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Frequently asked questions
What is the easiest way to manage returns on eBay?
eBay hassle-free returns is an optional way for you to track and manage your returns right from My eBay—according to the terms you specify in your return policy and the eBay return item condition policy. Your buyers can initiate a return from a link next to the transaction in My eBay and you can issue a refund with a single click. Your final value fee for the transaction is automatically refunded and you can relist the item for free. This process is intended to be the long-term returns solution for all eBay transactions.
Why is eBay introducing this new way to manage returns?
This functionality is designed to give buyers a consistent way to initiate returns, no matter which seller they buy from, and give you a more efficient way to offer and manage returns without time-consuming back-and-forth with your buyers. Providing buyers with a consistent, convenient way to initiate returns helps build their confidence in eBay—it has also been shown to reduce the number of eBay Buyer Protection cases that are opened.
Will I get any fees back when I issue a refund using the new process?
Yes. When you issue the refund, your eBay final value fee 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).
How do I opt in?
The functionality is currently available for all sellers. A banner will appear on your All Selling, Selling Manager, or Selling Manager Pro page in My eBay inviting you to opt in. You can also opt in by going to My eBay > Account > Site preferences > Selling preferences.
Can I opt in to the eBay hassle-free returns process if I list my items using a third-party or proprietary application?
You can opt in to the eBay hassle-free process regardless of whether you're using eBay, third party, or proprietary listing tool.
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, either contact your eBay account manager or the eBay developer program for more information.
Will I be able to manage all my returns this way?
Hassle-Free returns can be used to manage returns when:
- You are a registered seller on eBay.com and have opted-in to hassle-free returns.
- Your account is in good standing.
- You specify in the Return policy section of the listing that you accept returns.
- 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 time frame.
- 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 return 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 a buyer's address and your return address are in the US.)
If a buyer tries to return an ineligible item through the return process, we'll instruct the buyer to contact you. These requirements may change as we expand the return 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.
If I opt in, do I have to use this process for all transactions that qualify?
Yes, once opted in, returns for all qualified transactions must be handled through the hassle-free return process. Returns for other items (e.g., items not paid for by PayPal) should be handled as you've done previously.
Am I able to specify certain requirements for returned items?
Buyers are required to return the item in the same condition as it was received. You should make sure to provide buyers with a detailed item & condition description and plenty of photos so the buyer understands the item's condition when you sold it. This also means you'll have documentation if the buyer feels the item was not as described.
How do I create the rules that will 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), simply 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 My eBay > My Account > Preferences > Return Preferences.
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 > 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?
When you opt in, 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. Note 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 opt-in.
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 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.
Who pays for return shipping?
Return shipping charges will be handled as specified in your return policy. Sellers are required to pay for return shipping if the buyer is returning the item based on it not being as described in the listing.
eBay will pay the carrier for return shipping charges directly and will charge the buyer's PayPal account if your policy specifies that the buyer pays for return shipping. If your policy states that you (the seller) pay for return shipping, the charge will appear as a fee on your next monthly seller invoice following a completed return.
Can I have returns sent to different addresses?
Yes. Just indicate you would like to use this feature when you opt in and go to My eBay > Account > Addresses to ensure all of your return addresses are entered and accurate.
Next, be sure to select “Yes” when asked if you receive returns at multiple addresses at My eBay > My Account > Preferences > Return Preferences. You have 2 business days to supply a return address from your pre-specified list after a return is initiated. If you haven't selected one within 2 business days, the buyer will be instructed to ship the item to your primary return address.
How do I choose which address I want buyers to use when returning an item?
By creating automation rules, you can pre-determine 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.
To set up your return automation rules, go to My eBay > My Account > Preferences > Return Preferences.
Can I use my own Return Merchandize Authorization (RMA) numbers?
Yes. Just indicate you would like to use this feature when you opt in and go to My eBay > Account > Addresses to ensure all of your return addresses are entered and accurate. Then, be sure to select “Yes” when asked if you receive returns at multiple addresses at My eBay > My Account > Preferences > Return Preferences.
NOTE: You have 2 business days to supply a return address from your pre-specified list after a return is initiated. If you haven't selected one within 2 business days, the buyer will be instructed to ship the item to your primary return address.
Once I opt in, 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. However, if a transaction qualifies for eBay hassle-free returns, we will instruct buyers to initiate the return using the return process. Your listing description should not have any conflicting instructions to contact you first. If you would like to issue a refund without having the item returned to you, once alerted that a return has been initiated, we recommend you immediately contact the buyer via My Messages and ask them not to ship it back. 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.
Can I issue a refund for an item without having the buyer return it?
Yes, for those items that you know you'd rather automatically issue a refund than have them returned to you—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.
How does my buyer initiate a return?
The buyer initiates a return simply by clicking “Return this item” from the More Actions drop-down menu next to the transaction in their purchased items summary. They choose the reason for the return and submit. If you prefer a buyer contact you before initiating a return, your item description should request that the buyer contact you before initiating a return.
Buyers choose “Return this item” from the More actions drop-down list next to listing.
Buyers select a reason for the return.
Can I initiate a return on behalf of my buyer?
No. When using the eBay hassle-free returns process, all returns need to be initiated by the buyer.
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?
The buyer will not be able to initiate a return beyond your return window timeframe. If they do, they will be asked to either contact you or see if they qualify for the eBay Money Back Guarantee program. If you are contacted directly, keep in mind that a lenient return policy can work in your favor. As always, the start time on a seller's return window begins when the item tracking indicates it's been delivered to the buyer, regardless of whether or not you use the new return process.
How will I know when a buyer has initiated a return?
You will receive a message in My Messages, and—if specified in your preferences—to your email address.
Can I contact the buyer before the item is sent back?
Once notified that a buyer has initiated a return, you can contact the buyer through My Messages. We discourage haggling or trying to dissuade buyers from returning the item, and recommend contacting them only if you are offering a better solution or believe it will resolve the buyer's problem (e.g., troubleshooting an electronics purchase). If you don't want the item to be sent back, contact the buyer immediately (unless you have an automation rule in place for the item, in which case the buyer will be notified and action taken according to your pre-set rule). Keep in mind that unless you use your own RMA numbers or receive return shipments to multiple addresses, once a buyer initiates a return, eBay immediately provides them with a pre-paid return shipping label and asks them to ship the item back within 5 business days.
What if a return is initiated but I don't want the item back?
For those items that you'd rather automatically issue a refund than have them returned to you—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 whenever the return of such an item is initiated.
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. Keep in mind that unless you use your own RMA numbers or receive return shipments to multiple addresses, once a buyer initiates a return, eBay immediately provides them with a pre-paid return shipping label and asks them to ship the item back within 5 business days.
What if my buyer wants an exchange?
At this time, the hassle-free returns process doesn't fully accommodate exchanges. We recommend the buyer contact you directly, or they can complete a return for the original item through the new process and then place a new order for a new item.
What carrier service is used to ship return items when using the new process?
The eBay hassle-free return process will automatically determine whether to ship the item via USPS® Parcel Post, First-Class, or Priority® Mail based on the service that best optimizes cost and delivery time.
When you use eBay hassle-free returns, the cost of return shipping is never exceeds the original outbound shipping cost.
How is the shipping cost calculated?
The weight, dimension and value of the item are used to determine the cost to ship the item using USPS. But when you use the returns process, the cost of return shipping is never exceeds the original outbound shipping cost.
Will there be tracking or Signature Confirmation of the return shipment?
Yes. Delivery Confirmation will be included with all eBay return shipping labels and Signature Confirmation will automatically be included for items that cost $750 or more.
Will insurance be available for return shipments through the new return process?
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. The buyer will still be able to check the status of the refund at any time, and once the item is received, you can use the new process to issue the refund.
When will I get the return package back?
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.
How do I identify the return package?
eBay will provide buyers with a packing slip to print out and include in 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 5 business days to issue a refund after the item is delivered. If you don't, the buyer can escalate a case—which will be reviewed and resolved by eBay.
Do I need to refund the original shipping charges?
As a seller, you may decide to refund them or not, at your discretion. 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.
What if the returned item is in a different condition, is the wrong item, is sent to the wrong address, arrived broken, or I get an empty box?
A lenient return policy is strongly recommended to differentiate your business and provide the best customer service, except in circumstances where the buyer is obviously at fault. For example, if the buyer has done everything in their power to ensure the item was returned to you safely, we suggest you still issue the refund as part of providing great customer service.
If a complication occurs, contact the buyer to resolve the issue or misunderstanding. Use My Messages to keep a reviewable record of the interaction.
If you're able to resolve the issue, refund the amount calculated through the return process. If not, and you believe the complication occurred due to buyer fault, you ultimately determine the amount (if any) you want to refund. If you are not planning to issue a refund, no further action is required. If you've decided to refund an amount less than what is specified in your return policy, you need to do this outside of the hassle-free return flow, since it will not accommodate this scenario.
Finally, anytime you and the buyer cannot come to an agreement over the resolution of a return, we recommend you document it by reporting the buyer through the “Report a buyer” link located next to each return transaction listed on the new Returns page in My eBay > Selling, or available during the return flow, which will initiate a report through the Seller Reporting Hub. The new category, “Misuse of returns,” will be auto selected. This allows the eBay Customer Support agent to have a record should the buyer choose to open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case against you. The agent will also review any relevant My Messages communications.
What if I suspect buyer abuse?
If you suspect fraud or that a buyer is taking advantage of the return process, contact the buyer first through My Messages (in order to keep a reviewable record of the interaction) and attempt to resolve the issue. If you're unable to resolve it, do not issue a refund. Simply click the “report a returns issue” link while you're inside the eBay hassle-free returns flow. This sends a report to a customer service returns specialist who is guaranteed to review the details and contact you to let you know the outcome.
Buyers can face consequences for return abuse, such as exclusion from the hassle-free return process, and suspension from eBay so it's important that you let us know when you suspect a buyer is taking advantage.
Can I issue a partial refund (if, for example, the item is damaged or worn)?
At this time, the new process can't accommodate partial refunds. It only allows you to refund 100% of the original item cost.
However, we understand the new returns process 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 return process.
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 never sends the item after initiating a return?
If the buyer doesn't send the item back, you're not required to issue a refund.
Will shipping labels be issued for any item returned using hassle-free returns?
Return labels will be generated for items that fall within the USPS guidelines for the specific 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, 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 is told to contact you directly before sending the item back.
When do I have to reimburse the buyer for return shipping?
If you are responsible for return shipping (see Who pays for return shipping?), but the buyer paid for it instead (e.g. a return label was not able to be provided through the eBay hassle-free return process), you will need to reimburse them. In these instances, since the postage is not handled through the returns process, a separate payment, either via PayPal or another payment method (e.g. credit card), will be required.
Will my seller rating be affected if I use the hassle-free return process?
If a return is initiated, handled and resolved through the hassle-free returns process, without the buyer initiating an eBay Money Back Guarantee case, your seller rating will not be impacted. Keep in mind, however, that you have 5 business days to issue a refund after the item is delivered to your return address. If you don't, the buyer can open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case against you.
As noted in the Spring 2014 Seller Release, when a return is initiated because it's not as described in your listing, it is counted as a defect.
What if I use a third party or my own proprietary return tool—can I still use this return process?
Yes, you can manage returns process on most tools, but you will need to opt-in on eBay.com > Account Preferences.
eBay is working closely with our developer community to ensure the appropriate tools are integrated with the eBay hassle-free return process on eBay. Contact your third party provider if you use one. If you have your own proprietary tool, either contact your eBay account manager or the eBay developer program for more information.
Similarly, if you use a third party listing tool, eBay is also 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 have your own proprietary listing tool, either contact your eBay account manager or the eBay developer program for more information.
Once I opt in, can I opt back out?
Yes, but you are expected to complete any returns your buyer has already started within the process. When you opt out, for all active listings, the restocking fee field will be removed and the “Additional return policy details” text box will be restored with any content that existed prior to opting in. You should verify the content is still accurate. You can opt back in at any time.
Do I have to offer returns?
No, as always, you can decide whether or not to accept returns on some or all of your listings. Keep in mind that if you specify “No returns accepted” on a listing, you are still responsible for the full refund amount—including original shipping costs—if a buyer wins an eBay Money Back Guarantee case.
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