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The case for eBay auto-accept returns

By Chris Dawson September 24, 2018 - 8:00 am

I don’t often return anything on eBay, in truth until yesterday I can’t remember the last time I did actually return a purchase. But, having to go through the current returns process I’m all in favour of eBay auto-accept returns which started to roll out last week.

We are all aware of the downsides to sellers and buyers of auto-accept returns – no exchanges, no chance to send spare parts, no chance simply to give some customer service and get the product working when the buyer doesn’t know how to use it… and that’s before buyers claiming not as described to get free postage. However from a buyer perspective returns on eBay are currently a nightmare and something has to be done and that something is auto-accept returns.

I don’t think I’m a nightmare of a buyer and the back story is I made a purchase on eBay which I was delighted with. So delighted in fact that I ordered a second duplicate item to match the first. The problem arose that the seller was out of stock and sent me a different coloured item and it doesn’t match the first – they look daft together.

I started emailing the seller on the 13th of September to point out they had sent the wrong product. Each time it took a day to get a reply which was first of all “Sorry, other customers have been happy”, followed by “Can you send me photographs” to which the response was “We’ll give you 20% off if it’ll make you happy” and finally when I exasperatedly asked if they could just exchange the item they told me “no sorry, we don’t sell this item now”. After four days of trying to resolve the issue and having run out of options I opened a return case on the 17th of September.

Opening a return case is bad for the seller because I opened a significantly not as described case. However it’s even worse for me as the buyer because the seller had 8 days until the 25th of September to respond and if they and I can’t agree then it could drag on until the 16th of October.

eBay Return Request approvedAfter 48 hours, the seller did agree to the return. I still can’t return the item however as I’m now waiting for a return label which could take until the 25th of September to arrive – eBay allow seven days for them to get the return label to the buyer who in the mean time can’t return the item and can’t get their refund.

When eBay Auto-accept returns roll out, the minute I click the return this item button I’ll be able to print a label and get shot of the item and await my refund. Even with the worries that sellers have, as a buyer that’s given my seller ample opportunity to correct the error without impacting their metrics, I’m all in favour of eBay auto-accept returns.

Sooner or later I’ll get a label to return the item and then doubtless I’ll have to trek to a shop to post the item by Royal Mail or some other carrier such as myHermes or Collect Plus (I don’t get a choice in this). This is all over an item that cost £7.46 and you might be thinking it’s hardly worth the effort and I’m starting to agree with you. Returning an item on eBay is just too difficult and time consuming and having taken four days sending messages having to now wait to return the item is getting tedious. I have to ask myself do I really care about the loss of £7.46 and would it be easier to leave the seller a negative feedback and move on… as a seller would you have sympathy with a buyer that did that when a return is just too onerous?

I’m not eager to return another item purchased on eBay, as a buyer I hate returns – I just want the right item the first time, but hopefully next time the wrong product is delivered by an eBay seller returning it will be a trouble free one click procedure.

eBay Messages Return RequestFinally, in passing in normal contradictory fashion, whilst the eBay return case in the image above clearly states that I can escalate the case to eBay on the 25th September if the seller hasn’t resolved the issue, the eBay Message states the relevant date is the 26th September. Happy to take opinions on which is correct?

  • Simon E
    4 weeks ago

    The trouble we find is the exact same problem BUT in reverse.
    Customer asks for SNAD return and mentions the “Keyring” doesn’t match the description or photos.
    I don’t sell keyrings.

    So I reply, within a few minutes. “can you send photos of what you have received”
    No reply after a day.
    I ebay message the same and also add to the case.
    Again no response.

    I will have to accept the return anyway as ebay won’t change the reason mid case, now.
    To me an hopefully ebay, it is a case of buyer remourse.
    I have to message via the case and the ebay messages to back up my case of trying to communicate with the buyer, so that when – IF the item is returned, I can then phone ebay and ask for the return label to be refunded to me.

    The whole process a waste of my time.

    When the seller and buyer communicate then it all works well, but ebay especially take the buyer down the case route before even advising messaging the seller.
    It should be like Amazon where if you don’t respond to your buyer’s message within 24 hours then you get a slap.

  • Tom
    4 weeks ago

    We sell large items such as baths.

    I’d be very interested to see the label and/or courier that eBay produce for any of our customers requesting a return – I can;t imagine that any auto return of these items would progress without a hitch.

    • Toby
      4 weeks ago

      They would issue a Parcelforce Label & if refused by the courier, the buyer has to contact the seller & if no joy, the buyer is issued an auto-refund

    • james
      4 weeks ago

      Yup, ebay just give the buyer the wrong label and send them to the post office,
      the post office refuses to take large items, the customer gets refunded out of your pocket.

    • Elisha
      4 weeks ago

      How would you wrap a bath to return. It did make me chuckle. But it raises a fair point for large item returns, are Ebay going to say like Amazon just keep it…..!. I sell jewellery. No doubt I will have returns of such once the wedding is over and earrings are not returnable for health reasons. Try telling Ebay this. I have for yers and still they seem unaware of UK law.

    • Simon E
      4 weeks ago

      The trouble is that it depends on the reason for return.
      If the earrings are “Faulty” and I emphasize the quotes, then it doesn’t matter if someone has blood or any other bodily fluid on them, they are “faulty” and allowed to be returned, as far as I understand the law.
      How many people on ebay use the change of mind option for a return, usually it’s a SNAD.

  • Toby
    4 weeks ago

    It also seems that the Return scammers are using this to their advantage, as we’ve had a customer return the old item in return of the new item, all communication automated by eBay.
    Upon receipt of the old item contacted eBay to inform them of the customer defrauding us & they escalated the case & found in favour of the buyer, as the return has been received. Appealed against this & stated as the item returned ws not the item sent, customer has now admitted via messages he has made a mistake of sending back the old item, eBay still found in their favour.
    eBay are not in the least bit interested in the buyers fraud via their returns system & we’re now following our own external processes.

    • Mike
      4 weeks ago

      Don’t mess around. It’s a misuse of returns.

      Take eBay to court.

      County Court “Small Claims”.

      Send notification to the London Head Office, informing them of your plan.

      I’ve experienced the exact same situation as you and it’s important to show eBay they are not above the law. Even though they think they are.

  • JP
    4 weeks ago

    100% of our items are hygiene sensitive. Going to be fun receiving items back and saying that they can’t have a refund. Not good for any party…

    • james
      4 weeks ago

      ebay really don’t seem to care, they will tell you to refund anyway.
      we sell toilet seats (among other things) and are very clear on the listing that we don’t take back used toilet seats.
      apparently “it doesnt fit my pan”, despite fitting measurements being on the listing, constitues a faulty product in ebay’s eyes, and we need to take back and refund toilet seats that have been used as a result. ewwww. no thanks.
      the kind of blind idiocy that only comes from people who don’t sell product, you wouldn’t catch amazon forcing you to take in used toilet seats.

    • Elisha
      4 weeks ago

      I have an ongoing arugument with Ebay over pierced jewellery returns. They just seem unable to get the hygeine and legal aspect. Its such fun gettings earrings back with encrusted blood and tissue on the erwires…..yuk. I do not resell such earrings but I am not a jewellery lening librry either.

  • 4 weeks ago

    As a seller Ebay returns is a nightmare too, there is no option for exchanges and I think this would be a valuable additional option.
    I’ve lost count of the number of times customers start a return or open a case because they want to exchange the product for a different size etc… Every time I have to explain the Ebay returns process and either rely on them closing the return once we have manually sorted out an exchange (which is made even more trickier by the “auto accept returns process as it does’t allow you to send messages relating to the return to each other” or asking them to purchase the correct item they need and refunding them the wrong one once they send it back.
    I’m sure its equally complicated from Ebay’s point of view as surely if there was an easy option to manage returns they would have done it in the first place??!!
    But whatever the solution it is long overdue for an overhaul.

  • Toby L
    4 weeks ago

    Oh Chris… really?
    ‘I started emailing the seller on the 13th of September to point out they had sent the wrong product. Each time it took a day to get a reply which was first of all “Sorry, other customers have been happy”, followed by “Can you send me photographs” to which the response was “We’ll give you 20% off if it’ll make you happy” and finally when I exasperatedly asked if they could just exchange the item they told me “no sorry, we don’t sell this item now”. After four days of trying to resolve the issue and having run out of options I opened a return case on the 17th of September.’

    So, firstly the seller tried to help… before the seller can just start throwing refunds and returns around they often need a little more info. Quite often i find a customer asks for a refund, if say an item is faulty… but then is happy when i offer a replacement. I like to call it communicating with the buyer and trying to help. Something which every time i have an issue witha buyer ebay tells me i should be doing. Yes it’s not instant, but why should it be? If you bought from a shop you would still have to go back and queue! The key is that the seller is trying to solve the issue.
    …………..
    ‘However it’s even worse for me as the buyer because the seller had 8 days until the 25th of September to respond and if they and I can’t agree then it could drag on until the 16th of October.’

    So why don’t ebay just reduce the time to say 2 days. More than enough time to be honest. If as a seller you can’t reply in 2 days, then you need to ask some serious questions about your business practices. No need to start throwing instant returns around.
    ……………….

    ‘eBay Return Request approved After 48 hours, the seller did agree to the return. I still can’t return the item however as I’m now waiting for a return label which could take until the 25th of September to arrive – eBay allow seven days for them to get the return label to the buyer who in the mean time can’t return the item and can’t get their refund.’

    Again, here we see the request agreed within 2 days ( still could have ben done in day to be honest, but are we talkinga business seller or a private seller?). So now the issue is the long possible wait for a label. 7 days?! That is ebays issue. Again the return label should be done quickly, say 1 day at this point. Again no reason for the throwing around of instant this and that.
    …………….

    ‘When eBay Auto-accept returns roll out, the minute I click the return this item button I’ll be able to print a label and get shot of the item and await my refund. Even with the worries that sellers have, as a buyer that’s given my seller ample opportunity to correct the error without impacting their metrics, I’m all in favour of eBay auto-accept returns.’

    ‘seller ample time’ for what? You gave them no time whatsoever. The first they knew of anything was that you were returning something for whatever reason. Yes yes we must protect our metrics at all costs. This is what is driving fraud on ebay. Too many buyers know that most sellers will knowing have to put up with fraud just to stop ebay punishing them for trying to protect themself. Personally i sick of damn ebay promoting a culture of risk free fraud.
    ………….

    ‘Sooner or later I’ll get a label to return the item and then doubtless I’ll have to trek to a shop to post the item by Royal Mail or some other carrier such as myHermes or Collect Plus (I don’t get a choice in this). ‘

    Sorry but if you would rather go back to high street shopping and all that entailed then so beit. The fact is if you want to return something for whatever reason, well we all know that this will be the way. I can’t see how you can whine over it. Maybe sellers should just start auto refunding as well…. after all it’;s not like we are trying to run a business or anything.
    …………….

    ‘I have to ask myself do I really care about the loss of £7.46 and would it be easier to leave the seller a negative feedback and move on… as a seller would you have sympathy with a buyer that did that when a return is just too onerous?’

    No i wouldn’t. I’m expected to put some effort into every part of my side of things, is it too much to ask for the buyer to do a few simple things? Oh and of course it’s now all the buyers fault, I accept that, as i detailed above, ebay should get to grips with the existing time frames first. Then look at the issue again! Typical case of buyer issue due to poor ebay policy….. So hammer the seller and pretend ebay is great!

    ………………
    ‘I’m not eager to return another item purchased on eBay, as a buyer I hate returns – I just want the right item the first time, but hopefully next time the wrong product is delivered by an eBay seller returning it will be a trouble free one click procedure. ‘

    Yes yes… and prices will go up to cover all the people who abuse the now gift wrapped fraud opportunities it presents. Congratulations aon paying more for everything.

    Sorry but ive been a seller on ebay for over 10 years and i can safely say that i see ebay growth based on encouraging systme of fraud when only the sellers loose out. oh and genuine buyers when prices goe up ( more ebay fees) to cover it.
    Why can’t we have a FAIR system. Why is the seller always expected to do everything? It can work… Via my own website i have only every had one difficult case witha buyer… ONE. Ebay i get them all the time. It’s so easy, open a case, refuse to communicate with the seller… exacalate and win. Seller told to communicate better!
    Now they don’t even have to do that. One click and it can all be yours!
    Yes im alittle angry today. 2 more fraud cases lost over the weekend, that will leave me out of pocket. ( Faulty – Didn’t put batteries in. Listing states battery powered, box states batteries required. Buyer states doesn’t work… then it didnt say it needed batteries, then they DID use batteries and still doesn’t work. Then went quiet until they could escalate. Case won. Ebay ignore my comments about the three changes of reason and simply state i need to give better decriptions, communicate better and of course as they can’t see the item they can’t tell if it is faulty so the best option is for me to refund!!!! Imagine how easy this now is with auto returns? Woo hoo. I going on buying spree!
    Now where is the lavender oil?

    • 4 weeks ago

      So I started contact with the seller (yes a professional seller) on the 13th of September. I have been waiting for them to issue a returns label since the 17th of September. It’s now the 24th September and I’m still waiting.

      Forget the false returns. Forget that it’s eBay. Just think about the return from a retail standards perspective and tell me if you know any other reputable brand or retailer who would take that long to accept a return and let the buyer know how to return the product?

      Frankly waiting seven days for a label (which may or may not be forthcoming) is ridiculous and it’s no wonder buyers are put off using eBay.

    • TomT
      4 weeks ago

      @Chris

      Then in my opinion this is an issue with this specific seller, not the Ebay system. If they are accepting the return then its literally one more click to issue the returns label.

      I don’t understand the whole need for this faulty returns system. Look at Amazon, it works fine. You can communicate with buyers, help them and leave them happy.

      What would be better? An automated system that gives you a prepaid returns label with no chance to resolve an issue and no communication. The buyer is unhappy because the item “doesn’t work” and the seller is unhappy because they’ve paid for the privilege of getting an item back that is now used but works perfectly fine. I know which I’d prefer.

      But then what is the official thing to do as an Ebay seller that gets an item back fully working? Thats right, you report them. You report them for not being able to get the help that they wanted.

      Eventually they get enough reports and find themselves banned from Ebay. Well done.

    • 3 weeks ago

      Gap have yet to refund me £60 ish its been 2 weeks! I’ve emailed them, they say they take up to 15 business days to issue a refund!!! This was direct through they website, and then speaking on the phone to pre-order the next size up, as they don’t do exchanges!!!! Crazy

  • 4 weeks ago

    Customer wanted to return a bath the other day, clueless as to how the buyer sends a bath across the UK with a £3.05 label on it.

    Label Cost: £3.05

    Charged to your monthly invoice when the buyer uses the postage label

    • Janet
      4 weeks ago

      If a customer of ours can state to eBay they returned a pair of fpv goggles in a signed for standard letter envelope. I am sure they could try to convince ebay they had returned a bath in a small parcel.

      To clarify a scamming buyer sent a letter to us, I signed for it, they then stated my signature was for a parcel they had sent not a letter.

  • 4 weeks ago

    Im geetin out clearly buyer abuse they can freeze your account with lies……

    • Sophie
      4 weeks ago

      @ Daniel some buyers know that they can really abuse sellers and do so. We had a buyer who bought a radio from us, he said it stopped working on the 2nd day he used it. When we received it back it had a different serial number on it from what we sent. The buyer took the item back, when we told him it wasn’t the item we sold him. But said if we paid him some money he wouldn’t leave negative feedback. We hadn’t done anything wrong he had failed in trying to defraud us. We didn’t pay, he left a negative saying others should avoid us. We had a negative on our account for a year it expired two weeks ago. Ebay wouldn’t remove it as he had used our email address he had from PayPal so as it wasn’t on eBay messages they said it had to stand. We had an email from the manufactuer of the radio who was happy to confirm they had sold the radio to a Hong Kong company not us but ebay didn’t care.

      As our case proves ebay are happy to allow fraud and extortion to prevail. We the innocent party lost our 100% feedback. The guilty party kept his 100%, but if you are a buyer on eBay you can destroy sellers good reputation, will lies and look still look good yourself.

  • SAM
    4 weeks ago

    We had a very similar issue couple months ago. Seen a game which should have known was too good to be true price wise on eBay so bought a unit. Turned up couple of days later, guy was just resealing used units and mis-selling as brand new. Not Microsoft seal badly resealed and disc just buffed and you could tell on further examination of the feedback he has done it multiple times. I deal with all the proper suppliers and have not seen this game trade for years either.

    Anyway typical eBay mis-seller, so we opened a return, got all the BS and bribes, and rubbish (they guy is at it all the time). TOOK to the very last minute for this so called trader to accept the return, that is what annoyed me more than anything. This seller could not care a jot and is in it for the quick buck….and is not worried about the long term negative impacts they have on the marketplace. These are the sellers that cause us all the problems.

    We get a return here we deal with it their and then (and YES they are miss-handled and abused on eBay, this is the highest risk platform), but it is a platform because of sellers like I dealt with above that is losing traffic left right and centre…

    What I don’t agree with is eBay trying PROFIT from it and have NO trust in them dealing with abuse of returns…

    It will be the NEW INR scam as they don’t manage it.

  • 4 weeks ago

    Can anyone explain in 2018 the advantages of selling on Ebay ? Umm, cant think of one thing sorry. With this auto return mess now happening, no one can big up Ebay no more ( aka the cheerleaders )

    • Mike
      4 weeks ago

      @Will You ask a valid question.

      My question is slightly different, I’d like to know why eBay are going out of their way, with their recent changes (Service Metrics penalty and auto-accept returns), to drive sellers away. Not just bad sellers, but good sellers as well.

  • Jonah
    4 weeks ago

    Seeing how ebay is all caring and touchy-feely about positive user experiences, I wonder when they will get round to addressing “negative selling experiences” ?

    • Mike
      4 weeks ago

      @Jonah, don’t hold your breath. From where I stand, eBay treat sellers like scum.

      eBay are all in to providing buyers with positive experiences, but fail to extend that to their own buyers; we sellers are eBay’s buyers, but we are treated badly. Very badly.

      With eBay, it’s very much a case of, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’.

    • Alex
      4 weeks ago

      Ebay just want buyers to keep spending. They don’t care about sellers. If they cared about sellers they would allow us to be able to give buyer feedback. But that will never happen as it would unsettle the scammers and fraudulent buyers. Ebay want their money too, as it is the sellers who will be forced to foot the bill for the scammers anyway not them. And as eBay’s broken record lame customer service line will tell us “we don’t see the item so we had to rule in favour of the buyer’. Oh the joy of EBay impartiality.

  • Harvey
    4 weeks ago

    I agree with Tom T above, sellers should be allowed some time to talk to the buyer before a return is automatically processed. Why not give us 24 to 48 hours (Monday to Friday). To offer some customer service before an return is started. So many times product advice can be all that is need to help a buyers issue. You can put a lot of detail in the listing but not all aspects of using an item can be covered, so ebay stating people need to add more detail to listings isn’t the answer in every situation that can arise.

    Returns are the new stick to beat sellers with at the moment, if you have more than your so called peers, soon you will be charged a penalty for it. So to increase the odds of more paying a penalty ebay are automatically accepting all returns, I wonder how long it will be before ebay run a banner add to make sure buyers know returns are easier now. Or am I just giving ebay marketing a free money spinning idea?

  • Jonny5
    4 weeks ago

    So you get a bad seller and think that’s a reason to implement a terrible system for all sellers you shouldn’t be writing for Tamebay because you have little to no idea. This is open to massive abuse will raise prices and reduce sales but hey you got a bad apple so it’s fair to punish every seller. There is much better solutions like giving less time for returns to be resolved. Did you get paid at tamebay for writing this rubbish?

    • TomT
      3 weeks ago

      100% agreed. Honestly in disbelief that this guys job is to advise other sellers on improvements. Amazing.

  • a phrase i hear most days in the office now is “f*ck ebay”. I dont think we will be on there much longer, not when 70% of sales come from Amazon and 100% grief comes from ebay.

  • jeff
    3 weeks ago

    Ebay is dead, its what happens when a company has a nepotistic board structure and one incompetent CEO hands over to the next acolyte, who starts their own ‘Reign of Error’. ebay is just a vehicle now for self enrichment of a nepotistic cabal of sychophants.

  • 3 weeks ago

    @ Chris Dawson As others have said, I also think your reason for implementing a stupid system is totally wrong based on one bad experience, I agree that the seller was completely wrong in the way they handled it and the system should be improved.

    As for your “I’ll have to trek to a shop to post the item”, how do you expect returns to work? Had you purchased it on the high street you may have to drive & park or take the bus to town to return a faulty item at your own expense.

    Marketplaces should try making buyers responsible, it works both ways.

    I have a recent issue on Amazon:

    Buyer was out and then refused to collect or have the item redelivered.
    Buyer makes A-Z claim
    I present my case and tracking details
    Buyer gets refund.
    Buyer re-orders item.

    I have still not got my first item returned so I cancelled the order giving the reason as undeliverables address. I really did not fancy going through the same thing again, even if they are happy to.

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