June 4, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 72 Comments

WARNING: Distance Selling Regulations on eBay!

DSR-on-eBay

IMPORTANT UPDATE!!!

There are new regulations in place now. Please check this article for latest information:

Consumer Contracts Regulations – 
Your Legal Responsibilities as an Online Seller!

Really I’m shocked that there is any need for me to write this article at all, as anyone who sells on eBay should be completely aware of Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs) and should know exactly what they have to do to follow UK law as an online seller.

But unfortunately that’s just not the case; I see hundreds of eBay listings with return rules that contravene DSRs, I get countless questions from newbie sellers about it (that’s understandable as they’re just starting out), and, most shockingly, I’ve seen some huge companies on eBay that just plainly ignore DSRs and their legal responsibilities.

And these aren’t average one-man band, sole traders either, no – I’m talking about some of the biggest sellers on eBay, with millions in total feedback!

So once and for all, I will comprehensively cover everything you need to know about DSRs and how they affect you as an eBay seller.

Okay, so let’s get started!

DSRs, or Distance Selling Regulations, apply whenever an order is made when the consumer is unable to physically touch and feel the product(s) they are buying. This includes purchases made online, over the phone, or by mail order.

DSRs don’t apply to auction-style format listings on eBay, only Buy it now listings and Second Chance Offers.

DSRs also do not apply to private sellers. There seems to be come confusion about this but there shouldn’t be as the law is completely clear – if you are a private seller (i.e. you are not acting for business purposes for either yourself or on behalf of someone else) then you do not have to comply with DSRs.

However please don’t think this means you can simply sell on eBay as a private seller if you’re a sole trader, as you obviously can’t do that. The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive makes it an offence for any business in the UK to falsely represent itself as a private individual. So if you are a business and don’t register as one on eBay (thereby misrepresenting yourself to buyers) you are in fact breaking the law, so just don’t do it!

As I’ve said many times, you should always register as a business on eBay anyway as you get access to some much-needed features, most importantly the use of Good ‘Til Cancelled listings.

Basically you should register as a business on eBay if you:

  • Sell items that you have bought to resell;
  • Make items yourself and sell them, intending to make a profit;
  • Are a Trading Assistant;
  • Buy items for your business.

Okay so now we’ve covered when and to whom DSRs apply, let’s go over what they actually are.

ebay-rulesYour responsibilities as an online seller actually start before you make a sale as under DSRs you have to provide information about your business and the goods/services on offer to any potential buyer, and this information includes:

  • Information about the seller (this must include the full name of your business, a geographical address and working contact number, as well as a contact email address).
  • An accurate description of the goods or services you are offering.
  • The price of the goods or services you are offering, including all included and applicable taxes.
  • Details on any delivery costs.
  • Details on how payment can be made.
  • Details on the arrangement for delivery of service/goods – i.e. when a consumer can expect the item to arrive.

Now as you should already be aware, this is all covered in an eBay listing so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about here.

The Right to Cancel

Under DSRs, consumers have an unconditional right to cancel an order for whatever reason, and this cancellation right starts from the moment they place the order till 7 working days after they’ve received it.

Just to be clear, that’s 7 working days after the goods have been delivered, not from when the order was placed as some eBay sellers seem to think!

And remember, 7 days is the minimum cancellation period, but you can of course offer longer such as 14 days (popular on eBay), 30 days or whatever else you want!

So if a consumer uses their right to cancel under DSRs, you must refund them total price paid, including any delivery charges. You cannot charge a restocking fee or administration fee either.

There are some goods that can’t be returned simply because the customer changed their mind, such as:

  • Perishable goods or any item that deteriorates rapidly, such as food or fresh flowers;
  • CDs, DVDs or other software where the seal on the wrapping has been broken;
  • Custom-made or personalised goods;
  • Underwear, earrings etc.
Who Pays for the Return of Goods?

This is probably the question I’m asked most often and the one that causes the most confusion, but again, the rules are very simple:

If a buyer has changed their mind and cancelled an order within the ‘cooling off’ period, then they have to cover return postage as long as you stipulated this before the purchase.

So for a buyer to be responsible for the return postage cost, you have to have made that information clear beforehand – i.e. in the returns section of your eBay listing.

However, if the goods are faulty (not as described, defective etc.) then you must refund the purchase price in full and pay for return delivery.

“In Order to Receive a Refund, You Must…”

Judging by the Returns information I read on countless eBay listings, this will come as a shock to many people, but you cannot insist that goods are returned as new or in their original packaging. Under DSRs consumers have the right to examine goods fully and this may involve opening the packaging and trying out the goods.

And again, going against many eBay sellers out there, you cannot say “goods must be returned within 5 days for a refund” – this is a breach of DSRs.

And lastly, once you’ve been informed of a cancellation then you have to issue a refund as soon as reasonably possible, and cannot insist on goods being received before a refund is issued.

These last three points are things that I think the majority of eBay sellers overlook so it’s a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd and turn a bad experience (having to return an order) into a great customer service experience for your customers.

Now, there’s one final point I’d like to cover, and this is actually the reason I decided to write this article – how the Sale of Goods Act (1979) also covers ALL purchases made in the UK, including online sales (in conjunction with DSRs).

I was recently contacted by a member of my Easy Auction Business video course who was asking me about DSRs based on his own personal experience shopping with Babz Media, one of the largest sellers on eBay with a feedback score of over 3.5 million.

babz-mediaBasically a few months after purchase, an item bought from them developed a fault but when Babz were contacted for a return, they appeared to be completely unaware of their legal obligations.

They repeatedly refused to cover the return postage cost as the “order was placed more than 30 days ago”. Even after it was pointed out to them that they were legally required to pay for postage of a faulty good, they claimed that “Under the distance selling regulations, if it is stated in the terms and conditions of the seller, if more than 30 days old, the customer is responsible for return postage costs.”

So were they right? After all that’s not something we covered above – what happens if it’s out of the 7 day cancellation period but the item is faulty?

Well the answer is – they were completely wrong. As stated in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (section 48b, part 2 if anyone would like to check for themselves):

(2)If the buyer requires the seller to repair or replace the goods, the seller must—

(a)repair or, as the case may be, replace the goods within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience to the buyer;

(b)bear any necessary costs incurred in doing so (including in particular the cost of any labour, materials or postage)

So there you have it… but still a company as huge as Babz Media refused to pay for the postage and as a result they lost a customer.

As an online seller, DSRs are something you have to follow! It’s the law and you simply have no choice in the matter, however this doesn’t seem to stop so many eBay sellers, big and small.

Anyone who’s read my blog will know I’m a big proponent of offering the best service possible to buyers so they come back to you for more (even if your prices are a little higher than the competition).

That’s the smart way to sell; you get higher margins, more repeat customers and more sales – leave those other businesses to fight with their customers over a couple of pounds for return postage!

Until next time,
Andrew

72 Comments
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  1. Hi,we are a small business on eBay, a customer in Germany requested a refund on an item he states doesn’t fit him. He states he returned the item but it was lost in the post…he has stated this in his correspondence and that he had only insured the item for half of its value. EBay state that it’s still up to me as a seller to refund the value of the shoes, his postage and wait for the buyer to claim the half value back from the postal company and basically hope he forwards that to us…..???

  2. Hi
    We have a small business which partly trades on Ebay. We’ve now had a 7 day ban because a customer needed to contact us. We sell motorbike parts and customers often need to contact us to check fitment etc for their bike. Apparently we can’t give our customers our details, not even a reference to where we’re based. I understood this to be in contravention of DSRs in the UK but apparently not as Ebay say their rules can over-ride any law in UK. How can this be correct?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jo,

      Of course eBay CAN’T “over-ride” any LAWS in the UK/EU.

      That’s total non-sense.

      Andrew

  3. Hi
    Like some advice please.
    I bought an item from a business seller on eBay.
    Seller sent wrong item, when I informed him he sent another one which arrived damaged. He won’t respond through eBay and its cost about £15 premium rate number to call him to arrange collection.

    I’ve opened case with eBay for the damaged cupboard so hopefully it will sort it out.
    The other cupboard they didn’t put it as despatched so no record on eBay. I’ve been asking him to arrange collection for 4 weeks via calls and messages with no response.
    Where do I stand on disposing of it my self thanks

  4. Hi

    I have an Ebay Buyer who Purchased an item from me in the morning – by the afternoon, wanted to ‘cancel the transaction’ as she had ‘made a mistake’ and that her husband ‘couldn’t wear shoes that had any other material other than leather inside’ – ( I had clearly photographed AND described the shoes)
    – I had already sent the shoes & provided the tracking number so was unable to cancel the transaction.
    She then rudely said that she would be sending them straight back to me. I politely informed her that we did not accept returns and was not prepared to accept a return when I had not done anything wrong as a seller and that it was her responsibility as a buyer to ensure she purchased the correct item if her husband had some bizarre condition.

    She received the Parcel on Monday 27th, signed for it, then left me negative feedback.

    The evening of Wednesday 29th, she opened an ‘item not as described’ case and said ‘arrived damaged’ – providing a photograph which showed the parcel with the outer packaging torn (looked as though a dog had done it).
    I argued with Ebay that Royal Mail would NOT have delivered a parcel in that way.
    I have confirmation from Royal Mail that this was the case and they agreed that she has defaced the packaging after delivery.

    If and when an item is damaged in transit, Royal Mail ALWAYS deliver the item in a Clear official Royal Mail cellophane bag with information on how to resolve the matter, with them. This was not the case with this Buyer – so you have 2 points that prove she is a liar.

    Ebay are refusing to help me in any way, they say they cannot close the case in my favour, even when it’s been proven that this Buyer has Falsely tried to claim and is misusing the Protection Programme..

    Any advice welcome.

    Thank you

    Nat

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nat,

      Advice is very simple – you could have resolved it politely with the buyer when she informed you that she don’t want the item anymore.

      She would refuse the delivery and item would be returned back to you. Problem solved.

      Now – you can’t do anything about. Take the loss.

      Andrew

      1. Andrew stop misleading sellers this seller of the shoes has a legal contract with the buyer. If ebay do not want to do anything he can enforce the purchase via a small claims action ( as long as he follows all pre-action protocols first ). Now is it worth doing that is another matter only each seller or buyer can decide for themselves.
        This seller has her messages and the info from RM. Ebay think they can do whatever they want and as long as people do not stand up to them they will continue this way.
        Example from personal experience……………. I recently sold an item on ebay as a private seller for parts not working it was listed under condition as for parts not working, the description also made clear it was being sold for parts not working as untested.
        The buyer threatened negative feedback if I did not refund ( against ebay policy ) he did so ( feedback removed ) he then claimed SNAD the reason being it does not function as intended or work. Ebay sided with this buyer I have argued with ebay and today though not a win yet they finally admit I listed properly, it was also properly described and though still siding with the buyer have agreed to refund the return postage and ebay seller fees. Now as I said not a win but hey good luck now to ebay in court winning a case where they refunded a buyer because an item was not as described but ebay accept it was properly described in writing. I am taking them to the small claims court now and enjoy seeing them pay out.
        Now I know this is not for everyone but if enough stand up for their rights then ebay will be forced to change as there are only two ways companies like them will change which are being forced by law to do so or the most likely it is financially in their interest to do so.
        Good luck you have posted some very helpful info and everyone can forget something.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Steve,

          Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story.

          Yes, you’r right about small claims court but in most cases it’s simply not viable time/cost wise but most importantly – I’m just saying what happens under eBay rules – I did not write them.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

  5. Richard Cutts

    My experience is that I won an item (a car) in a recent auction. The seller did not state that the auction may end early or that the car was advertised elsewhere.

    My bid was the winning bid and I got an email to say that I needed to contact them “if I was serious” because someone else was coming to look at the car and a sale could be agreed within 24 hours. I contacted the seller within an hour or two of the auction ending to confirm I was “serious” and would like to pay a deposit via PayPal / eBay to demonstrate this.

    I spoke on the phone with the seller the following morning and he agreed to contact me later that day but I heard nothing.

    The car was sold to this other person and I feel extremely let down because this vehicle is a left hand drive car with a special order interior which has covered livery few miles. It’s nearly impossible to buy another one for similar money and I suspect the seller agreed a higher price with another person.

    My question is, do I have any legal rights to pursue tgecseller for damages due to the fact it will cost me considerably more money to get a car to the same specification to the car I won on an eBay auction site?

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Richard,

      No, you don’t have any legal rights to pursue seller for your “damages”.

      So just get over it! 🙂

      Andrew

  6. Hi Andrew,
    Great blog and articles!

    Andrew, I bought a duvet on buy-it-now on eBay which I immediately decided not to purchase. The seller seems to be a business and I informed him immediately about it and requested cancellation. I did not pay for the item and it said no returns.
    I contacted eBay and they said no need to make the payment and if I got an strike they would remove it. However the seller is now opened a case and is threatening me with county court action over £69.00! He is coming up with all the legal talk and saying I’ll pay for costs incurred in court etc. Could you tell me what should I do? In my 11 years of eBay I never had a seller refusing to cancel a purchase so I was very surprised, particularly because I informed him immediately after and he has not had any trouble sending me anything. He demands that I make the payment. 🙁
    Please help?
    Thank you
    Rosie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rosie,

      Just ignore it all, seriously – you don’t even have to reply.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Andrew, thank you so much for coming back so quickly. Much appreciated.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Rosie! 🙂

          1. Andrew, Just to let you know that only today I have received 2 threatening messages from the seller. I called eBay and they said he is not being reasonable and he is harassing me. They said that they will not tolerate this type of behaviour which was a relief to hear. They also told me to ignore him.
            Hi last message:
            “We have spoken to eBay Customer Services and we can now confirm since this item was BUY IT NOW we will in the absence of payment for this transaction draft and serve a N9 form through MCOL part of the Court service.
            If you have a valid home insurance policy you may wish to contact your insurers as they can help you under the Legal Cover part of your policy.”

            All of this time wasting over £69 quid. I wish the judge would slap his face!

          2. Andrew Minalto

            LOL, that’s crazy!!! 🙂

  7. Hi. As a big eBay seller, I for one am sick to my back bloody teeth of these Distance Selling Regulations. Customers can buy an item, try it and send it back and then we are left out of pocket. Over the years it has cost me a lot of money.

    I will never forget the time I sold a £50 door on eBay a few years ago. It had to be sent on a pallet and the freight cost £75. The customer had bought the wrong door for their car and sent it back and I had to give a £125 refund! I may as well have told them to scrap the door.

    The sooner we leave the EU the better. Then we can get our own laws back and put a stop to this damn nonsense! Buyers must remember that someone has to be pay for E-Commerce businesses getting ripped off, and sadly the cost gets passed back down to the honest buyer.

    MJC Out

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I highly doubt that leaving EU will change consumer right laws/regulations.

      If for one – they will probably become even more seller un-friendly over next decades.

      Andrew

  8. You make no comment here about sellers who write NO RETURNS ACCEPTED. From what I read in your article, they must accept returns. Why, then, does eBay allow sellers to include this stipulation in their advert?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      All Business sellers on eBay have to offer at least 14 days returns period. If they state otherwise in the listing description – you can ignore that.

      Private sellers can choose to not offer any returns.

      Andrew

  9. Hi helpful article – I am pleased to say that whilst I noticed that you were referring to outdated legislation I also noted how old the article was. Whilst it would be great to keep all of this sort of topic updated I don’t think you have an absolute obligation to do so. People should check the dates on information before they start deciding that it must be authoritative and current.

    Whilst I very much appreciate your comments regarding keeping customers happy, I cannot help but feel aggrieved at having refund a customers shipping feeds when they return an item because it ‘doesn’t fit’ or they changed their mind. Since all of our UK deliveries are free of shipping charge, this problem mainly applies to foreign buyers – where the shipping might be in excess of £20 and is a significant percentage of the overall cost. We don’t charge the full amount that the shipping costs us – in order to remain competitive, but it seems particularly unfair that we cannot reclaim this amount when the item is sent back from distant shores through no fault of our own.

    eBay doesn’t seem to give a way to recoup this fee – you have to refund it automatically if you accept a ‘change of mind refund’. I read something in the eBay help section about re-stocking fees but I don’t think that is legal in the UK- assuming the return is within the 30 days.

    Is there anything we can do about it or do we just have to accept it?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about it on eBay.

      We simply have to accept these rules as is.

      Andrew

  10. Peter Howells

    Andrew

    Thanks for an informative and useful article.

    BUT, I was astounded to see that you call yourself an E-Commerce EXPERT, but had no idea that the Sale Of Goods Act had been superseded by the Consumer Rights Act OVER ONE YEAR AGO.

    This change in consumer law has been widley publicised, including on Govt websites, consumer websites and TV.

    As this is the MAIN E-Commerce legislation for consumers, you shouldn’t describe yourself as an expert – but you are misleading in exactly the same way as the traders you berate in your article! For example, the return period is not 7 days but 14 days.

    How many of your clients have you given wrong advice to, including everyone who has read this article.

    I suggest you IMMEDIATELY aquaint yourself with the current regulation and update this article
    NOW.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      If you would take your time and notice the date of this post it is June 4th, 2014.

      I have hundreds of articles on my blog, it’s not that easy to keep everything updated.

      And I will try to update this post asap.

      Andrew

  11. Peter Edwards

    Hi
    Good article that needs to be updated if you can.
    The Sale of Goods Act no longer applies in UK law. This has been replaced by the Consumer Rights Act and gives you rights to a refund, repair or replacement if something you buy develops a fault.

    Perhaps an update to this valuable nugget will keep it true and straight for all readers.
    All the Best.
    Big Pete

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Peter, will look into this.

      Andrew

  12. Georgie Stevens

    Hi
    Can you tell me where I stand on this then please?

    I am private seller on eBay who has sold a die cutter machine and the buyer claims it is not cutting properly.
    The item was sent as received by me, unopened and Brand New from the manufacturer (as part of a promotion – hence unwanted gift). I also included a free brand new die which I had purchased myself to add a USP to my eBay item.
    Die cutting machines make an imprint on the acrylic plates supplied with them so once used they are no longer pristine. If used incorrectly these machines can easily not give the results required.
    I have sold others (same circumstances) and received no complaints. I fear the buyer may be at fault or worst still just pulling a fast one – same item cheaper elsewhere on eBay.

    Do I have to accept return and pay for this, I sent a brand new item and will have a used one returned – all at my expense.

    Georgie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Georgie,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, I know die cutters inside out – we have several machines in our office. They can be very tricky to learn/make work properly so I fully understand where you’re coming from.

      As a private seller, you don’t have to offer Returns on eBay BUT if a customer opens a case, you still have to accept return.

      So there’s not much options available to you…. Can try work with customer to make the machine work or simply accept the return.

      Andrew

  13. can you tell me where i stand in the following situation then please.

    I am business seller on ebay.
    sold new TV in sealed manufacturers packaging to ebay user who doesnt appear to be business seller
    they asked me to deliver to a different person, i did this
    then 3 days after delivery, they claim the tv was broken (smashed screen) when they opened the box.
    they asked me to collect the tv as per DSR
    when i collected, the tv was set up on its stand (these are fitted by end user, screws and tools needed to do this)
    remote was unpacked and batteries fitted
    screen connected to aerial and power
    box been thrown away

    am i still liable for refund?
    surely the screen was not smashed in the box or they would not have continued to set up and thrown box away.

    also the fact that the person who purchased from me was a re seller
    the chap at the collection address stated he purchased from AMAZON.
    this would make it a business to business transaction and not covered by same DSR.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jamie,

      There are DSRs and eBay rules. Under eBay rules you’re still liable for this, even if the customer was a business.

      You can of course try and bring this case to small claims court but on eBay, you won’t win this case.

      Andrew

  14. Pamela Martin

    Hi. I don’t know if you can advise me on this one.
    I don’t very often sell anything on ebay but recently sold a clock which I got £510 for. The payment is showing in my paypal acc ount as pending. They advised me that ebay had put a hold on the payment and to get in touch with them.
    I have been in contact with the ebay chat line and phone line on several occasions to get this money cleared. From what I understand from those calls is that if you sell under a certain number of items over a year their system can randomly pick you out and put your funds in pending.????? I keep being told they will clear it but it is still showing pending in my Paypal account this morning.
    I have had a terrible experience with ebay over the last 3 weeks and want to close my account as soon as this is sorted.
    Any ideas as to why they are doing this and what can I do about it other than wait

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Pamela,

      Such one time, expensive sale probably pulled some triggers and basically marked this transaction as high risk.

      So they want to make sure transaction goes through smoothly, buyer receives item in good condition etc. And then they will release funds to you.

      I don’t think you can do much else apart from waiting.

      Andrew

  15. So there you have it… but still a company as huge as Babz Media refused to pay for the postage and as a result they lost a customer.
    Some awesome ‘law’ that, if all it can do is make em loose a customer – they must be quaking in their boots. And don’t bother telling me that they can be taken to the small claims court for a £2 return postage fee!

  16. Hi I have a business & private account……..I sold an item (£150) under the private account and the buyer says it does not fit & wants to return it.

    can I stick to the no returns part of the listing without recourse?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Adam,

      Depends on whatever you have opted in for returns or not:

      http://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/returns-cancellations

      But personally I would accept this return anyway.

      Andrew

  17. Joanne Ostle

    Can anyone help , I closed my business and informed inland revenue of closure, I sell on eBay but even though I have closed my business PayPal account have not been able to close my eBay business account, 3 days after closure of my business I had a return for item does not fit, I explained I have closed my business as the buyer did not inform me of their request to return in the time frame, they then took the return case to eBay , when I tried to view the case it kept saying error on the page, this went on for 4 days, I get a message from eBay saying they have refunded the buyer for item not as described and when I have gone through the msg to view the return and got through without their being an error have realised they have gone into the case and changed it from item does not fit to item not as described, let alone I have not received any dress back from the buyer nor a tracking number from eBay to check where the dress is, are they allowed to play God and alter things to suit themselves, I no longer have a PayPal account as that was business and closed ten days after my business closure, so they cannot get reimbursed that way, I don’t have a penny in my business as closed, it was more of a hobby spare time business and it wasn’t making but losing money from people’s invalid returns and having to pay their postages from false allegations , that’s why I closed as I was minus in my business account, can anyone tell me after business closure what legal rights I have to follow on returns as I can’t find any information anywhere and can I complain about eBay altering the case and refunding without me even receiving the item back, should I wait for there nasty letter because they cannot get reimbursement and go to court , I just don’t know what to do, PLEASE HELP.

  18. I sold an item on ebay to a customer using a USA ebay site but postage was included as they wanted it delivered to an address within the UK. 3 days after receipt of the item they have submitted a return request with ebay saying item was not as described I have accepted the return(although item was as described) AND HAPPY TO PAY RETURN POSTAGE WITHIN THE UK, but customer is wanting me to pay for the return postage from the USA where they are registered even though parcel was requested and delivered to a UK address and they privately arranged for it to be sent out to them (i had no knowledge of this as far as i was aware it was and had been sent to the UK. paypal have held fees pending.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Amanda,

      Sounds like they’re trying to scam you.

      This is exactly why you should only ship to address on order and nothing else.

      Andrew

  19. I am having an argument right now with eBay over return postage fees.
    I ordered a watch repair kit which had an item missing when I received it, the seller was contacted about it but for reasons only known to themselves they are unable to just open another set take out the piece I am missing and send it me, they wanted me to mess about sending the whole thing back for them to send me another one out which could still have defects or parts missing, when I said it works out the same to just open one at there end and just post me that piece so there was no having to mess about with all this posting, there next idea was I keep that set and then pay to receive another set from them so I would then have a full set!!!.
    I informed them just give me a refund and I will buy it from someone else and opened up a return item case for it not being as described, I then receive a message from eBay saying that the seller cannot buy a return postage label and to contact the seller to which I did, which they said send the item back and send them a picture of the receipt for the postage and they will refund me. Now they issued a refund for the item and not for the return postage I contacted them asking where the money was. They replied saying that if I give them positive feedback they would send me the return postage fees and if I give them negative feedback then they won’t give me the money they owe me. When I contacted eBay they said the case was closed automatically because the system detected I received a refund from them and I should not have returned the item even tho eBay told me to return the item to get the refund and there is nothing they can do about getting the money off the seller that they owe me for the return postage.
    dose anyone know can the seller be done for attempted blackmail by withholding the return postage fee they have already agreed to pay me in previous messages. and is eBay talking rubbish when they told me they can’t do anything because I should not have sent the item back even tho eBay says when a return case is opened to return the item to get the refund in the first place ( each contradicts the other).

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Robert,

      What was the cost of this item? And how much you paid for return shipping?

      1. the item cost £8.40 and the return postage costs was £4.40

        1. Andrew Minalto

          So basically you got £8.40 back and all the fuss is about £4.40?

          1. Robert

            basically yes but it’s more to the point of the seller withholding money they owe me unless I give them positive feedback. nobody likes to be ripped off no matter how much the value is. basically it’s blackmail me for money they owe me in the first place .

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Yes, I understand that Robert.

            It’s just – in this situation, you have lost the case, you won’t get that money back.

            Next time you’ll know what to do to avoid this.

            As it’s such a small amount, you should simply forget about it and move on.

            Andrew

          3. Robert

            yeah am thinking the same but at least I wasn’t stupid enough to give them feed back till everything was sorted so have left a feedback so anyone buying of them in future can see what there like.
            thanks for the chat anyway

          4. Never forget about it, whatever the amount.
            They will be fleecing many other people of small amounts.
            These small amounts from thousands of customers fund a lavish lifestyle.

  20. Christopher Wilson

    Hi Andrew.
    I recently bought a single mattress from an Ebay seller who produces so called custom built mattresses. It was the best mattress I’d ever used so I ordered the double size with identical specifications for another bed. When it arrived it was a different brand and felt like lying on a mortuary slab.
    When I asked for a return because it was not as described all I hear from the seller, Ebay and PayPal is that it is my responsibility to pay return costs before I can get a refund. Why is it my responsibility to send back something that I didn’t order in the first place?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      This is how it works Christopher – you need to send the item back to get an exchange/refund.

  21. I bought a computer on ebay from a well known company and the delivery driver has taken it to the wrong address to be signed for by a stranger. The driver has admitted it and it has been proven by the GPS tracker where he was. The delivery company are now trying to get it back with no luck and it looks like police will have to be called in by them. I am being told by courier to contact seller about a replacement and seller can claim from the courier but the seller is refusing to replace my item saying I would only get a refund and only if courier resolves this within time. Even if I somehow get the computer I can’t accept it since it could have been tampered with and I would lose any warranty according to seller. Surely since I have never received the item and it has been proven I should entitled to a replacement. Also what if it turns up and I refuse delivery (as told to by seller and courier) what stops the seller saying they never got it back since I won’t have any tracking numbers.

  22. I brought a pair of trainers of ebay for £37.68 & £4.99 p&p from a seller in San Diego,California.I then received an email from customs saying a need to pay Customs Entry £ 8.00,Import VAT £ 7.93,a total £ 15.93.There was no mention of any extra fees on the page when i purchased and have no intentions of paying this fee as i feel it is unfair.I have contacted Customs and the seller telling him i would like a refund.I have had no response yet but would like to know what chances i have of getting a refund?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alex,

      This is how it works I’m afraid – if you buy something from outside EU, you have to pay VAT and import duty on goods over certain value. This is basically your responsibility to be aware of local import taxes…

      You can probably simply refuse to accept the package and it will be sent back to seller so you can claim your refund.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  23. I need some help regarding a bed frame I purchased from a business trader on eBay that just kept collapsing no matter how much I tried to secure it together with the provided tools. I first notified seller of the problem after first week and they said I had to pay for return postage that would have cost a fortune to return and am a disabled adult on very low income. They kindly offered me a part-refund of £30.00 even though the bed frame cost £250 approx to buy and was a major investment.

    I am now stuck with the bed frame despite it only being 6 months old and have tried to sell it on because cannot lose my money altogether on it. It isn’t broken, just incredibly hard to jigsaw together as is a put it together yourself frame and have no one to help me secure it. However, cannot seem to sell it 2-nd hand despite positive description anywhere online.

    Now I have a new second-hand bed I had donated to me, but eBay or seller will not do anything to help me with the bed frame I bought from business seller on the site because of 30-day money back thing now passed. I cannot take this matter to small courts as unable to afford that, and whilst DSR are meant to protect buyers in these situations, eBay do not endorse these rules. I am a vulnerable adult and suffer with anxiety and depression and this whole thing driving me insane!.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kira,

      I’m sorry to hear all that but there’s really nothing you can do, especially as it’s already 6 months since you purchased it…

      You had to sort it out during the money back guarantee phase, send it back at cost or whatever to get it done. Now it’s too late.

      Andrew

  24. Is Ebay acting illegally by refusing to allow us to cancel Buy It Now transactions (before making payment)?

    By which I mean, when bought from a registered business seller, of course. The DSRs mean that in theory, we could pay for it, return it and get a full refund, but what about just cancelling it and skipping that process before payment? That would make a lot more sense, when the items was bought by mistake. It happens.

    Being forced to ask the seller for permission to cancel seems like a cop out. Yes, pressing that button may be agreeing to a contract, but surely, we have an automatic right to withdraw from that contract? Are Ebay breaking the law by imposing these conditions?

    Also, do the DSRs only apply to purchases made from a UK business, or to purchases made from any business, by someone within the UK?

  25. If the item bought had free shipping costs and you return said item before even receiving it (I called courier to advise I would be rejecting delivery), how are return shopping costs calculated?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      If you rejected delivery, there shouldn’t be any return shipping costs involved as you didn’t receive the package in first place.

      Andrew

  26. Hi Andrew

    I have just over 150 positive feedbacks in eBay, I recently sold a item to zero rating feedback buyer, the buyer claimed the item was a replica with no proof I disputed this but eBay has sided with him, froze my PayPal account and stated that I pay return postage as well. Is this within law?

    Many thanks

    A Davis

    1. Sorry forgot to mention that he has since received 3 negative feedbacks since my disput and ebays decision

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Received 3 negatives as a seller? As buyers can’t receive negative feedbacks….

        But from the sound of it, looks like it’s a fraudulent buyer.

        Only chance to get this fixed now really is to call eBay and try to get them take a 2nd look @ this whole situation. Maybe now that they see those 3 negatives, they will change their minds.

        Andrew

  27. Ebay will be bringing in 30 day returns for business sellers. If you are a top rated seller if you don’t offer that, you loose your top rated seller. I am happy with the 14 day returns required by law. If I lost my top rated seller because of not offering 30 day returns then so be it. I have over 5K positives and not one negative nor neutral. I am small fry in the scale of business sellers and perhaps take a lot more care with listings and the quality and condition of the items I sell. I do wonder if ebay do this to push put the little guys. In understand and abide by UK laws and offer the 14 day returns …. but it really feels like not conforming will mean I and other top rated sellers that opt out (if we will be able to) are being penalised for not doing what ebay want. It’s a bit like the ebay managed returns, I am opted out of that. My motivation is to get it right so it is very rare I have to handle them. When I do and as I am paying for the return, I want that to be on my terms with the carrier I choose. While I am having a moan it is completely immoral of ebay to profit on postal costs.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      They extend the return period to be more competitive compared to same Amazon for example.

      I have written my thoughts on the new eBay rules here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/ebay-seller-update-2015/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  28. Hi Andrew

    Could you possibly advise me as it appears that there is a somewhat grey area surrounding returns of new earrings on ebay when you are the designer of the earrings. My business is legitimate, registered and has been running a very long time and i follow all the rules as a seller should. Up to last year ive never had any returns but recently ive had a few, i do state no returns on new earrings in my listing and my t&c but ebay are enforcing the 14 day return for most designers. So my question is what is the law regarding this issue and why is my business deemed less of a business than say Argos? who also do not accept returns for the same reason
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It’s probably simply because eBay does not look @ such individual niches/products/situations and simply forces 14 day returns for all business sales for brand new goods.

      I have no experience with goods like these so you could try contacting eBay and get their side of the story.

      But anyway, if you sell on eBay, you agree to their T&Cs and if that means 14 day returns, you have to accept it.

      Andrew

  29. Brian Thomas

    Interested in your ebay returns comment. It seems ebay are a law to themselves on this and ‘freeze’ a Paypal account until the buyer gets the refunded requested whether he or she is right. As far as ebay are concerned the seller WILL refund the buyer for whatever the reason.
    I am a private hobby seller on ebay and have been for several years but it now seems that quite a few ‘buyers’ are taking this returns process to the limit and expecting refunds for every little thing.
    I quote Ebay blurb ” Question: What type of purchases does eBay Money Back Guarantee Cover?
    Answer: You’re covered by eBay Money Back Guarantee on ebay.co.uk when you pay with PayPal.
    It covers most purchases sent by post – more than 99% of eBay listings. It excludes vehicles, real estate, businesses for sale, digitally-delivered goods or services. All details on eBay Money Back Guarantee are included in the policy page.”
    There are several references to this on their website and unfortuantely they hold the seller to ransom. Surely this is not legal by UK Law. How do we get around them keeping our money?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Brian,

      But it is actually the law that states that we have to accept returns for whatever reason within 14 days of purchase. This is exactly what Distance Selling Regulations is all about. eBay did not create these rules out of thin air, they have to comply with these regulations.

      Andrew

  30. As a private seller, ebay “forces” you to accept returns and give refunds for almost any reason the buyer wants to use.
    Even if the items have been used, abused and broken.

    Having now read the sale of goods act though, it appears that a private seller has no obligation to do any such thing and those Ebay rules have no basis in law.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      eBay only forces to accept 14 days returns for BUSINESS seller, as per law.

      The fact that people are abusing system and also getting refunds/returns from private sellers, is a different story.

      Andrew

  31. If a customer makes a purchase and provides an incorrect address then obviously they do not receive the goods. Lets assume the goods arrive back with the seller

    On investigation customer and seller agree that the seller provided the incorrect address.

    Clearly a refund is in order because the customer has not received their order. BUT it is their fault. So is it allowed under the DSR regulations to withhold the initial postage costs from the refund?

    I cant find any reference to this anywhere

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Not sure on this one Ron as I can’t find such regulation either…

      I guess it would make sense, yes.

      Andrew

  32. […] is pretty basic and I’ve covered it all before in previous articles: Distance Selling Regulations for eBay Sellers & An Update to […]

  33. so what do you do when ebay does nothing about getting your return postage costs despite having full email conversation where seller states they will pay but don’t. not worth going to court for £15.00 and the seller knows it and Ebay do nothing .In my book IF Ebay are failing to uphold the Distance selling rules then they are surely at fault themselves for allowing sellers to continue whilst knowing that they are failing to uphold the distance selling rules-IF this is the case are Ebay accountable or in breach of similar selling rules by knowingly allowing this to happen ?
    What is left for the buyer to do to get his return costs refunded ?

  34. […] little while ago I wrote an article on DSRs and The Legal Responsibilities of an eBay Seller, because I just came across too many listings on eBay that simply didn’t follow UK law in regards […]

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