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Using eBay returns


eBay returns gives you and your buyers a simple and efficient way to handle returns. Understand the requirements and follow the steps to ensure smooth and professional transactions with your buyers.

Returns can be used when:

  • An item is listed and sold on eBay.ca or eBay.com. You can be registered on any eBay site.

  • You specify in the Return policy section of the listing that you accept returns.

  • You haven't already issued a refund for the transaction through PayPal.

  • A buyer starts a return within your specified return time frame.

  • A buyer pays for the item with PayPal. 

  • A buyer hasn't opened an eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Purchase Protection case, or requested a refund on the credit card associated with the buyer's PayPal account.

  • An item is listed in a category covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

Getting started

Returns, Refunds and Replacements

Offering returns gives your buyers an efficient way to return an item for a refund or replacement. A replacement is an item that is exactly the same as the original item.

Setting up your return policy in a listing

If you want your buyers to be able to return an item you're listing, specify in the listing that you accept returns.

If you're using the quick listing tool and you specify in the listing that you accept returns, you'll see the default return policy of 14 days with money back, buyer pays return shipping. If you set up your return policy using the advanced listing tool, you have more options, including your return policy window, whether you offer money back or replacements, or charge a restocking fee.

To set up your return policy in the advanced listing tool:
  1. Scroll to the Add other details section of the listing form.

  2. In the Return policy area, select Returns accepted from the drop-down menu.

  3. Select your return policy terms from the drop-down menus.

How it works

If you specify in the Return policy section of a listing that you accept returns, a buyer can start a return for that item for any reason. We'll guide both you and your buyer through the process, step by step.

  1. A buyer starts a return.

    You get an email letting you know that the buyer has started a return. The email allows you to reply to the return request with one of the following actions within 3 business days of receiving the request:

    • Accept the return: Provide the buyer with an eBay return shipping label, or upload your own shipping label to send the item back to you.

    • Refund the buyer: Issue a refund and allow the buyer to keep the item.

    • Offer a partial refund: You offer a partial refund amount, and the buyer keeps the item.

    • Send a message: Reply to the buyer directly. Sending a message to the buyer does not approve the return request.

    If you offer replacements and the buyer has requested a replacement, accept the request and ship the replacement item within 5 business days* of the buyer starting the return.

    We ask the buyer to pack the item carefully and return it in the same condition as it was received. Learn more about the item condition policy for returns.

  2. You provide a shipping address, if needed.

    If you've set your return preferences to use multiple return addresses, you have 3 business days to provide the information after a buyer starts a return. (For issuing refunds and shipping replacements, we start counting business days after you provide return details, if needed.)

    • If you don't provide a specific return shipping address, the buyer ships the item to your primary return shipping address.

  3. The buyer ships the item back to you.

    You and the buyer need to agree on how they should return the item to you.

    If you choose to provide your own shipping label, you can upload an image of the label (PNG, JPEG, BMP, GIF, or PDF) with the carrier information and tracking number. When accepting a return, select the "Upload a shipping label" option. Upload the image of the label and select the shipping carrier. If for some reason the tracking number doesn't appear, provide the tracking number. If you choose to use an untracked return label, your buyer will not be required to provide proof of delivery of the return if eBay is asked to step in and help, and you will be responsible for the reimbursement amount. Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

    For refunds: We ask the buyer to ship the item to you within 5 business days of starting the return.

    For replacements: We ask the buyer to ship the item to you within 5 business days of starting the return. We send the buyer reminders after 5 business days, and we charge the buyer for the second item after 30 days.

  4. You receive the item.

    If you're issuing a refund, thoroughly inspect the item to be sure it meets the item condition policy for returns before refunding the buyer. You must issue a refund within 6 business days of receiving the returned item. After you've issued a refund, your eBay final value fees show as a credit on your next seller invoice.

*Business days are weekdays—Monday through Friday. Saturdays, Sundays, and major Canadian holidays aren't business days.

Customizing your return preferences

When you offer a return policy on your items and want to provide your buyers with the best shopping experience possible, you may decide that you'd like eBay to help you in managing some or all aspects of your return requests. Return rules allow you to save time by automating some aspects of the returns process and expedite a refund or replacement to your buyer. You can choose which parts of the return process you want to automate - and which parts you prefer to do yourself - by setting up and customizing your refund and return rules within your Return preferences.

  • 'Send a refund' rule: If you sometimes provide a refund and let the buyer keep an item, you can automate this process. Set up a rule to apply to all returns based on the item's refund amount and/or return reasons you select.

  • 'Approve a return' rule: Expedite your return process by automatically accepting a return request and immediately providing a return shipping label to your buyer. Set up a rule to apply to all returns based on the item's refund amound and/or return reasons you select.

If you have multiple return addresses, offer replacements, or want to create rules that apply to only some of your listings, you can set up Advanced return rules that apply to all listings, listings in a certain category, or to a listing group that you create. You can create up to 500 rules.

Please note: The 'Approve a return' rule will not be available for some return requests, including:

  • When the buyer is responsible for the cost of return shipping and the return request is received outside of your return policy

  • When there is something wrong with the item and the return request is received outside of the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy

  • When the item needs to be sent back from a buyer located in a country outside the country specified in your primary return shipping address or 'Approve a return' rule

Include a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number: If your business requires RMA numbers to issue returns, you can select this option in your Return preferences to include RMAs on your return label.

You can update your return preferences at any time:

  • 1. Click My eBay at the top of most pages. You may need to sign in.

  • 2. Click the Account tab, and then click the Site preferences link on the left.

  • 3. In the Return preferences section, click the Show link, and then click the Edit link.

Return shipping charges

Either you or the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, as specified in your return policy, except when an item is being returned because it isn't as described in the listing. In this instance, you pay the return shipping charges. 

When you're responsible for return shipping charges

When you're responsible for return shipping charges, the charges are included on your next monthly seller invoice as a fee. These fees may be charged to your automatic payment method on file.

If the buyer uses alternative shipping arrangements, you need to reimburse the buyer for the agreed-upon shipping costs outside of the returns process. You can send payment to the buyer through PayPal or another payment method.

When the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges

When the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, we charge the buyer's PayPal account.

If you used calculated shipping or printed shipping labels from PayPal to send the item, we use this package weight to determine return shipping charges for the buyer. In some instances, return shipping charges may not be based on the actual weight of the package, but on an estimate.

Refunds

Refund amounts are automatically adjusted for any restocking fees, depending on the reason for return.

When the item isn't as described: 

If a buyer returns an item because it's not as described in the listing, arrives damaged, or is missing parts, then your refund to the buyer is:

Total purchase price plus original shipping equals total refund

In these situations, you're required to pay for the return shipping charges and you can't charge a restocking fee. If the buyer used alternative shipping arrangements, you're expected to refund the buyer for those agreed-upon charges through PayPal or another payment method.

All other returns:

If a buyer returns an item for any other reason, including deciding not to purchase the item after all, you keep any restocking fee specified in the listing Return policy. You can waive this fee, if you like.

In these situations, you can also keep the original shipping charge. The buyer pays for the return shipping charges, unless you specify in the Return policy section of the listing that you pay for return shipping charges.

For this type of return, in most cases the refund is the total purchase price, including item cost, sales tax and other charges, less:

  • Original shipping (at your discretion)

  • Restocking fee (if specified in the listing Return Policy)

  • Return shipping (if specified in the listing Return Policy)

If a return is escalated

If you don't issue a refund within 5 business days of receiving the returned item, a buyer can open an eBay Money Back Guarantee case. The eBay Money Back Guarantee refund amount, regardless of the reason for the return, is:

Total purchase price plus original shipping equals total eBay Buyer Protection refund 

A refund amount could be higher through the eBay Money Back Guarantee. We strongly encourage you to issue original refunds on time.

Learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

Timeline for Refunds

  • When a buyer starts a return, funds may be temporarily set aside in your PayPal account for that sale. Learn more about why PayPal payments might not yet be available.

  • After you've received a returned item, and you've made sure the item's condition is as expected, you need to issue the buyer a refund within 6 business days.

  • If you don't issue a refund within 6 business days of receiving a returned item, we may ask PayPal to reverse the buyer's payment for the refund amount. If you don't have sufficient funds in your PayPal account to cover the refund, we may give the buyer the refund and include the refund amount on your seller invoice as a fee, payable through your automatic payment method on file.

Replacements

If you're registered on eBay.com, and you have inventory available, you may want to offer a buyer who is returning an item the option of getting a replacement, instead of a refund.

When your buyer initiates a return for a replacement, we guide you through the process step by step.

A buyer can request a replacement when:

  • The item arrives not as described in the listing, such as with a damaged part, or defective in some way.

  • The buyer is returning the original item and will be getting the same item to replace the original.

  • The total refund amount for the original item would be less than $250.00.

Things to keep in mind:

  • You can print your shipping label on PayPal for the replacement, or use your own shipping and upload tracking information. See Return shipping charges.

  • If the buyer returns the item with a request for a replacement and no replacement is available, you're asked to issue a refund instead, without receiving an out of stock defect.

  • If the buyer doesn't return the original item, the replacement is treated as a purchase. The buyer's PayPal account is charged, and you're paid for the item, including shipping for the replacement. A final value fee is assessed for the transaction.

Timeline for replacements:

  • You must send the replacement and upload tracking information within 5 business days of the return request being initiated in the system.

  • If you haven't shipped the replacement item within 5 business days of the buyer uploading shipment tracking information, you're asked to issue a refund to the buyer.

  • If we ask you to issue a refund to the buyer, you have 6 business days to issue the refund once the returned item has been delivered to you. If you don't issue the refund within 6 business days, we may give the buyer the refund and include the refund amount on your seller invoice as a fee, payable through your automatic payment method on file.

  • If either you or your buyer would like to open a case, you have 14 days from either the day the replacement was delivered to the buyer, or the day the original was delivered to you– whichever is latest.

Alternative return shipping arrangements

On eBay.ca, buyers can start a return, but need to agree on return shipping with the seller. eBay Return Labels are not available to Canadian buyers at this time.

When using alternative shipping, we instruct buyers to include tracking information. If the item is valued at or more than $750, delivery confirmation is also required. We give buyers a packing slip and ask them to enclose it with the returned item.

When using alternative shipping arrangements, either you or the buyer pays for return shipping charges as outlined above.

If you're responsible for return shipping charges, we ask the buyer to contact you to agree on the service and cost before an item is shipped. In these instances, you need to refund the buyer for the shipping charges—or you can provide a pre-paid shipping label.

Final value fees and PayPal fees

Final value fees

Refunds: When a full refund is successfully deposited in the buyer's account, your eBay final value fees show as a credit on your next seller invoice.

Replacements: If a buyer requests a replacement but does not return the original item, the replacement is then handled like a standard purchase. The buyer is charged for the second item and a final value fee for the transaction appears on your next seller 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, see the PayPal User Agreement.

If you send a replacement item to your buyer instead of issuing a refund, there is no change to your PayPal fees.

Seller performance and Feedback

Seller performance

In general, if a buyer requests a return, your seller performance isn't affected. However, if either you or the buyer ask eBay to step in and help, and eBay Customer Service resolves the case in favour of the buyer, your seller performance may be affected. Learn more about how eBay Money Back Guarantee cases can affect your seller performance.

Feedback score

Returns on eBay don't affect existing rules about Feedback.

Resolving problems

After we notify you that a buyer has started a return, you can refund the buyer in the return request. Keep in mind that the buyer can ask eBay to step in within 3 business days, so respond to your buyer quickly.
We discourage haggling or trying to dissuade buyers from returning an item. We recommend that you only contact buyers if you feel that you can resolve the problem in another way.
Examples of when you may not want an item returned to you:
  • If an item has a low price or is damaged beyond repair, you may decide to just issue a refund.

  • If a problem is due to operating error and you feel you can adequately troubleshoot the issue and avoid a return.

You can also set up seller automation rules in My eBay, to handle this type of situation automatically. Go to My eBay > Account > Site preferences and scroll down to Return preferences.
Occasionally, you and your buyer may decide that a return isn't necessary. If this happens, you can't close the return yourself.
If you and your buyer have communicated through Messages in My eBay, and you've determined that a return is no longer necessary, ask the buyer to close the return. The buyer can close the return if the return shipment isn't already in progress.
A lenient return policy can work in your favor. If the item still arrives within your return time frame, we recommend you issue a refund. However, if the buyer doesn't ship the item within 5 business days of initiating a return, you're not obligated to issue a refund.
Take into account a possible carrier delay—it's possible that the buyer shipped the item at the end of the last business day, but the carrier didn't scan the package until the following morning.
Refunds:
If a buyer doesn't send back an item, you don't need to issue a refund.
Replacements:
If you send a replacement and a buyer doesn't send back the original item, we charge the buyer for the second item, and make a payment to you. A final value fee for the transaction appears on your next invoice.
For each sale (or transaction), a buyer has one opportunity to return an item or items. For multi-quantity listings, a buyer has a single opportunity to return any of the multiple items purchased.
For example, a buyer selects a quantity of 5 when buying T-shirts. The buyer has one opportunity to return any quantity of the 5 T-shirts. If the buyer returns 2 of the 5 T-shirts, the remaining 3 shirts can't be returned later.
You can only refund up to the total amount paid by the buyer. If you want to add a courtesy credit or you need to reimburse the buyer for alternative shipping arrangements, you need to make a separate payment outside of eBay returns process.
There may be situations when you authorize a refund, but the refund failed, canceled, or did not complete. If a buyer hasn't received their refund within the required time frame, they can open a case. We recommend that you confirm a refund has been completed successfully.
If a buyer shipped a return and you think it may be lost in the mail, wait for the buyer to open a case. We'll look into the matter at that time.
If you receive a returned item that's been damaged in the mail, you can ask eBay to step in and help.

Misuse of returns

Many problems are misunderstandings that can be worked out when buyers and sellers talk to each other—but occasionally, you may not be able to resolve an issue. If you feel a member is abusing eBay returns, we want to know about it.

Protecting sellers

If a buyer has tried to ensure an item is returned to you safely, we suggest you issue a refund to provide great customer service.

A lenient return policy is strongly recommended, except in circumstances where the buyer is at fault:

  • The wrong item is returned.

  • You receive an empty box.

  • The item doesn't meet the item condition policy for returns.

  • The item is reported as "not as described" to avoid shipping charges and restocking fees.

If you suspect that a buyer is abusing eBay returns for a specific transaction, contact the buyer through Messages in My eBay in order to keep a record of the conversation, and try to resolve the issue. If you still suspect buyer abuse, report the buyer to us. In the Returns section of My eBay, find the item and select Report a buyer from the Action drop-down menu.

In instances like this, a buyer may escalate the issue to Customer Service. Customer Service reviews and considers your communications with the buyer, as well as the information you provide, in the report. If photos of the item would be helpful for documenting the condition of the item you sold and shipped, you can upload as many as 10 (PNG, JPEG, BMP, or GIF; max size 5MB). You can add photos until the return process is closed. Uploaded photos can be removed only by contacting Customer Service.

If we determine that a buyer has abused eBay returns or the eBay Money Back Guarantee, you may be protected from any negative Feedback left by the buyer. The buyer may also be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges and account suspension.

Protecting buyers

If you agree to accept returns using eBay returns, and a buyer acts within all return time frames, but you fail to issue a refund within 5 business days of receiving the returned item, the buyer may file a case. 

The eBay Money Back Guarantee does not require a buyer returning an item through eBay returns to wait for you to respond before we review the case. Either you or the buyer is responsible for return shipping charges, as detailed in the listing's return policy.

If we determine that a seller has abused eBay returns or the eBay Money Back Guarantee, the seller may be subject to a range of actions, including limits on buying and selling privileges and account suspension.

Changes to this process

We may update eBay returns at any time by posting the amended terms on this site.

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