Selling on eBay: Tools & Tips from Official eBay Sources – Returns and Refunds

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Although it is a lucrative way to make some extra money, selling on eBay does have its own set of challenges and difficulties. I’ve already stressed the importance of accurately writing the description of the items for sale and of showcasing it in well focused and detailed pictures. Even with the best planning and communication though, things can sometimes go wrong with a sale. One of the ones that people regularly ask me about is how to handle returns and refunds.

eBay Refunds, are they necessary?

I always offer 30 days refunds for my products, however, there are always exceptions to that rule. I f the buyer never received the item. This is an especially challenging one if you are trying to offer the lowest possible shipping and it is one of the reasons shipping is so high on so many items. I always make it mandatory that buyers pay for shipping that has tracking and with higher-priced items, a signature. eBay makes it mandatory for a seller to have a signature with items priced over $750.

If a buyer hasn’t received their item by the estimated delivery date, they can open an “item not received” request on the eBay platform. This request is moderated by eBay and the seller is given three days to resolve the issue. The only resolution other than a refund is proof that the buyer did in fact receive the item. According to the eBay platform, the buyer is entitled to receive a refund, unless you can provide tracking information that proves the item was delivered.

There is an option for appeal the decision eBay makes on an “item not received” request if you feel it was unfairly handled. eBay will then expect you to give them additional information on the case such as tracking information, proof that the item was delivered to the wrong address or lost in transit or proof that the buyer received a refund before the dispute was closed. A seller has 30 days from a closed dispute to appeal it.

To appeal a decision that you think was unfairly made, you can go to your seller dashboard and open the section called “closed without seller resolution”. There will be a list of cases. You simply choose the corresponding case and click on “see details” to send eBay the appeal.

eBay is not the only platform that a disgruntled buyer can file a dispute on. The buyer can also file a dispute on the platform they made their payment from such as PayPal or their financial institution. The main reasons a buyer would do this would be because they didn’t receive the item, or the item didn’t match the description of the auction. If a dispute with the bank or PayPal is successful, the transaction will be reversed, and the buyer will get his money back.

If a buyer does open a dispute, eBay will notify you of it and you will have the opportunity to show proof of receipt or proof of the description, including any flaws and proof of authenticity. It is for this reason that it is imperative that you describe the item in the true condition it is and list all flaws and to post as many pictures as possible.

I personally always sell items have tracking and the items over $100 also with a signature. It is hard to dispute those two things combined. It just makes everything a little bit smoother in my opinion.

Do I have to offer returns?

No, you don’t have to offer returns but in order to be a successful eBay seller, it is important to make that clear in the listing. The only time you need to give a return if you have a no return policy is if an item arrives damaged or doesn’t match the description. I always overpack items I sell to make sure they arrive in the same condition they left in. This saves me a headache in the end, as I have very rarely received a return request as a result. I incorporate the cost of the packing supplies into shipping and it is all laid out in each listing clearly.

When you are setting up your listings, it’s a good idea to list the handling time for the item. Handling time is the time it will take you to ship the item after payment is received. Be realistic about this. It is all well and good to want to ship within 24 hours but if you have lots of items ending at the same time, or other commitments in your life, you may not get every item out in that time frame. I usually list mine as 1-2 days and then I make sure to get it in the mail within that time frame. A package that is shipped late, can result in an item being late and a dispute being opened by the buyer.

Offering returns is an option on the eBay platform. If you wish to offer returns, the buyer has to request it on the platform in their buying platform. eBay will then notify the buyer of the date they need to ship the return by. If the buyer has not submitted any information or proof of the return within 15 days of requesting a return, eBay will close the return ticket to prevent you from getting negative feedback on the item.

There are many different options for accepting returns and it is important that you consider all the options before selecting the one you are most comfortable with. For example, you can offer 30-day buyer paid returns, 30-day free returns, 60-day buyer paid returns or 60-day free returns. A buyer paid return simply means that the buyer pays the return shipping. You can also offer the option of a refund and buyer keeps the item if the item is worth less than the return shipping. In the case of the item being damaged or different than the description, the seller must pay for the return, regardless of the policies you have in place on the listing.

For most of my listings, I offer returns. I make sure to list the item as accurately as I can and to show as many pictures as I can. I list all of the item’s flaws and I encourage buyers to ask questions. I answer emails promptly when I do get questions. I always update the item I have sold on the eBay dashboard once the item is shipped. I put the shipping date and the tracking information on the site and additionally I send the information to the seller via email. I find that a lot of customer disputes can be solved before they start with proper communication.

Can a seller use the eBay resolution center?

Sellers can file a dispute in the resolution center if you have an item that is purchased but the buyer has not paid. In order to do this, you need to make sure you have contacted the seller within 24 hours of the sale to let them know that they won the item, the shipping costs and your preferred method of payment. If, after two days, they still have not paid, you can file an unpaid item dispute. Most times, if a buyer pays using an approved payment method such as PayPal, the resolution will close automatically. If they pay with another method, such as cash, you will have to close the dispute yourself.

If they have still not paid after five days, you can close the dispute and let eBay know that they have not paid. At that point, eBay will reimburse the final value credit fee from the sale to you.

If you sell a lot of items, you can use the tool called the “unpaid item assistant”. This will automatically open and close cases on your behalf. It can save you a lot of time and aggravation as a seller.

Bottom Line

Selling on eBay is an excellent way to earn extra money but there can be some challenges with it as there are with any selling platform. The most important thing you can do to prevent unnecessary headaches is to be upfront on all of your listings. Always tell the real condition of an item and show as many pictures as you can. State clearly in the listing what your return policy is and who pays for the return. Always answer emails with questions from potential buyers and be willing to send them more pictures if they need it. This is especially true on a large ticket item. As with many things in life, communication is the key to a successful transaction. A little bit of extra time spent on a listing can prevent a world of headaches later on.

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