Do You Have To Accept Returns To Be Successful On Ebay?

The Reseller Hangout Podcast

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Rob: What’s up, guys? On today’s episode, we are talking about returns on eBay.

Melissa: And we’re going to dive into a couple different aspects about returns, but specifically we wanted to start with, do you have to accept returns to be successful on eBay?

Rob: That’s right. Nobody likes to accept returns. Nobody wants to sell something and then have it come back. So the big question is, can you sell on eBay without accepting returns and still be successful?

Melissa: Because eBay does want us to accept returns. Like they want they’re following suit with Amazon. They want us as sellers to accept returns.

Rob: So that is the question that we are going to answer today. And as for us personally, we do not accept returns. We have never accepted returns. But there’s a couple key things you have to keep in mind if you do want to sell on eBay and you do not want to accept returns.

So, let’s dive in.

Melissa: So you do have to have a return policy set up on eBay and that can look different for everybody. And like Rob mentioned, we do not accept returns. And we will dive into what happens if somebody does an item not as described in a little bit, but, we don’t accept returns, from the buyer. So.

Rob: And for us, there’s a couple key factors that we do to not have to accept returns. Now, our items are a little bit different than some sellers. We sell unique items.

We sell used items, typically every once in a while, we’ll come across a new item and we’ll sell it, but we’d never sell it as new. So, but it’s a new item open box. That’s kind of how we sell it. For our unique items, our items that are used, we do not accept returns because they are used items.

We described them the best that we can, we take the best pictures that we can. And we always under promise and over-deliver on our auctions or our items, our listings.

Melissa: Yeah. Now eBay does, like we mentioned favor, sellers that do have a return policy. So typically a 30 day return policy is the norm for people.

Some do 60 days. A 30 day return policy gives the buyer, I mean, we’re, we’re living in this world where people, you know, buy whatever and then just return it, which for Amazon, they eat a lot of that cost, but it’s a lot harder for the smaller seller to be able to eat that cost of shipping. So that’s another thing that you can actually put into your return that we do accept returns, but you, we charge a restocking fee.

And the shipping back.

Rob: Buyer’s responsible for the shipping back on that item. So you definitely can do that if you do want to offer returns. Like I said, our items are a little unique. We don’t sell new items for the sellers that do sell new items: cell phone chargers, cell phones, brickish brackish, whatever it is that you’re selling, that you might have a lot of competition in eBay, you might have to accept returns. You might have to do that. For us, we don’t have to because our items are unique. Typically, something that we sell, there’s not a lot of them on eBay. You have, you, you have to have a choice of very few items when you’re going to look for those items to buy them. Therefore we, like I said, we described them the best we can.

We do not want to over promise on an item. Anything that’s wrong with the item. We want to point it out. If we were unable to test the item, for whatever reason we want to say this item is untested and it’s sold as is. So the buyer has the proper expectations when they do receive the item. We also want to get all the pictures of the item for the used items.

We want to take 12 pictures. That’s what eBay will allow on the listings is 12 pictures. You want to use every single one of those pictures, if possible, every side of the item, top bottom on the item, opening up, whatever it is you want all those pictures. And then you want any imperfection scratch, scuffs, dents, scrapes, anything like that.

You want to have some of those pictures in there as well. And then the description has to match that. And you have to say, please expect normal wear, this is a used item. This is not mint condition, anything like that. You just want them to have the proper expectations of buying a used item. Even you want to under-promise and over-deliver, even if you’re talking the item down a little bit, you want to do that.

So when they get it, they’re pleasantly surprised with the condition that it’s in.

Melissa: And you learned that firsthand back in the day, right? You’d say mint condition or just like new, those words we never use. And so we would rather say used, you know, expect, wear and tear, expect all this.

I mean, if it is brand new in the box, you can still write that, but we still, if we get something new, we say new other, we don’t even say brand new. So, just so the person has that expectation.

Rob: That’s it, new open box and we are selling something. And typically when we’re buying something, we’re not getting it from a retailer.

So we’re getting it from somebody who bought it at a storage auction, somebody at the flea markets, something like that. Exactly. Typically, no matter what, if we get something that’s new in the box, I will open it up, take it out, take pictures of it and say this as new.

Melissa: Test it if you need to.

Rob: Exactly new, open box. And that’s how we will sell it.

But typically we’re, we’re dealing with you stuff and we want to describe it, take the best pictures that we can, to give that buyer proper expectations. You have to remember in everything on eBay, you’re buying it sight unseen. And now we do that on Amazon when we’re buying stuff. Typically it’s new items, but if we don’t like it, for whatever reason, we have the time to send it back, you can do that on Amazon.

When you’re doing it on eBay, you want to give that buyer all the proper description, pictures that you can. So they do have the right expectations when they, get that item, when it’s shipped to them.

Melissa: I think the nordic member, it was at that Nordic track. How much was that one that you told the guy? This was a long time.

Rob: $1,700.

Melissa: Yeah. $1,700. It was mint condition. I think you said, yep. And he came back and he’s like, this is not mint you were like a teenager though.

Rob: Back in my early days, that’s what I would do. I would over promise and then under deliver because when I saw it, I got it from an auction.

It’s a used item. I would think it’s in great condition. That’s how I would list it. Because you’d want to get the items sold and you want to act like it’s the best item, right? The problem is when it goes to the buyer, they don’t think that mint condition or excellent condition is, they’re saying that you’re not speaking their same language.

They might get it thinking that it’s brand new off the shelf. So they have the wrong expectations when they get it. You’re going to get a return request. You’re going to have to pay shipping. You’re have to do all that stuff because you’re not setting the right expectations for the item when you’re selling it.

Melissa: Yeah. So just overall, do you have to accept returns? No, you don’t have to be to accept returns and still be able to be successful on eBay. But it might be worth it to you depending on what you’re selling. So you have to evaluate your business, what you’re selling, what your customers are looking for. And then you can decide if that’s a good business practice for you or not.

Rob: That’s right. And I was going to say, okay, now what about this instance? When somebody claims they get an item, they claim not as described, what do we do in that? That is the worst email. You can never get back from somebody saying it’s not as described. But like I said, you should not get that very often if you are taking proper pictures, doing the right descriptions and setting the right expectation for the buyer. In the case that it is that way, that’s where you have to dig in a little bit deeper and you got to go into figuring out exactly. You gotta be a problem solver. Why is this buyer saying this is not as described?

And a lot of times they might not even write you. They might just send you, open up a case with eBay and say, not as described. That’s where you have to email out to the buyer and you got to dig deep. You got to figure out what is going on with that.

Melissa: That will a lot of times totally sometimes rat the person out too, if they’re not telling the truth, which has happened to us before. So if you get a message or a case opens, you know, you reach out to the buyer and say, what. Sorry. So sorry. You know, you always want to be polite, want to be polite. How would you word it?

Rob: Yeah. So sorry for the inconvenience. Can you please let me know what is going on with the item? I see that you said, not as described what is going on? Is item damaged, you know, what are you unsatisfied with and just send them a nice message to acting like you’re on their side.

You have to start it out like that, and then you can go into attack mode later, but at first you just want to find out what the deal is and let them, let them tell you what’s going on with the items.

Melissa: Because when you find out a lot of times, for us nine out of 10, nine out of 10 times that we don’t get a lot of return requests.

But when we do, they’re almost always a damage claim. So it’s something with shipping and they go ahead and they open a return case thinking that, well, obviously if something arrives damaged, you want it returned. But they don’t know the difference between a shipping damaged or have a return. To them it’s just, you want to return and get your money back. So when you find that out in your communication, they say, oh, it was damaged. It arrived all broken or whatever. Okay. Okay, great. Like let’s, you know, we’ll file a claim. We’ll get you your money back and we’ll file a claim with the carrier and then everybody wins.

So I’m not the carrier.

Rob: No, but that’s, it that’s exactly what happens. You have to dig deep, you got to figure out what’s going on, be a problem solver. Be super polite with the buyer, figure out what it is. And like I said, nine out of 10 times, it’s going to be damaged in shipping as the reason why, exactly the reason why they want to return it in that case.

That’s where we open up a claims with FedEx, UPS, whatever the, shipping agent is. You, you open up a claim with them. You have them pick up the item, do the damage inspection on it and the return, the item to you. But in that case, if you’re packaging it properly, which we teach people how to package it properly, if you’re doing it properly and you are paying for insurance on every single item that you have to, USPS priority is a $50. USPS priority is $50. They insure up to $50. The first $50, every $50 after that, you have to pay for. FedEx and UPS ground I know it’s up to a hundred dollars. They cover the first hundred dollars, anything over top of that, and you have to pay extra to get it insured.

Melissa: It’s not a lot to insure it. It’s like a couple dollars here. If it’s even a high dollar item it’s not a lot of money.

Rob: Absolutely.

You always want to package that item properly and you want to make sure you’re paying extra for insurance because this stuff does happen. It doesn’t happen all the time, but you will get some type of damage in shipping. You’re dealing with a lot of handles, FedEx and UPS, a lot of people are touching that package before it goes to the buyer. So you don’t know if somebody dropped it, you don’t know any of that kind of stuff. So you definitely want to have it packaged properly and always pay for insurance when you’re shipping something.

Melissa: So if you get that message of a return, the best thing is to do is just to stop. Stop, pause and not freak out about it because you never know. Like we can take steps to still, we don’t necessarily have to go give a return right away. And even once we find out that it could be a shipping damage claim, we do not refund the buyer right away.

Rob: So not until you have the item back the item back. That is exactly when you want to do it.

So like I said, you want to have the, the carrier pick up the item, do the damage inspection. And when you have that back on your doorstep, damaged or not, you have to, eBay sometimes will do the refund for you once they see the confirmation that it was delivered. But then let’s talk about what happens if a buyer takes an item, takes a part off of an item, or even ships it back and it comes back in worse condition than it originally was in. You can always go out to eBay, call eBay and say, hey I accepted the return on this. It’s not in the same condition that I shipped in, and ask them to do what are the next steps?

And the next steps are, they are going to, honor you, or they’re going to back you because if you shipped an item and you accepted the return back, they have to come back in the same exact condition that it left in. And if for whatever reason the buyer returned it and did not package it, didn’t put bubbles around it, whatever they didn’t package it properly.

And they shipped it back to you. You guys will still be, eBay will still back you because the item did not come back in the same condition that it left. Like I said, it’s a little more red tape than you want to deal with, but there are ways around it. If you do come into that situation, that you get something back that is not in the same condition that you’ve sent it in.

Melissa: And you may have to call a couple of times and get on the phone with a supervisor to eBay, but, it can’t, if it does arrive back in a different condition than it left, you can get your money back and the buyer should have to fill out an insurance claim for themselves if they did, but then if they didn’t package it properly, they won’t get the insurance for it.

So if you, if you’re concerned about, somebody changing out an item, another recourse, which we actually had, one of our course members do this just recently, with a cooktop, he, he got a different cooktop sent back to him and eBay did not back him at first. So he filed a police report and then eBay backed him because

Rob: Once eBay saw the police report. They know because you gotta remember too with eBay, they are the middleman. They don’t know exactly what’s going on on the buyer and the seller end, they don’t know if anything crooked is going on. It’s very hard for them to detect that in some cases. So, in this case he actually sent the item out, the buyer of the item sent back their old item and wanted a full refund on it, which was a totally different, it was a cooktop, it was totally different itme. So he called the eBay up and he, they said they couldn’t do anything. He went to his local authorities or his police department, filed a police report in this guy’s name.

And then reached back out to eBay. And eBay actually did honor the return and gave him his money back because it was an item. Once eBay sees that he went over and beyond, they do not want to be caught in the cross hairs as well because they facilitated the sale. So they actually gave him the refund on that.

In those cases, there are repercussions. There are ways to get around if it does happen.

Melissa: And we have noticed that since eBay managed payments took over, they have been more difficult to work with. As far as getting this process taken care of when PayPal was the payment processor, they were a lot easier to say, yeah, we’ll give you your money.

Because they weren’t holding the money. So now it’s a little more hoops to go through. You have to get to a certain department to like eventually through the managed payments department, but I guess that’s if it’s a higher dollar item, but, but that is something that they will have to get better at because they’re going to hear from their sellers, they’ve heard from several people already, I’m sure.

That they have to back their sellers. So, and another thing that they also have to back you, if a seller goes out of or a buyer goes to their credit card company. So we actually had a case recently where, the case didn’t end in their favor and they were upset. So then they went to the credit card company.

Okay. And this is what eBay doesn’t want to happen, obviously. But then he claimed that it was a fraudulent charge except for he had signed, it was over $750. So he had to sign for the item. We had all the proof that it was not a fraudulent charge, he signed for the item. And so we ended up winning that case, but it just was a little bit, a couple of phone calls.

Rob: It was more red tape on it. But in that instance, when you do make a sale on eBay, eBay, they facilitate the sale. They also now process the payment. They have all those records plus anything over $750 you have to have the buyer, excuse me, you have to have the signature. A buyer has to sign for that item when it is at that price or above.

So we had all that proof. So once he went outside of eBay and went to his credit card and said, this is a fraudulent charge. All we had to do is eBay already had all the information. We had to sign something with the tracking number. eBay was able to see, that we did the sale through them.

They processed the sale. And this guy had many interactions between myself and him showing it was not a fraudulent charge, but he was trying to use money. eBay sided with us. Like I said, it was a little bit more red tape, that we’re, we’re seeing right now, we had to make a couple phone calls. We had to get it taken care of.

But they did ultimately even the first time I called them, exactly. They said, no matter what happens, you’re backed because you do have the sale and you do have proof of delivery signature that he had the signature on it. You have all that stuff through us. So no matter what happens in this, we will back you.

We just had to fight for the time.

Exactly. They wanted to hold onto it a little bit longer than they should of. Which PayPal was totally opposite. Right as soon as you had the proof of delivery, PayPal would put the money back into your account immediately, and you didn’t have to wait through any of that stuff. That’s where eBay is going to have to have to step up their game.

They want to hold onto that, but they wanted to, they want to hold onto that money as long as they possibly can, while the investigation is going on. But in the end result, I mean, we did get our money back. It just took a little bit longer than we would have liked to get the money back.

Melissa: But we did at the end of the day. So, so yeah.

Rob: Yeah, if you have not, that, that is the biggest thing is you guys, there’s always ways to work through any situation. We’re giving you some instances that might not even happen to you. But they have happened to us, they have happened to our members. So that’s what we want to make you guys aware of that it is possible to deal with it.

Melissa: Don’t let the thought of returns scare you from selling on eBay, because in any business, there’s going to be some aspect of the business that is not amazing. Like you’re going to deal with any kind of thing that you sell, you’re going to deal with the process of returns. Anything like you’re going to have some sort of process in your business that is not the most fun part, but you can, the things you can do to prevent, help prevent returns can help good pictures, good descriptions.

And, and making sure that you underpromise and overdeliver right.

Rob: That’s right.

Melissa: Yeah. Got that right. So there’s things you can do to help improve and lower those rates that they can happen. And one thing that you forgot to mention too is, don’t, if you do end up having a shipping damage claim, don’t pay for shipping back to you because you should not, you don’t have to create a label.

You can actually have the company. And they’ll inspect it, or they might not inspect it, but they’ll pick it up for an inspection and then give it back to you. So.

Rob: They will create a call tag and they will go and do it. So, any instance like that, make sure you are not paying for shipping back. You do not want to have to pay out money on shipping.

You want the carrier to go pick it up, do the inspection and then return it to you. And they will do that free of charge when an item is damaged in shipping. So just know that moving forward, you do not have to go out that shipping charge back and neither does the buyer. Cause it’s neither your nor their fault.

When the shipping company does damage it, it’s the shipping company’s fault. So they have to pay for the return shipping on that. They’ll then they’ll do the damage claim in the process. You have to fill out the claims form, the paperwork to do that. And then you will, you will run the process through, and get your money back if it’s packaged properly and you do have insurance on it. You will get your money back. So, recap, we went through a lot of stuff.

Melissa: That was a lot of stuff.

Rob: So let’s do a quick recap. You guys, you do not have to accept returns, but depending on what type of stuff you are selling, it might be advantageous for you to accept returns because eBay

Melissa: Clothes and shoes is another one that it’s hard. People want to try them on. And then if they don’t like them, you can always charge a restocking fee. And they can ship it back. And if they know that, like it’s a high end shoe and be like, okay, well it’s worth a shot to try. I’ll pay shipping back if I don’t like it.

Rob: Exactly. So depending on what you do, you do want to accept returns or you don’t.

We do not in the industry that we’re in, we sell used items. And we absolutely, that comes into our next three steps. If you’re selling used items, make sure you have good picks. You have a good description and you’re under promising and over delivering. So your buyer is excited and happy when they received the item. It’s in better condition than they thought. So you’re going to get good feedback and it’s going to be a great experience for everybody. So.

Melissa: And if you get a return request, don’t freak out. Take a minute. Pause. You don’t have to respond right away. You don’t need to refund their money right away. You have time to process the situation and figure out exactly what’s going on and ask them a lot of questions.

Rob: Exactly. Be very polite. You always want to be polite with them. You want to get to the bottom of it because a lot of times they’re just upset. They got an item and it’s broken. That’s the biggest thing is they’re upset about. And they’re not trying to snap at you, but typically it will come out that way and you just have to be super polite and let them know that, hey, let’s figure out what’s going on here.

How can I make this right? I’m not in the business of screw anybody. I want to make sure that you have a good experience. And I wanna make sure that I have a good experience, so let’s figure it out. And that’s the biggest thing that you want to do. Then a last thing you do want to remember, is you do not have to pay for return shipping.

If an item is damaged, make the carrier pick it up, do the inspection and bring it back to you. So you do not have to go out any more money for shipping. So that’s kind of a breakdown really quickly of what we talked about, hopefully.

Melissa: We might have to dive into a shipping claim sometime soon too. We’ll have to talk about that.

Rob: We can definitely do that.

Melissa: So thanks guys.

Rob: You guys have a great day and we’ll talk to you soon.

Melissa: Bye.


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Robert Stephenson

I grew up in Central Florida and have lived here my whole life. I first got into buying and selling items when I was 16 years old, and have been hooked ever since. It has mostly been a hobby that makes some extra cash, but sometimes it serves as my main income as well. I don't plan on stopping any time soon. I find too many fun toys for my family (or myself), and just love the whole process.

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