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eBay’s Managed Returns Process – EXPLAINED!

August 27, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 118 Comments
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ebays-managed-returnsFrom 13th August 2014, eBay’s Managed Returns Process become mandatory for many sellers and eBay has also revealed that it will be rolled out to ALL business sellers eventually.

So if you haven’t already received an email from eBay, it’s time to learn all about Managed Returns on eBay, so that you are fully prepared when the time comes.

But first of all, what is managed returns and how does it work?

Well basically, it is an automated return process available to buyers on eBay which means that they can return an item for a refund, without having to first contact you.

This is how it works:

  1. The buyer selects that they want to return an item via My eBay.
  2. The buyer selects the reason for the return.
  3. The buyer is then given a label to print and attach to the item.
  4. They then take the item to either a Collect+ drop-off point or Royal Mail (depending on which they chose in Step 3) and the item is sent tracked back to you.

Then, as the seller, you have to:

  1. Inspect the item once it’s received.
  2. Issue a refund and get your final value fee credit automatically (plus you can relist your item for free).

Now on the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this at all…

All good sellers know how important a clear and simple returns policy and process are to buyers so in theory, this ‘retail-like’ system introduced by eBay should increase buyer confidence, and therefore sales.

And, there are a lot of benefits to you as well –

  • You don’t have to go backwards and forwards sending countless messages to your buyer setting up every return.
  • Returns are completed through the managed returns system, rather than a buyer opening a case in the Resolution Centre.
  • The return labels provided to buyers are tracked, so you can easily monitor the return of an item.
  • You get your final value fees credited automatically (though this should really be the case with all returns on eBay – the ‘cancel transaction’ request is a ridiculous system!).

So theoretically; there are a number of positives and no downsides to this – after all, as per the new Consumer Contracts Regulations you have to offer a refund for whatever reason for 14 days after the buyer receives their item, so this shouldn’t mean that you give any more refunds than you would before.

But as we should all know by now, in practice; it’s not quite the same and there are a number of difficulties with managed returns.

scamThe most obvious problem is that as the whole system is automated and there is no need for the buyer to ever contact you, which means it is much more open to abuse by unscrupulous eBayers (i.e. serial refunders).

In step 2 of the process outlined above, the buyer has to select the reason for the return. There are a number of specific choices here but they basically all fall into one of two categories – the item is faulty/not as described OR the buyer just wants to return the item (as is their statutory right).

So what this means is that if the buyer selects one of the reasons that says the item was not as described, you’ll automatically have to pay for the return postage.

You cannot dispute this or ask for any extra info from your buyer at all (remember, the whole process is automatic) until you receive the item, by which time you’ll already have paid for the return postage and refunded the original purchase amount.

Now according to eBay:

If you disagree with the reason selected by a buyer for returning the item, you can report a return issue, add pictures of the item, and we’ll prompt the buyer escalate the return to eBay for review. 

If the case is resolved in your favour, it won’t be counted against your seller performance and you won’t pay return postage costs.

But as we all know, eBay is heavily buyer-biased so there is very little chance of the review being found in your favour plus it means a lot of extra hassle and time wasted – exactly what this is supposed to avoid.

What can you do to counter these claims?

Not much, I’m sorry to say. It’s just one of the pitfalls of selling on eBay and something we have to accept. In return for the huge traffic, sellers on eBay are not in charge and have to play by the rules! It’s a fair trade off really but can make for a stressful business if it’s your only income source and that’s why I always talk about diversifying your business and expanding to further platforms such as Amazon and your own eCommerce Store as soon as you can – eBay vs Amazon vs eCommerce.

The second main problem that you’ll face when using managed returns is that the buyer has a choice between using Collect+ or Royal Mail to send the item back. And if they’re not paying for the postage themselves, they won’t be too concerned with the cost difference and will just choose whichever shipping option is more convenient for them.

And as shown in my Guide to Shipping for Online Sellers, this difference can be quite large – in particular with smaller items as Collect+ costs a minimum of £4.50 up to 1kg.

And once again there is very little you can do to stop this – you could add something to your Returns Policy that says something along the lines of “When returning an item via the Managed Returns process, please select the cheaper option between Collect+ and Royal Mail to save on postage costs” but really how many people will actually read that? And for those that do, it may just add confusion and put them off buying from you – exactly the opposite of what managed returns is supposed to achieve!

And the third main problem that you’ll face when using managed returns is probably the most difficult and troublesome for us sellers – through managed returns an item can only be sent back for a FULL REFUND.

NO partial refunds, NO repairs and NO replacements.

This in itself is a huge problem and it’s the thing that most sellers have complained about since managed returns was rolled out on eBay UK.

In response, eBay have tried to implement some features and changes to address this problem:

If it’s not worth your while to have an item returned, you can specify on the listing that an item doesn’t need to be physically returned, but will be refunded.

When you opt in to managed returns, you’ll be able to set your preferences, and you can set a rule up to make sure that anything under a certain value doesn’t need to be physically returned. You can also set preferences for individual items or particular categories.

If a buyer starts to use managed returns to return such an item, they’ll be informed that they can keep the items and they won’t be able to print a postage label. We’ll monitor how often a buyer does this to protect you from bad buyer behaviour.

But really this doesn’t help at all…

You have to set this for each category or for all items under a certain value so you cannot make changes on an individual basis.

Plus it still doesn’t allow for partial refunds, exchanges or replacements – it’ll only save you the return postage cost.

And this leads to another problem; this is practically the ideal situation for buyers who return items falsely in order to get a freebie! They can now get a full refund and keep the item – without ever having to contact anyone!

In my opinion, this feature hasn’t been thought-out by eBay at all and doesn’t address the limitations of managed returns in the slightest – in fact; it may have just worsened the situation.


Overall, I think that Managed Returns was a good idea.

It’s obvious to anyone who sells online that having a clear and simple returns process will increase buyer confidence and conversion rates and therefore sales and profit.

But, as is so often the case on eBay, the program is badly implemented and is open to abuse from dishonest buyers.

Diversifying your risk by expanding to other selling platforms like Amazon’s Marketplace and your own eCommerce Store is something I talk about so often, for this very reason!

On eBay, you are NOT in charge and have no choice but to follow the rules if you want to continue selling to the millions of buyers who use eBay.

I’m not saying you should quit eBay because of this – not at all! For smart sellers who deal in niches with good margins, these changes will not destroy your business. Yes, you will have to make some adjustments and your profitability may be affected slightly as a result but that’s it.

I just want to make sure you know how important it is to GROW your business and expand to other platforms so that if a change is introduced that affects you severely, you have other channels to fall back on.

With Amazon it’s the same thing of course, but with an eCommerce Store you are in complete control and can do everything pretty much exactly how you like.

Though it does require more investment and work to get started, creating your own successful eCommerce store should be the main goal for everyone selling online and that’s exactly why I created eCommerce Magnates – THE most comprehensive guide to creating, launching and managing your own highly successful eCommerce store.

For those of you that haven’t received the 13th August deadline message, don’t worry, that just means it’s not mandatory for you yet. eBay have said that you will be given at least 2 months’ notice for when you have to comply with managed returns so look out for a message letting you know soon, as I expect eBay will want to get everyone on board by Christmas.

All the best and until next time,


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  1. Help!

    I offer free returns. Buyer buys an item from me. Then open return request for item not as described for no reason cause I offer free returns!! Buyer ship the item back but without using eBay shipping label provided from the system!! instead he pays for the return shipping label without asking or notifying me! No tracking was provided through the messages!! Buyer did not upload tracking to return request on time. what happens here? Do I have to refund? The buyer did not follow the rules by using eBay provided shipping label.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I don’t know as I don’t sell on eBay anymore.

      Contact eBay’s support and ask them.


  2. Yea well the return system allows buyers to scam sellers by returning something other than what you sold them. The return system system can totally destroy a sellers business and really gets impossible on high ticket items. It just happened to me here recently so as the buyer sent the item back I contacted the post office and informed them that this is mail fraud ( using the postal system to commit fraud) and they are now holding the item so there is no refund for the buyer because it has never been delivered back to me and if it were I have no assurance that it will be the item I sent out

    1. Andrew Minalto

      How did you know that the item was replaced if you didn’t receive the package?

  3. Hi Andrew
    Very informative post. Thanks.
    Sadly eBay has just become a SCAMMER site now.
    I sell mostly high end perfume, in last 3 sales I’ve had the first and last sale
    Both lie to get free goods.
    People know you can get free items and I’ve found in the UK it’s same poor areas/ postcodes over and over again that cheat good sellers.
    One said my Fragrance was fake , it was not. As it was from a top london store and I knew it was 100% genuine. She messed up by uploading a fake tracking number so eBay sided with me as I never received the goods back.
    The other one from a rough poor area of UK said I sent empty items.
    I never, items were part used bottles genuine , again a buyer wanting free Chanel items.
    I can’t believe how how bad this is getting.
    Everyone knows eBay is where you easily get free items and because eBay don’t loose out the seller does they allow this behaviour. People just press not as described when it’s not true to abuse the system when they have buyers remorse or worse lie to get free goods from beginning.
    My feedback is 100% my genuine buyers can’t say enough good about me yet I’m just getting so many people returning at my expense or lying it’s shocking.
    This is eBay’s fault.
    eBay should provide protection to sellers that are genuine and to buyers that are genuine.
    I’ve been scammed as a buyer too so I see it both ways.
    Why are people selling an item ?
    I found too often that’s it’s because it’s ‘ off ‘ par date perfume that’s no good etc.
    Or a top covered in bobbles but camera does not pick it up.
    Why can’t eBay get buyers to pay for returning the item it would stop so many that lie to get a free return or perhaps return shipping should be half seller half buyers expense??
    Either way I’m a good seller I wrap well I’m quick to send I almost over describe my items in every way.
    I’m loosing out finances I can’t afford to loose to scammers, I had one woman drip water on a jacket I sold so she could bully me into a part refund. I sold it as new without tags as it was , it had not been warn so had no marks.
    Scammed again.
    eBay is attracting a certain type of customer and they are not good decent ones.
    Not anymore.
    eBay need to involve themselves and investigate more cases on a case by case basis.
    Also why can’t you leave bad feedback to a bad buyer ?
    Anyways rant over 🙂 have a wonderful day !

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I agree with everything you have said Gina.

      And this is why I don’t sell on eBay anymore.

      If you do want to sell on eBay, stay away from HIGH RISK items such as branded fragrances and sell cheap, simple every day items. Scammer % in these categories is much smaller.


  4. Hi I brought something of ebay and want to return it as it was not worth what i paid can the seller refuse to take the return?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Yes, if it was a used item sold by a private seller, they are not obligated to accept returns.

      You should check the listing – it will clearly state the returns policy there.


  5. What about when the buyer doesn’t send the item back after you have given them a returns label through eBay. I’ve also got a buyer who is clearly taking the mickey and being very rude, I’ve initiated returns although I’m a private seller, but she’s still not happy and is demanding a refund. What now?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jay,

      They have to send the item back (or anything or empty box as many scammers do) for eBay to refund them money.

      If they don’t sent the item back, case will close in your favour.


  6. The percentage of buyers that take advantage is small, I think ebay knew this when they implemented the new returns framework. . Scammers are scammers, if provided a loophole they will take advantage no mater what the venue.. …free dinner at a restaurant to a new phone on ebay. I hope ebay takes advantage of the lapse rules to observe and record the behaviors of these individuals.. use it in future tweaking of the policies.

  7. A buyer bought a phone from me and it was working fine even when he received it. Now after two weeks he’s claiming issues with the phone and not as described as the reason for return the phone is worth £300. What can I do as the phone was clearly working fine yet he claims that he didn’t drop it but now is faulty even thought it was working fine when he recieved it and started using it. I cannot afford to accept a return and it was not my fault. Please advise me. Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Zee,

      Are you a business seller?

      if you’re, you’re obligated by law to provide after sales service, warranty and even repairs if needed.


  8. Jolanta Walaszek

    Yesterday a buyer contacted me saying the item they had bought from me (I’m a private seller) is not as described and they requested a refund. When I said I was happy to refund them the money once I received the item back, they told me they in fact lived in Israel and they wanted me to cover the cost of the return shipping from Israel to the UK. As their original shipping address (stated in the PayPal transaction) was in the UK and not in Israel, I refuse to do that as I would lose more money than I had gained through the transaction itself.
    The Buyer has now opened a return case and is waiting for Ebay to step in. What are the chances the case will be solved by eBay in the Buyer’s favour please?
    Many thanks in advance for your reply!

  9. mick rouse

    I have contacted seller to return an item they say I have to go through ebay I have done what I can but cannot get this sorted

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mike,

      What is the exact problem you’re facing?

      You can initiate return from your eBay account – just look for options provided by eBay for that transaction.


  10. Karina Abdala

    If you issue a refund to the buyer, is that the same as a return?? Would that count negatively on my account in anyway??

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, it’s not same as return.

      But no, it won’t negatively affect your account.

  11. Deborah Bates

    I am trying to find a way to print a return label for an item that I did not purchase but was sent to me in error. Cannot find an answer so I will pay for return my self just to resolve it. Seller says just print a return label but since this error is NOT a purchase, it does not appear in My EBay.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Deborah,

      If the item was sent to you in error, obviously you won’t have option in eBay to print out the label.

      So ask the seller to send you shipping money via PayPal to take care of it.


  12. Bill in Brooklyn

    I have received a notice trying to get an item back more than a month after shipping it. I paid for the item and never requested a refund. I’ve also given the item as a gift and was not able to get it back. I stopped bids on other items when my bid was accepted and lost those chances. What are my responsibilities here. I know I didn’t ask for a refund.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It could be just a mistake made by the seller?

      Just contact seller and let them know that you don’t want a refund and that you don’t have the item anymore.


      1. Bill in Brooklyn

        I did and he apologized. He said he sent the email to the wrong person.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Good stuff! 😉

  13. Hi,

    I have an overseas buyer who opened up return case but decided not to return the item because of return shipping cost but the return was already started and there is no alternative way for me to close the case. I tried to ask buyer to close it several times but he ignore my message and resell the item in eBay. Please advise what i’m going to do and i’m also wonder what happen if i let the case close by itself after 30days.. will I get back the money or it will favor the buyer?

    There is no option to close the case in my favor.. What I see the the ebay comments below:
    Next Steps
    1. We’ve informed the buyer to ship the item back by Jun 02.
    2. Wait to get the item back before you refund the buyer.

    Please reply to me as soon as possible as the item value is not small amount.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You can let the case elapse.

      If buyer won’t send the item back, case will automatically be closed and you’ll get your money back.


      1. Thank you for your quick response. I’m really worry because previously I had a return that initiated by eBay because buyer escalated the case before I could accept the return, this happened because we are at different time zone. Few days after the return initiated, eBay automatically refunded the buyer even though I did not received the item or return tracking number. I appealed the case as soon as possible but eBay did not get back to me at all but luckily the buyer actually did returned the item (messaged buyer for return tracking number but he did not reply).

        I’m unable to call eBay US because of the international call rate is very very expensive! From what I know, eBay do not provide their customer service email now. Even if they did, they will never reply to my email. Buyer can easily scam the seller because of this issue and they lose nothing if the scam failed.

        So I’m really hope that the current return case will close in my favor.

  14. Stephen Scarborough

    I am having issues with a return. The person stated they had posted it back 10 days pass nothing they them open a return request and state on 3 different occasions they have posted it back. I’m unsure of what to do now. I asked for proof of postage they said no. Now I’m stuck on how to deal with them. I’m sure they are scammers please help

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Stephen,

      They need proof of delivery to win the case with eBay.

      If they can’t prove that they have sent/delivered item back to you, eBay won’t side with them.


  15. I buy and sell and honestly in the past year I have returned about 10 items!!!I think that’s quite a lot.These items where totally not as described and was so disappointing. Although I’d definitely contact the buyer first not just make a case up!I too have had a item returned and unfortunately it was worth over £100 and was a ornament walking stick!do not use as a walking stick-fragile …they used it broke it in pieces then ebay agrees with them to return it.also I had a pair of Dr martens new ones they said they where filthy returned them and the bustard sent me 1 old shoe?anyway I don’t sell anymore to much hassle.

  16. Well said. I’ve been selling on eBay since 1998. It’s my full-time job. “Fraudulent” returns are an absolute problem and eBay is no doubt aware of this. In a recent conversation with an eBay CSA he told me they were trying to level the playing field so that things were more balanced. In the meanwhile I have people all over the world buying my auto parts to “see if it fixes the problem” and if not, simply file item not as described and my losing streak continues. however I still am making a living. On closer inspection many of the so-called fraudulent returns were not intended to be fraudulent, it’s just that the return process makes the item not as described option the path of least resistance for most buyers.

  17. Thanks for that. Was really worried. I’ve just noticed, it been 28 days including weekend to. Ebay showed contact them by 10 Feb but I’ve stupidly contacted them today 🙁

    Is this OK?

  18. Hi Andrew,

    I’ve a situation which is really worrying me. A buyer wanted a return so I sent him the return label on 5 January and also uploaded the return tracking number on ebay.

    To ebay has emailed me which says buyer indicated that they posted their return but they haven’t.

    I went to view the return details. It also shows there (ebay retun tracking staus), the retun hasn’t been sent. It also shows there I should conatct ebay by 10 Feburay (it showed January before. I think they have given buyer extra time).

    I’v cliked on the ask ebay to step in and told ebay they buyer hasn’t sent the retun and its been over 30 days. Since I’ve opened a case by asking ebay to step in. Will ebay put a defect rate on my seller account?

    I’m really worried about this. I had no other way of closing this case, also buyer is unresponsive.

    please gide me on this. Its my first time processing a return.

    thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Li Lubna,

      No, if eBay sides with you, you won’t get any defects for this.


  19. Lesley Fox

    I am trying to CANCEL a return as it will cost more to return than I paid for the item. I can probably gift it someone or put it down to experience. I cannot find how to do this and have spent hours to-ing and fro-ing trying to get an answer. The seller has asked me to contact eBay to cancel the return but I cannot find out despite me trying to find a way. I’m beginning to think I’m a right numpty for not being able to do what should be a simple task. Please, please help me with this. I can’t be charged again for this purchase can I?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you can’t get charged twice for same item.

      You can simply leave it as it is – if you don’t wan to return the item. The case will close anyway if you don’t return item in time.


  20. Hello,
    A buyer asked for a return and after escalating the case to eBay they decided i am responsible for return shipping cost and needs to supply a shipping label.
    I am from Israel and never used this label before.
    How do i do that? can anyone provide a clear guide?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Aharon,

      Did you send goods from UK or from Israel?


  21. Hi there
    I had a return request last month – exactly 3 weeks ago. I agreed but the buyer hasn’t returned the item and I haven’t heard anything else from them. The details say that they have asked the buyer to return by December 8th.
    My question is how long will this return request stay open? Could they decide to return it in say a months time and i would still have to refund?
    Thanks for all your good work

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Chris,

      No, if the return window closes, it closes and case will be closed.


  22. Mohamed Alsairwan

    I have a major issue and a serious question but I must be in private I would really hate to put it out there but maybe I can let’s just say for instance an example I bought and purchased an item off a seller and as I received it at the time I notified him of The Returned and pretty much print out the label of course packages at the post office let’s just say someone ran an errand for me and by mistake an accident sent something else along with that package that was supposed to go and be mailed to somewhere else the seller receives this package and throws the other item away without notification no indication no communication whatsoever or even just a Return to Sender option that was available obviously they know that this does not belong to them and it was discarded who’s at fault for this and who owes compensation for this item the seller indicated that he received that certain item and it was thrown away and I was never notified never contacted worrisome come to find out who ever did me this favor ended up saying that they did send both items to the one address

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Mohamed,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You’re responsible for this of course and basically it’s your mistake. Sellers have no obligation to send you back items you have sent by mistake.


  23. Hi, Andrew.
    I do understand all the parts of the refund process, but what makes me literally amazed is how eBay can demand that I refund initial postage fee when it’d already been spent to ship the item otherwise saying the money do not exist anymore !? No one online seller would refund the shipping costs unless item is faulty, and no one would argue with them upon that, why then eBay makes us refund that in cases when a buyer has simply changed their mind or item doesn’t fir or else??? This is outrageous, don’t you think so? I think if the matter would’ve been taken to the court, a seller would have won because, as I said, the money are gone and a seller simply doesn’t possess them anymore to refund. Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I agree with you.

      But as a seller, when you sign up to sell on eBay, you agree to their T&Cs so there’s nothing you can do about it.


  24. Dear Andrew,
    First of all thanks for this great article. I am an ebay seller from Germany(became power seller after following your articles). We offer free shipping for our products to keep eBay gurantee for our listings. Sometimes buyer buys and they Claim their 30 days return. In these cases we are loosing our Initial shipping cost, eventhough buyer pays the return shipping cost. Since we have to make full refund, we dont have anyother option. Is there any way to reduce this loss ?? Thanks in advance.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, there’s no way to reduce/eliminate that initial shipping cost to customer.

      1. Thanks for the reply.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome!

  25. Rebecca kennedy

    I have a buyer who bought a package of four ink cartridges they where never opened which you can clearly see in all pictures I posted on eBay. Two days after they receive package they say the package was sealed with tape and it wasn’t and it had one black and three yellow no red or blue. I said ok I assume it was manufactures fault . I will send you shipping label and you can return then . She replies back I used a yellow and the black so I will send you the two yellow. Seriously what do I do she email five times a day demanding a refund

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rebecca,

      I would simply refund the part for 2 yellow inks.

      They’re probably cheap/compatible inks, right?

      So it’s not worth even to pay you for returning them to you.


  26. Hi Andrew,

    I have only been selling for a few weeks and a customer has opened a manages return in the grounds of the product ‘doesn’t work or is defective’.

    They included pictures….and the product they are returning isn’t even the one I sell.

    It’s a sub £10 product, do I fight it or just take it on the chin?

    I’m surprised someone’s trying to scam me for £9.99 but I guess some people are like that.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Oli,

      As painful as it may be for you, I would simply accept it and refund.

      There’s not much you can do about this – eBay will only look @ tracking numbers and won’t investigate images etc.


      1. Ol, I’ll bite the bullet.

        Thanks Andrew

      2. Andrew Minalto

        You’re welcome Oli! 🙂

  27. Linda Peck

    I sold the buyer 3 CD’s. They were shipped in one envelope. He is saying all 3 were not as described. Because I described them as like new it may be a matter of opinion. I am not arguing with him. On June 17 I approved the returns…all 3…I authorized EBAY to send one label thinking that is all he needed. Now today, June 24, I see he has not shipped yet. I opened the 2nd approved EMAIL from EBAY and see that it is sitting at the label stage. I again approved EBAY to send a label thinking that I would get a message that the label was already issued, but I did not. Should I have authorized all 3 labels? That means that I will be charged for 3 labels instead of one.

    did not.

  28. Lizzy squires

    Hi Andrew, I returned an item back to the seller on 2 June 2016, I sent it back using the return label through eBay, I’ve tracked the parcel and it says it reached its destination on 6 June. I’m still waiting to receive my refund, keep checking my PayPal,account and no refund from the seller as yet. What do I do next? Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Send a message to seller and ask when you’ll get your refund 🙂

  29. I’ve been trying to return an item on eBay, but the seller requested that I find out the return shipping price. However, if I’m not mistaken, I’m sure that when a seller approves of a return, eBay sends you a return shipping label which is prepaid. I know the seller doesn’t know English very well, so I tried to tell them in the simplest way possible, but they still tell me that I need to tell them how much the return shipping fee is. Is there any way to find out how much the prepaid shipping costs? Or should I just go to the post office and ask myself?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, that’s correct.

      eBay will give you a shipping label so you really don’t have to find out how much it costs.


  30. Hi Andrew:

    I purchased a watch on ebay for my husband. Its one of those with gps, activity tracking, etc. We had it for about 2 weeks and the watch would only stay charged for about a day. According to the manufacturer, it should stay charged for about 5 weeks if you use it only as a watch, and not all the other features, which he did. The listing for the watch said, new in box and it stated 14 day money back, contact seller if there is a problem. My husband liked the watch and so he contacted the customer service of the manufacturer to find out if he was doing something wrong before attempting to contat seller. My husband was on the phone with them for about 30 minutes and finally the rep told him to go through a series of actions to maybe re set the battery and to do this for a few days and to contact them again. He did this and still the watch had to be charged after roughly a day. When he called the customer serv back they could not understand why it was doing this. They offerred to repair the watch, and my husband was willing to do this, but we were told that it was no longer under warrranty. So they suggested we return it. We paid $170.00 for it and it would cost us about $140.00 to have manufacturer repair it. I contacted seller and he was trying to negotiate with me offering me a refund of 50.00 and saying that since he did not have the watch in front of him, he could not verify that what I was saying was true and therefore would not issue me a refund. We went back and forth for a few days, and finally the case was escalated and I got all my money back. I waited a few days and contacted ebay regarding the return of the watch. I was told that because the watch was not working properly, that I did not have to return it..It was up to me to contact the seller as to where he wanted me to ship the watch. I contacted him a few days ago and have heard nothing from him. Ebay also told me that if he wanted the watch back, he would have to send me a pre paid mailing envelope. I feel bad for the seller, but perhaps when selling an item that is stated as new in box, the seller should probaly test it out.. It probably needs battery. If it had been sold as as is, I would have kept it and replaced the battery. If and when the seller contacts me, I will send it back. I made sure to contact ebay so that they know that I communicated with the seller so I would not be acussed of pulling a fast one.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Maria for sharing this with us.

      You did everything correctly.

      I don’t know where you’re based but by law, most brand new products in EU are coming with a 1 year or 2 year warranty against such manufacturer defects. So the seller should actually repair/exchange it for free, even if it’s past 14 days return window.

      That 14 day returns time frame is only for sending goods back if you have changed your mind. If it’s defective item, it does not apply.


  31. Hi,
    Thanks for all this information.
    I sold a brand new pair of sneakers on ebay.

    The buyer open a return case, he said that the box arrived damaged. I ask him a picture, he sent me a picture of the corner of the box ( I don’t even see why he is complaining about).
    In his message he is complaining about the price also.
    It’s obviously a return because now (few weeks after) he can find the same item for less.

    What can I do ?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jon,

      Did you sell it as a business seller or personal?

      And what is your return policy?


  32. Hi I bought a golf mat from a seller on ebay and I started a return. Today i received a message Starting “This item has been used and is not they way we shipped this item. It is also missing the rubber tee. We can not sell this item again because it is dirty and has been used.” This is not true item was sent back just as I received it. What do I do? Thank you in advance

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi DJ,

      You can simply escalate the case to eBay and see what they say…

      If seller is being dishonest in this situation.


  33. Hello
    My brother recently sold a iPhone on ebay for just over £400 but two or 3 weeks later received a message from PayPal asking him to refund the money as the seller did not authorise the money to go through PayPal my brother then messaged paypal saying if the iPhone was returned in the same condition he would happily refund this and not until he gets the phone back the buyer had then sent a claim to the bank for the money back however paypal says my brother has no rights as it was an unauthorised payment but if it was brought through PayPal and paypal then transfered the money to his account why should my brother be out of pocket and not have his goods returned where does he stand on this he also has emails from the buyer saying my payment is going through now ect and asking if he received this and when he tryst to contact the buyer he keeps getting invalid number or email this seems like a scam to me what advise would u give thankyou.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Carl,

      It sounds like a charge-back case where buyer OR person who’s card/PayPal account was used, said to bank that they did not authorise this payment. Usually PayPal, in cases like these, allow you to submit evidence to fight the case e.g. tracking number for delivered package, email communication etc.

      They did not offer such option?


  34. Really useful – many thanks.
    For ages I my T&C’s I said that if an item is returned due to non fault of the item a £10 charge would be deducted to try & avoid time wasters & this worked well – surprisingly ‘Time Wasters’ readily accepted this £10 deduction.
    Now it seems, due to the automated system, that the refund is for all or nothing – I can’t deduct the £10 meaning the conditions I state as a seller are worthless. Really annoying that!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Rob,

      Yes, that’s true.

      As a business seller it’s against law to charge such £10 fee anyway.


  35. Hi Andrew,

    I am a US based eBay seller and recently dealt with a horrible returns situation. I sold new bicycle tires to a buyer, and he opened up a claim saying “they don’t hold air.” I was apologetic and accepted the return, despite being skeptical because we all know bicycle tires don’t hold air, the inner tube does. I figured I’ll get my items back, inspect them to make sure they are fine, and resell. When the tires arrived (he waited until the eleventh hour of the returns window of course), they were not my tires! A dirty, heavily used pair of similar but not the same tires arrived. I knew immediately because the label color was different. I’m sure this guy runs this scam all the time.

    My question is: Is there any recourse outside of eBay? eBay made me whole because I have been selling with them a long time but the buyer still got his money back! Has anyone had any luck filing a police report or reporting these things as mail fraud?

    It’s not about the money, it’s about a feeling of violation, and the injustice that people like this exist to victimize others. I’m willing to put some time into filing reports with the correct authorities.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for sharing this.

      Yes, unfortunately there are professional buyers/scammers on eBay who regularly abuse system and get goods for free.

      I have never tried taking it further (with police etc.) so can’t really give any advice…. maybe some other blog readers will have something to share.

      But please check out this guide where I cover how to minimise/prevent such scams:



  36. Dear Andrew, I sold an item what was stated as collection only on ebay due to the delicate nature of the item. The buyer stated he couldnt collect it as it was too far for him to travel and could he send someone else to collect it for him. He sent payment by Paypal and I passed the item safely and in one piece to the buyer’s collector. When the item got to the buyer, the person who collected it, had broke it. I’m now being forced to refund the cost even though I stated it was collected only and he collected it using a friend. I’m not prepared to refund and will keep fighting this. How far can I fight this?

    1. I actually have a similar problem. The buyer negotiated that I sell an item £10 less the original price and remove postage charges. We then agreed on the original price and me relisting the item as collection in person (Even though I had to post it)

      As soon as he received the item, the buyer sent me a message that item doesn’t work and if I make a partial refund of £10, he’d be fine. I disagreed on that arrangement and asked him to send back the item in the perfect way it was sent to him.

      He processed the return and to my surprise, I have been asked to pay him for the postage even though the item was listed “collection in person”.

      I know the buyer is trying to play a smart one but it’s ridiculous that I have been asked to pay for the postage.

      I am also going to fight this. I don’t mind accepting the item in it’s original state, but I won’t be paying for th postage.

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Martin,

      Is this currently with you or eBay/PayPal is involved too?


  37. I bought a top on ebay. My daughter tried it on and it didn’t fit so I reposted it for sale on ebay as it stated no returns. I sold it again 3 days later. The buyer then said the zip didn’t work properly. I asked her to send it back and I would refund – sure enough the zip sometimes opens at the bottom, sometimes it closes. I refunded her and apologised I had not noticed this because my daughter never wore it. As it’s within 30 days I contacted the original seller to say the zipper wasn’t working properly. She is claiming I have washed it in too hot a wash?! ( I sent her photos of the problem). She saw I had relisted it, and is saying one of us must have damaged it and no way will she refund. Have I any chance or should I write this off. She has been pretty rude in her emails.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Susie,

      Private sellers are not obligated to accept returns (like business sellers) so if she states no returns policy in their listing, I’m afraid you simply have to write this off.


  38. Hi Andrew,

    I recently sold an item on ebay and the buyer claims it has been damaged in the post. I suspect that this has been caused by the buyer as he admitted to me on the phone that the part he required from the item has not been damaged and the damage caused looks too extensive to have been done by the shipping company. The buyer has now initiated a managed return and I have the option to either partial refund or full refund but it states that for either option the buyer gets to keep the item? The item was nearly £400 so I will be out of pocket and not have the original item back to try and salvage parts from it to try and make back some of the costs incurred. How is this fair on the seller for ebay to impose that on me and is there anything I can do about it?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ben,

      Take a look @ this guide to learn how to best deal with situations like these:



      1. Thanks for the link Andrew, but could you please answer my question about being forced to give a refund and not receiving the item back? Is this a new policy from ebay? Is there anyway I can get my item back before issuing a refund?



      2. Andrew Minalto

        No, buyer should still send you item back – especially if it’s done via managed returns.

        So you just have to wait for customer to send your item back.


  39. Hi Andrew
    The buyer ask a return for the shoe i send him ,saying it’s fake,(IT’S NOT),I accept return,The system show that the Return started only , I Ask him before to return the shoes with tracking number but he did not .
    Apr 28:I approved a return request,today is 4-May. My question is what will happened now? coz the paypal make Temporary Hold for money.
    p.s :Sneaky he wants to keep the shoe and recover the money.
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Buyer will have to provide racking information for that shipment for return to be valid.

      It’s holidays, give it another week to see how this situation progresses.


  40. Thanks Andrew, but already tried that and they had no clue. Can you not tell me please, when a customer returns an item via ebay managed returns to you and you are charged for this (fee, charges, whatever you like to call it), where exactly on your invoice do you see this fee (if at all?). Are these fee’s listed under ‘ebay managed returns’ sub header, or elsewhere?

    I’m simply trying to find out where I can see such fee’s to make sure those fees are correct, because as you know there are different fee’s for different size/weighted returns, so want to make sure ebay are not overcharging me.

  41. Hi Andrew

    First and foremost thank you for all your excellent advise on here, you really do know your stuff, and that’s coming from someone who’s been on ebay for many years.

    I have one question, and that is I’ve been trying to find out exactly where I can see ebay managed return charges received? This relates to returns in previous months, so according to ebay’s lackluster ‘help’ page, this charges should appear on the following months invoice, but they simply are not there. Spoke to ebay via chat, but they have no idea (no surprise there then). Do you know where I can find these charges please as want to make sure ebay are not overcharging on their already extortionate return fees.

    Thank you

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Dean,

      What exactly you mean by “charges”? You mean return shipping fees?

      maybe you haven’t seen them yet because you haven’t had to paid return shipping yet?


      1. HI Andrew

        Thanks for your reply. Sorry, yeah by charges I mean return shipping fees. So for example I’ve received three items back, all returned via ebay managed returns, so no doubt I will have been charged £2.99 for each of those returns. I’d like to see those charges, to ensure I have been charged correctly (£2.99), but cannot see any entries on the invoice. I can also confirm that those returns were definitively ebay managed returns as package received back had the ebay return label.

        As said these returns are from previous months, so fees for these returns should already be present on invoices that followed, but they are not. It’s possible that some how ebay haven’t charged me for these returns, but I highly doubt that, so when you’ve received ebay managed returns, where exactly have you been able to view the fee’s for such returns please? If it’s on the invoice, is it under a clear separate header for example ‘ebay managed return fees’, or is it lumped in with ‘New Fees’ please?

        Thank you

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Dean,

        But you only pay return shipping fee if items is damaged/faulty.

        If buyer returned item for other reasons, they pay return shipping fee.

        This could explain why you haven’t been charged for this?


      3. Hi Andrew

        Definitely should have been charged on all occasions, as all items received via ebay managed returns as ‘damaged/fault’. Customer printed return label, (RM 48 TRACKED), so no doubt all three should have been charged for.

        Can you confirm please where exactly you see the charges/fees for ebay managed returns? Is it on the invoice, if so, is it under it’s own header/section or lumped in with ‘New fees’ please?

        Thank you

      4. Andrew Minalto

        Please contact eBay dean and ask about these “missing” charges in your account.


  42. Here’s the problem, what happens if there is no money in your Pay Pal account to do a refund? especially if you spent it all on new merchandise and since no one told you a refund was coming?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You need to upload more money to your PayPal account to cover refund amount.

      Otherwise you won’t be able to issue a refund.

      This is exactly why you should always keep some money in your PayPal account and never leave it at zero balance.

  43. My customer has sent her item back using next day delivery costing £8.90 on an auction that she won for £10.00. She could have sent it normal post for £2.20. Will ebay say I have to issue her for £8.90?
    Many thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      return wasn’t initiated via eBay?

  44. Best thing any seller can do to avoid returns is check your items are in good working condition before posting and letting the buyer know they item has been checked before posting.

    1. Making sure your items are in good working condition doesn’t guarantee anything. The buyer can claim it doesn’t work / is not as described and eBay will accept their claim with no proof required. I just had a buyer return a similar, but different and non-functioning item from what I sent him. He gets to keep the good item I shipped, for free, and I’m out the shipping both ways and have a pile of junk that I have to throw away. I’m looking at other options for e-commerce and will only sell small cheap things on eBay (if I even remain a seller).

      1. Hello,
        I am disabled and paid for a 10″ orthopaedic mattress off of bed-world and they sent an 8″ nothing like advertised item that I could not use and they had vacuum rolled it so I could not tell until they had gone and left it on my door step.I contacted them and they said it is a 10″ mattress and lied to me and refused to collect it so it was in my wheelchair route in my small box room living area.I opened up a return item claim and contacted EBAY and told them that it was a massive item and in my way and they have contacted them to tell them that they have to arrange a pick up.Now after very bad communication with me they finally picked the item up with just 20 minutes notice out the blue and I was out so my carer allowed them to take the item back.Now they left no paperwork and say they have not got the item and that is a complete lie.With no paperwork for this pick up means I have no proof to say they have it so will probably be told by Ebay that they will not issue my refund even though I have had to hold onto a massive item in my way for 8 days.You tell me how this returns set up is fair? I am lost and been shafted.shafted. Ebay has put this case on hold until the 27th and I think in this time all they will do is say that I will not get my money back.

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Leo,

        Thanks for sharing this with us.

        And I”m very sorry to hear about your bad experience with that seller. It’s totally un-ethical from their side and I really hope eBay sides with you on this one and you get your money back or replacement sent.


      3. Andrew Minalto

        Yes, I know Amanda – it is totally unfair..

        But it’s eBay’s rules we have to play by – if we don’t like it, then simply don’t sell there. As crucial it may sound, it is true. If you want 100% control over your business, you want to build your own online shop.


    2. Andrew Minalto

      Yep, that’s a good tip Debbie.

      However, with many items (boxed & sealed) you can’t do this…

  45. Where Returns used to be optional —eBay have chosen this route to become more consistent across the board in relation to All sellers. We’ve been on ebay since 2005 – We almost received 0 returns because of our customer management and resolution skills.
    The week this was opened we had over 10 returns because its simply too EASY to open a returns case, luckily this has decreased but not to a large extent.
    For honest sellers like us we’ve been rail roaded into returns without an option of exchange? That for the most part is my issue. Where eBay have opened up a potential for returns exchanges should also be facilitated as from experience up-sell is a possibility.

    We were just notified of a return for a soundbar “the optical cable included doesn’t reach my TV”. Really? I know under UK law that you are allowed to return an item for any reason within 14 days – how is this our fault? We still get the defect? Its very frustrating.

    “the program is badly implemented and is open to abuse from dishonest buyers.” – I wholly agree with this – This has opened Pandora’s box. The reporting buyer function has been implemented is just silly. How many sellers have time to actually report a buyer?
    The report a buyer function is completely unrelated to the returns process, even if the goods were returned badly damaged or not as we originally sent, even if you report the buyer it doesn’t effect the returns case at all.
    If the returns case is open and shown delivered; a full refund will be issued to the buyer and defect against us.

    Is there no way of asking buyers to contact us to assist before opening a returns cases?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for your comment. And I totally agree with you.

      Unfortunately it is what it is and not much we can do about how eBay does these things. Their nr.1 priority has always been buyers. The feature itself isn’t that bad I think BUT they should not count all returns as defects. That’s stupid.

      Best we can do is simply include a noticeable note/flyer with each order that clearly states to contact seller if there are any issues with the order.


  46. Hi there Andrew,

    I am wondering what would be the best way to avoid those Managed Returns as I am working with dropshipping model and it would not be good at all. I believe you understood what I mean. Any ideas?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Not sure there is a way to avoid this….

      Does your drop shipper accepts returns? Or it’s based in different country altogether?

      1. eBayer

        Hi there,

        Yes they accept and they are based in UK. But I need to contact them first if return is requiered. And get a specific code each time.


      2. Andrew Minalto

        Then maybe it would be easier for you to show your address as returns address?

      3. eBayer

        Problem is that I am living outside UK.

  47. […] have already written a guide on managed returns, which you can read here: eBay’s Managed Returns Process – Explained, so now it’s time to go over eBay’s other big change – the recently introduced new seller […]

  48. Andy this is a fantastic post, really puts mine to shame 🙁 I have added a link from my eBay returns post to your so my readers can get more info on the process, hope you don’t mind.

    Kind Regards

    1. andrew ysk


      I am andrew also.

      May i ask if my buyer just for the sake of able to refund an item that the color doesn’t match her shoe and purse.. she chose to damage my product , take photo of it, and file a ebay for “damaged item receive”, what can i do ? do i just suck it up and suffer lose in original delivery fee and receive a un sellable item back ?

      if i receive my product back damaged intentionally by the buyer, can i take photo and file to ebay ?


      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Andrew,

        Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do in this situation as you won’t prove that buyer did this on purpose…

        You just have to accept return and give a refund.


      2. andrew ysk

        how do you justify if a buyer don’t like the clothing she bought ? she will just puncture the cloth and take a photo, send to ebay saying the item received is defect.!!
        i experienced such buyers… twice in a month. i inspected every single item carefully before send out.. and upon arrival, the buyer said the color doesn’t match her newly bought shoe and handbag… later she claimed to ebay with photo saying she found defects on it.. and ebay favour on buyer side..

        since this is the case, there is a saying ” if you can beat them, join them” i might well learn from them and start buying and destroy item then request for full refund. !!!

        i don’t have proof that she did it on purpose, ?
        why not turn around and say she don’t have proof that my product is defect.. isn’t it ? because she “accidentally ” damage it. or her idiot mother accidently poke a hole in it with her finger nail…
        i also have photo of my item is perfectly good when it send it out, because i took photo of every single item i send, just for the case with such dishonest buyer.

        so how do ebay justify that ? post master ruin it ?

      3. Andrew Minalto

        I do not justify that Andrew. At all.

        All I’m saying is that (unfortunately) that’s how it is these days – this game is tough and not all players go by the rules…. There are all kinds of scammers on eBay and it’s just part of the business. You either accept it or leave. There are few tips on buyers/scammers I have covered in this post:


        In your case, selling clothing, to minimise such cases, have a really good, customer friendly returns policy in place so that it’s easy for buyers to return items if they’re wrong size/colour etc. You’ll still get dishonest customers from time to time but try optimising your selling process so that you don’t get such cases too often.


    2. Great blog Andrew: concise and clear.
      Perhaps you could offer some advice to a private seller.
      I sold a watch for £1500. The listing included a 14 day returns policy.
      The buyer paid immediately via Paypal, despite the listing stating that payment was to be via bank transfer.
      I contacted him requesting he change payment method
      He agreed, so I refunded the Paypal payment and awaited his bank transfer
      I sent the watch the next day and requested bank transfer as soon as his Paypal payment returned to his bank account (it takes a few days).
      I did not hear from him for a week, and he did not reply to my emails or phone messages.
      Eventually he contacted me and asked for a £200 discount because the strap did not fit his wrist.
      When I declined, he said he would send the watch back.
      Ebay verbally advised me not to accept the watch back since I could not be sure of its condition.
      It’s unclear to me if the returns policy should be valid if the buyer did not pay in the first instance
      I am considering filing online in the Small Claims Court
      Any thoughts from The Wise One?

      Kind regards


      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Mark,

        Sorry for being so direct but why on earth you did send out that item BEFORE payment to your bank account was received? I just don’t get it… and for such an expensive item!!!

        I don’t know what to suggest really as you have zero protection here. If the offer for £1300 is still valid, I would accept it and be happy that it all ended this way. If he doesn’t reply anymore, only way would be to bring this to Small Claims Court.


      2. I like directness, so don’t worry.

        The buyer is not willing to pay. I still believe that he will send the watch back if I agree to it. My question is: do I HAVE to accept it back, bearing in mind I don’t know of its current condition? If I go to small claims court, could they adjudge that he is within his rights to return the watch, even though he has not paid for it?

      3. Thanks Andrew. I’ll give it a try and try to be less incompetent in the future

      4. Andrew Minalto

        I don’t know really as I have never been in a situation like this…

        You can ask them to send it back via courier and then simply open package/check condition of watch BEFORE accepting delivery. If it’s not your watch or something is wrong with it, you can simply reject delivery.


    3. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks very much Karl!

      of course I don’t mind 🙂


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