Responding to a return request when the item doesn't match the listing description

Most sales go smoothly, but occasionally there may be a problem. We help buyers and sellers work together to resolve issues with transactions. In a situation where the item is covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you for a refund. Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

Use the information on this page to help you resolve a return request from the buyer. Learn more about using returns.

Important: If you sell on or, return requests from these buyers may have different timelines. Learn more about responding to requests on international eBay websites.

Refund the buyer

If a buyer wants a refund for an item that didn't match the listing description:

  • We ask the buyer to post the item back to you—with tracking information—within 14 business days.

  • Your refund to the buyer is the total purchase price plus the original postage charge.

You're also required to pay for the return postage charges.

Refund the buyer within 6 business days of receiving a returned item. If the buyer didn't pay with PayPal, refund the buyer using the same payment method used to buy the item. Refunding the buyer using the original payment method prevents a buyer from getting 2 refunds—one from you and one from the credit card company.

Once the buyer receives the refund and the return request is complete, you receive a final value fee credit.

Partial refunds

Giving the buyer a partial refund allows the buyer to keep the item, and helps you avoid having to issue a full refund or post a new item.

For example, if a buyer bought a new camera, and it arrived with scratches, the buyer might be happy with the item but want to return it for a new one without scratches. You might offer a partial refund to the buyer to make up for the scratches.

You and the buyer can work together to agree on an acceptable amount for a partial refund. The buyer can accept your offer for a partial refund, request a different amount, or suggest a different solution. You can refund the buyer through My eBay or Seller Hub.

More about refunds

Once the buyer opens a return request, funds related to the sale in your PayPal account may be put on hold. When you resolve the situation with the buyer, or we find in your favour, the funds are again available for you to use.

If you agreed to refund the buyer for an item, do so within 6 business days of receiving the returned item, or within 3 business days of promising the refund.

If the buyer doesn't receive the refund within 6 business days, the buyer can ask us to step in and help.

If a buyer asks us to step in and help with a return request, either because you didn't respond to a return request by the deadline or you and the buyer can't reach an agreement, we review the request and come to a decision. If we find in favour of the buyer, we refund the buyer directly and recover the amount of the refund from you. That amount includes the cost of the item plus the original cost of postage. We either ask PayPal to remove the refund amount from your PayPal account, place the amount on your seller invoice or charge your payment method on file. We let you know when we're seeking reimbursement.

If we're unable to recover the amount of the refund from you, we may limit or suspend your account until you make payment.

You can appeal within 30 days from when we make a decision by providing new documentation. For example, you may be able to show that the buyer received a refund twice, through both PayPal and a credit card.

Provide documentation that the item was properly described

If you or the buyer has asked us to step in and help with a return request for the reason that the item wasn't as described in the listing, and you can show that you properly described an item, the return request can be closed. For example: 

  • The buyer states that the item is used, not new, and the listing clearly describes the item as used.

  • You correctly described a flaw in the item.

  • The listing properly describes the item, but the buyer didn't want the item after receiving it.

  • The listing properly describes the item, but the item didn't meet the buyer's expectations.

  • The item has minor scratches and you listed it as used.

    Adding photos is helpful for documenting the condition of the item you sold and posted. Both eBay Customer Service and the buyer will be able to see them. You can upload as many as 10 photos (PNG, JPEG, BMP or GIF up to a maximum file size of 5MB). You can add photos until the return process is closed. Uploaded photos can be removed only by contacting Customer Service.

Offer another solution

You can always offer another solution to the buyer. Try to come to an agreement, so that the buyer is happy with the outcome. Contact the buyer through My eBay or Seller Hub, so you have a record of communications and we know the status of the return request.

Contact Customer Service

If you're looking for more help or have a question to ask, contact us.

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