Fee updates go into effect on May 1, 2015. Learn more
Attract more buyers—and boost your sales—with hassle-free returns
A generous policy and easy returns are must-haves for most of today’s online shoppers. Hassle-free returns gives you an easy, cost-effective way to gain a competitive advantage—by offering the confidence-inspiring return policy buyers are looking for.
Better for buyers, and easier for you
When you opt in to hassle-free returns, the entire returns process is virtually automated for you and your buyers—with clear options and easy next steps. As always, you decide whether to accept returns on any eligible listing, and can communicate with buyers anytime using eBay member-to-member email. You’ll even have the flexibility to offer replacements instead of refunds in certain situations.
Take advantage of even more timesaving benefits
When you opt in to and start using hassle-free returns, you can take advantage of the following benefits right away:
- Anytime buyers request a return, an eBay return label is provided automatically
- When buyers return an item, tracking is uploaded automatically so you can track the status of the return—and see when it will be delivered back to you
- When you use eBay labels for the original shipment, the return shipping cost will never exceed the original shipping price
- You can set automation rules to streamline your business practices—for instance, issuing a refund rather than a return if the item is under a certain value
- Buyers receive a refund automatically six business days after the item has been delivered back to you—as long as you haven’t asked eBay to step in and help
Save time on refunds, get fees credited automatically, relist for free
With hassle-free returns, you don’t have to wait for your buyer to confirm they received the refund before your fees are returned. Once you receive the return and issue the refund, your final value fees will automatically show up as a credit on your next invoice. Plus, you can relist the item for free.
Built-in safeguards help protect your reputation
To help protect you from inadvertent defects—and from buyers who may misuse returns—eBay has built a number of safeguards into the return process. For example, if you believe a buyer may have misrepresented the reason for their return to avoid paying for return shipping, you can ask eBay to step in and help without issuing a refund.
Here's how it works:
To return an item, buyers simply print a return label and packing slip right from My eBay—and you’re notified by email
Tracking for the return is uploaded automatically, so you and your buyer know exactly where it is, and when it should arrive
Once you receive the return, inspect it carefully. If it’s okay—just click “issue a refund” from My eBay
Once the refund’s been issued, your final value fees are credited automatically—and you can relist the returned item for free
Hassle-free returns frequently asked questions
What is hassle-free returns?
Hassle-free returns is a simple, guided process that makes it easier for sellers to track and manage return requests from My eBay—according to the terms you specify in your return policy and the eBay return item condition policy.
Do I have to offer returns?
No, as always, you decide whether or not to accept returns on some or all of your listings. Hassle-free returns simply makes the returns process easier for sellers who choose to offer a return policy.
How do I opt in to hassle-free returns?
Hassle-free returns is available for all eligible sellers in My eBay > Account > Site preferences > Return preferences, and by opting in here. You may also see a banner on your All Selling, Selling Manager, or Selling Manager Pro page in My eBay inviting you to opt in.
Once I opt in, will hassle-free returns apply to all my listings that offer returns?
Yes, once opted in, all of your eligible domestic returns will be handled using the hassle-free returns process. Returns for other items (e.g., items not paid for by PayPal) should be handled as you have previously.
Can I opt out of hassle-free returns?
Starting in 2015, sellers who are notified that hassle-free returns benefits are being added to their selling account will not be able to opt out as we move toward a single, hassle-free returns platform. However, as always, all sellers can choose whether or not to offer a return policy on any listing.
When will hassle-free returns become the only way returns are handled on eBay?
We’ll start adding hassle-free returns for certain eligible domestic sellers throughout 2015—and will notify such qualified sellers in advance when the benefits of hassle-free returns have been extended to their accounts. By the 2015 holiday season, all eligible domestic returns on eBay will use the hassle-free returns process.
Why is eBay moving toward making all returns hassle-free returns?
The hassle-free returns process gives buyers a consistent way to initiate returns, no matter which seller they buy from. Just as importantly, it gives sellers a much faster and more efficient way to manage returns—without the time-consuming back-and-forth between buyer and seller. Giving buyers a consistent, convenient way to initiate returns can help build their confidence in eBay.
Why should I start using hassle-free returns now?
By the end of 2015, all eligible domestic returns on eBay will use the hassle-free process. By opting in to hassle-free returns now, you can start taking advantage of the following benefits right away—without having to wait for them to be made available to all sellers:
Anytime buyers request a return, an eBay return label is provided automatically
When buyers return an item, tracking is uploaded automatically so you can track the status of the return—and see when it will be delivered back to you
When you use eBay labels for the original shipment, the return shipping cost will never exceed the original shipping price
You can set automation rules to streamline your business practices—for instance, issuing a refund rather than a return if the item is under a certain value
Buyers receive a refund automatically 6 business days after the item has been delivered back to you—as long as you haven’t asked eBay to step in and help.
This is especially helpful when you go on vacation, and can help prevent inadvertent defects.
Will I get my seller fees back when I issue a refund using hassle-free returns?
Yes, when you issue the refund, your eBay final value fees will show as a credit on your next seller invoice. Your variable PayPal transaction fee will be refunded based on the total refund amount. As usual, the fixed PayPal transaction fee will not be refunded (see Section 8 of the PayPal User Agreement).
Who pays for return shipping with hassle-free returns?
If your policy indicates that you pay for return shipping, then you will be charged for return shipping. Otherwise, the responsibility for return shipping charge is determined by the reason the buyer chooses when requesting a return. If your buyer indicates they are returning an item because they changed their mind, they are responsible for return shipping. However, if the buyer requests a return because there’s a problem with the item or the item is not as described, then you will be responsible for return shipping.
This policy applies to all transactions on eBay.com for both domestic and international buyers.
What is eBay doing to protect me from return requests that I don’t agree with?
Any time you receive a return request you don’t agree with, you can ask eBay to step in and help. Based on the information provided and the buyer’s purchase history, we will do what we can to resolve the issue. Note, however, that if the case is found in the buyer’s favor, it will count toward your defect rate and percentage of cases closed without seller resolution.
What happens when I ask eBay to step in and help? Is that the same as escalating a case for review?
Asking eBay to step in and help will automatically open a case for eBay to review and resolve. We will review all the relevant details of your transaction to make a decision on your request—the same action we take currently when sellers use the “escalate a case” link in the Resolution Center.
Can I dispute paying for return shipping if I feel a buyer is misusing returns?
Yes, you can ask eBay to step in and review a return request if you feel the buyer has misrepresented the reason for the return. eBay will review your request and take appropriate action.
If I ask eBay to step in and help on a return and it’s found in the buyer’s favor, does that count toward my percentage of cases closed without seller resolution?
Yes, if eBay resolves the case in the buyer’s favor, the return will count toward your defect rate and your percentage of closed cases without seller resolution. However, if the case is found in your favor or found to be not the fault of the buyer or seller, it will not count toward your defect rate or your percentage of cases closed without seller resolution.
Does hassle-free returns work with third-party listing tools?
You can opt in to the eBay hassle-free process regardless of whether you're using eBay, third-party, or proprietary listing tools.
If you're using a third-party listing tool, eBay is working closely with our developer community to ensure that the appropriate changes are made to incorporate the new restocking fee field into the listing tools. If you apply a restocking fee to some or all of your items and don't see the new field in your active listings after opting in to the new process, contact your third party provider.
If you have your own proprietary tool, contact your eBay account manager or the eBay developer program for more information.
Are there eligibility requirements to use hassle-free returns?
Hassle-free returns can be used to manage returns when:
You are a registered seller on eBay.com
Your account is in good standing
You specify that you accept returns in the return policy section of the listing
The buyer’s shipping address and your return address are in the US
You haven't already issued a refund for the transaction through PayPal
Your buyer wants a full refund or replacement rather than a partial refund or exchange
The buyer uses the process to start a return within your specified return timeframe
The buyer pays for the item with PayPal
The buyer hasn't opened a PayPal Buyer Protection, PayPal Purchase Protection, or eBay Money Back Guarantee case, or requested a chargeback on a credit card associated with the buyer's PayPal account
The buyer hasn't been suspended from the hassle-free returns process
The item is delivered through a shipping method other than freight or local pick-up
The item is listed in a category covered by eBay Money Back Guarantee
The item is listed and sold on eBay.com
The return is US-based (both the buyer's address and your return address are in the US)
If a buyer tries to return an ineligible item through using hassle-free returns, we'll instruct the buyer to contact you immediately. These requirements may change as we expand the returns process over time.
How do I manage returns from international buyers?
If you sell internationally or to non-PayPal buyers, these transactions can't be handled through hassle-free returns at this time. Instead, you can provide return instructions for these buyers in your item description.
Am I able to specify certain requirements for returned items?
Buyers are required to return the item in the same condition it was received. Make sure to provide buyers with a detailed item and condition description as well as plenty of photos so the buyer understands the item's condition when you sold it. This also means you'll have supporting documentation if the buyer feels the item was not as described.
How do I automate returns based on specific criteria?
If you'd like to receive returns at multiple addresses or refund buyers but allow them to keep an item under certain conditions (such as those below), you can create automation rules based on the following four criteria:
Items within a certain price range (e.g., if an item's price is between $0 and $10)
Items in a specific category (e.g., all your listings in the DVD category)
Items returned for a specific reason (e.g., if the item is missing parts)
Items that belong to a specific list you've created (e.g., listings you've added to a "clearance" list)
As a seller, you can also select any combination of these criteria to create a "rule" that will then automatically apply to all of your listings that meet them. Here are a few examples:
For all items within "$0 and $20" AND the return reason is "Damaged" THEN a refund will be automatically issued and the buyer will be instructed to keep the item
For all items in the DVD category, the buyer will be automatically instructed to return the item to the San Jose warehouse
For all items in the "Clearance" list AND the return reason is "Missing Parts", the buyer will be automatically instructed to return the item to the Chicago warehouse
Setting up your return automation rules is easy. Just go to your return preferences in My eBay, choose “yes” to offer hassle-free returns, and “yes” when prompted to set up automation rules.
Once I've created my automation rules for returns, can I change or delete them?
Yes, you can edit or delete the automation rules you've created for returns anytime by going to My eBay > My Account > Site preferences > Return preferences. This is also the place you'll go to set up new rules for returns on an ongoing basis.
What restocking fee percentage can I charge and how is it applied?
With hassle-free returns, a new restocking fee field will be added to all of your active listings and automatically defaulted to 0%. You can update this value at any time, via your existing listing tool, by selecting from 0% (no restocking fee), 10%, 15%, or 20%. Your restocking fee will be deducted from the refund. Remember, you can waive the fee at your discretion, and a restocking fee will not be deducted if the reason for the return is item not as described. Keep in mind that the free form text field will no longer appear on your active listings once you use hassle-free returns.
Note that if you use a third-party listing tool, your provider may or may not have updated their listing tool to incorporate the new restocking fee field yet, in which case 0% will be used. Contact your third-party provider if you take a restocking fee and do not see the new restocking fee field for your active listings after opting in. Similarly, if you have your own proprietary listing tool, either contact your eBay account manager or the eBay developer program for more information.
Can I have returns sent to different addresses?
Yes. Set up your return addresses in your selling account at My eBay > Account > Addresses. Then indicate you would like to use this feature when you opt in and set up your automation rules.
By creating automation rules, you can choose which of your addresses you want buyers to use when returning an item. Once a rule is created, the appropriate return address will be automatically applied anytime an item meets those criteria. For example, if the item is a DVD, buyers can be instructed to return it to one address, and if it's a book, they can be instructed to return it to another address.
Seller can select rules to automate and simplify daily tasks.
Can I use my own Return Merchandize Authorization (RMA) numbers?
If you use Return Merchandise authorization numbers as an existing part of your business processes, you should contact eBay Customer Service. eBay will evaluate your business need and make a formal recommendation on extending RMA capabilities to your selling account.
NOTE: eBay monitors buyer RMA requests & usage and may notify or remove this function from sellers who are not providing timely responses to RMA requests from buyers. When you utilize RMA numbers, you have 2 business days to supply a return address from your pre-specified list after a return is initiated.
Once I opt in to hassle-free returns, can I ask buyers to contact me directly for returns?
You are able to exchange messages with a buyer before and after a sale is made without negative consequences to your selling status. However, all domestic buyers are instructed to choose the appropriate after-sale action from a pull-down menu and are not required to contact you before initiating a return.
If you’ve been alerted that a return has been initiated, and would like to issue a refund without having the item returned to you, we recommend you immediately contact the buyer via My Messages and ask them not to ship it back. Remember, you can also set up automation rules that will instruct buyers automatically in situations like these. Since the process is not yet available for international transactions, you may continue to include return instructions in your item description specifically for your international buyers.
How does my buyer initiate a return or request a replacement?
The buyer initiates a return simply by choosing the appropriate topic from the More Actions drop-down menu next to the transaction in their purchased items summary.
Buyers choose "I need to return my item" from the More actions drop-down list next to listing.
Buyers select a reason for the return or replacement.
Can I issue a refund for an item without having the buyer return it?
Yes, for those items that you'd rather automatically issue a refund than have them returned—such as items below a certain price or missing parts—you can create an automation rule that will trigger an immediate refund and automatically notify the buyer that they can keep the item.
If you didn't set up an automation rule but would still like to issue a refund for an item without having it returned to you, we recommend you immediately contact the buyer via My Messages once you're alerted that a return has been initiated and ask them not to ship it back.
Can I initiate a return on behalf of my buyer?
No. When using the hassle-free returns process, all returns need to be initiated by the buyer, within their My eBay purchase history pull-down option menu.
Can buyers initiate a single return for more than one item?
No. Unless they were purchased as part of a multi-quantity item, buyers must initiate a return for each item individually.
How are multi-quantity items handled?
Buyers are able to return multiple quantities of the same item with a single return, but can only initiate one return for each multi-quality item purchase. For example, if the buyer initiates a return for 3 of 10 shirts purchased as a multi-quantity item, they will not be able to initiate a return for the remaining 7 shirts at a later date.
What if a buyer tries to initiate a return outside my specified return window?
As always, buyers will be able to request a return even after your return window has passed, and you can decline that request if the buyer simply no longer wants the item. However, if the request to return an item is made within the eBay Money Back Guarantee window for an item that was not as described, eBay may refund the buyer and require you to reimburse us for the refund. In this case, it will count as a defect and toward your percentage of cases closed without seller resolution—unless you ask eBay to step in and help and eBay resolves the case in your favor or the case is found to be not the fault of buyer or seller.
What if my buyer wants an exchange instead of a refund or replacement?
At this time, the hassle-free returns process doesn't accommodate exchanges. We recommend the buyer contact you directly, or they can complete a return for the original item through the new process, then place a new order for a new item.
What carrier service is used for return shipping?
The hassle-free returns process will automatically determine whether to ship the item using an eBay label via USPS® Parcel Post, First-Class, or Priority Mail® based on the service level that best optimizes cost and delivery time.
Remember, when you use an eBay label for the original shipment, the cost of return shipping will never exceed the original outbound shipping cost.
Will eBay return shipping labels be issued for all return requests?
Return labels will be generated for items that fall within the USPS guidelines for the specific, optimized service that will be used. If the process determines the package is outside of these guidelines (e.g., the dimensions of the box exceed those allowed by USPS, is deemed as freight, or the item is classified as hazardous material), a label will not be issued. In these instances, if your return policy states you are responsible for return shipping, the buyer will be instructed to contact you directly before sending the item back.
How is the shipping cost calculated?
The weight, dimension, and value of the item are used to determine the cost and method to ship the item using USPS. Remember, when you use hassle-free returns, the cost of return shipping never exceeds the original outbound shipping cost as long as you use eBay labels for the original shipment.
Will there be tracking or Signature Confirmation of the return shipment?
Yes. Delivery Confirmation will automatically be included with all eBay return shipping labels through hassle-free returns. Signature Confirmation will automatically be included for items that cost $750 or more.
How long do buyers have to return an item after initiating a return?
Your buyer will be instructed to ship the item within 5 business days of initiating the return. If you use your own RMA numbers or receive returns at multiple addresses, the buyer will be instructed to ship the item back within 5 business days after you provide the RMA number and/or desired return address. Shipping times will vary based on service, distance, seasonal factors, etc.
Will insurance be available for return shipments through hassle-free returns?
Insurance will not be available for return shipments, nor will it be available as an add-on service. If the buyer wants to add insurance, they shouldn't use the return label provided. Instead, they should purchase their own return postage with insurance. If you are responsible for return shipping, the buyer will be told to contact you beforehand to agree on shipping carrier, service, and cost. If you would like the buyer to insure the shipment, contact them immediately after you're notified of the return, once again, to agree on carrier, service and cost.
Because the return label issued through the return process was not used, you won't be able to see the tracking status of the return shipment—but you can request that the buyer manually upload tracking or send the tracking number to you by email.
Will I ever need to manually reimburse the buyer for buyer-paid return shipping?
If you are responsible for return shipping (see “Who pays for return shipping with hassle-free returns?” above), but the buyer paid for it instead (e.g. a return label was not able to be provided through the hassle-free returns process), you will need to reimburse the buyer manually.
How do I identify the return package?
Since tracking is automatically uploaded with the hassle-free returns process, you will be able to track its progress and you’ll be notified when the return package has been delivered to you. Additionally, eBay provides buyers with a packing slip to print out and include inside the return package. If you use your own RMA numbers, they will appear on the packing slip. Also, the unique return ID generated, along with the buyer's ID, will be on the packing slip for confirmation purpose.
Once I have the returned item, how much time do I have to issue a refund?
You have 6 business days to issue a refund after the item is marked as delivered to your address. If after 6 business days you have not taken action to either refund the buyer or dispute the return by asking eBay to step in and help, your buyer will be refunded automatically on the 7th business day.
Do I need to refund the original shipping charges?
As a seller, you may decide to refund the cost of original shipping or not, at your discretion to make things right with your buyer. However, if the item is being returned because it is not as described, you must refund the original shipping charges that were paid by your buyer. The return shipping charges will appear on your next monthly invoice.
Can I issue a partial refund (if, for example, the item is damaged or worn)?
At this time, the hassle-free returns process can't accommodate partial refunds. It only allows you to refund 100% of the original item cost.
However, we understand that hassle-free returns may not accommodate every scenario. Should you decide a partial refund of the original payment is in order, you will need to do this outside of the hassle-free returns process, through member to member and manual refund processes.
Keep in mind, if the buyer returns the item because it is not as described, the item is defective, etc., you must refund the original shipping charges that were paid by your buyer, pay for return shipping, and you will not be able to charge a restocking fee—regardless of what your return policy states.
Will the eBay hassle-free return process allow me to refund more than the original payment amount?
No. You can only refund up to the total amount paid by the buyer (item price, plus applicable sales taxes + original shipping). If you want to add courtesy credit or reimburse the buyer for any return shipping costs, you will need to initiate a separate payment, outside of the process—via PayPal.com or using other payment methods (e.g., credit card).
What if the buyer doesn’t return an item after I’ve already processed their refund or sent a replacement?
Any time you receive a return request, we recommend that you only refund your buyer or send a replacement once the item has been returned to you. Buyers are instructed to ship their original items back to you within 5 business days of requesting the return or replacement. We send the buyer reminders after 5 business days. If you’ve already sent a replacement and the buyer hasn’t sent back the original item, we charge the buyer for the replacement item after 30 days.
Will my seller rating be affected if I use the hassle-free returns process?
If a return is initiated because the buyer no longer wants the item, is handled through the hassle-free returns process, and resolved without the buyer initiating an eBay Money Back Guarantee case, your seller rating will not be impacted.
Any time you receive a return request you don’t agree with—such as an item being returned because it didn’t match your listing description—you can ask eBay to step in and help to resolve the issue. Based on the information provided and the buyer’s purchase history, we will do what we can to resolve the issue. If the case is found in your favor or found to be not the fault of the buyer or seller, it will not count toward your defect rate or your percentage of cases closed without seller resolution.
Note, however, that if the case is found in the buyer’s favor, it will count as a defect toward your defect rate and your percentage of cases closed without seller resolution.
Please see the full seller performance standards details.
What seller safeguards are available for sellers who offer returns?
eBay recently added new, built-in safeguards for sellers to help reduce inadvertent defects after the sale. This includes:
A drop-down menu of help options in My eBay purchased items based on where buyers are in the after-sales process to help reduce instances where they may inadvertently cause a defect.
A more detailed list of reasons for returning an item—so eBay can determine why the buyer is requesting a return. This will help reduce the number of instances where buyers state that they’re requesting a return because the item they’ve received wasn’t as described.
Contact Seller option that allows buyers to ask you a question about an item they’ve purchased or send you a message after the sale. This option will not be considered a "request/ case" and will not impact your seller performance.
In addition, eBay recently announced an expanded defect removal policy which establishes clearer instances where defects will be automatically removed from your performance record—without having to ask eBay to step in and help.
What should I do if there is a problem with the item condition after the buyer sends it back? Will attaching photos help resolve issues?
Remember, you’re protected through the item condition policy—providing the condition you shipped it in (e.g. “New with tags”) matches how it was received by the buyer. If your buyer requests a return and you’d like to communicate with the buyer about an issue, contact the buyer immediately and ask them to go to their “purchased items” page and upload photos detailing the item’s condition. All buyers and sellers can each upload up to 10 images to the return (PNG, JPEG, BMP or GIF, up to a maximum file size of 5MB) which can help facilitate conversation and resolve the issue—sometimes preventing a return from being processed. You can add photos until the return is closed, where they will permanently remain with the file, visible to the buyer, seller, and eBay Customer Service. If you can't resolve a returns issue yourself, you can ask eBay for help by clicking on the link in My eBay. Customer Service will review the issue, including the buyer's return history. If we determine a buyer has abused the managed returns process or eBay Money Back Guarantee, the buyer may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges and account suspension.
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