigate and review your concern.

      CS 16:44:15
      I assured you that you will receive an email provided the outcome within 3 – 5 working days.

      Me 16:44:32
      Yes please. Its not right that sellers like myself get charged because a buyer doesn’t want to pay for the return shipping when they’ve bought it in error

      Me 16:47:19
      Thanks for your help Joanna, I know its not your fault, but the whole managed returns system is flawed and causes sellers like me to waste a lot of time trying to remove defects and retain their top rated status. This case has taken almost 4 hours of online chat with CS so far

      CS 16:47:31
      I understand your frustration. That’s why I have now forwarded your concern to our policy team so that they can review this transaction.

      Me 16:47:35
      and its for less than £5

      CS 16:49:08
      I understand your situation, Dave. I understand that you were expecting a different outcome for this contact and I wish I could have given you more alternatives. If there is anything else that I can personally do for you, I would have done it. But this is the best resolution though that I could offer.

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