When eBay Sellers Cannot Win With Returns

eBay recently (okay, last year) began requiring a return policy with one of the options being “No Returns”.  If a seller does not accept returns, the buyer can simply file a SNAD (Significantly Not As Described) claim with PayPal.  The majority of SNAD claims favor the buyer, so it’s likely you will lose.

Now, there are cases where returns are just not possible (think undergarments). However, the vast majority of items are “returnable”.

So, what is a seller to do?

Many years ago, I received my first negative feedback because I wouldn’t accept a return. In retrospect, the $25 refund would have been “headache insurance”. Since then, I’ve accepted all return requests for any reason (and some have been pretty insane silly).

Because of the SNAD option, it’s hard (if not impossible) for a seller to win, so the option becomes how can you make this policy work for you?

I know this is not what you want to hear, but you might want to consider just adopting a liberal return policy and use it as a marketing tool. If you have “No Returns” specified, take a few minutes, examine the SNAD policy, take a look at how many returns you actually have had, and maybe change to a more liberal policy which might results in more sales by making the buyer more comfortable.

This is a case of if you can’t beat them, join them.

With all that said, I would love to hear from ANY seller who has EVER won a SNAD. It would be a very educational story. I spent the entire morning looking for one, and only found sellers who lost!!

10 Responses to “When eBay Sellers Cannot Win With Returns”

  1. Henrietta of RedINKdiary Says:

    I have always has about the most liberal return policy imaginable, basically if you don’t like it for any reason it’s not sold. Let me know and send it back.

    I have had precisely two returns since 1999. One packet of prints the Post Office mangled, bent and spit oil all over, fair enough full refund including her postage, not her fault. That was an eBay transaction, pre DSRs. The other one was a website transaction, lady was 2 full sizes larger than the shirt and we exchanged.

    I have had many wanting a return who just do not ever get around to doing it. Fear of mailing?

    The SNAD thing is an almost exclusively eBay phenomenon. Buyers have learned you can have your item and a refund too. There is only one cure for this and if your business cannot afford to exit eBay you will just have to suck it up.

  2. Seller Says:

    We’ve won a few SNADs over time, but the overwhelming majority end up being ruled as returns. The claims only happen when the buyer doesn’t contact us prior to raising them — if the buyer contacts us then we have a returns policy which lets anyone return anything within 14 days of dispatch (to comply with EU Distance Selling Regs).

  3. Hillary Says:

    I posted this comment yesterday and Crystal accidentally deleted so I am posting to again at her request. Typos are uncorrected. :-)

    I have won many SNAD over the years. Let’s see, one was a Hess Truck and the buyer was claiming that it should have come in the box because I said in the listing that I was selling other MIB Hess Trucks and eBay dismissed it saying the description was correct to what he got. I had one a few years earlier with a shirt that. I shipped him an adult shirt, he claimed it sent a child shirt, I was like NP you can return it, no questions and he sent it back yellowed and smelling very nasty. The amount it cost me to dry clean it cost almost as much as the original item so i only refunded the different. He filed a SNAD and eBay dismissed it saying that he wasn’t due a refund because he damaged the item (side note: this one hella impressed me as this case was totally just my word against his).

    There was also one a few years ago for something random (a toy car I want to say? I really don’t remember) that the buyer filed a SNAD about some really random detail in the description and eBay shot it down before I ever even got to reply basically saying their complaint was pathetic (something like, complaint did not equal significant enough damage to warrant a refund or something) and dismissed it out of hand. There have been many over the years, those are the three most recent that stick out in my mind.

    I have also, sadly, LOST SNADs as a buyer. Don’t get me started one those, they fill me with rage. Esp the one that was related to my flower girl dress!!!

    You have to remember that people aren’t usually inspired to run to the internet when they had a good experience so its not surprise you only found complaints. I blog about everything and it never occurred to me anyone cared to hear about cases I had won or justice being served! I only think to blog or complain about something when things *don’t* go my way.

    As for returns, I just did a post about this here (Why your online store needs a return or exchange policy (even if you really don’t want to offer one): http://thewhineseller.com/2009/09/why-your-online-store-needs-a-return-or-exchange-policy-even-if-you-really-dont-want-to-offer-one/

  4. crystalwells-miller Says:

    Thank you so much! With the large bales of spam that come in, I clicked the wrong button when viewing your great comments.

    I’m so glad that there are folks who actually do win the SNAD. I was shocked that in a whole morning that I didn’t find any that had won, so this is good news! Sellers DO stand a chance!


  5. Julie Says:

    I won a significantly not as described recently when a customer claimed earrings were broken. We had the receipt from an upscale department store and had detailed photos. They were the classic nasties that we get once in blue moon but they sting. They demanded we pay their cab fare to a high end store to have the item repaired or Manhattan parking. They would not take to a local tailor etc. They ripped it obviously it over the holidays but wanted to get us to pay the repairs. Ebay paid them and reimbursed us under Paypal seller protection because we had the original recent receipt but that was pure luck. There was no final sale like in the outlets so they rightly assumed it was excellent but their buyer protection policy is how they are getitng customers because caveat emptor was the rule for so long, they went to the other extreme. It was a weird and unpleasant person and a very unpleasant experience but at lesat we got our money back. I don’t know what boutique would pay for all that at retail let alone at reduced price. This dress was my sister’s and it cost $1500 and she didn’t like it so being a diva she gave it to me to keep the change and it sold for $500.

    I heard a fellow seller say that they won a phony “empty box” claim. They won it by the stated weight that UPS had. I guess if you use USPS this might not happen. eBay suggest that you take photos of putting in the box and then also mailing but that must have been a joke they made that he didn’t get. I can’t believe that if you are a high volume seller you have to video your whole process to show that you followed it.

    Others we have lost and do not even fight but do not get too many.

  6. GazLanNaThai Says:

    As per the original post, as a seller I have never won a SNAD.

    There is one that particularly sticks in my throat, and involves these candles -
    As you can see there is an assortment of colours with some blue, yellow, red, green, orange etc. This was the actual picture used in the listing.

    The buyer filed a SNAD stating that the picture showed them to be all pink – “all pink” in both senses of the phrase – every candle was pink, and each candle was pink only.

    The description and title clearly stated they were a random mix fashioned like old-time candies.

    At that time (and from a long time before, up until our final exit from eBay after Christmas 2009), our returns policy was simple – we’re based in Thailand, all shipments are subject to standard international terms of FOB or CIF – no insurance = no transit damage cover (she didn’t claim any transit damage) and any return qualifying as change of mind (buyer regret) were product cost refunds only, upon receipt of the goods back in Thailand, where they’d been shipped from.

    She filed a SNAD with PayPal based on the photo being only for all-pink candles, and PayPal awarded in her favour …. and instructed her to ship to an address in the UK, that had been used seven years previously when I’d used a UK bank account to open the PayPal account.

    PayPal completely ignored the terms of sale regarding destination for returns (point of origin) and the photo and text description, and even refunded her the shipping IN BOTH DIRECTIONS straight from my PayPal balance.

    This case was naturally AFTER eBay had made PayPal mandatory on all UK and US listings, but at least on the UK site, overseas sellers can still offer alternatives to PayPal, which is not something open to them on the US site – for non-US residents, eBay.com has been PayPal-only (a Sherman Act violation) for some time now, but I still see no evidence of the Federal authorities taking action against this.

    As I say, we took a final exit from eBay last week. I doubt we’ll ever return as either a buyer or seller, but with what we know about how to be defrauded on eBay as a seller, eBay (and remaining sellers) should be very relieved we have no desire to return there.


  7. Beth Says:

    I don’t believe anyone can win an SNAD. Wendy talks of winning many years ago. The Ebay SNAD policy just went into effect in October 2009. I jsut lost one this week. CLEARLY sdtated in description that the item was not vintage but a new remake.

    Buer’s complaint: She expected vitnage and got a new remake instead. Ebay refunded her PLUS postage (which was significant cost) I lost $36 on the deal and had done everything right.

    Just as an aside. I ahve sold over 50 of same item and EVERY other buyer was thrilled with the item. How can Ebay find it is SNAD?

  8. Gary Overton Says:

    I have never lost one.
    When a buyer complains I offer them a partial refund or a full refund if they return the item.
    Most accept the partial refund and keep the item. there have been a few that refused to return the item and wanted a refund. eBay/PayPal has always ruled in y favor on those.
    My experience may be different because I sell relatively low-priced items. It is usually not advantageous for the buyer to return the items.

  9. Kevin G Says:

    Out of over 10K transactions, I’ve only ever had 1 return due to ‘buyer remorse’ and around 10 that were my fault (or at least items that I should take responsibility for). I have had no SNAD’s filed against me because I resolve everything that comes my way before it gets to that point.

    ‘scam’ buyers that are looking for money back or have buyer’s remorse are nothing new in the retail business and not a Ebay centered issue despite what people think. I can only imagine the level of fraud that happens at a place like Wal-mart.

    We have bought a phone from Wal-mart that was a restock, got it home and it was a completely different phone. We have bought black lights from there only to find out someone replaced them all with regular lights. I’ll take my 1/10,000 buyer and those few other issues where it might have been bad buyers and chalk it up to business risk.

  10. PayPal Supports Theft Says:

    You must ask yourself what kind of an organization participates in the robbery of their customers.

    Both eBay and PayPal know, without question, that PayPal’s Significantly Not As Described (SNAD) policy helps dishonest buyers steal from honest sellers.

    What sort of an organization would devise such a system then allow it to continue after scores of honest sellers have reported losing merchandise to thieves with the help of eBay and PayPal?