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How This One Change to Your Return Policy Can Boost Conversions 34%

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Last Edited 02:48:52 PM

The biggest—and busiest—shopping season of the year is fast approaching. As a knowledgeable seller, you now have your inventory sourced, and your holiday listings are prepared. You’re ready to tackle selling this Holiday season—almost. Your returns policy can mean a lot to your buyers during this hectic, yet joyful time of the year. So if you haven’t already, take some time to think through how you offer returns.


A surefire way to attract more buyers this Holiday? Consider implementing a free returns policy to your business. Yes, we said it—free! Offering a noticeable return policy can catch buyers’ attention and lift your sales.


There are a number of reasons why a competitive returns policy can give your store a major selling boost. We share why free returns are the way to go:


Don’t be afraid of returns.


The smartest thing you can do as a seller is look at your business from the perspective of your buyer. Imagine when you’re making an online purchase - you want to feel assured in your choice. Your buyer wants to be confident in their decision too, and that requires them knowing where to find information about your returns policy in your item listing. It will also require searching for exceptions.


2016 UPS Pulse Study found that 88% of online shoppers reviewed a retailer’s returns policy, and 67% did so before making a purchase. The point is that your returns policy matters, so much so that it influences your buyers’ decisions. Offering free returns isn’t a negative reflection on your business. In fact, providing free returns has become a customer expectation.


The truth is, returning an item isn’t a personal attack on you or your store. In fact, it’s an effort to continue a positive business relationship. Yes, your buyer decided not to keep your item. But, in the grand scheme of things of what could have resulted (e.g. a negative product review or a forever-lost customer), a painless return transaction is harmless.


Look at the business advantage.


Offering free returns shows that you are confident in your business—which increases buyer trust. Plus, the numbers don’t lie. eBay offers several resources to help you determine what return policy is best for your business. If you currently offer no returns, adding even a 30-day free return policy can lift your conversions close to 17%, according to eBay Data Analytics. The conversions increase from there, with a 60-day free return policy lifting conversions by an average 34%.


You may be thinking that 60 days is a long time for a buyer to determine whether they want to keep your item. However, 60 days accommodates gift-giving buyers who want to make purchases in early November, but not give gifts until late December. Plus, here’s some more good news: eBay research shows that the number of returns does not significantly increase when you raise your return window from 30 days to 60 days—so making the change, even just for Holiday, can be a smart move.    

Adjusting your returns policy does not have to affect your bottom line. You can manage the return costs required of your business by adjusting your margin amount. Let’s break that down: before you set out to adjust your margin, we’d suggest that you audit the health of your return rate. Your return rate is calculated by dividing the number of returns, by the number of items that you sold for a period. The retail standard suggests that a 2-5% return rate is a fine range.


Let’s say you find your return rate is far off from the retail standard. We’d suggest that you experiment with your margin amount. You can do so by dividing the costs of returns, by total number of transactions that you’d expect in a year. The amount you will get is that dollar amount that should be added to each of your current listings, to cover any expense from potential returns. This blog post can offer some more detail on calculating return variables.


Follow best practices.


Here are several insights to consider when offering free returns.

    1. Make it simple and clear. If your return policy is five pages long, filled with retail-business jargon, you run the risk of losing a high amount of potential buyers. Be as detailed as possible when writing your return policy. If a buyer reaches out to you with questions, answer swiftly and politely. If a return comes in, issue a refund promptly— preferably within two days of receiving the returned item.    
    2. Keep the customer experience in mind. Little things like providing a pre-paid shipping label with the package can mean the difference between having a customer follow through on an online order to backing out.
    3. Offer tracking options. Providing a way for your buyer to see where their return package is in real-time includes them in the entire experience. As a seller, you can customize or automate your return preferences at any time for some or all of your return requests. Doing so can save you time, and ease the handling and shipping process.
    4. Use structured data for return policies. Use the structured fields for your return policy so that it's easy to find. This can lead to an overall better selling experience for you, and buying experience for your customers.

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The season of giving


The holiday shopping season is an advantageous time to adjust your returns approach. Your customers have spent weeks preparing their holiday gift-giving lists. They are eagerly searching for the right gifts for the special people in their lives. 39% of holiday shoppers look for free returns when buying online, according to the eMarketer Survey. A free-return option shows your buyers you care about their ultimate goal; finding the perfect item and purchasing it from a seller they can trust.


This is great info! I currently offer 60 day returns, but I am now going to add free returns and see what that does to my store sales!

by wolfbyte · Guide

Thank you for this information.


There seems to be multiple variables taken into your analysis statement. You state:


"If you currently offer no returns, adding even a 30-day free return policy can lift your conversions close to 17%, according to eBay Data Analytics." 


You have the one variable of a seller going to a return policy where there once was none and a second variable of adding a free return


There is also the nature of your data sampling (sample size, duration of sampling, types of items sold, seller profiles, etc.) to consider.


Would you please break your date down a little bit more? Would be helpful to see the variables separated. Would like to see:

1.  conversion rates for sellers going from a no return policy to a return policy alone, both 30 and 60 days.

2. conversion rates for sellers currently having a 30 day return policy in place without free returns versus rates when those sellers adopt a 30 day free return policy.

3.  conversion rates for sellers going from a 30 day free return policy to a 60 day free return policy.


Free returns is a great concept for buyers and no doubt inceases buyer confidence, but adopting a free returns policy is a lot to consider for many sellers. I think more in-depth information would be helpful in making those kinds of decisions. 


Thank you.

by married-and-selling-it-all · Adventurer | Updated

"Little things like providing a pre-paid shipping label with the package."


If eBay thinks it's a great idea then so do I, if they will foot the bill for the return shipping label for those items I sell. I feel it's only fair, why shouldnt eBay help it's sellers out. Those shipping labels that cost 50-70 dollars are pennies compared to the Billions this company makes.


I like this idea of paid returns so much that I am going to demand that Home Depot give me a gas card the next time I have too return something. Cause why should I be inconvenienced and have it cost me money to return a I item I used and decided I didnt like 2 months later. 

by ebetsy · Rockstar

We have offered 60-day free returns as acquisator for a couple of years now, and over the past 24 months, our total outlay for return shipping has cost less than 5¢ per item spread over all transactions — and I think the boost in sales we get thanks to customers being able to shop with us risk free more than compensates for those few cents.


Of course, this is for jewelry items, which ship via USPS First Class Mail for $2.61 (we use eBay Labels). At that cost for postage, free returns are a no-brainer.


However, my husband and I are going to test it with our Converse sneakers as soon as we take our own store off vacation, which we plan to do sometime before the first of the year (my husband has been recovering from a lengthy illness). 


On a side note, no buyer has ever waited even so much as a week to return an item except for one woman who received a bracelet as a Christmas gift. It was purchased in October but turned out to be too small for her. (We would have taken that particular return no matter how long it had been, because why would we want somebody to be unhappy with an item purchased from us?)


All of our other returns have been requested within the first 24-36 hours after the item is delivered.

Sadly, the information "printed" here goes against all common sense and industry trends.


MOST larger companies are tightening up on their returns policies, and Amazon just lost 1.2 MILLION on one customer alone!


eBay pushes this garbage because YOU the seller take all the risk - YOU get the downside, they get the upside.


eBay must think sellers make %200 margin on items - they obviously simply dont understand how these things work.


Take a $50 item (any). If you bought it at a flea market for $5 then YES, you can afford to play for "fast n free shipping", sponsored listings, and "free 60 day returns shipping", and MAYBE still a few dollars.


Buy that same item from a manufactorer and the game is %100 different. Most make YOU pay freight in, YOU have to pay COD (unless you are still one of the few they give terms to), YOU have to then of course deal with the makers own returns policy ... ! Meanwhile you have to price it "right" (matching eBay competitors and Amazon sellers) and offer "free and fast shipping" ... or you get relegated to page 3  (or the kind folks in San Jose will explain to buyers how to NOT choose your listing by the oh so convinient column on the left side of the screen.


If you sell digital cameras, great ! ... wait NOT so great - Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax etc have policies that range from NO warranty (on eBay) to REPAIR ONLY!  (how does THAT square with 60 days Free returns)(it doesnt unless you want to look at it that YOU the seller takes the downside AGAIN).


Sell watches? COOL !  oh wait - Casio, Seiko, MK and others are REPAIR ONLY!


Get the point? San Jose doesnt.


Copying Amazon etc is not a business plan - not for small sellers anyway. Amazon doesnt eat returns, neither does Jet or Walmart (or Target or Costco etc). THEY can force it all back on the makers - can you ?


eBays research is %100 wrong and counterinuative. Returns cost YOU money, eBay even makes a profit on the shipping (shhhh secret).


Internet Retailer Magazine and others (TWICE, DEALERSCOPE) all talk about the perils of these kinds of returns.


Listen to that voice in your head - its named COMMON SENSE - its there for a reason !

I gave this a trial run for about a week and didn't see any significant increase in sales. I already offer free shipping on everything, but not return shipping. The first day I had some one return something. When I got it back it was a DIFFERENT but similar item. I looked the item up in advanced sold items and found the other seller who sold  that item originally about a week prior, (who DIDNT offer free shipping or returns), so the buyer simply purchased a similar item from ME with the intent of returning the other sellers unwanted item TO ME for free. SAD. So pathetic.I immediately changed all my listings back to buyer pays return. Reported the buyer and moved on.

by willyb15020 · Scout

if we accept free returns will ebay refund us the fee we are charged on shipping i bet not

by rt_21_trading_co · Thrill-Seeker | Updated

This is a major smoke blowing session  from ebay. Major retailers including Walmart, Best Buy,  Target and other are limiting their returns to 30 days for cash. For another period of time after they will give credit, variable by company policy. Even though their buying contacts state they can force the manuafcturer to buy it back and deal with it through closeout store like Big Lots.


Autozone, Advance Auto, Napa and other autoparts have stopped the endless returning of brake pads that have lietime warranties. That means against defects, NOT wear. As a previous management member of a chain autoparts I can tell you customers were starting to return worn out brake pads that would not have qualified as a "defect" warrantee at the rate of 25% OVER the amount of purchased pads for a 3 month consecutive period.


They also stopped buying electrical parts from us manufacturers such as GP Sorensen  and went to their brand manufactured in china, which included relays, solenoids, switches, etc. Then they could throw the relay  away because because they had 53 cents in it compared to a USA made relay which was $ 4 and change. Buyers used to come in with junk relays one after another, and they just handed out new ones and threw the old ones in the return box to the distribution center. 


Their top of the line 180 series battery weighed a whopping 65 pounds when I started, 2450 cranking amps. Three years later it weighed 47 pounds and was still rated at 2450 CCA even though the plates were much thinner. Same with lawn and garden batteries. Used to be one year replacement, 90 days a year later, 30 days when I left.


Sellers of Vintage parts, antiques, collectibles, EXPENSIVE jewelry, coins, rare paper money, and related high value items should be arrested for stupidity for offering a return. Send a $ 10,000.00 rare US currency paper bill out and get a return, and a used $ 1.00 bill back. Ebay enforces the refund and the seller is SOL. And they will always say "we have no choice, we don't know who is lying".


My son and daughter inlaw run the ebay now, I am just the senior who watches over it. They have switched my ebay listings to accept 14 day money back returns because they wanted to try it. So far, there have been more returns in the past 2 months than I had in 36 years of running the sales. I still run the physical store and I have had zero returns.


Even with a 20% restocking fee they still want to return everything. And ebay won't allow proper restocking fees like I pay to distributors if I ask for a return. I have to pay 50% if I want to return an item to a parts manufacturer or distributor.


If you sell china **bleep**, or are a drop shipper, or you sell modern "anything" made in the billions of pieces then you can afford returns. If you don't you better consider taking all kinds of steps and doubling prices to cover the items you are going to give away and the money you are going to lose.







These are all great ideas - in theory. In practice, how are most sellers going to add the additional costs to their "margin"?? Do you even know what you are talking about? Most sellers operate on a very thin margin already and,  depending on the amount of competition, many categories don't have room to increase the price of the items. Margin = price increases.


Now, if you get a 35% pop in sales, maybe the additional margin will pay for the increased return costs. More than likely most sellers will not have room to increase the prices on their items to cover the costs.

Another "eBay Great Idea" that truly screws the seller.  An article that came out today has quoted that approx. 30% of all online sales are returned.  The average brick and mortar store averages just 8.9%.  So I am expected to not only accept the return for any stupid reason but also to pay for the "borrower" to send the now used item back to me.   If they even send the item that they received.  Guess what eBay, there are scammers out there.  They now troll eBay looking for a quick buck. 

When I call to inform eBay that one of the buyers is scamming, I get the "It's the cost of doing business" **bleep** for the CS reps.    I no longer drink the eBay koolaid.   This is just another example of why eBay has been in free fall for the past 3 years.  Quit trying to be Amazon.  Go back to what works.  Quit trying to reinvent the wheel.   The eBay magic is gone. 

Stupid.  One day, maybe eBay will revert back to the ecommerce giant that it used to be.   Who ever thinks this is a great idea obviously has no real business sense.

by wolfbyte · Guide

"Little things like providing a pre-paid shipping label with the package can mean the difference between having a customer follow through on an online order to backing out."

(I think she meant to say, "... or backing out.")


I don't understand this statement.

Regarding providing a pre-payed label with the package, are you suggesting a seller pay for and provide a return label in a shipment that would only be used in the event of a return? What if the item is not returned? Is eBay collecting a FVF on this additional label? Are you also suggesting that a buyer may back out of a transaction if this label is not offered with the shipment?


For what it's worth, four things make me hit the back button on a potential purchase: a "no returns" policy, restocking fees, poor descriptions and questionable feedback.


Also, who are eBay these "Verified Bloggers" and what qualifies them to make these statements on eBay's behalf? While I truly appreciate eBay's outreach efforts, I also like to consider the source of the information offered such as the credentials of the person, or "blogger", making these statements as well as their relationship to eBay.



Thank you.


As a nearly 20 year Ebayer, I can honestly say this is a terrible idea, and one that EBay has started to push. If you are a billion dollar company like Amazon, sure, no problem. But just a few returns can really bite into your profit since we get stuck footing the bill.  I can honestly tell you that all these wonderful figures that EBay comes up with, in terms of increasing your sales, really has not applied to me, and probably not for the majority of other sellers. EBay is a publicly owned company with shareholders who want their stock price to increase, and if you think they are generally looking out for the seller, it's not always true.  Beware of "sales increase" facts and figures. Just sayin"

eBay comment already. Quit ignoring us. We are not going to get quieter.


We are eBay!!! Without us there is no eBay, just another online Harbor Freight. 

by fredajns · Adventurer

I agree with everyone else.  If ebay is suggesting free returns, I think they should offer some type of incentive.  Ebay should offer the free return labels.  Or how about lower selling fees?

I guess it depends on what you're selling. I have mostly pet supplies and far too many buyers do not read the sizing chart for items. Every listing I stress please measure your dog before ordering and STILL I get far too many returns for wrong fit. I can't foot the bill on return shipping on these items. 

eBay - Please stop promoting returns.

As it is I offer free shipping, and now you are suggesting "free returns" so if someone changes their mind, I'm out the shipping cost, the return shipping cost, and the final value fees and a restocking fee to cover the cost of returns. How is this helping sellers? It might help generate sales, but it doesn't generate profits. Nobody is going to do this for nothing! Offering free returns is sure to generate a loss, since we cannot mark up prices a thousand percent - because nobody will buy those items at those prices, either.

Horrible advice. How about we keep it fair, and make buyers RESPONSIBLE for their purchases, instead of encouraging buyer's remorse type of sales!


SO tired of this non-sense........... give give give ........... customers here are more and more becoming bottom feeders , they ask for ridiculous prices below cost as if they are entitled.

Amazon doesn't make its money on retail but cloud services , that way they can undercut everyone and put them out of business then use dynamic pricing software to charge more to consumers after they learn thier buying habits.  So all these so Called Customer Friendly services are all being used as lost leaders to gain customer info and put brick and mortar business out of business. NO normal retailer can enact everything Amazon is doing and still be able to stay in business without another revenue source. I get it Ebay has to keep up but stop feeding all this **bleep** to us as if it will make us all this money becuase it won't.
Any good seller who has tried some of these "Suggestive practices" in the past hoping to see the percentage jump in sales as Ebay like to push know by now it's all just marketing **bleep**.
It's like a advertiser selling toothpaste that's suppose to whiten your teeth and you buy it a couple of times but it doesn't work. Do you think well still continue to go back and buy it over and over and over and over and over again?  
It's always BIG SMILES AND HAPPY FACES and complete ignorance to the true cost all these policies are doing to businesses. Retail worked for the last 100 years without all this **bleep** and if we continue to train consumers that they need more and more of this then everyone will go out of business except Amazon and well all be screwed when that happens.





wolfbyte · Trailblazer


"For what it's worth, four things make me hit the back button on a potential purchase: a "no returns" policy, restocking fees, poor descriptions and questionable feedback."


So you also don't want to be responsible for your purchasing habits? You click pay return like the rest of ebay does? I sure wish ebay buyers would be kind wnough to say the same thing before buying so I could warm up the BBL.


A lot of buyers here NEVER really pay for anything. My wife used to sell clotches. I researched a couple of buyers that forced retirns after 3 to 4 months on "not described". Then find out the buought the exact same item from another seller a few days before. Buy, wear, return, screw another seller with the same bull. I complained to ebay and they said they did not see any policy violations.


Since my last post I have had 3 attempted returns. Already since my son and daughter inlaw implemented the returns it has been escalating. Younger they are the more they return. Newer they are, more they return. Lower the feedback the more they return.


Enough is enough in my opinion. Business' are in business to SHOW A PROFIT, not be a pawn in someones buy - cheat - repeat scam. I have over 1 million dollars in inventory in stock. I PAID for it all once already. I am in the business of SELLING it, not letting someone try it out and buy it back from them.









by wolfbyte · Guide

@rt_21_trading_co · Adventurer

Actually, I agree with you except for the comment directed at me in which you may have assumed too. But kinda don't blame you as returns are a sensitive subject for many of us sellers. As a fellow seller, I've pretty much been where you and your wife have been at one time or another and have experieced the same frustrations!


You stated, "So you also don't want to be responsible for your purchasing habits? You click pay return like the rest of ebay does? I sure wish ebay buyers would be kind wnough to say the same thing before buying so I could warm up the BBL."


No. As a buyer, I've returned very few things over the years and in which case have always done so immediately. I expect to pay the return shipping unless the item is truly SNAD and I believe the seller should also keep my original shipping. I think that's just part of doing business online as a buyer. However, I will only buy from sellers who offer me the opportunity to send an item back if I need to, especially clothing.


As a seller, I do believe in also offering returns and my return rate as a seller is very low. But accepting returns is a decision each seller must make based on what works best for them.


I was just expressing my personal opinion here on what makes me hit the back button on a potential purchase. eBay often states what they know buyers are looking for,  but they've never asked for my opinon after nearly 20 years of buying and selling here so I thought I'd expess it ... for what it's worth. Smiley Wink

News Team
News Team

Hi everyone: Thanks for the lively discussion! Nobody likes a return, buyer or seller, but they are part of doing business in e-commerce. eBay knows that sellers dislike returns, of course, and sellers are free to set their own return policy, anything from no-returns-ever to 60-day free returns.  eBay is not mandating free returns, but we are encouraging them for a great customer experience. Of course, every seller ultimately needs to decide what is best for their business.


We also know that buyers have A LOT of options when it comes to shopping and most shoppers check for a return policy before buying. Think about your own shopping behavior: do you prefer to buy from a retailer that has a return policy or a no-returns policy? Sellers who offer returns or free returns will be at an advantage for two reasons: 1) shoppers actively look for it when shopping  and wan that reassurance that things will be taken care of if something goes wrong and 2) sellers get a boost in search for items that have free returns and 30-day or 60-day returns without restocking fees, see http://pages.ebay.com/seller-center/seller-updates/2017summer/returns.html


If you are considering free returns, we recommend that sellers spread the cost of free returns across their margin on a yearly basis, see guidance on how to do that here: http://pages.ebay.com/seller-center/shipping/returns.html#lift-sales-with-free-returns see the section called 

How To Add Margins To Listings For Free Returns


From Audrey's post you can plainly see that eBay has ZERO understanding on returns, how they work in the real world and who their sellers are.


Sure as a buyer I want 180 day returns, easy credit, pay over a yr with no interest, free shipping and free returns.


EXCEPT thats not how the real world works  ... at all.


If you are a professional seller - then you buy from dealers, distributors and manufactorers. You MUST abide by THEIR terms. Want to know (for example) what Casio or Nikons warranty policy is? Its REPAIR ONLY. So you sell it to one of eBays STELLAR buyers, they remove the tags and throw away the packaging, eBay CS people FORCE you to take it back anyway 60 days later and then ...... MAYBE you can get the item reapired - maybe - less the charge for replacing the packaging. If you can return it - theres a restocking fee, and you pay the shipping back. Lord help you if the serial number is different then what YOU SOLD to the buyer.


So you loose BIG TIME - all around - and eBay just sits in the corner and smirks. THEY dont have to eat any shipping charges, restocking fees, repairs, making the new item you sold into a used or refurbished item - AND then on top of it - they make money on the labels as does Paypal.


Great for everyone but the seller. But sellers dont REALLY count do they?


If you are a small part time seller and you resell stuff you buy at flea market ect - then TO WHOM will you return something to 60 days later after its been used? NO ONE and you loose again.


Why would ANYONE need 60 days anyway? Its not rational or normal.


In fact most places are tightening up their policies - since they cost companies MILLIONS.


If you think 60 days is rational - ask eBay why they wont give you 60 days to pay your eBay charges!? You cant, but they tell you that you should extend similar terms to buyers.


In EVERY case - rules that eBay tells you - if they wont do "it" for you - you shouldnt do "it" for a buyer - since its OBVIOUSLY not a good idea.

"For what it's worth, four things make me hit the back button on a potential purchase: a "no returns" policy, restocking fees, poor descriptions and questionable feedback."



The restocking fee is to help buyers understand the importance of making an informed decision (to discourage impulse buying).

I sell plumbing fixtures. I REALLY want my buyers to think about what they are buying BEFORE they purchase something that does not work out in their remodeling plans. Returns on plumbing fixtures are not simple, for the most part, and shipping is not cheap. I can't re-sell something as new once it's been returned, even if the first buyer did nothing more than open the package. So in a "free returns" environment, there would be considerable additional cost on every return.

Look, I love to give people a good deal, but I'm not doing this solely as a public service, I am here to earn a living, too, so restocking fees are sometimes necessary on this platform to not only curb impulse purchases, but also to recover some of the cost when somebody has an expensive change of mind.

Should I forfeit dinner tonight because somebody didn't read the measurements on my listing, or didn't research their own home improvement needs? No, and that's why this needs to be fair for both sides. Buyers' decisions directly affect sellers' businesses. So if buyers want items at good prices, they need to be responsible for their own returns, OR accountable for their own purchases in the first place so that returns is not even an issue. (The fewer returns we have in general, the less expensive everything will be!)


Point is, everybody's business model is different and for varying reasons - lots of them. 

While some businesses can get away with minimal cost on returns, others cannot. So, to say that you will hit the back button if you see there's a restocking fee, you might be missing out on a good deal by a top-rated seller, without even reasoning that sellers select that requirement simply because they just want serious buyers. Some think it's just a game.

Ebay is making it way too easy for buyers not to take responsibility for their purchases, and just because some buyers are mature and honest, and they buy responsibly, that does not mean all buyers are.  Those who aren't wreak havoc on a seller's business activities. All that energy spent and money lost is very, very discouraging. It would not be necessary in a fair market. Yet, eBay is pushing this "free returns" program on us sellers...as if it's a good thing to lose money and starve and struggle; and they are encouraging more of a gaming

atmosphere where someone can buy cheap, use and return.


This is a recipe for disaster.  



Sellers will continue to leave in droves if policies continue to become less fair.  It will be slim pickens for buyers.


(Hmmm - I wonder if eBay's shareholders ever read these boards.....)



wolfbyte - I may have taken your post the wrong way. I don't always read all the threads. I have my own site and it is BUSY, not like ebay with 5 sales a month.


Audrey appears out of touch on the returns. There are just simply a lot of products that CAN NOT be sold with returns.


Returning a product because some buyer did not read a description, or the measuements, or because they have buyers remorse, or they have stripped parts off it, or the item is Vintage and therefore should NEVER be considered for a return is simply NOT a good business moto in general. And the more people do it, the most the public expects all sellers to do the same.


Distributors of lawn & garden parts, snowmobile parts, atv / side by side parts, motorcycle parts will NOT accept returns on out of production parts, electronic parts of any kind (including light bulbs), ANYTHINY that had been opened, dirty, or otherwise unsaleable. If the do accept a return, the restocking fee is between  35% up to 50%.


Ebay only allows a paltry 20%. On small items that doesn't cover ebay fees in most cases, let alone packing materials, overhead, labor costs, and just plain annoyance.


I have a buyer right now that can't find the wire harness for a headlight. I ask him if he had removed the light shell from the plastic bag and foam. He said no. I told him to try that first because the wire harness is rolled up inside the headlight shell before it is wrapped in foam and bagged.


Another buyer requests a return because they inadvertently were shipped the wrong fuel fitting for a snowmobile. Not a message saying "hey stupid you shipped the wrong dam thing", but a SNAD return. I flipped out on them and ask them why they didn't send a message. First option is "contact seller". Their answer "too mush hassle" . 


Last year I had an ebay rep trying his best to explain why returns were the best thing to do for my ebay sales. This was after I called them and jacked their wazoo for immediately giving a refund before they even looked at the pictures that clearly show it was NOT the same item I shipped.  He went on to explain that I should accept all returns and that losing money was just part of doing business.


To which I asked him if ebay was losing money on their end. No reply. I asked why I should keep selling on ebay and paying right around 13% including listing fees, final value, shipping final value, etc. Especially when my site sales were 5 times what ebay were and it cost me $ 25 a month for bandwidth and $12 a year for a domain. He said well ebay does this for sellers, that for sellers, you have all these features you can add (for a price of course). In the end I told him to stop drinking koolaid and google how great ebay is for sellers.


Never going to change. Ebay tv commercials NEVER have said from an ebay "seller", just get it from ebay. They don't want watermarks. The real reason is they want to steal all images for their "catalog". Sellers can not opt out anymore. They keep advertising their brand, give sellers no exposure in the form of actually admitting that individual sellers exist. They want to be like Amazon, Best Buy, etc.


And ebay investors should read the boards but the upper managment would classify it as rantings of insignificant users.


The two biggest clothing stores on ebay DO charge for returns!! swapcominc has 1,115,732 listings as of today with free econo ship, 30 day returns, Buyer pays return shipping.  bhfo has 179,269 listings as of today , they charge for econo shippin, 30 day returns, and buyer pays return shipping. So why shouldn't the smaller sellers do what the big dogs do?......



I think eBay stays up all night dreaming this stuff up, and once again does not help sellers in the least.  When a buyer pays, why not just put their payment in their package and send it back to them? Gee, if eBay wants to give money away, give yours, not mine.


I especially love when they return worn/damaged item and expect you to issue full refund. Show me ONE store in real life that accepts 60 days returns NO questions asked? I think ebay is high..


ebay, instead of raising fees for sellers, you should tweak how your returns work. I had a buyer open a return case like a month ago! She never shipped the item. I cannot close a case. There's no such option! I have to call ebay for them to close it. Isn't it ancient times? If you claim you are staying on top of technology?


I am currently running sales in my store. I sell the exact same things I sold last year. I am down this year 51% in sales! I am Top Rated, with an ebay store, I run sales and promoted listings and still I am lucky if I get 1 sale a week!!! It's insane. Whatever you did to "improve" you made it worse, much worse! Or maybe by implementing all these changes you are determined to drive away small /solo sellers who try to survive on your platform! 


I think you cather to mega sellers who sells items for $3 with free shipping or no shipping. They are ranking higher in search results and rest are just at bottomless pit. I have other ebay accounts (without store) and nobody has purchased anything from those accounts for over a month. I have 30 day return policy (which is plenty time to return if a buyer isn't happy). But for me not have a single sale in last 30 days on either accounts is very dishartening.



Brandsforless, I'm in the exact same boat. I'm scratching my head trying to figure this all out.  I've seen sales drop 40% (and more) month after month over same period last year,  what sold great last year, is inexplicibly not selling. Enormous time spent modifying listings, trying various strategies. When I make purchases from large retail companies on-line, they always charge shipping unless a minimum purchase of an amount greater than what my customers want to spend.   Perhaps very high volume sellers can absorb the inevitable losses from an across-the-board free shipping/free return policy...., I cannot and I suspect most small sellers cannot. I can't prove it, but if a customer receives a delivery with damage, they should notify me right away. Anywone can keep a box and 'break' something 3 weeks later, say it arrived that way, I have zero recourse. Guess I could try selling plushies.

The author's id, emma fulcher, joined ebay a month ago, and had made two purchases, and of course has never sold anything on ebay.


In case you weren't aware Emma, eBay doesn't have any inventory, and eBay doesn't sell anything. 


eBay's actual "customers"  are its sellers who pay the bills around here. 


eBay has systematically beaten down us sellers for the last eight years, while making us bend over backwards for fickle cheapskate buyers.  It's high time that the pendulum stops swinging in that direction.  The buyer isn't always right, and in eBay's case, the customer is the seller.

Its as I said before ....


When deciding on whether or not to apply ANY eBay policy to your account - ask yourself - WILL EBAY DO THAT FOR ME?


If eBay allows you 60 days to pay your fees - then offer  60 days (after its only fair right?)


If eBay allows you to take furniture from their office - then accept returns where the item is different then what you sent out (since theft is theft no matter who its from)


If eBay agrees to pay you to put your items on eBay vs anywhere else - then pay for sponsored listings (since eBay should be showing your listings 24/7 UNFILTERED since thats what you pay for with your listing fees and FVF)


Those are the kinds of rules I set for myself - of course your milage may vary.




For Reseller selling in the Consumer Electronics or any other vertical with tight margins AND whose returns can't simply be resold as new, adding Free Returns does come straignt off the margins.  



"A painless returns process is harmless" - again does not apply to items that cannot simply be resold as new.  Cameras have Shutter Counts, Camcorders have a Time Clock.  Computers once booted up require an hours work to Restore them, and are nearly 50% loss to restock/resell.


The suggestion to raise our pricing to compensate is not possible either, as we then would not be competitive let alone be in the correct spot on your search algorithm.   Other items are MAP restricted and we can't sell for MORE just as much as we can't sell for less.


In other words and in my opinion, this is great for USED & UNIQUE items or Brand Owners only businesses and C2C sellers.


Let me go further and say that I understand, ebay is NOT a seller.  

However they are the FACE of all of us sellers.


What drives sellers to change is always the highest bar. Lately Amazon has been setting that bar.  So, Ebay is constantly trying to think how they can be Amazon.


Amazon simply raises the bar and says to it's sellers Be there or be gone.  Amazon can do that because they are also sellers and understand the logistics and profit margins.  


Ebay does not. Ebay simply copied their fee structure from Amazon. Ebay is attempting to copy returns guarantees and return shipping.   Amazon has a cusotmer service team that handles ALL calls/emails for all prime orders (FBA and SFP)... that takes the burden off us.

Amazon may refund a customer within 48 hours, but we have the right to appeal and we win 85%+ of our appeals.


Ebay does not have that level of Customer Service... nor do they help us with the appeals.


If ebay wants to gain the "AMAZON TRUST FACTOR" they need to go a lot further with Customer Service and support for the CUSTOMER as well as the SELLER.  


All of the above is my personal IMHO.

by fredajns · Adventurer

I was feeling worried. Sales have been down. Is it because I don't offer free returns and my listings aren't being seen? Do I need to offer free returns to keep up? I hope not. So I searched for items similar to mine and the first one that popped up: buyer pays return shipping.

Second one: returns not accepted. 

A few more and there is my listing. 


Thank you fellow Ebayers for not offering free returns! Sure it is what the customer wants, but sellers just can't afford it. We all know returns would skyrocket!


So unless ebay wants to pay for it, I'm not changing my return policy.

When ebay first started pushing sellers to offer free returns they said 'our research shows that sellers offering free returns get fewer returns'. To me that flys in the face of logic  but if true I'm happy to give it a go. So I asked ebay to let us see their research to give us confidence in what they are saying. THE SILENCE HAS BEEN DEFENING.


Come on ebay, if this is true show us the research.


Well, I disagree with most of the comments here. As a buyer I want to know I have at least 30 days to return if needed.  Free returns is a great idea if you sell low cost items. Certainly it would not work for those who sell items that are costly to ship. 


I do agree that a prepaid label makes zero sense. I ship 300 + packages a month that would cost a fortune.  My return rate is like 1.7% or something like that. It is quite low, so that would be a major waste of money.  



Having said that, I don't recall where I read this, but I did read that in the next year Ebay plans on all listings complying with fee returns (if you offer returns).  My understanding is that the choices will be 1) no returns 2) free returns. 

by rt_21_trading_co · Thrill-Seeker | Updated by Moderator

@ shayandjazzy · 


"Well, I disagree with most of the comments here. As a buyer I want to know I have at least 30 days to return if needed.  Free returns is a great idea if you sell low cost items. Certainly it would not work for those who sell items that are costly to ship. "


Free returns is **bleep**, any type of return only works for china junk that cost nothing to begin with. 


Take a simple chrome motorcycle headlight. China units have rough chrome, odd bulbs that can not be found anywhere even on ebay, very small gauge wiring, odd dimensions that require modifying mounting blocks or adding spacers, etc. I can but pallets of them for less than $ 3.00 per headlight assembly, plus nominal freight.


If I bought a 50 foot container I could get headlights, taillights, switches, throttles, grips, levers and much more. Probably less than $ 10,000.00 for the container delivered to the USA with customs paid by the shipper. But it is all JUNK. Bad polishing, rough and cracked chrome, throttles that bind, levers without threads on the adjusters, etc.


The chrome motorcycle headlights I sell cost me $ 45.00 per SHELL, the bulbs are extra. The levers I sell are triple plate chrome, not bright nickle passed off as chrome. They cost me $ 10.00 per lever. All were manufactured in USA.


Everytime I read a post with someone wanting to return and item "just because" it only further reinforces my resolve that people just simply do not want to be responsible for buying. They want someone to eat some or all of the associated costs because they  can not decide what is best for them before buying. 


Makes my skin crawl to read some of the messages from buyers that want to return for the most ridiculous reasons:


I didn't buy it, someone else did.


How could you put a charge on my paypal account without me bidding? (I only sell fixed price)


I own a Nissan, why did you send me a Ford _ _ _?? (listing said Ford ALL OVER)


I saw the 7/8" size but thought it would fit 1" handlebars.........


Oh, you didn't ship it on Sunday so I don't want it...........


I see the dimensions of the gas gauge but didn't feel like measuring mt tank. Why do I have to pay the return shipping??


I wanted red but bought the white anyway. I don't like it............


I can't measure the diameter, the bike is in Florida and I live in Michigan. Why couldn't you tell me the size of the crankshaft?


That's just a few.


I NEVER return ANYTHING because I do NOT buy what I don't want. That policy works very well. Not just for me, for EVERYONE. If I make a mistake I eat it or resell it. I don't ask someone to do a return because I suffered a moment of stupidity. My mistake is my mistake, not the sellers.


Not as described is different, and even then things may not be as they seem because some people can not understand what you try to explain, no matter if in written description, in person or on the phone. I called a distributor once and talked to a salesman. I tried to explain that I had ordered 1" and received 7/8". Took 20 minutes and a call back to a different salesman because the first one kept says "I clearly see you ordered 1", there is no 7/8" on the order. Thats why you didn't get 7/8". Do you want to order 7/8"?


I agree that free returns could potentially lift sales and accordingly profits for the seller - if - and here is the BIG if - returned items were saleable. Unfortunately, most returns are either not the original item, used by buyer for a period before being returned, or damaged.


in order for free returns to be a good idea for sellers - eBay needs to step up its efforts to provide a fair assessment of claims instead of nearly always be on the side of the buyer.

by berryfreak · Adventurer

I am a business person, not an idiot. I have had buyers switch items on me, put out INADS when they "change" their mind so they don't have to pay shipping back to me... NO and NO, I am NOT offering free 60 day returns.

Sorry eBay, this one is a no can do!


Also we all know that it really does matter whether we have a return policy or not as buyer can always find a reason with either eBay within first 30 days or if that fails with PayPal where buyer can find a reason within 180 days.



by rdsrls · Adventurer

 I would like to say that I have 60 day returns and the buyer has to pay return shipping.  To Date and years later no one has ever paid returned postage.  If my buyer opens an items and doesn't like it, just brake it and send a picture.  Now I don't care I just refund all monies at the sign of a problem.  Ebay is rarely on your side.  ALSO  customer who use their sell phones are a pest.  They don't read the description, just ask redundant questions.  Ebayer for over 14 years.


This suggestion of "free returns" may work for businesses with a high volume of new items with a moderately high price, but not for most of us selling here.  Those who make EBay Policy often seem to forget that this all started as an on-line yard sale.  Most individual sellers started thay way, and we do not have the resources for this "suggestion".  In addition, most of us expect to have buyers who want to own what we sell, not take it for a "test drive" and send it back at our expense.  This definitely will encourage more non-comittal cuctomers and more cases of buyer's remorse.  As it stands now, a buyer has little more responsibility other than to pay for an item they want.  Enticing a fence-riding buyer with a non-comittal policy only increases the risk opf returns, contrary to what this article suggests.  In the end, only the buyers knows what he/she wants to "buy and own".  I would strongly reccommend against this "free return" policy, as it will only serve as an invitation for more conflict. 

by free5611 · Adventurer

Basically, I’m Not Really Getting Any Of This Information, As Helpful For ME.  I Just Started a Basic Store, And Still Trying To Maneuver My Way Around The Ends and Outs.  


This Article, Feels Like To Me, As If The Basic, Amateur, or New Seller On eBay...Is Being Compared To Walmart, Or Any Other Multi-Faceted Business.  I Can Only Speak For Myself, And I Know, For Sure, I Cannot Afford Giving My Buyers 60 Days To Decide...If They Want To Use, Play or Wear My Item.  I Cannot Even Afford 30 Days...With The Merchandise I Sell; Which Are Mostly Items I Acquired From My Purchases, Estate Sells, Auction, Etc.


It Would Be So Awesome, If You (eBay or Anyone) Could Write Articles and Help Out The New eBay Sellers With Less Inventory And Lack Of Means To Hire Help To List And Post Items On eBay.  Where Are Pointers And Advice For Us Little People, Like Myself, Who Are Disabled and Trying To Sell Items On eBay To Help Make Ends Meet, Buy Christmas Gifts for Our Loved Ones, Pay A Credit Card Debt, Etc....Etc.


I, Totally, Agree With The Comment Above Re: eBay Not Waiting Or Giving Sellers 60 Days To Pay Our Bills, Etc.  So, Why Would You Suggest Us To Do...What You’re Not Willing To Do.  Everybody Knows What The “WHY” Factor  Reason Is That Everybody Is Selling On eBay, And That Is To Make Money...Money Is The Top Line...The Middle Line...And The Bottom Line...For ALL OF US...PERIOD!!!


If I Were To Listen To The Advice in This Article, I Would Not Have A Dime Nor Reason To Even Continue To Attempt To Sell on eBay.  I Would Not Even Have Money To Pay My Monthly Bill To eBay, I Would Be Cutting Into My Expenses To Pay My Own Bills...Worried About Trying To Look Good For Buyers And Offering 30-60 Days Return Policies.  I Offer 14 Days For Returns ... And That Is The Best I Can Do At This Time.  Now, In The Future, If I Can Figure All This Out, Can Buy Bulk From Mfgs., Can Sell Like I’m Walmart Making $$$$Millions Every Day...Then I Can Come Back And Re-Visit Your Ideas —Then.  But, Until All This Magic Happens...I’m Doing The Best I Can...And I’m Proud Of That!!!  I Make My Customers, I Do Have Happy, And That Is A Good Start For Me!!!


You Would Be Helping Many Sellers, Like Myself, If You Could Write More Articles To Help Us To Get Any Where Close To What Your Talking About Now.  Blessings To All The Sellers Passionate About What Were Doing Now...And Staying In Compliance And The Arena Of Selling On eBay!!!


eBay does lump all sellers of all items togethter as a group and thats where the issue(s) lie.


For those people who say they need 30 days ... ok why? 


If the toaster you bought makes toast for the first week, then you received a working one.


If the pants you bought fit you the first week, then you recieved the size you ordered.


eBay sellers (and lets skip Amazon here since they arent the focus of these posts for a moment) arent manufacturers, nor should they be responsible to warranty goods. THAT is eBay cheapening out and putting the onus on the seller - for no reason.


If eBay thinks that 30 days is the right amount of time - mandate 14 days for ALL sellers and let eBay deal with the remainder. Copying Amazon is just simply stupid. Sure they set the bar in SERVICE - but theres only so much a smaller seller can do.


Try buying from a manufacturer or distributor and telling them well TARGET (just as an example) gives me %15 off from Cartwheel, 45 days to pay and 60 days returns - SO YOU HAVE TO ... know what they will say to you ????? "THESE are the terms sir - take it or leave it" since NO ONE wants to be left "holding the bag".


Good service is PARAMOUNT to keeping and aquiring buyers - we all want it and we all want a fair and balanced return policy ... why is it so difficut to have one?



In response to:

brandsforless2014 · Adventurer 10-21-2017 03:54:30 PM


"I am currently running sales in my store. I sell the exact same things I sold last year. I am down this year 51% in sales! I am Top Rated, with an ebay store, I run sales and promoted listings and still I am lucky if I get 1 sale a week!!! It's insane. Whatever you did to "improve" you made it worse, much worse! Or maybe by implementing all these changes you are determined to drive away small /solo sellers who try to survive on your platform! "


I have 30% of the sales on ebay in 2017 I had in 2016. There is just no traffic here.


Last year in 2016 I kept a running tab on views, watchers and sales. I was just curious of what the aggrigate info would show, conversion rates, watchers vs buyers, etc. Overall my products showed an average of 34 views per sale, with an average of 2500 views per item per month. That is based on adding all views and dividing by number of items listed for the month - not including relists.


This year, my view ar down to 10 to 12 per item per month. Sales only about one week a month - about 70% less in sales over the same month of 2016, every consecutive month. 


I even tried the scam of "Promoted" listings. When that was running nearly every item that sold was unexplainably sold through a click from a "promoted" listing. And it did NOT increase the overall sales, not one bit.


Luckily I have a company website that does a steady income because I would be bankrupt depending on ebay sales.


Ebay tries all this new $%*&%# every year to increase their bottom line while attempting to get more large sellers in like Wayfair Target, Sears, Toys R Us, and others. And their feedback is APPALLING. Ebay scrubs their feedback nightly.


My wife bought from Toys R Us a year ago for a Christmas gift for our youngest granddaughter. Item was clearly marked as a return defective, they never even pulled the return tag off the packaging before they shipped it. Broken, wouldn't work when batteries installed, etc. Had to file with ebay to get refund, they never even responded.


My wife left the appropriate negative feedback. Simple, straight to the point, no cursing, no policy violations in the feedback. Just wrote "sent previously returned item, damaged and not working". The feedback disappeared in 3 days. My wife called ebay and they told her she probably wrote something not allowed like personal info, curse words, etc. She said no and told them what she wrote. Then they had no idea why it was removed, probably "a glitch". We are so sorry.........


Happens all the time. Ebay advertises on tv telling people to buy from ebay, not from ebay sellers. All the big accounts get free feedback removal, they don't evan have to ask. It just happens automatically.


We don't even get traffic.


Fail. Another horrible idea by Ebay.  The customer pays for MY returns.




After 3 years on eBay, here's why I quit offering Free Shipping and Free Returns! 


Buyers do change their minds about 5% of the time, but even a 20% restock fee may not cover the cost of original shipping.  Plus, most returned items cannot be resold as "new" so they are either scrap or not worth the time relisting.  Now, add to this Free Return Shipping and your risk of loss exponentially increases. 


Even if you offer Free Shipping, buyers will still complain when you charge them a 20% restock fee, not realizing that it doesn't even cover the cost of the original shipping.  (Some buyers are wise to this so they will report an item as "not as described" so eBay forces the seller to cover return shipping costs.)


However, if the buyer has to pay for shipping, the seller can advertise the true lowest price instead of factoring an average price with shipping including for the entire U.S.A.  If the buyer lives closer to my business, they actually get a lower price than a competitor farther away.  This is why Amazon has multiple distribution centers.


Plus, if you force the buyer to pay for shipping, the buyer is aware at the time of purchase how much shipping actually costs, and they will not be shocked when they have to pay for return shipping.  This causes impulsive buyers to think twice before buying.  A good thing in my opinion.


Yes, if the buyer lives on the other side of the country the overall price will be higher for them, but that's not my problem.  I am not a global enterprise.


To me...Business is work, and the less time I have to expend to yield a profit the better the business model.  Personally, I don't like to waste time packing items that will be returned or dealing with returns or having to trash items that have been damaged because of a return.


Please remember, business is NOT about making customers happy!!!  Those who say this are just parroting a marketing slogan because it sounds good to the customer, but they know deep down it isn't true.  Never forget...Business is about making money!  If the business doesn't make money then you don't have a business.  Protect your business by ensuring you have a profit.


by sutt · Adventurer

If you offer returns, which I have, you must take an item back if it is returned for "I found a better price".  If you use the Ebay Buyer protection, they won't accept " I found a better Price".  Why should have a return policy if its better to use Buyer protection?

by yekoop · Enthusiast

I don't offer returns because of the sensitive material that can be copied/damaged.  If I have a 100 percent satisfaction there is no need.  I've never had an issue that needed returning. 

by sutt · Adventurer

Ebay allows a person to return an item on returns for "found a better price"!   They do not allow it on their "buyer Guarantee' but they force the Seller to do it.