eBay yet again is tweaking return policies. You may remember about a year ago they introduced what they call “hassle-free returns”. Thankfully this is a program sellers (for now) have the option of opting into or not. With hassle-free returns if a buyer wants to return an item they simply tell eBay that they would like to return the item and give a reason. The reason they state determines who pays the return shipping costs. If they say the item was “not as described” then the seller is responsible for paying the return shipping. If they say that they no longer want the item or something to that affect then the buyer pays the return shipping. We have 2 problems here. One is that eBay buyers know this is how it works. Secondly their are a fair amount of dishonest people in the word who would rather just lie and save themselves $5.
The new returns resolution program would allow a seller to basically dispute a return that the buyer said was “not as described”. If the item is found to be as described and the seller was not at fault in any way then they do not have to pay the return shipping and are allowed to charge a predetermined restocking fee. On the surface this sounds like a win for sellers right? Not so fast. As with all eBay policies, eBay gets to choose the winners and losers here. If you have been a seller for any length of time then you know eBay treasures their buyers and feels that sellers are expendable.
It will be interesting to see the requirements eBay expects from sellers to prove that the item was as described in the listing. For example, when trying to get reimbursements from Amazon they have asked me to take a picture of the item, the box and packaging the item came in and a picture of the label, will eBay want similar “proof”? Also, what about listings where an item is sold for parts? Or the item is sold as-is. In those cases the seller makes no guarantee that the item is in a working condition, therefore if the buyer returns the item stating it didn’t work does eBay consider that to be as described under this new policy or not? Will buyers be held accountable for actually reading listing descriptions?
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out and how long before hassle-free returns and this new pilot program are forced on all sellers. If you choose to opt-in to the program you can do so HERE. If you decide to opt-in I would STRONGLY advise not charging a restocking fee. The information on this program has made no mention of feedback. A lot of buyers have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to leaving negative feedback. Think how badly they will want to scratch if they get stuck paying return shipping when they thought they got out of it or if they get charged a restocking fee. Bombs away.