eBay Return Policy for Sellers – A Complete Guide!

eBay Return Policy for Sellers – A Complete Guide!

By at - 11 Minutes

Whether you’ve been successfully selling on eBay for years, or you are just getting started, returns should not be ignored. For eBay sellers with thriving businesses, it may seem unnecessary to focus on returns. And new sellers who are committed to providing top-notch service and products may have the same idea. However, returns are very important to eBay and your buyers.

There is always a risk when a consumer purchases something online. They have an idea in their mind of what the product will look like, how it will function when it will arrive, and its condition. As an eBay seller, your job is to deliver on those elements as accurately as possible.

Unfortunately, issues arise from time to time and expectations do not meet reality. Regardless of what causes an item to be returned, it is crucial for eBay sellers to be clear on their eBay return policy and have a plan for handling returns.

What are your eBay return policy options?

eBay allows sellers to set up rules to handle return requests automatically. This prevents you from having to deal with each return individually, and it maintains consistency for your store. You can set the type of returns you accept as well as the conditions under which you will accept a return. Sellers also have the ability to decide who will pay for return shipping. 

Your return policy options for eBay include:

  • No returns accepted
  • 30 day buyer-paid returns
  • 30 day free returns
  • 60 day buyer-paid returns
  • 60 day free returns

Learn more about offering 60-day free returns on eBay by watching this detailed video:

Limited Categories for 14-day Returns

There are some item categories that have unique standards for returns, and you have more options for your return policy in these cases. If you choose to, you can set up a 14-day return policy for the following categories:

  • Camera Drones
  • Camera Lenses
  • Collectibles & Art
  • Digital Cameras
  • Jewelry
  • Medical & Mobility

How do you create or change your eBay return policy?

eBay recommends including clear details on your returns policy for every listing. This can reduce any confusion when buyers purchase an item, and it can give buyers confidence when they shop.

Follow these steps to edit or create your return policy if you are using the eBay quick listing tool:

  1. Create a new listing or edit an existing listing
  2. Scroll to the bottom of your listing.
  3. You should see a box with Shipping information. Directly below that is text that says, “Your current listing preferences are Payment method: (blank), Item location: (blank), Returns accepted: No, More options” Enabled.”
  4. Click the blue “Change” link
  5. In the popup, you can use the dropdown menus to change your return policy.
  6. Click “Save”
  7. Your return policy will apply to all of your future listings on eBay

Find complete instructions for using the quick listing tool here.

Follow these steps to edit or create your return policy if you are using the eBay business listing tool:

  1. Within your new or existing listing, scroll down until you see the “Selling Details” section
  2. Locate the “Return options” section
  3. Select the checkboxes for the types of returns you will accept
  4. Once you check a box, you can edit your specific preferences for each type selected
  5. Set the timeline for requesting a return, who will pay for the return shipping, and whether or not an exchange or replacement is available
  6. Click “Save”
  7. Your return policy will apply to all of your future listings on eBay

Watch this short video for four reasons why you should be offering returns on eBay:

How do you set up your returns rules?

Thankfully, eBay makes it simple to set up your return rules within your eBay seller account and automate your return settings. It is important to set up your return rules and return policy as soon as possible so that you do not accidentally forget about it later. Also, having your policy in place before creating your listings will ensure that your returns policy is available for each listing.

Follow these steps to set up your return rules:

  1. Visit your Returns preferences within your Seller account
  2. Find “Send a refund”
  3. Choose whether or not buyers can keep the item and be automatically refunded the amount if the refund is less than a specific amount. If you choose to enable this feature, just enter the amount that you are comfortable refunding without receiving the item back.
  4. Select the return reasons that will apply for this rule
  5. Find “Approve a return”
  6. Select whether or not you want to automatically approve a return if the cost of the refund is less than a specific amount. If you choose to enable this feature, enter the amount that you are comfortable automatically approving a return for.
  7. Select the return reasons that will apply for this rule as well.

Remember that any changes made to your return rules will only apply to future return requests. Any requests that are already in progress will not be affected by this change.

Do eBay returns impact your business?

Yes, eBay returns can have a great impact on your business. You probably know to avoid returns as much as possible, but do you know why? When an item is returned, it is likely due to a negative experience. Your customer clearly was not happy with their purchase. Whether you agree with their return request or not is of little consequence because the damage has already been done.

Also, returns equal a waste of your time and money. From paying shipping fees to restocking the item and attempting to sell it again, you are out a considerable amount. In fact, returns are complete losses and must be calculated into your business performance.

Learn more about the impact of returns on your business by watching this video:

What causes buyers to request a return?

You believe in your product. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t sell it. This makes it all the more frustrating when a buyer requests a return. You know your product is good, so why do they disagree? The truth is, there are many reasons that a buyer may request a refund or return on eBay. While some of those reasons have to do with the quality of your product, others may not.

  • An item does not match the photos or listing description
  • An item was sent broken or has parts missing
  • An item was damaged in shipping
  • An item does not appear to be genuine or of the stated brand
  • A buyer changed their mind
  • A buyer no longer needs the item they purchased
  • A buyer purchased an item by mistake

The reasons for a return request are vast, and the ones listed below are only a partial representation. While you cannot control when a buyer changes their mind, you can implement a returns policy that can protect you in these situations. Consider giving a partial refund or having the buyer cover return shipping in these cases. You can also offer a replacement or exchange in these situations.

How can you avoid eBay returns?

Preventing returns should be your main focus for eBay. This involves good customer service and quality products as well as attention to detail. All of these traits can help make you a better seller in general and improve your feedback and ratings on eBay.

  • Inspect all of your merchandise closely and ensure it is in good shape before listing it.
  • Make note of any flaws or defects in your listing description and include relevant images when appropriate.
  • Write an accurate description for each listing with as much relevant information as possible. Measure items and provide accurate measurements. Describe the item in great detail to ensure the buyer understands what they are purchasing.ebay listing description

An example of a clear eBay listing description that provides all necessary information on an item. 

  • Add high quality images to your listings. Show your item from all angles to display the texture, color, shape, etc. Buyers should get a clear and accurate idea of what they are purchasing. high quality ebay listing image

An example of an eBay listing with quality images showing every aspect of the product. 

  • Write a listing title that is eye-catching and vivid without being misleading or inaccurate. quality ebay images

An example of an eBay listing with a quality title that describes the product accurately.

  • Package all items securely so they arrive in good condition. Use high-quality packing materials to make a great impression on your customers.
  • Stop selling items that are frequently returned. Items that are returned at higher rates tend to be designer purses or handbags, cell phone cases, formal wear, and electronics. Buyers may use these items for a few weeks and then request a return.
  • Ensure that any designer or high-end items are authentic before listing them. If a buyer suspects that an item is fake, they will likely request a return. eBay offers an authentication service, or you can search for third party options. 


In almost any retail business, returns are a fact of life. Chances are slim that customers will be 100% satisfied each and every time, which makes it important to prepare for the possibility of returns. If you set up your eBay return policy and clearly describe it in your listings, you can better manage these situations. Also, by providing excellent customer service and checking the quality of each listing item, you can prevent many returns from happening in the first place. Be smart about your returns policy and preparation to avoid the hassle of eBay returns! 


Mallory Peek

Mallory Peek is a copywriter and digital marketing specialist from Texas. She is an active Subivi Times blog writer and specializes in eCommerce including but not limited to eCommerce marketplaces, how to sell on eBay, eCommerce news and eCommerce customer service. Her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are in strategic communication and has a background in journalism & creative writing. She has been a content writer for the better part of 5 years and has a deep passion for helping eCom sellers grow their business.

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