eBay’s policy changes related to returns and its new, optional return center that will be available in May are causing an uproar among sellers, as a recent The Online Seller article proved.
In response to the article, “eBay Return Center: Becoming an Amazon?,” sellers’ heated objections to eBay’s new returns policy overflowed the comments section. The policy will, in part, do away with the three- and seven-day return options in exchange for longer return times. Commenters also railed against eBay’s new, optional return center, which is meant to automate the returns process, as Michael Jones, eBay’s vice president of Merchant Development, noted when he announced the feature in late February as part of eBay’s 2012 Spring Seller Update.
Sellers worry about scams“It’s a horrible change for anything that can be used and then returned—clothes, accessories or, as in my case, audiobooks”
The change to return times will take effect in early May. When it does, merchants will have to offer 14-, 30- or 60-day return periods if they accept returns, eBay notes. “Merchandise credit” and “exchange” refund options will also be retired and, beginning May 2, sellers will have to offer “money back,” or “money back or exchange” options if they take returns, though they can still opt to not take returns.
In his announcement, Jones notes that “a good return policy—including a reasonable timeframe and the reassurance that buyers can get their money back” helps improve sales. However readers of The Online Seller worry that the longer return times will lead to more returns and scams.
“It’s a horrible change for anything that can be used and then returned—clothes, accessories or, as in my case, audiobooks,” one commenter writes. “I sell a ton of them—and two weeks is plenty of time to listen to one and then return it.”
“I sell costume jewelry… and I already have people ‘renting’ my stuff,” adds another merchant.
Others add that the new return policies may open the door for buyers to return the wrong items, or for shoppers to return items that become damaged en route back to the seller.
“With the few items I have accepted back, the items are never packed the same way I packed them,” says a seller identified as Nursefrogger. “The stuff is literally thrown in a box. Where is all the bubble wrap I used? Buyers don’t think or care that how can I resell this item when you have removed things or the item comes back damaged?”
Returns: Not for all sellers“The return center will not help the needs of the core ‘little guy’ seller, who was eBay’s first customer”
The introduction of the new returns center, which is expected to go live in late May, also has sellers talking. With the new feature, buyers would initiate returns in their My eBay page by clicking the “Return this item” link next to the appropriate sale, specifying why they’re returning the item then printing the shipping and packing slips for the item. Sellers will then be automatically notified of returns, according to eBay.
eBay says it will pay for return postage upfront and then charge the buyer’s PayPal account or add the price to a seller’s invoice, depending on what the seller sets as their preference when they opt in to the center. The center is meant to automate the returns process, but merchants say it only helps some.
One seller notes that, though the new returns center will help people who treat eBay as a business, it will not help “the needs of the core ‘little guy’ seller, who was eBay’s first customer/seller.”
Some sellers are so unhappy that they’ve started to look for other places to sell.