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Is eBay really considering extending returns?

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Want a peek into the eBay playbook? Want to know what changes are coming down the pipeline? It’s not difficult, just take a look at their most recent survey. eBay loves surveys you see them all the time before a big decision so what can be gleamed from this new one may raise your blood pressure quickly so please read on with caution. So what’s the new survey about? Returns and expanding their existing window. Currently set to 14 day and 30 day to qualify for top seller status with the idea of expanding this to 30 to 90 days. The survey also wanted to know people’s thoughts on a filtered search by sellers offering free returns. Is your blood boiling yet??

First, let’s address expanding the return window and let me start by asking you, the reader; out of the purchases your made in the past month, how many truly needed 14 days let alone 30 days to decide whether or not to return it?Extended return windows may be a good idea in certain categories and in certain circumstances but to offer this for every item and category is frankly absurd. Clothing is seasonal and like food has a limited shelf life and sure you can still probably eat or wear it after it expires but do you really want to? and is it a good idea? Does eBay not see the wave of abuse that will ensue from a move like this? Buy a winter coat keep the tags and in 2 ½ months when you are sick of it or the season ends return it. What about forecasting for returns how is a seller supposed to do this? Let’s assume you currently have a 3% return rate and sell about $1000 per month so $30 would represent your potential returns exposure now extend that return window to 90 days and your exposure jumps up to $90 or nearly 10% of monthly sales, are you in the position to keep 10% of your monthly sales in reserve or can you afford a 10% hit at any given time? Will there be seller pushback? Yes, absolutely and the form it will most likely take is fewer sellers killing themselves to get that top rated plus status. Do discounts on final value fees and very modest discounts on shipping really make it worthwhile? To some probably not what’s worse this means eBay is essentially forcing down quality standards on its sellers by making them impossible to achieve and remain profitable.

Now let’s talk about filtered search for sellers offering free returns. First searching by free returns is basically assuming the transaction will go poorly or that the item will not be satisfactory does any legitimate buyer shop like this? Do buyers looking to cheat the eBay system shop like this yes absolutely so it’s a big plus to them. Second a lot of sellers will argue with a lot of good reason that free returns already exist and it’s called item not as described. Ever get into a fight with a buyer who does not want to pay return shipping? its very easy for them to get away with not paying for return shipping they just have to claim item not as described. Sold them a red shirt? They claim its coral and presto item not as described free return can you even remember the last time a customer paid for a return? Granted there are circumstances where the request is legitimate and there are a few honest buyers out there that actually pay for return shipping but they are certainly in the minority. eBay if your listening please drop this ill-conceived idea it’s not going to help buyers just the crooks prowling around the site and as usual the only ones that will suffer are the independent sellers. 

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