4 min article

How to handle a return request as a seller

If a buyer wants to return an item to you, you need to respond within 3 business days. How you can respond will depend on why they're returning it and on your return policy. If it's faulty, damaged or doesn't match the listing, you'll have to accept their return.

When you create a listing, you'll state in your returns policy whether or not you accept returns if a buyer changes their mind about a purchase. However, if an order arrives faulty or damaged, or doesn't match the listing, the buyer's always entitled to return it to you.

When you receive a return request, we'll send a message to your registered email address – it'll also be available in your Messages - opens in new window or tab. Once the buyer opens their return request, you have 3 business days to fix their issue. If you're unable to sort things out within this time, either you or the buyer may ask us to step in and help find a solution.

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, they can return it to you even if your return policy states you don't accept returns.

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.

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. If you can't agree on a resolution to the issue after 3 business days, you can always ask us to step in and help.

How to send the buyer a message

 

 

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. You need to choose how you'll arrange for the item to be returned, such as providing a return postage label.

In some situations, you can issue a partial refund where you receive the item back used or damaged. See Partial refund guidelines.

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

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. If you can't agree on a resolution after 3 business days, you can always ask us to step in and help.

How to send the buyer a message

 

 

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 be providing a great customer experience and encouraging 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.

In some situations, you can issue a partial refund where you receive the item back used or damaged. See Partial refund guidelines.

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 – If you've stated in your listing that you don't accept returns, you can decline the return request.

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. If you can't agree on a resolution after 3 business days, you can always ask us to step in and help.

How to send the buyer a message

Partial refund guidelines where the item is returned used or damaged

In most cases, you'll issue a full refund to the buyer, but in certain situations it may be appropriate to give a partial refund. Learn more about our Seller protection policy.

If you offered free returns in your listing, you'll have the option to issue a partial refund where the item is returned used or damaged.

Guidelines for issuing a partial refund:

Condition of return

Refund deduction guidance

Excellent condition:
  • Unused
  • Undamaged
  • Unaltered
  • All items included in the original package included
  • Original packaging (where applicable)
  • Must include provided certificates of authenticity, grading or appraisal
  • Factory seal must not be broken/opened (if applicable)
  • Original tags included & attached (where applicable)
  • Food and liquor items must not be opened
  • Vacuum seal intact (if applicable)

No deductions

Good condition:
  • Missing original packaging
  • Not sealed
  • Original tags unattached

5%–10% deduction

Fair condition:
  • Missing parts
  • Signs of wear or use
  • Item has been installed
  • Original tags missing

15%–30% deduction

Poor condition:
  • Signs of use
  • Missing essential parts
  • Item is damaged
  • Broken factory seal
  • Materially different than how it was sent to the buyer
  • Item is defective, requires service or repair
  • Missing provided certificates of authenticity, grading or appraisal
  • Opened food and liquor items

35%–50% deduction

How to issue a partial refund after the item is returned

Abuse of this feature

This feature is incentive for you to provide buyers with exceptional experiences, such as offering free returns. This program isn't intended to recoup market losses on items returned in the same condition or recoup return postage and restocking fees. It is only intended to recoup losses when an item is returned in a different condition than the original item. Abuse of this feature could result in you losing access to it.

How to start resolving a return request

To get started resolving a return, choose the item above. You can also use the Resolution Centre - opens in new window or tab, or open up 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

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.

The buyer then has 5 business days to post the item back to you.

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. Simply 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 issue a partial refund when the item is returned in a different condition

To issue 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 Decide what to refund.
  4. Select the percentage you want to deduct from the refund amount.
  5. Add a message to the buyer explaining why the refund wasn't full.
  6. Select Send offer.

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, and the buyer has uploaded return tracking, we'll 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. It usually takes 3 to 5 business days for a PayPal refund to go through. If they paid with a credit card, it may take up to 30 days to process depending on their card provider.

Tip
When you get the item back, make sure you check it carefully before issuing a refund. If it isn't returned to you in the condition it should be, you can ask us to step in and help. Learn more about our Condition of returned items policy.

When you issue a refund to the buyer, your final value fee will show as a credit on your next invoice.

PayPal fees

When you issue a refund, your variable PayPal fee is refunded based on the total refund amount. Your fixed PayPal transaction fee isn't refunded. To learn more about variable and fixed transaction fees, read how to offer a full or partial refund through PayPal - opens in new window or tab, see the PayPal User Agreement - opens in new window or tab, or call PayPal directly with any questions.

Also, if you send a new item to your buyer as part of a replacement or exchange instead of issuing a refund, there is no change to your PayPal fees.

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, or you may disagree with their reason for returning the item. 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.

Learn more about asking eBay for help.

If the item arrives faulty, damaged or doesn't match the listing, the buyer is entitled to return it – even if you said in your listing that you don't accept returns.

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