Refunding one item from a multi-item eBay order

By Chris Dawson September 28, 2015 - 8:36 am

refundWhat do you do when you need to issue a partial refund to an eBay customer? It sounds obvious doesn’t it, but perhaps not…

For instance if a customer returns just one item from a multiple item order you don’t want to do a total refund and you’d think it would be simple… and it is so long as the customer has used the eBay returns process. Not all customers do though.

If an item is returned outside the eBay returns flow it appears it’s nigh on impossible to do a partial refund for the single item. You could of course ask the customer (who’s already returned the item) to now go back on to eBay, find the product in their My eBay and request a return enabling you to refund them. That’s a lot of hassle for a customer who’s knows you’ve already received the product back.

An alternative is to go to PayPal and simply process a partial refund there. That’s probably (currently) going to get you a defect so also isn’t ideal, plus you won’t get a refund on your eBay fees.

However there appears to be a bit of a workaround, which is to log into eBay Ireland and process the refund from there. eBay Ireland is a bit behind the UK on site updates so the old cancellation process, that will allow single cancellations, still works. You still need to be careful on what might attract a defect and what won’t, but if you’re trying to refund one returned item from a multiple item order it might be worth trying.

Thanks to Tamebay reader Simon for this tip!

  • Dean
    2 years ago

    I’ve not encountered the above issue so can’t comment on it.
    So I’ll go slightly off-topic instead and raise the following eBay refund nightmare as another topic for discussion….

    As well as selling on eBay UK, I sell on non-UK eBay sites and take currency other than sterling in to my PayPal account.
    Every few days I convert my dollars / euros etc. in to pounds in PayPal so that I can pocket it and spend it more easily.
    If I get a refund request from a customer I normally just process it without haste. There’s always hundreds or thousands in my PayPal account at any one time so there should be no issue UNLESS the customer paid in a non-sterling currency and I have recently converted my non-sterling to sterling without remembering.
    One would think that the PayPal system would “take a look at all the sterling”, realise that there’s plenty there to cover it, convert it to the customers currency and push the money their way. Logic eh? If you’ve been with PayPal some 10 years, always have a nice chunk of money sat in their bank and are of good standing, then that is what they would do.
    But no. Not PayPal.
    PayPal will ignore the sterling funds in your PayPal account, issue an eCheque to the customer (which can take weeks to clear), then drag the money from your linked bank account.
    The money can disappear from your linked bank account quickly enough but your eCheque still won’t clear for a week or so. A recent payment was taken from my account about a week ago but the eCheque has just cleared today!
    The customer wonders why you are holding on to their money for so long. They blame you. Negative feedback is now on the cards and it makes you look like a tight vindictive a-hole.
    Why PayPal? Why?
    Read this and answer please.
    Perhaps there is a setting in PayPal that I have not come across that allows you to give PayPal permission to convert some of your PayPal sterling to a foreign currency to enable you to give great customer service rather than the current scenario.

  • Andrew
    2 years ago

    Interesting article thanks. I get a lot of returns from people who just bypass the eBay process and I have ended up with a few defects as aresult, by refunding via PayPal. However, there are two things I’ve learned:

    1 – quite often eBay will remove the defects later on, so they are obviously checking and reading the correspondence and being fair. Which is great, but you can’t rely on it.

    2 – I also got this solution, direct from one of eBay’s Live Chat agents Here’s the full conversation, anonymised:

    Hi, my question is – if a customer sends me a return, without using the Managed Returns process, how do I refund the order, without getting a defect?

    eBay Customer Agent
    Thanks for the information, if you directly resolve the issue with your buyer without the managed returns process and advised them to return the item, you can do the refund via ‘Send Money’ option. However, if this is done and this is outside eBay returns, if there is a problem that happens, we cannot intervene.

    OK, where do I find the ‘Send Money’ option?

    eBay Customer Agent
    Here’s how to send money:

    1. Log in to your account at
    2. Click the “Send Money” tab.
    3. Choose ” I’m paying for goods or services” or “I’m sending money to family or friends”.
    4. Enter the relevant information and click “Continue”.
    5. Review details including the “Source of Funds”. If the payment that you’re sending exceeds the amount of funds in your PayPal account, you can click “More Funding Options” to change the source of funds for the payment.
    6. Click “Send payment” to complete the payment. To change any information, click “Edit”.

    So, I should do that instead of choosing ‘Refund’ in PayPal?

    eBay Customer Agent

    And if I do that does it mean I will not get a defect?

    eBay Customer Agent
    Since you do not want a defect, this is the best option you can do.

    OK, is that because eBay will not see the ‘Send Money’ transaction?

    eBay Customer Agent

    OK, thank you very much

    Interesting huh?


    • Simon E
      2 years ago

      I questioned ebay about this some time ago and asked if I refund a customer in this way and as it is not associated against the order itself, can the customer open a case asking for the refund again.
      I was told that ebay was able to see the transaction on paypal so what I do is include as much information in the comments box on the payment, so IF it becomes an issue then ebay will be able to see more clearly that this transaction – payment to the customer is actually a refund.
      The only other issue is that you don’t get your ebay fees back, but sometimes that worth the price of a defect B-).

    • Andrew
      2 years ago

      Thanks for the extra info, Simon

      I can see it makes sense to put the relevant info in there to cover your back.

      I wonder if eBay can still see the Send Money transaction, now they’ve split from PayPal? In theory there should be no way of connecting the transaction to the purchase – only to the buyer and that ought to be private, you would think. But, who knows?


    • 2 years ago

      I would be very surprised if ebay can see unrelated activity on PayPal. PayPal is a bank so must comply with FSA regulations and data protection legislation. If I send you money through a process that is not associated with an ebay transaction ebay will not be able to see it. It’s a private transaction.

      I had a long conversation with PayPal last week and the agent confirmed that Paypal can see a lot more of ebay systems than the reverse and this is because of the banking/financial transaction aspect.

      If you send funds via “send to a friend” you do not get any of your fees refunded.

  • Simon E
    2 years ago

    I wish ebay would take a long look at the Amazon system.
    On Amazon I can look at an order that contains multiple items, I can select a single item, and I can refund whatever amount I choose. There are also boxes I can fill to pay extra if the customer has paid for postage or if the customer has had some hassle, then I can pay them extra for their inconvenience.
    Even when I have completed the payment, Amazon doesn’t pay the customer immediately. There’s a period, not sure how long, where you can cancel the refund, just in case you have made a mistake.
    Making a customer jump through the ebay hoops to do a partial refund is not a step in the right direction at all.
    When will they take a serious look at these sorts of things. Who in their right mind at ebay could look at this current process and say “it’s great and all works fine”.

  • Martin
    2 years ago

    It is not clear to me why a seller gets a defect for refunding through Paypal. Can anyone explain?

    I regularly do this when the return is outside Managed Returns and I don’t get defects. I do go into my Unpaid Items (which is how the transaction now appears on Ebay) and reclick it as paid, and it shows paid at the reduced amount.

    So what is the issue?

    Is it also true you don’t get your fees back? If you refund doesn’t ebay automatically calculate that you should be paying reduced FVF? Would like to know. Certainly the listing fee isn’t worth worrying about.

    • 2 years ago

      The reasoning behind the defect if you refund without cancellation is because ebay takes the position that you have refunded due to lack of stock and this is a bad thing.

      I think you are avoiding the defect when you re-mark a sale as paid. It’s all about fees and this way ebay keeps it’s fees so they don’t mind saving you a defect.

      If you cancel an order through ebay you get your fees back and no defect as long as you select the right option such as problem with buyer address.

  • Phil
    2 years ago

    I’ve noticed today that I’m not able to process a part refund anymore. I’ve had a transaction to Australia, customer bought 3 items and although I’ve got my postage discounts correct they paid full postage on all 3 items. This is not an uncommon occurrence and I’ve been able to go to the ‘Paypal transaction’ on the sales record, then issue a refund which allows me to put an amount in. However, it’s not allowing this anymore, if I select to issue a refund, it will only allow the whole amount to be refunded.

    Any ideas on this change or solutions?

    • Simon E
      2 years ago

      Try ebay.IE.
      If you log into that and then try the same process you should notice a difference. is on an old system, according to ebay CS and their partial refunds still works.
      As far as I was aware though you still end up paying ALL of the ebay fees on the total shipping costs.
      Ebay told me some time ago that they were not refunding fees where customers had overpaid shipping.

      What worried me the other day, in a regular chat with ebay CS, was that apparently if I refund a partial amount direct from paypal then I could attract a defect. I explained that sometimes a customer would over pay postage by tens of pounds and I would then refund what I could via paypal. I asked what percentage would be classed as a defect and was told that EBAY systems look at the transaction and decide. So yet another thing to worry about through no fault of our own.

    • Stevie H
      2 years ago

      I think this only happens if someone has paid you in part or in full using an ebay discount voucher. You will probably find that ony this transaction is affected.

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