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Using eBay returns


eBay returns gives you and your buyers a simple and efficient way to handle returns. Understand the requirements and follow the return process to ensure smooth and professional transactions with your buyers.

The Returns process can be used when:

  • An item is listed and sold on eBay.co.uk.

  • You specify in the Returns policy section of the listing that you accept returns.

  • You haven't already issued a refund for the transaction through PayPal.

  • A buyer uses the process to start a return within your specified return time frame.

  • A buyer pays for the item with PayPal. 

  • A buyer hasn't opened an eBay Money Back Guarantee (or a PayPal Buyer Protection) case, or requested a refund on the debit or credit card associated with the buyer's PayPal account.

  • A buyer wants a full refund – not a partial refund, a replacement, or an exchange.

  • A buyer hasn't been suspended from the returns process.

  • An item is listed in a category covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

The eBay returns process

eBay returns lets you give your buyers an efficient way to return an item for a refund.

If you specify in the Returns policy section of a listing that you accept returns, a buyer can start a return for that item for any reason, including changing their mind about a purchase. We'll guide both you and your buyer through the process, step by step.

  1. A buyer starts the return process.

    You get an email letting you know that the buyer has started a return.  In addition, funds may be temporarily set aside in your PayPal account for that sale.

  2. You review the return request.

     The email allows you to reply to the return request with one of the following actions within 8 calendar days of receiving the request:

    • Accept the return: Provide the buyer with an eBay generated return postage label or upload your own return postage label to send the item back to you.

    • Refund the buyer: Issue a refund and allow the buyer to keep the item.

    • Offer a partial refund: You have one chance to offer a partial refund amount and the buyer keeps the item.

    • Send a message: Reply to the buyer directly. Sending a message to the buyer does not approve the return request.

  3. We ask the buyer to return the item to you within 14 working days* from when they first opened the return. The buyer is instructed to pack the item carefully and return it in the same condition as it was received. Learn more about the item condition policy for returns.

  4. You provide an RMA number and postage address, if needed.

    If you've set your returns preferences to use RMA numbers, multiple return addresses, or both, you'll have 2 working days to provide the information after a buyer starts a return.

    • If you don't provide an RMA number, the buyer will return the item without one. A unique return ID will be included on the postage label and packing slip. This will allow you to find the item easily in your returns dashboard in My eBay.

    • If you don't provide a specific return postage address as part of your returns automation rules, the buyer will send the item to your primary return postage address.

    We'll ask the buyer to  post the item within 14 working days from when they opened the return or from when you provided the information for the return.

    You can track the status of a return and specify an RMA and return address in the Returns section of My eBay.

  5. The buyer posts the item back to you.

    If you chose to use an eBay generated label, we provide the buyer with a return postage label. We'll also give the buyer a packing slip to print and enclose in the return package. On the packing slip is a unique returns ID generated by us, along with the buyer's ID. If you use RMA numbers, they'll be on the packing slip too.

    The returns label will use Collect+, Royal Mail or Parcelforce labels based on package weight and your buyer's preference. If an item is being returned because it wasn't as described, we'll default the buyer to the cheapest option available for the package weight. Delivery confirmation is automatically included so you can track the status of the return package.

    If you choose to provide your own return postage label, you can upload an image of the label (PNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, or PDF) with the carrier information and tracking number. When accepting a return, select the “Upload a postage label” option. Upload the image of the label and select the postage carrier. If for some reason the tracking number doesn’t’ appear, please provide the tracking number. 

    • If you choose to use an untracked return label, your buyer will not be required to provide proof of delivery of the return if eBay is asked to step in and help, and you will be responsible for the reimbursement amount. Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

    • If you fail to send your buyer a return shipping label within the allocated timeframe, eBay may provide the buyer with an eBay generated label instead.

  6. You receive the item.

    If you're issuing a refund, thoroughly inspect the item to be sure it meets the item condition policy for returns before refunding the buyer. You'll need to issue a refund within 6 working days of receiving the returned item. After you've issued a refund, your eBay final value fees will show as a credit on your next seller invoice.

    If you don't issue a refund within 6 working days of receiving a returned item, and you haven't reported a returns issue to us, we may ask PayPal to reverse the buyer's payment to refund the amount. If you don't have sufficient funds in your PayPal account to cover the refund, we may refund the buyer and include the refund amount on your seller invoice as a fee, payable through your automatic payment method on file with us.

*Working days are weekdays – Monday to Friday. Saturdays, Sundays, and bank holidays aren't working days.

In some situations, you will have the ability to issue a partial refund where you receive the item back used or damaged. See Partial refund guidelines.

Customising your returns preferences

When you offer a return policy on your items and want to provide your buyers with the best shopping experience possible, you may decide that you’d like eBay to help you in managing some or all aspects of your return requests. Return rules allow you to save time by automating some aspects of the returns process and expediting a refund to your buyer. You can choose which parts of the return approval process you want to automate – and which parts you prefer to do yourself – by setting up and customising your refund and return rules within your Returns preferences. For returns that you’ve automated, we provide the buyer with an eBay generated return postage label.

  • Send a refund’ rule: If you sometimes provide a refund and let the buyer keep an item, you can automate this process. Set up a rule to apply to all returns based on the item’s refund amount and/or return reasons you select.

  • Approve a return’ rule: Expedite your return process by automatically accepting a return request and immediately providing an eBay return shipping label to your buyer. Set up a rule to apply to all returns based on the item’s refund amount and/or return reasons you select.

If you have multiple return addresses or want to create rules that apply to only some of your listings, you can set up Advanced return rules that apply to all listings, listings in a certain category, or to a listing group that you create. You can create up to 500 rules.

Please note, the ‘Approve a return’ rule will not be available for some return requests including:

  • When the buyer is responsible for the cost of return shipping and the return request is received outside of your return policy

  • When there is something wrong with the item and the return request is received outside of the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy

  • When the item needs to be sent back from a buyer located in a country outside the country specified in your primary return shipping address or ‘Approve a return’ rule

  • When the item was purchased using the Global Shipping Programme

In these cases, we ask you to step in and manually approve the return request.

Include a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number: If your business requires RMA numbers to issue returns, you can select this option in your Return preferences to include RMAs on your return label.

You can update your returns preferences any time:

1. Click My eBay at the top of most pages. You may need to sign in.

2. Click the Account tab, and then click the Site preferences link on the left.

3. In the Return preferences section, click the Show link, and then click the Edit link.

You can also update return preferences in Seller Hub > Overview > Shortcuts > Site preferences.

Return postage charges

eBay returns works out the returns postage charges and automatically applies the correct charges.

Things to note:

  • Business sellers are legally required to refund the original outbound postage regardless of why the buyer is returning it, under UK and Irish law. Return postage is only chargeable if the item is faulty or if you failed to tell the buyer before the purchase that they were responsible for returns costs for remorse reasons.

  • If you specify in your listing that the buyer is responsible for return postage costs for remorse returns, you're only responsible for return postage if the item is faulty or not as described. Business sellers are still responsible for the refund of outbound postage costs even if a buyer is returning the item because they've changed their mind. If you don't mention who's responsible for return postage, you're legally required to pay.

When you're responsible for return postage charges

When you're responsible for return postage charges, these charges will be included on your next monthly seller invoice as a fee. These fees may be charged to your automatic payment method on file.

If the buyer uses alternative postage arrangements, you'll need to reimburse the buyer for the agreed-upon postage costs outside of the returns process. You can send payment to the buyer through PayPal or another payment method.

If you only provide a partial payment for the refund of a returned item via PayPal and outside of the returns dashboard, the system will not recognise this as a full payment and will continue to ask you to refund the buyer.

When the buyer is responsible for return postage charges

When the buyer is responsible for return postage charges, we'll charge the buyer's PayPal account.

If you used printed postage labels from eBay or PayPal to send the item, we'll use this package weight to determine return postage charges for the buyer. In some instances, return postage charges may not be based on the actual weight of the package, but on an estimate.

Returns are posted using Collect+, Royal Mail or Parcelforce labels based on package weight.
Return postage charges are based on rates negotiated with Collect+, Royal Mail and Parcelforce. These charges may differ from actual rates to post an item, and are subject to change.
Name of service Weight Price (incl. VAT)

Royal Mail Tracked Returns 48

Up to 2kg

£3.05

2-5kg

£5.66

5-10kg

£7.58

10-20kg

£9.60

Parcelforce Worldwide Express 48 (Tracked)

2-5kg

£7.57

5-10kg

£7.98

10-20kg

£9.12

Parcelforce Default (Tracked)

Unknown

£7.57

Collect+ Tracked: Drop at shop- deliver to door (3-5 working days)

Up to 2kg

£4.60

2-5kg

£6.00

5-10kg

£8.00

Collect+ Tracked Default

Unknown

£5.96

When using a return label provided by eBay, if an item is lost by the carrier, eBay returns allows us to reimburse the buyer and allow you to keep the item price.

Refunds

Refund amounts are automatically adjusted for any postage charges, depending on the reason for return.

When the item isn't as described: 

If a buyer returns an item because it's not as described in the listing, arrives damaged, or is missing parts, then your refund to the buyer is:

Total purchase price (including the cost of the item and any other charges paid by the buyer) + Original postage (if paid for by the buyer) = Total refund

In these situations, you're required to pay for the return postage charges. If the buyer used alternative postage arrangements, you're expected to refund the buyer for those agreed-upon charges through PayPal or another payment method.

All other returns:

If a buyer returns an item for any other reason, including when they change their mind about a purchase, your refund to the buyer equals: 

Total purchase price (including the cost of the item and any other charges paid by the buyer) + Original postage, if the buyer paid original postage = Total refund

In these situations, you may specify in the Returns policy section of the listing that the buyer will pay for return postage charges. If you don’t specify this, you are responsible for return postage costs.

If a return is escalated to eBay

If you don't issue a refund through the return process within 6 working days of receiving the returned item, a buyer could open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case. The refund amount is:

Total purchase price (including the cost of the item and any other charges paid by the buyer) + Original postage (if paid for by the buyer) = Total refund

Partial refund guidelines where the item is returned used or damaged

In most cases, you’ll issue a full refund to the buyer, but in certain situations it may be appropriate to give a partial refund. Learn more about seller protection policy

If you offered free returns in your listing you will have the option to issue a partial refund where the item is returned used or damaged.

Sellers who don’t offer free returns but sell in select categories will also be able to issue a partial refund for returns where the item is returned used or damaged. Select categories, include Business & Industrial, Parts & Accessories, Collectibles & Art, Cameras & Photo, Medical, Mobility & Disability Equipment, Home Improvement, Furniture, Musical Instruments & Gear, and Yard, Garden & Outdoor.

Guidelines on issuing a partial refund:

Condition of Return Refund Deduction Guidance

Excellent Condition:

Unused

Undamaged

Unaltered

All items included in the original package included

Original packaging (where applicable)

Must include provided certificates of authenticity, grading or appraisal

Factory seal must not be broken/opened (if applicable)

Original tags included & attached (where applicable)

Food and liquor items must not be opened

Vacuum sealed intact (if applicable)

No deductions

Good Condition:

Missing original packaging

Not sealed

Original tags unattached  

10% deduction

Fair Condition:

Missing parts

Signs of wear or use

Item has been installed

Original tags missing

20-30% deduction

Poor Condition:

Signs of use

Missing essential parts

Item is damaged

Broken factory seal

Materially different than how it was shipped to buyer

Item is defective, requires service or repair

Missing provided certificates of authenticity, grading or appraisal

Opened food and liquor items

40-50% deduction

Abuse of this feature

This feature is incentive for you to provide buyers with exceptional experiences, such as offering free returns. This feature isn’t intended to recoup market losses on items returned in the same condition or recoup return shipping costs. It is only intended to recoup losses when an item is returned in a different condition than the original item. Abuse of this feature could result in you losing access to it.

Alternative return postage arrangements

In some cases, buyers can start a return but won't print or use a return postage label:

Insurance isn't available for return packages, although we'll refund the buyer and allow you to keep the payment if an item goes missing using one of the carriers in the eBay returns process. If either you or your buyer prefers that an item be returned with insurance, the buyer should purchase return postage with insurance instead of using the label provided by eBay.
Occasionally, more than one package is needed to return an item. In these instances, buyers can use the label provided on one package, but are expected to make alternative postage arrangements for the remaining packages. Buyers can also arrange alternative postage for all of the packages that make up the return.
We can only issue a return label for items within the Collect+, Royal Mail or Parcelforce size and weight guidelines.
If the package is outside of these guidelines, the buyer will need to make alternative postage arrangements.
The buyer also has to make sure the item adheres to the carrier's dangerous goods policy, which is clearly displayed to them in the returns flow. If the item doesn't adhere to tehse policies, the buyer will need to make alternative arrangements directly with the seller. .
You and the buyer need to agree on alternative postage arrangements or, in the case of local collection, a way of getting the item back to you safely.
The item needs to be sent back from a buyer located in another countryWe may not be able to issue a return label for items which must be shipped back from another country. In this instance, we may allow you to upload a return shipping label if you have one, or you can handle this request directly with the buyer. The postage charges exceed the refund amountA return postage label isn't available if the expected postage charges exceed the expected refund. If you routinely handle this type of return request by allowing the buyer to keep the item, you can automate that process with refund rules in your Return preferences settings.Go to My eBay > Account > Site preferences and scroll down to Return preferences to set up refund rules.

When using alternative postage arrangements, we instruct buyers to include tracking. If the item is valued at or more than £750, delivery confirmation is also required. We give buyers a packing slip and ask them to enclose it with the returned item.

When using alternative postage arrangements, either you or the buyer pays for return postage charges as outlined above.

If you're responsible for return postage charges, we'll ask the buyer to contact you to agree on the service and cost before an item is dispatched. In these instances, you'll need to refund the buyer for the postage charges – or you can provide them with a pre-paid postage label.

Final value fees and PayPal fees

Final value fees

When a full refund is successfully deposited in the buyer’s account your eBay final value fees will show as a credit on your next seller invoice.

PayPal fees

When you issue a refund your variable PayPal fee is refunded based on the total refund amount. Your fixed PayPal transaction fee isn't refunded. To learn more about variable and fixed transaction fees, see the PayPal User Agreement.

Seller performance and Feedback

Seller performance

In general, if a buyer requests a return, your seller performance isn't affected. However, if either you or the buyer ask eBay to step in and help, and eBay Customer Service resolves the case in the favour of the buyer, your seller performance may be affected. Learn more about how cases can affect your seller performance.

Feedback score

Returns on eBay don't change existing rules about Feedback.

Resolving problems

After we notify you that a buyer has started a return, you can refund the buyer in the return request. Keep in mind that buyers can as eBay to step in within 8 calendar days so contact your buyer quickly.
You can also set up your return preferences to not allow items below a certain value to be returned.
You can also set up seller automation rules in My eBay, to handle this type of situation automatically. Go to My eBay > Account > Site preferences and scroll down to Return preferences.
We discourage haggling or trying to dissuade buyers from returning an item. We recommend that you only contact buyers if you feel that you can resolve the problem in another way.
Examples of when you may not want an item returned to you:
  • If an item has a low price or is damaged beyond repair, you may decide to just issue a refund.

  • If a problem is due to operating error and you feel you can adequately troubleshoot the issue and avoid a return.

If a buyer doesn't send an item back, and fails to provide evidence of having sent the item back, you don't need to issue a refund.
For each sale (or transaction), a buyer has one opportunity to return an item or items. For multi-quantity listings, a buyer has a single opportunity to return any of the multiple items purchased.
For example, a buyer selects a quantity of 5 when buying T-shirts. The buyer has one opportunity to return any quantity of the 5 T-shirts. If the buyer returns 2 of the 5 T-shirts, the remaining 3 shirts can't be returned later.
You can only refund up to the total amount paid by the buyer. If you want to add a courtesy credit or you need to reimburse the buyer for alternative postage arrangements, you'll need to make a separate payment outside of the eBay returns process.
There may be situations where you authorise a refund, but the refund failed, was cancelled, or didn't complete. If a buyer hasn't received their refund within the required time frame, they can open a case. We recommend that you confirm a refund has been completed successfully.
If a buyer posted a return and you think it may be lost in the post, wait for the buyer to open a case. We'll look into the matter at that time, and if the tracking data shows us that the item was sent using one of the eBay-provided labels and not delivered, we'll provide a refund to the buyer and allow you to keep the payment.
If you receive a returned item that's been damaged in the post you can ask eBay to step in and help.
For a different size or colour, for example – these aren't supported by the returns process. You'll need to arrange these transactions with your buyers outside of eBay returns.

Misuse of returns

Many problems are misunderstandings that can be worked out when buyers and sellers talk to each other  – but occasionally, you may not be able to resolve an issue. If you feel a member is abusing the eBay returns process, we want to know about it.

Protecting sellers

If a buyer has done everything in their power to ensure an item is returned to you safely, we suggest you issue a refund to provide great customer service. A lenient return policy is strongly recommended, except in circumstances where the buyer is at fault:

  • The wrong item is returned.

  • You receive an empty box.

  • The item doesn't meet the requirements of the condition of returns policy.

  • The item is reported as "not as described" to avoid return postage charges.

If you suspect that a buyer is abusing returns for a specific transaction, contact them through Messages in My eBay or Seller Hub (to keep a record of the conversation) and try to resolve the issue. If you still suspect buyer abuse, you will have multiple options to report a problem with a buyer to us throughout the returns flow:

  • Within the inline help

  • During the return process and after a refund has been provided and a return is closed.

  • Or you can always use the Report a Buyer feature within the Seller Centre.

In instances like this, a buyer may escalate the issue to Customer Support, who will review and consider your communications with the buyer as well as the information you provide in the report. If photos would be helpful for documenting the condition of the item you sold and posted, you can upload as many as 10 (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. We also look at a buyer's return history. If we determine a buyer has abused the returns process or eBay Money Back Guarantee, the buyer may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges and account suspension.

Protecting buyers

If you agree to accept returns and a buyer acts within all return time frames, but you fail to issue a refund within 6 working days of receiving the returned item, the buyer may file a case. 

eBay Money Back Guarantee does not require a buyer returning an item using through eBay returns to wait for the seller to respond before we review the case. eBay Money Back Guarantee recognises that either you or the buyer will be responsible for return postage charges, as detailed in a listing's returns policy and/or as covered under the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

If we determine that a seller has abused returns or eBay Money Back Guarantee, the seller may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges, limits on the returns functionality the seller can use and account suspension.

Changes to this process

We may update eBay returns at any time by posting the amended terms on this site.

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