4 min article

How to handle a return request as a seller

You can choose whether to accept returns if a buyer changes their mind about a purchase. However, if an item arrives damaged, doesn't match the listing description, or if the buyer receives the wrong item, you'll generally need to accept the return.

Read our most popular questions and answers about handling return requests from your buyers. You can also find more information in our full article below.

Why was the buyer's return request accepted automatically?

eBay automatically accepts some return requests on your behalf. This saves you time and helps make returns hassle-free for your buyers.

Learn more about how auto-accepted returns work.

I don't accept returns – why am I getting a request from the buyer?

Buyers may submit a return request even if your returns policy says you don't accept returns. Whether you need to accept the return depends on their reason for opening the return.

If the buyer is asking to return the item because it's damaged, faulty, or didn't match your listing description, then you need to accept the return. If they've opened the return for another reason, for instance if they ordered the wrong item or changed their mind, then you aren't required to accept the return – however, where possible we always suggest providing a great customer experience.

What happens if buyer used the item, or it's damaged while it's being returned?

It's the buyer's responsibility to make sure that the item is returned in the same condition, and ensure that it's packed properly and protected during delivery. If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund to cover the loss in the item's value.

What happens if the buyer doesn't send the item back?

Once you've accepted a return, the buyer should send the item back to you as soon as possible. If we don't see any indication that the item is on its way after 15 business days, we may close the return and protect you from negative Feedback. Keep in mind that some returns can remain open for up to 35 business days.

When you create a listing, you'll add a return policy, which will determine your options if the buyer wants to return an item for "change of mind" (or "remorse") reasons.

If the buyer reports that the item arrived damaged or doesn't match the listing description, or that they received the wrong item, you'll see different options for responding to the return. If the purchase is covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy, you'll have to accept the return, even if you have a no-returns policy.

When a buyer opens a return request, we'll notify you by email (to your registered email address) and through eBay Messages - opens in new window or tab. You have 3 business days to respond to the request and resolve the buyer's issue. We've outlined your response options below. In certain cases, we may automatically accept a return request on your behalf.

If you're unable to sort things out within this time, the buyer may ask us to step in and help find a solution. In some cases, if you haven't responded to the return request, we may refund the buyer and seek reimbursement from you without requiring the buyer to return the item.

Tip
When listing an item, it's important to specify your return address. If you don't, and the buyer requests a return, the item will be returned to your registration address by default.

 

How to start resolving a return request

Choose the item above to start resolving a return. You can also open your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab and select View return details from beside the item.

You'll be able to see the buyer's reason for requesting the return, the date you need to respond by, and any additional comments or photos provided by the buyer.

Check buyer returns

Auto-accepted returns

We'll automatically accept most return requests that fall within your return policy or which fit the terms of the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy.

Returns that won't be auto-accepted include:

  • "Change of mind" return requests when you don't accept returns
  • Return requests where the buyer indicated 'Arrived damaged' or 'Missing parts or pieces' as the return reason
  • Items where an eBay return postage label isn't available (e.g. bulky or heavy items)
  • International returns

Even if a return could be auto-accepted, we won't override your return preferences - opens in new window or tab or automation rules - opens in new window or tab:

  • If you have enabled the option to add an RMA (return authorisation number), we won't accept returns automatically on your behalf.
  • If you have set up rules to handle returns automatically, we'll apply those first. For example, if you had chosen to let buyers keep the item and automatically refund them when the refund is less than a certain amount, that's what would happen – we wouldn't tell the buyer to return the item.

What happens when a return is auto-accepted
The buyer will be issued a return postage label via eBay, with tracking automatically uploaded to the return request once they send the item. If you're responsible for return postage, the cost will be charged to you when the package is scanned.

Once you've received the item back, you have 3 business days to review it and refund the buyer, or ask eBay to step in and help.

Tip
If a return has been auto-accepted, you can still get in touch with the buyer via the return request.

If you agree on a different solution and the buyer isn't sending the item back, they don't have to use the eBay return label. Return postage costs are only charged if the label is used.

 

Your options for responding to a return request

Your options for responding to a buyer's request depend on the reason they're returning the item, and the return policy you stated in your listing.

The item doesn't match the listing, or it arrived damaged or faulty

If a buyer receives an item that's different to the listing, or if it arrives damaged or faulty and the purchase is covered by eBay Money Back Guarantee, they can return it to you even if your return policy states that you don't accept returns.

If you don't respond to the return request, we may refund the buyer and seek reimbursement from you, without requiring the buyer to send the item back.

Here are your response options:

Accept the return

The buyer will send the item back to you for a full refund, including the original postage cost. You'll also be responsible for covering return postage costs.

eBay may automatically accept a return on your behalf if it falls within the terms of the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy and an eBay return postage label is available. Once you've received the item back, you have 3 business days to review it and refund the buyer, or ask eBay to step in and help.

If you accept the return but the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund.

How to accept a return

Give a full refund

You'll issue a full refund to the buyer, including original postage costs, and they'll keep the item. This is a good option for low-value items.

How to issue a refund

Offer a partial refund

You'll issue a partial refund to the buyer, and they'll keep the item. This can be useful when the buyer isn't completely satisfied with their purchase. For example, if an item arrived with a minor scratch but the buyer is happy to keep it.

How to offer a partial refund

Send the buyer a message

If you have any questions regarding the buyer's request, you can contact them directly. You can also use this option if you want to offer to send out a replacement item.

How to send the buyer a message


If you respond to the request but don't come to an agreement with the buyer after 3 business days, you or the buyer can ask us to step in and help.

If we step in to help, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you. You'll no longer be able to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund, even if you qualify under our seller protections.

 

 

You accept returns in your policy and the buyer changed their mind about a purchase

If you stated in your listing's return policy that you accept returns, your buyer can return the item to you, even if they've changed their mind.

For returns where the buyer is responsible for return postage, we'll automatically accept the return request on your behalf – you just need to wait for the buyer to send the item back and then issue their refund.

If your policy is to offer free returns (you'll cover return postage charges), here are your response options:

Accept the return

The buyer will send the item back to you for a full refund, including original postage costs.

eBay may automatically accept a return on your behalf if it falls within your return policy and an eBay return postage label is available.

If no eBay return label is available, you need to arrange for the item to be returned, such as providing your own return postage label.

Once you've received the item back, you have 3 business days to review it and refund the buyer. If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund.

How to accept a return

Give a full refund

You'll issue a full refund to the buyer and they'll keep the item. This can be a good option for low-value items.

How to issue a full refund

Offer a partial refund

You'll issue a partial refund to the buyer, and they'll keep the item. This can be useful when the buyer ordered the wrong thing by accident – for example, the wrong colour or size – and you'd like to offer them a gesture of goodwill.

How to offer a partial refund

Send the buyer a message

If you have any questions regarding the buyer's request, you can contact them directly. You can also use this option if you want to offer to let them exchange the item.

How to send the buyer a message


If you respond to the request but don't come to an agreement with the buyer after 3 business days, you or the buyer can ask us to step in and help.

If we step in to help, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you. You'll no longer be able to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund, even if you qualify under our seller protections.

 

 

You don't accept returns in your policy and the buyer changed their mind about a purchase

If you stated in your listing that you don't accept returns when a buyer changes their mind, you're not obliged to accept their return request. However, if you do, you'll provide a great customer experience that encourages the buyer to purchase from you in the future.

Here are your response options:

Accept the return

The buyer will send the item back to you for a full refund. You can advise the buyer that they'll be responsible for covering return postage costs, or you can provide a label.

If you accept the return but the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund.

How to accept a return

Give a full refund

You'll issue a full refund to the buyer and they'll keep the item. This can be a good option for low-value items.

How to issue a full refund

Offer a partial refund

You'll issue a partial refund to the buyer and they'll keep the item. This can be useful when the buyer ordered the wrong thing by accident – for example, the wrong colour or size – and you'd like to offer them a gesture of goodwill.

How to offer a partial refund

Decline the return

You can decline the return request if you've stated in your listing that you don't accept returns.

How to decline a return

Send the buyer a message

If you have any questions regarding the buyer's request, you can contact them directly. You can also use this option if you want to offer to let them exchange the item.

How to send the buyer a message


If you respond to the request but don't come to an agreement with the buyer after 3 business days, you or the buyer can ask us to step in and help.

If we step in to help, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you. You'll no longer be able to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund, even if you qualify under our seller protections.

 

Tip
In some cases, your response options may differ. For example, you may have opted to automatically accept return requests.

How to accept a return

To accept a return:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Accept the return and then Continue.
  4. If you're responsible for return postage, choose how you'll arrange for the item to be returned.
    If the buyer is responsible, choose your return address from the drop-down menu.
  5. Enter a Return Merchandise Authorisation number, if you use them.
  6. Select Confirm.

We'll then ask the buyer to send the item back to you.

How long does a buyer have to send the item back?

Once the return is accepted, we'll provide the buyer with a date by which they should post the item back. If we don't see any indications that the item is on its way back to you, we may close the return to protect you from negative Feedback. Returns cannot be closed at the request of a seller.

  • With a return label: If an eBay return label is available or you provided a pre-paid label and uploaded tracking, we may close the return if we don't see tracking scans or signals from the buyer showing the item was sent within 15 business days of when the label was provided.
  • Without a return label: On items where an eBay label isn't available (for example, because the item is bulky, or being returned overseas) and the buyer is responsible for return postage, we may close the return if we don't see tracking scans or signals showing the item was posted within 15 business days of the return being accepted. If you are responsible for arranging return postage and you don't provide a label, we may wait up to 35 business days from the date the return was accepted before closing the return.
 

How to issue a full refund

To issue a full refund:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Give a full refund and then Continue.
  4. On the next page you'll see the refund amount. Select Refund the buyer.
 

How to offer a partial refund

To offer a partial refund:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Offer a partial refund and then Continue.
  4. Enter the amount you wish to offer the buyer.
  5. You can choose to add a message to the buyer.
  6. Select Send offer.

You can only offer a partial refund once, and the buyer can choose to accept or reject your offer.

 

How to decline a return

You can only decline a return if the buyer is returning the item because they changed their mind, and your return policy stated you don't accept returns. Here's how:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Decline the return and then Continue.
  4. You have the option of entering your reason for declining the request, but it won't be visible to the buyer.
  5. Select Decline return.

The return request will then be closed.

 

How to send the buyer a message

To send the buyer a message:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Send the buyer a message and then Continue.
  4. On the next page, enter your message and select Send.
 

How to offer a replacement or exchange

To offer a replacement or alternate item:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Send the buyer a message and then Continue.
  4. On the next page, enter your offer to replace or exchange the item and select Send.
 

How to specify a return address

  1. From My eBay, select the Account tab.
  2. Select Addresses.
  3. Select Add beside Return address.
  4. Enter your return address and then Save.
 

Payment holds

When a buyer opens a return request, the funds related to the sale may be put on hold. Once the return has been resolved, the hold is lifted and you'll receive your funds in your next scheduled payout.

Refunding the buyer

When you agree to give the buyer their money back, or once you receive the returned item, you'll need to issue their refund within 3 business days. To do this, simply go to the case in your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab and choose Refund buyer. If you don't refund the buyer within 3 business days of receiving the item, we may automatically issue a refund to them on your behalf.

When you issue a refund to the buyer:

  • They'll be refunded through their original payment method. In most cases, the refund takes 3 to 5 business days to process. However, depending on the payment method the buyer used, it can take up to 30 days.
  • We'll automatically relist your item for you. If you don't want your item to be relisted, simply clear the Relist item or Relist item after cancellation box when issuing the refund.
  • You may be eligible for fee credits if you refund the buyer on eBay without us stepping in. Learn more about fee credits.

Tip
Carefully check the returned item before issuing a refund. Eligible sellers may be able to deduct an amount from the refund if an item is returned used or damaged (see refund deduction guidelines below).

What to do if an item is returned used or damaged


Once you receive the item back, you need to refund the buyer. However, if the item has been used, altered or damaged, it may be appropriate to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund to cover the loss in the item's value.

If the return is eligible, you'll see the option to deduct a specific amount or a percentage when you refund the buyer through the return request. Once you've sent the refund, we'll keep the return open for up to 10 days so that we can help the buyer if they ask us to step in, but because you're protected there's nothing more for you to do.

See our seller protections for full details of eligibility and how we protect you in these situations. Keep in mind that you're not eligible for any fee credits when you deduct from the buyer's refund for a return that was used, altered or damaged, and you'll no longer see this option if eBay steps in to help with the return.

How to deduct from the buyer's refund when the item is returned in a different condition

If you qualify to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund:

  1. Find the item in your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select Report problem or Refund now and enter the reason for the deduction.
  3. On the next screen, select the percentage you want to deduct from the refund amount (see our guidelines below).
  4. Add a comment explaining why the refund isn't full.
  5. Select Refund now.

Guidelines for how much to deduct from the refund

Here are some guidelines to help you determine how much to deduct from the buyer's refund.

Condition of return

Refund deduction guidance

Excellent condition:
  • Unused, undamaged, or unaltered
  • All items included in the original package
  • Factory or vacuum seal must not be broken/opened (if applicable)
  • Original tags included & attached (where applicable)
  • Must include provided certificates of authenticity, grading or appraisal

No deductions

Good condition:
  • Missing original packaging
  • Factory or vacuum seal is broken/opened but the item is still in its original condition
  • Original tags included but unattached

5%–10% deduction

Fair condition:
  • Missing parts
  • Some signs of wear or use
  • Item has been installed
  • Item has been registered or user has not logged out of the device's account, and cannot easily be set back to factory settings
  • Original tags missing

15%–30% deduction

Poor condition:
  • Significant signs of wear, or significantly different than how it was sent to the buyer
  • Missing essential parts
  • Item is damaged, scratched, defective, or requires service or repair
  • Missing provided certificates of authenticity, grading or appraisal
  • Opened items that cannot be resold (perishables, liquor, makeup)
  • Sold multiple items but the buyer didn’t return all of them

35%–50% deduction

Misuse of this protection

Sellers may only deduct an amount from the buyer's refund in order to recover lost value when an item is returned used or damaged. Sellers may not use this protection to recoup market losses on items returned in the same condition, or to recoup return postage and/or restocking costs.

See the Seller protections abuse policy for more examples of activity that we don't allow.

 

Get help from eBay

We know that you want to provide buyers with a great experience, but sometimes you're not able to reach an agreement. If you and the buyer haven't been able to resolve the issue within 3 business days, we're always ready to step in and help.

If we step in to help with a return at any stage, you'll no longer be able to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund, even if you qualify under our seller protections.

If an item is returned with significant damage or the wrong item is returned, we may be able to help.

The buyer is entitled to return an item that arrives faulty or damaged – even if you said in your listing that you don't accept returns.

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