ASK THE EBAY QUEEN: Are my eBay return rules out of line?
By SUZIE EADS, Ask the eBay Queen | 3/28/2013
Dear eBay Queen: I am a semi-frequent seller on eBay and have recently wondered what people think is a fair return policy. Admittedly, it comes up this time because I am in the midst of dealing with a return, but more on that later.
On video games, I offer a return policy that covers the entire cost of the game, shipping and return shipping should the game not be as described, such as defective. I typically have returned all of the money when I receive the game back, as to deter any scammers from simply saying the game is broken and getting a full refund without shipping the game back. I realized it wouldn’t be too bad to put out the $3 or $4 shipping ahead of time, so the buyer does not have to pay out of pocket. While I know it is frustrating to get a game that does not work, I really do not know how much more fair I could be. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.
Now for my current situation: I sold a copy of the game Halo, which I knew was scratched, but was playable a few weeks before I sent it. The listing stated the condition as such. The buyer informed me the game did not work for more than 5 minutes and the case was cracked. He demanded I accept a return and threatened to leave a negative feedback if I did not. Apart from the threat, I had no problem with this and told him my normal process for a return. He messaged me back, informing me he wouldn’t send the game unless I sent a full refund to him first. I clarified my normal return process, as stated above, just in case there was any confusion, but he demanded the same thing and then opened a case with eBay. The odd thing is, the resolution eBay gives is for him return the game to me and then for me to issue a refund once I receive it. eBay doesn’t even I ask that I refund his return shipping cost. This is currently where the case lies. The buyer has not responded. I am assuming I am heading for a negative feedback, especially if eBay sides with me.
This was sort of a rant too, so thanks for reading. I am interested in seeing what suggestions you might have on how to improve my return policy. I try to be a good seller in an increasingly difficult marketplace. — Game Guy, Dallas
Dear Game Guy: I think your return policy is great. I’m not sure how you could improve it. When it comes to your current situation, I would contact eBay (via phone) and have the company check out the email where your buyer was using feedback extortion to get his way. Maybe this will help if your buyer decides to leave you a negative feedback.
In a situation like this, I probably would wait for the buyer to send the item back, or respond to the case.
Dear eBay Queen: I just sold an iPhone on eBay. The buyer sent his PayPal payment immediately, as I required in my auction. I just received a notice from PayPal that the payment is under review and told me to not ship the item until I receive word from the company that the sale is legitimate. Does this happen to you? What is the usual outcome? I’m worried because the shipping address and name he provided are both different than what is on the PayPal notice that was sent to me. It is extra worrisome because the shipping address he provided is for someone at a hotel in Las Vegas. I’m concerned that someone’s PayPal account was used to pay for a hacker’s ebay purchase. I can see why PayPal has stepped in to look at it closer. — Misty
Dear Misty: I’ve had it happen to me a couple of times, and it always seems to happen when I am selling electronics. I think electronics is a high-fraud area to sell on eBay.
I think PayPal is being extra cautious, I would email your buyer and let him know why there is a delay in sending his item, and as soon as PayPal releases the funds you will get the item right out.
Let me know how it goes.
Dear eBay Queen: The 2013 Spring Seller Update came out today, and I’m not sure what to think about it. eBay is calling the fee increase a “rate plan.” Isn’t that just a glorified way to say price increase? I read an article yesterday about Amazon raising fees on the millions of sellers users their marketplace, so this might be perfect timing on eBay’s part, although I’m sure these changes have been in the works for some time. I dropped my store subscription in summer 2012 because the numbers just didn’t make sense anymore. I especially resented the fact that non-store owners got 50 free auctions per month. Now, if I go back and open up a store, I can get 250-500 free listings in either format. That is very intriguing and worth a look. I’m one of many sellers that has an off eBay store on my own website, and the prospect of being able to just pay the basic store subscription price and getting as many as 250 items listed for free on eBay is very tempting. I’ve always relied on auctions, but I might bring back BIN (Buy It Now) items after this. How will the rate plan affect you? — TJ, Denver, Colo.
Dear TJ: I’ve been reading all I can about the eBay Spring Update, even venturing over to the eBay boards to see what the naysayers think. You can read the announcement at http://announcements.ebay.com/2013/03/2013-spring-seller-update-free-listings-for-all-sellers/
I currently have a premium store, and after using the eBay fee illustrator — http://pages.ebay.com/sellerinformation/news/FeeIllustrator.html — I realized I would be saving money if I upgrading to an anchor store. I answered the following questions in the Fee Illustrator:
• How many items do I create monthly auction/fixed price?
• How many items I sell monthly auction/fixed price?
• Average selling price for the items I sell auction/fixed price?
• Do I receive a Top Rated Seller Discount?
The Fee Illustrator told me I would save $75 a month having an anchor store. I hope this will help you decide how best to run your eBay business.
Dear eBay Queen: I read the new Spring Seller update, and I don’t quite understand the “Other updates to improve your efficiency and sales.” This section covers the following:
• Business policies — In June, all sellers will be automatically opted into the easy way to define your shipping, return and payment policies. Next year, this will be the way to define your policies, so get started now.
• Picture quality — High-quality pictures are the key to getting your items sold, and your listings optimized for both mobile buyers and the new personalized home page. Picture quality requirements announced last year will be enforced starting in July. Be sure your pictures comply.
• Same day handling: If you routinely ship the same day you get the order, starting in late May, you’ll be able to specify same business day handling to highlight this benefit to buyers.
Here are my questions: What is a business policy? I currently have my program size the pictures for me. How do I know they meet the requirements? How will I ever ship stuff out the same day? I know I’ve read that you do this ... how do you do it? — Morgan
Dear Morgan: I’ve been anxiously awaiting this new business policy plan too. I’m not exactly sure what it will entail. I already have this type of control to change and modify my business policies depending upon the type of listing, by using my listing program Sixbit. I did a little research on it, and it was already rolled out in the United Kingdom. AuctionBytes wrote a blog about it at http://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/abblog/blog.pl?/pl/2012/5/1335884405.html
The photo policy had me a bit worried, because my photo sizes are all different in several listings. After closer inspection, eBay’s minimum requirement is 500 pixels for the longest side. One of the easiest ways to make sure your photos meet that requirement is to have your setting on your camera’s picture quality default to High or Medium, this will ensure your pictures are large enough. eBay recommends a 1600-pixel dimension on the longest side as the best possible display of your listing on all eBay pages. eBay does has a helpful video on picture sizes at http://av.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/videos/sell/picsize/2182_eBay_Picture_Size.swf
I have shipped the same day for probably 3 to 4 years. If a buyer pays before 4 p.m., I will get the item out that day. If I don’t, I’ll email the buyer. When I first started out, it would have been impossible for that to happen, but now that I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I have found that I treat it more like a business than a hobby.
Strange eBay items of the week:
• eBay item No. 130869082417. Easter almost is here. Check out this “Rare Roullet and DeCamps Tree Trunk Rabbit Surprise Antique music box.” It sold for $2,900 at http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-ROULLET-DECAMPS-TREE-TRUNK-RABBIT-SURPRISE-AUTOMATON-ANTIQUE-MUSIC-BOX-/130869082417
• eBay item No 310592435156. It’s time for Easter and Passover. Check out this “Rare Judaica 1897 Eastern European Russian Passover Matzah Cover.” It sold for $27 at http://www.ebay.com/itm/V-RARE-JUDAICA-1897-EASTERN-EUROPEAN-RUSSIA-PASSOVER-PESACH-MATZAH-COVER-/310592435156
Suzie Eads is a nationally known eBay marketer and eBay trained Education Specialist. She lives in Rantoul.