How To Manage Fraudulent Returns on Ebay

by Patrick Sutton

You have been selling on eBay for a few months now, a buyer requests a return, you approve the return, and the buyer sends back an empty box or an item different from the item that you originally sent. What do you do now?

eBay Return Policy

According to the eBay return policy, the seller has 48 business hours to refund the customer after receiving the item. If tracking is uploaded in eBay, the date delivered is what eBay tracks. If the seller has not refunded the customer within 48 business hours after receiving the return, the customer can reach out to eBay to step in. 

Unfortunately, if left up to eBay, the decision will be very back and white. If tracking shows delivered, the case will typically be closed in favor of the buyer. If no tracking is provided by the buyer or it shows it was never shipped, it will be closed in favor of the seller. 

Fraudulent Returns

You just opened the delivered return that you received from your customer, the box is empty! Do you open a case against the buyer and withhold the refund? Do you do nothing at all? Do you refund the customer anyways?

Like you are probably thinking, my initial thought would be, “I am definitely not going to refund someone who sent me back an empty box!” 

So what happens if you don’t refund the customer and open a case instead? If you open a case against the buyer letting eBay know what had happened, you will most likely get a message saying that eBay has closed the case in favor of the buyer…

As backwards as it sounds, eBay does not know what was actually sent back to you - It is your word against the buyers. All eBay knows for sure is that you received the return from the buyer which is what they go off of.

How To Protect Yourself

The system is definitely not perfect so it is important that you know how to protect yourself the best you can within the eBay policy. Unfortunately, ALL returns need to be refunded within 48 hours. If not refunded within 48 hours, you will receive a defect which will ultimately impact your overall account health. Cases closed without seller resolution is one of the leading causes of eBay restrictions.

How do you make the most of the eBay return policy?

  1. Offer Free Returns - By offering Free Returns, the seller has the ability to issue a 50% refund if the item is not returned in the same condition it was sent, this includes empty boxes, boxes of rocks, and broken items. Obviously 50% is not ideal, but it is a way to guarantee that you will at least be able to recoup 50% of your loss.
  2. PayPal Claims - From experience, PayPal is more willing to work with sellers in regards to fraudulent returns. PayPay is one of the best chances that you have in recouping your loss. If you choose to do Free Returns, you can open a case and try to recoup the other 50% from PayPal.

The Solution

Considering eBay is one of the most trafficked marketplaces in the world, it is definitely a site that we want to have a presence on. As painful as it is to refund fraudulent buyers, it is a sacrifice we have to make in order to abide by eBay policies. We now offer all refunds within 48 hours, refunding 50% if the item returned is different from the item sent to the customer. When 50% refunds are issued, a case is also then opened with PayPal to try to recoup the other 50%.

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