Nothing is more annoying or more frustrating than dealing with refunds as a seller on eBay. When we first started selling on eBay, refunds were a constant worry.
It wasn’t because we had bad products. We knew that not everyone would be satisfied with their purchases and we were right.
Our first refund resulted in a negative review before we were even able to resolve the issue. After we submitted a refund and pleaded with the customer to consider removing the negative, we got no response and are still recovering from the negative feedback penalty.
The most recent refund we’ve done occurred due to a minor listing mistake. Read below about what our mistake was and how to avoid it.
Paying Attention to the Details
The mistake which was made had to do with the sizing of a pair of jeans we were selling. In the product title and description, we listed the correct size at 40×30.
However, in the listing details, we had the item listed at 40 and 32. As you can see, the customer was correct in choosing “item not as described” when submitting his refund request.
A lot of times when you are listing multiple items it is easy to go so fast that you miss minor mistakes that can cost you more money in the end.
Why Item Not as Described is The Worst Offense
Out of most of the reasons a buyer can choose for requesting a refund, “item not as described” is probably one of the worst offenses when it comes to eBay.
Within our return policy, we state that return shipping is paid by the buyer. In most cases this is true. Yet, since the buyer selected “item not as described”, we had to pay the return shipping along with the original shipping the buyer paid.
That means we lost more money. I have read situations in which customers will abuse the “item not as described” choice in order not to pay the return shipping.
If you feel this is the case with one of your refunds, do not hesitate to contact eBay’s customer support. While they almost always side with the buyer, you still have rights as a seller.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ebay Refunds
Selling on eBay has its good and bad points. The good, of course, is making sales and making profits. The bad is dealing with some of the unruly customers and refunds.
Below are some of the common questions I had when dealing with refunds on eBay:
Should I Wait to Receive the Item Back Before Issuing a Refund?
In most cases, yes. This is because if the item is returned in poor condition, you as a seller have the right not to issue a refund at all or issue a partial refund. The problem with this is that the customer can still leave a negative feedback. However, it may be a matter of principle. I’ve issued a refund to an irate customer and the person would not change the negative rating. If you are willing to risk a possible negative feedback rating then do what you feel is right if your item is returned in poor condition.
What Do I Do if the Customer Doesn’t Use eBay’s Refund Feature?
I’ve had to refund customers who have no idea how to submit a refund using eBay’s refund feature in their account. I’ve even sent step-by-step instructions on how to do it and they were completely lost. When a customer uses’s eBay’s refund feature the process goes so much smoother for both the customer and the seller. However, in the event that the customer is completely clueless as to how to submit a refund, you can notify them that once you receive the item back, you will refund them immediately using PayPal.
I’ve had to do this twice and it was fine. What I don’t like about doing it this way is that there is no trail as to when the item was shipped back or tracking numbers. The only trail is when you actually issue the refund through PayPal. You also risk the customer opening a case against you if they feel you haven’t issued their refund in a timely manner.
If at all possible, do your best to have the customer submit their refund request using eBay’s refund feature. Here is a link to instructions that you can send your customer on how to request a refund:
Should I Contest a Negative Feedback Rating if I Wasn’t at Fault?
I once had a customer leave a negative rating because the item they received was “ugly”. Keep in mind I took twelve photos of this item from all angles. I even pointed out minimal flaws. Yet, the customer proceeded to leave a negative rating stating the item was ugly.
I apologized, issued a refund, and asked the customer to reconsider their feedback. It didn’t work and I felt it was unjust so I contacted eBay’s customer support. In the end, eBay sided with the customer stating that it was the customer’s opinion that the item was ugly and they could not remove the negative rating.
Every situation is unique so whether or not you choose to contest a negative rating is up to you. Sometimes it is worth a shot and sometimes it may be a waste of time. Either way, you have to suck it up and keep it moving.
Should I Pay Return Shipping on Refunded Items?
This is completely up to you. If you choose not to pay return shipping make sure you make it clear in your return policy within the item’s description. This gives you leverage if the customer attempts to say that you are required to pay it.
Keep in mind that as I mentioned above, if the customer’s reason for return is “item not as described” eBay will make you pay the return shipping regardless.
A Better Solution to Dealing with Refunds and Customer Service
Dealing with refunds is a part of doing business with eBay. You can’t please everyone all of the time. I recommend being prepared for them with every item that you sell.
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