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Using eBay returns
Returns can be used when:
Returns, refunds, replacements and exchanges
Offering returns gives your buyers an efficient way to return an item for a refund, replacement or exchange. A replacement is an item that is exactly the same as the original item and an exchange is an item that is different than the original item but of comparable value.
Setting up your return policy in a listing
If you want your buyers to be able to return an item you're listing, specify in the listing that you accept returns.
If you're using the quick listing tool and you specify in the listing that you accept returns, you'll see the default return policy of 14 days with money back, buyer pays return shipping. If you set up your listing using other tools, you have more options, including your return policy window, whether you offer money back, replacement, or exchange, or charge a restocking fee.
How it works
If you specify in the Return policy section of a listing that you accept returns, a buyer can start a return for that item for any reason. We'll guide both you and your buyer through the process, step by step.
*Business days are weekdays—Monday through Friday. Saturdays, Sundays, and major US holidays aren't business days.
Customizing your Returns preferences
When you offer a return policy on your items and want to provide your buyers with the best shopping experience possible, you may decide that you'd like help in managing some or all aspects of your return requests. Return rules allow you to save time by automating some aspects of the returns process and expediting a refund or replacement to your buyer. You can choose which parts of the return process you want to automate – and which parts you prefer to do yourself – by setting up and customizing your refund and return rules within your Returns preferences.
If you have multiple return addresses, offer replacements, or want to create rules that apply to only some of your listings, you can set up Advanced return rules that apply to all listings, listings in a certain category, or to a listing group that you create. You can create up to 500 rules.
Please note, the 'Approve a return' rule will not be available for some return requests including:
In these cases, we ask you to step in and manually approve the return request.
Include a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number: If your business requires RMA numbers to issue returns, you can select this option in your Return preferences to include RMAs on your return label.
You can update your returns preferences any time in My eBay:
You can also update return preferences in Seller Hub > Overview > Shortcuts > Site preferences.
Return shipping charges
Either you or the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, as specified in your return policy, except when an item is being returned because it isn't as described in the listing. In this instance, you pay the return shipping charges.
When you're responsible for return shipping charges
When you're responsible for return shipping charges, the charges are included on your next monthly seller invoice as a fee. These fees may be charged to your automatic payment method on file.
If the buyer uses alternative shipping arrangements, you need to reimburse the buyer for the agreed-upon shipping costs outside the returns process. You can send payment to the buyer through PayPal or another payment method.
When you use a label provided by eBay, your USPS return shipping rate is never more than the original outbound rate, provided that you purchase eBay-generated shipping labels for both the original shipment and the return.
When the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges
When the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, we charge the buyer's PayPal account.
If you used calculated shipping or printed shipping labels from eBay or PayPal to send the item, we use this package weight to determine return shipping charges for the buyer. In some instances, return shipping charges may not be based on the actual weight of the package, but on an estimate.
Returns are shipped through the USPS First-Class or Priority Mail—whichever is the most appropriate for the cost, package weight, and delivery time.
In some instances, return shipping charges may not be based on the actual weight of the package, but are an estimate. These charges are based on rates eBay negotiated with the USPS and are typically less than what you would pay at the post office for the same item.
Refund amounts are automatically adjusted for any restocking fees or shipping charges, depending on the reason for return.
When the item isn't as described:
If a buyer returns an item because it's not as described in the listing, arrives damaged, or is missing parts, then your refund to the buyer is:
In these situations, you're required to pay for the return shipping charges and you can't charge a restocking fee. If the buyer used alternative shipping arrangements, you're expected to refund the buyer for those agreed-upon charges through PayPal or another payment method.
All other returns:
If a buyer returns an item for any other reason, including deciding not to purchase the item after all, you keep any restocking fee specified in the listing Return policy. You can waive this fee, if you like.
In these situations, you can also keep the original shipping charge (unless otherwise specified in your return policy). The buyer pays for the return shipping charges, unless you specify in the Return policy section of the listing that you pay for return shipping charges.
For this type of return, in most cases the refund is the total purchase price, including item cost, sales tax and other charges, less:
If a return is escalated
If you don't issue a refund through eBay returns within 6 business days of receiving the returned item, a buyer can open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case. When applicable, the eBay Money Back Guarantee refund amount is:
A refund amount could be higher through the eBay Money Back Guarantee. We strongly encourage you to issue original refunds on time.
Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.
Timeline for Refunds
Replacements and exchanges
If you're registered on eBay.com, and you have inventory available, you may want to offer a buyer who is returning an item the option of getting a replacement or an exchange, instead of a refund.
When your buyer initiates a return for a replacement or exchange, we guide you through the process step by step.
Things to keep in mind:
Timeline for replacements:
Alternative return shipping arrangements
In some cases, buyers can start a return but won't print or use a return shipping label:
Insurance isn't available for return shipments. If either you or your buyer prefers that an item be returned with insurance, return postage with insurance should be purchased instead of using the label provided by eBay.
Occasionally, more than one package is needed to return an item. In these instances, buyers can use the label provided on one package, but are expected to make alternate shipping arrangements for the remaining packages.
We can only issue a return label for items within the USPS size and weight guidelines for the shipping service used.
If the package is outside of the USPS guidelines, the buyer needs to make alternative shipping arrangements.
We may not be able to issue a return label for items which must be shipped back from another country. In this instance, we may allow you to upload a return shipping label if you have one, or you can handle this request directly with the buyer.
A return shipping label isn't available if the expected shipping charges exceed the expected refund. If you routinely handle this type of return request by allowing the buyer to keep the item, you can automate that process with refund rules in your Return preferences settings.
Go to My eBay > Account > Site preferences and scroll down to Return preferences to set up refund rules.
You can also find this in Seller Hub > Overview > Shortcuts > Site Preferences
You and the buyer need to agree on alternative shipping arrangements or, in the case of local pickup, a way of getting the item back to you safely.
When using alternative shipping, we instruct buyers to include tracking information. If the item is valued at or more than $750, signature confirmation is also required. We give buyers a packing slip and ask them to enclose it with the returned item.
When using alternative shipping arrangements, either you or the buyer pays for return shipping charges as outlined above.
If you're responsible for return shipping charges, we ask the buyer to contact you to agree on the service and cost before an item is shipped. In these instances, you need to refund the buyer for the shipping charges—or you can provide a pre-paid shipping label.
Final value fees and PayPal fees
Final value fees
Refunds: When a full refund is successfully deposited in the buyer's account, your eBay final value fees show as a credit on your next seller invoice.
Replacements and exchanges: If a buyer requests a replacement or exchange but does not return the original item, the replacement or exchange is then handled like a standard purchase. The buyer is charged for the second item and a final value fee for the transaction appears on your next seller invoice.
When you issue a refund, your variable PayPal fee is refunded based on the total refund amount. Your fixed PayPal transaction fee isn't refunded. To learn more about variable and fixed transaction fees, see the PayPal User Agreement.
If you send a new item as part of a replacement or exchange to your buyer instead of issuing a refund, there is no change to your PayPal fees.
Seller performance and Feedback
In general, if a buyer requests a return, your seller performance isn't affected. However, if either you or the buyer ask eBay to step in and help, and eBay Customer Service resolves the case in favor of the buyer, your seller performance may be affected. Learn more about how eBay Money Back Guarantee cases can affect your seller performance.
Returns on eBay doesn't change existing rules about Feedback.
After we notify you that a buyer has started a return, you can Refund the buyer in the return request. Keep in mind that the buyer can ask eBay to step in within 3 business days, so respond to your buyer quickly.
We discourage haggling or trying to dissuade buyers from returning an item. We recommend that you only contact buyers if you feel that you can resolve the problem in another way.
Examples of when you may not want an item returned to you:
You can also set up seller automation rules in My eBay, to handle this type of situation automatically. Go to My eBay > Account > Site preferences and scroll down to Return preferences. You can also find this in Seller Hub > Overview > Shortcuts > Site Preferences.
Occasionally, you and your buyer may decide that a return isn't necessary. If this happens, you can't close the return yourself.
If you and your buyer have communicated through Messages in My eBay or Seller Hub, and you've determined that a return is no longer necessary, ask the buyer to close the return. The buyer can close the return if the return shipment isn't already in progress.
If your buyer has already printed a return shipping label, but hasn't shipped the item back to you, the buyer can simply disregard the label. No shipping charges occur unless a label is scanned by USPS.
A lenient return policy can work in your favor. If the item still arrives within your return time frame, we recommend you issue a refund. However, if the buyer doesn't ship the item within 5 business days of initiating a return, you're not obligated to issue a refund.
Take into account a possible carrier delay—it's possible that the buyer shipped the item at the end of the last business day, but USPS didn't scan the package until the following morning.
If a buyer doesn't send back an item, you don't need to issue a refund.
Replacements and exchanges:
If you send a replacement or exchange and a buyer doesn't send back the original item, we charge the buyer for the second item, and make a payment to you. A final value fee for the transaction appears on your next invoice.
For each sale (or transaction), a buyer has one opportunity to return an item or items. For multi-quantity listings, a buyer has a single opportunity to return any of the multiple items purchased.
For example, a buyer selects a quantity of 5 when buying T-shirts. The buyer has one opportunity to return any quantity of the 5 T-shirts. If the buyer returns 2 of the 5 T-shirts, the remaining 3 shirts can't be returned later.
You can only refund up to the total amount paid by the buyer. If you want to add a courtesy credit or you need to reimburse the buyer for alternative shipping arrangements, you need to make a separate payment outside of the eBay returns process.
There may be situations when you authorize a refund, but the refund failed, canceled, or did not complete. If a buyer hasn't received their refund within the required time frame, they can open a case. We recommend that you confirm a refund has been completed successfully.
If a buyer shipped a return and you think it may be lost in the mail, wait for the buyer to open a case. We'll look into the matter at that time.
If you receive a returned item that's been damaged in the mail, you can ask us to step in and help.
Misuse of returns
Many problems are misunderstandings that can be worked out when buyers and sellers talk to each other—but occasionally, you may not be able to resolve an issue. If you feel a member is abusing eBay returns, we want to know about it.
If a buyer has tried to ensure an item is returned to you safely, we suggest you issue a refund to provide great customer service.
A lenient return policy is strongly recommended, except in circumstances where the buyer is at fault:
If you suspect that a buyer is abusing returns for a specific transaction, contact the buyer through Messages in My eBay or Seller Hub in order to keep a record of the conversation, and try to resolve the issue. If you still suspect buyer abuse, you will have multiple options to report a problem with a buyer to us throughout the returns flow;
In instances like this, a buyer can escalate the issue to us. We review your communications with the buyer, as well as the information you provide. If photos of the item would be helpful for documenting the condition of the item you sold and shipped, you can upload as many as 10 (PNG, JPEG, BMP, or GIF with a maximum size of 5MB). You can add photos until the return is closed. Uploaded photos can be removed only by contacting us.
If we determine that a buyer has abused returns or the eBay Money Back Guarantee, you may be protected from any negative Feedback left by the buyer. The buyer may also be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges and account suspension.
If you agree to accept returns and a buyer acts within all return time frames, but you fail to issue a refund within 6 business days of receiving the returned item, the buyer may file a case.
The eBay Money Back Guarantee does not require a buyer returning an item through eBay returns to wait for you to respond before we review the case. Either you or the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, as detailed in the listing's return policy and/or as covered under the eBay Money Back Guarantee.
If we determine that a seller has abused returns or the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the seller may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges, limits on the returns functionality the seller can use, and/or account suspension.
Changes to this process
We may update the returns process at any time by posting the amended terms on this site.
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