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eBay start auto-accepting return requests today

By Chris Dawson September 17, 2018 - 9:00 am

From today eBay will start to simplify and shorten the returns process by auto-accepting return requests and providing buyers with labels for domestic returns as soon as they request a return. This means that for the majority of returns you’ll no longer have to click to agree.

The aim is to simplify your life on eBay whether you are a buyer or a seller. Buyers don’t like to wait days to have a return accepted and sellers, if they don’t respond quickly enough, could have their metrics impacted if a buyer escalates a return and asks eBay to step in.

“As we recently announced, we’re making further improvements to the returns experience on eBay. Today a large number of returns may require the buyer to wait multiple days before they can access a return label. This drives buyer anxiety, churn and an increased likelihood of the buyer asking eBay to step in to help. As a result, we’ll be increasing the frequency in which the buyer will have immediate access to a label on domestic returns, regardless of why they want to return the item. This means that when a buyer opens an ‘Item not as described’ return request, it will be automatically accepted, if it’s within the seller’s offered return window . We’ll be rolling out these changes over the course of this year, starting in September 17th, and will listen to your feedback as we ramp up this new functionality.”
– eBay

eBay say that sellers retail control

eBay say that this doesn’t mean they are taking away your control of returns. If you’ve chosen to set up your return merchandise authorisation (RMA), you’ll be able to provide your own labels to buyers. You can also continue to setup your automation and returns rules. eBay will automatically accept open “Item not as described” return requests that are within your indicated return window. You’ll be able to choose between using an eBay label or to provide the label directly using eBay’s existing RMA process.

After the return is accepted, a label will be provided to the buyer and once you receive the item, you can choose to process a refund or ask eBay to step in and help if you don’t agree with the reason for the return. The cost of the label will be charged to you in your next invoice.

How to avoid auto-accepting return requests

Sellers however point out that eBay can’t print out postage labels for large or heavy items and that their customer service is additionally diminished as they’ll not be able to offer an exchange or spare parts. That’s without the expected complaints of buyers using eBay as a try before you buy service or choosing the Significantly Not As Described option to avoid paying return postage costs.

The best advice would appear to be making it super easy for buyers to contact you off eBay to arrange returns. Include a returns form in with the item and offer every means of contacting you from a customer service phone number to your email address.

Some sellers have their own returns portal, either on their own website or on a third party platform. Including returns information in every outgoing parcel and offering a comprehensive set of returns options is clearly more attractive to buyers then simply returning a parcel through eBay. Returns options you could offer could include: I changed my mind; Didn’t fit – Exchange for different size; Didn’t fit – Refund please; Missing part; Ordered wrong item and any other options appropriate to your business.

eBay auto-accepting return requests options

Sellers have already been able to save time by automating responses to return requests that meet certain criteria. If you’ve not reviewed your return options recently then today is the day to do so before eBay start auto-accepting return requests on your behalf.

  • Send a refund

    Let the buyer keep the item and automatically send a refund based on the price and the return reason.

  • Approve a return

    Automatically approve a return based on the price and the return reason.

  • RMA number

    Let eBay know whether you’d like to include an RMA number to each return label.

  • Dave
    1 month ago

    eBay yet again focussing on the buyer, they forget without sellers there would be no buyers! I am a small seller, individual collectables / antiques and the like, not a pile it high new item power seller (i use them to buy my shipping boxes, so we all have our place).

    But I get one return a year on average, 100% positive feedback, but I get one “remorse” return, ie a made up fake reason to return……so not as described can be pushed. I try to discuss but after 10 days ebay just authorise the return anyway, even though they agree the description is accurate. They cite its the “law” and they have to.

    But when i send an item to say Scotland, via ebay shutl to get the best price on delivery time / insurance, they issue a return via Collect……which is slower and costs more to me.

    If they are going to start on auto-returns they should a) use the service that the seller used (especially when its been purchased through ebay) and b) charge the seller no more than the original postage charged.

    Now, what to do in the case of “free” postage (where the cost is within in the item cost) or where some of the postage is absorbed in the item cost, they should charge the seller the same amount ie zero, and let the buyer pay.

    The vast majority of returns nowadays are buyers treating sellers like Argos (in the UK) where they have a no quibble any reason return. I am not Argos, frivolous returns, albeit only once a year make a dent. And buyers know how to circumnavigate the system, ie click not as described to get eBay’s fast track to money back for any or no reason.

    This new policy may work for big sellers, but after 20 years on ebay it is just getting harder and harder for the small seller.

  • SAM
    1 month ago

    We have never had an issue taking in a return, and on ebay we have used their return system even though it is overpriced. You just increase price elsewhere to cover the loss for a while
    What I do have a problem is with is the blatant attempt to actually profit from returns by charging extra fees on top that is the issue.

    eBay is going back in time and repeating the same mistakes of a few years ago.

  • Toby
    1 month ago

    oh the ebay returns systems… how often we see the following. Just opens up a faulty item case, selects refund, but also states that they would like a replacement. So as the ebay system will now just automatically go straight for a return… we have confusion. Then there is the case where you would normally offer to send out another item…. but instead ebay has jumped straight in with a return. ( we always try and offer a replacementfor faulty items etc and often are taken up on it.)
    In fact there are so many times when simply auto returning an item isn’t the best option or the option the buyer finally takes, that this is a another poor one size fits all approach by ebay.
    We already have issues with buyers opening up returns for fake reasons, like just saying item not as described or faulty, yet when we ask in what way, they go silent until the can escalate the case and win regardless! ~When you appeal ebay say thta as they are unable to actually know what the customer recieved etc they can’t change the ruling and we must still pay… yet at NO point does the buyer have to provide ANY evidence to support their claim.
    Classic the other day… sent back pump as not working properly, refused to say in what way it wasn’t working properly. in fact when i said can you tell me exactly what is worng the answer was … ‘No I wont’. They then went silent and finally escalated and won. I appealled and pointed out his comment as sign of my suspiscion. Ebay said he didn’t have to say anything…..
    this is just another option in ebays ‘scammers paradise’ which means more losses to sellers, higher prices and so more fees for ebay. The genuine buyer will pay more to buy, the scammers will still get it for free… the buyers will leave .
    You couldn’t make it up…
    Thank god we don’t get the level of returns some do.

  • David
    1 month ago

    Ebay’s Return postage prices don’t take into account large letters prices. A Royal Mail signed for large letter is £1.89. Ebay always charge £3.05.

    When you think about this new automatic returns process it will benefit ebay so much:

    1. They make money on the postage.
    2. They make money on the return penalty charge, as this new system will increase returns.
    3. They look good for the customer it will be so easy for buyers to abuse this and claim SNAD on all buyer remorse returns.

    I think what ebay are trying to do is make us give refunds to buyers on low value return requests, as the high postage they charge will make returns expensive.

    In the end it is true prices will increase, as scammers will abuse this new automatic returns process to send items back that not the item the seller sent. Also buyers remorse items will just be returned with bogus not working claims.

    Yet again ebay have a new cash cow, auto returns to increase return requests and the returns metric penalty system to add 58% extra on top of final value fees….kerching.

  • David
    1 month ago

    Just seen the penalty fee is delayed until February. Can I suggest the 29th of February?

    • SAM
      1 month ago

      How about they just get a grip and get rid of the idea, stop trying to rip of merchants.

  • Gary Scott
    1 month ago

    It’s time to accept that us small sellers are a money cow for all the online guys and their partners in crime, Royal mail etc.

    eBay have us jumping through hoops to add to their catalogue – I spent ages updating products with relevant information only to see my work rejected and told that an existing product already existed – how could that be when it was my own brand?

    Then I have to change listings to match their returns policy – how about consumables? I won’t accept a return on these as I have no proof they are the unused and unopened item.

    And now this, pre authorised returns. An absolutely dreadful idea. We small guys work on tight margins as it is – the thought of me sending something abroad and then getting hit for the return cost makes me question whether I want to use eBay any longer.

  • Terry
    1 month ago

    Well, if returns are now going to be auto accepted, regardless of whether they are genuine or not, then I think its only fair that sellers are given an option in the seller preferences to block buyers who open returns above a certain percentage of their purchases.

    I have noted that the seller metrics have been deferred until 2019, which is good, but given we are all going to be measured on, as it stands, all returns, I would like to have some protection from those who think nothing of returning items.

    I also believe that having ‘return this item’ as option number 1 in the purchase history for each transaction is outrageous, its above ‘leave feedback’ for God’s sake !

    I am not interested in selling to the ‘serial returners’.

    • Sophie
      1 month ago

      @terry I agree serial returners should be identified to other sellers and people who keep claiming item not received.

      We had a buyer a few weeks ago bought two items in an eBay sale, he ordered one item from each of the two accounts he had. He then used our business details email address displayed on eBay to contact us outside of eBay asking us to put both items in the same box. We didn’t do this as we thought it was suspicious and the order was from two different eBay accounts and PayPal accounts, even though the delivery person and the branch of Argos selected were the same.

      We think the scam was to claim only one item was in the box and claim a refund for the so called missing item. Because we boxed them separately he made up two bogus return reasons and we now have two return requests on the metrics and one of the items is too dirty to be resold.

      I wish I could flag his account so others don’t get conned by him and suffer multiple returns if his scam fails.

      We also find people who claim items haven’t arrive, they then comment about safe place agreements with postmen. With no signature we have to refund. I always wish we could see if the buyer does this all the time to other sellers.

  • Sophie
    1 month ago

    We sell electrical items, sometimes buyers start using something without reading instructions and then get frustrated and open a return request. By us offering a few words of help they can resolve the issue and cancel the return request.

    This new auto acceptance will now result in customers at my expense, returning items that work perfectly well. The buyer will be unhappy and will have parcelled the item up before I have chance to offer help.

    Ebay don’t think of the bigger picture, they just think if a buyer says something doesn’t work that is true, in the real world it isn’t always the case.

    It will cost small sellers like myself a lot of extra postage charges that of course ebay will benefit from.

    Ebay are forcing a £3.05 48 hour delivery label on me for large letter items that costs £2.11 1st class with Royal Mail. We get a slower service making customers wait longer for their refund. The whole point of automated returns was to speed things up.

    As we all know the main reason is ebay want to force postage labels on sellers to make more money, a speedy postal service is of no interest to them.

    As always it’s about ebay making money first and foremost.

    • Skeggy Mick
      1 month ago

      @Sophie. I also agree that this will cause unnecessary returns simply because the buyer doesn’t know how to correctly work the item. Rather be encouraged to contact the seller for help they’ll just bundle it up and return it.

      Ebay are struggling, I think both buyers (the good ones) and sellers are fed up with the rules & policies, what they can and can’t do. The feedback system is outdated and not fit for purpose.

      It’s by no means perfect but we get 10x the response on Facebook, some stuff sells in hours… it’s like the good old days of ebay when buyers and sellers actually talked to each other.

  • Sophie
    1 month ago

    Just to add the £2.11 is Royal Mail 1st class signed for.

  • mark
    1 month ago

    Its not the automated returns thats a problem its the actual farce of 30 day returns.
    I thought we were known and classed as sellers not lenders. If any item comes back used or dirty or damaged the only option you have is to refund 50%
    So anyone having granny to stay at xmas buys a nice tv and uses it for the week then returns it as not wanted etc and all you can do is refund them 50% and chuck it in the bin

    What a farce. UK law says unwanted seller remorse etc has 14 days to return the only time there is 28 days is for damaged or faulty goods.
    So eBay a writing their own laws now.

    No wonder Amazon is wiping the floor with them and companies like ONBUY are growing so fast they are only competing against idiots.
    The returns process they are forcing on people are bordering on illegal.

  • Harvey
    1 month ago

    Ebay do not care about the law in my opinion they care about themselves and not upsetting buyers. They even force us to give a full refund on buyers remorse cases, saying the whole cost of the item and postage is due to the buyer. The law states only standard delivery is due to be refunded. I have had to refund many special delivery charges that were upgraded on postage. Ebay hold back fees if you give partial refunds but they should hold back fees if you only by law want to refund the standard postage.

    Also the law says you should charge fees on a service you don’t provide, yet they charge fees on postage, yet they don’t provide the postal service themselves. It should only be on the item advertised not carriage they charge fees on.

    • Harvey
      1 month ago

      I mean should not hold back fees on my earlier comment.

    • Harvey
      1 month ago

      It’s early it should say should not when I refer to the law too.

  • Oliver
    1 month ago

    I actually find some of my customers open a returns case and we normally issue you a partial refund to the customer where needed rather then having the item returned. I wonder if we will still be able to do this … or if the item will just get sent straight back…!

  • Terry
    1 month ago

    Oliver, really not a fan of the partial refund idea, all it does is encourage these people to keep doing it.

    We have had it pulled on us a few times, quite often as blatantly as ‘I feel I paid too much’. Response to that: You have received the item you ordered, and from memory, I don’t remember sending one of the lads round when you were shopping, and putting a gun to your head !

    If there is a problem, send it back, clean and simple. That removes those who will suck the life out of you for 50p, because they normally don’t want to send it back in the first place.

    There is always a warm and cosy spot on the Blocked Buyers list for buyers like that.

    • Lucy
      1 month ago

      @Terry I agree if a return request comes, don’t give partial refunds it encourages people to make bogus return requests for discounts. It will also encourage return request increases for everyone. Let them return the item, they will then get used to the idea that not everyone will give discounts for no reason. I agree block them too, some people I find once they receive the item try to barter on the price, and come up with a long list of reasons why they want a discount. When I provide a postal label for them to return the item they stop sending messages.

  • Carl
    1 month ago

    What effect does this have on listings that state no returns accepted? I sell items sometimes that are faulty or broken and clearly state the problem in the item description. Some people buy to fix or strip parts and sell on separately, or they need a donor item to get something Nelsen working!

  • Alex
    1 month ago

    I can’t understand how ebay can force postal labels on us that don’t provide insurance. Why can’t we provide our own labels with insurance. It is a massive risk on high value items to have a return with no insurance. All my parcels are insured, we should be allowed to provide our own labels, before the automated return was forced on us, I always provided pre paid fully insured labels for all my returns.

    Ebay are the market place, but the actual contract of sale is between the buyer and seller. If I am responsible to take the goods back from a buyer I should be allowed a better quality of post than what ebay is providing.

    I hope if my parcel gets damaged or lost ebay will pay me out for my loss.

  • Elisha
    4 weeks ago

    I have loved selling on Ebay. But I have had many claims stating item not as described and I have won every single one. I make my descriptions very accurate. So with the new sytsem its not worth the effort and time. To complicated now on Ebay, to many metrics etc Sales are low I am working to pay fees. Such a shame but at least I will have peace and less stress.

  • Harvey
    4 weeks ago

    I have noticed this week an increase in buyers sending messages stating items are defective. They are asking for free replacements to be sent or full refunds. They all have excuses why no photos can be provided of the issue. When I have said they need to return the item first and I will then arrange a refund or replacement they have just gone quiet or come back saying it works now.

    I wonder if them automatically getting labels on returns now has made them try via messages, as the don’t want a return, they don’t gain a free item or free replacement.