6 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.

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

Buyers can always 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 the item is damaged while it's being returned?

When returning an item, it's the buyer's responsibility to ensure that it's packed properly and protected during delivery. If the item is damaged while it's being returned to you, you may qualify to give them a partial refund. See our Partial refund guidelines for more details.

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 14 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 a 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, 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 the 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. 

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

Tip
When listing an item, it's important to include your return address. If you don't, and the buyer requests a return, the item will be automatically returned to your registered address.

How to start resolving a return request

Choose the item above to start resolving a return. You can also open your Returns dashboard and select View return details from beside the case.

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

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 buyer received the wrong item, it arrived damaged, or it doesn't match the listing description

If a buyer received the wrong item, it arrived damaged, or it doesn't match the listing description, the purchase is covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy, 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:

Upload your own label – The buyer will send the item back to you for a full refund, including the original postage cost. If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to give the buyer a partial refund. See Partial refund guidelines.

eBay may automatically accept a return from a buyer on your behalf if an eBay postage label is available. Once you've received the item, you have 2 business days to review and give a refund, or ask eBay to step in and help. 

How to upload your own label

Give a full refund – The buyer will receive a full refund, including original postage costs, and they'll keep the item. This is a good option for low-value items.

How to give a full refund

Offer a partial refund – The buyer will receive a partial refund, 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 give 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

Offer a replacement or exchange: You may offer a replacement (another of the same item) or exchange (a different, but similar item) instead of a return.

How to offer a replacement or exchange

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're asked to step in to help, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you. If the item is returned used or damaged, you will no longer be able to give a refund to the buyer even if you qualify to give partial refunds 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.

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. 

If you stated in the listing that you'll cover return postage costs, choose how you'll arrange for the item to be returned. eBay may automatically accept a return from a buyer on your behalf if an eBay postage label is available, and the request was made within the return window permitted by your policy. Once received, you will have 2 business days to review the returned item, accept a buyer's refund request and give the refund, or ask eBay to step in and help. 

If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to give the buyer a partial refund. See Partial refund guidelines.

How to accept a return

Offer a partial refund – The buyer will receive a partial refund, 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 give a partial refund

Give a full refund – The buyer will receive a full refund, and they'll keep the item. This is a good option for low-value items.

How to give 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 ask us to step in and help if you can't agree on a resolution to the issue after 3 business days.

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're asked to step in and help, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you. If the item is returned used or damaged, you will no longer be able to give a refund to the buyer, even if you qualify to give partial refunds 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 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, including the original postage cost. 

Additionally, you can advise the buyer that they'll be responsible for covering return postage costs, or you can provide a label. If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to give the buyer a partial refund. See Partial refund guidelines.

How to accept a return

Offer a partial refund: The buyer will receive a partial refund, and they'll keep the item. This can be useful when the buyer ordered the wrong thing by accident—for example, the wrong color or size—and you'd like to offer them a gesture of goodwill.

How to give a partial refund

Give a full refund – The buyer will receive a full refund. This is a good option for low-value items.

How to give a full 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. 

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're asked to step in to help, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you. If the item is returned used or damaged, you will no longer be able to give a refund to the buyer even if you qualify to give partial refunds 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 upload your own label

To provide your own label:

  1. Go to your preferred carrier's website and purchase a label.
  2. Save the label to your desktop or mobile device.
  3. Open the return from Seller Hub.
  4. Select Upload your own label and then the upload image icon. 
  5. Attach the label from your desktop or mobile device.
  6. Select your carrier and enter the tracking number.
 

How to accept a return when the buyer changed their mind about a purchase

To accept a return:

  1. Select Accept the return and then continue.
  2. If you're responsible for the postage, choose how you'll arrange for the item to be returned.
  3. If the buyer is responsible, choose your return address from the dropdown menu.
  4. Enter a Return Merchandise Authorization number, if you use them.
  5. Select Confirm.

We'll then ask the buyer to post the item back to you within 10 business days.

 

How to give a full refund

To give a full refund:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard.
  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.
  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.

To decline a return:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard.
  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 will not 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.
  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 give a partial refund when the item is returned in a different condition

To give 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 Decided What to Refund.
  4. Select the percent 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.
 

How to specify a returns 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 accept their refund request and give them the refund within 2 business days. To do this, go to the case in your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab and choose Refund buyer. If you don't refund to the buyer within 2 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 untick the Relist item box when accepting the refund request.
  • We may credit your final value fee, provided you have given a full refund to your buyer without us stepping in. Learn more about fee credits.

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

Partial refund guidelines where the item is returned used or damaged

In most cases, you'll give a full refund to the buyer, but if an item is returned used or damaged, it may be appropriate to give a partial refund. See our seller protection policy to find out how to qualify to give a partial refund.

See the table below for guidance on giving a partial refund.

Refund deduction guidelines table

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 shipped 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

How to give a partial refund after the item is returned.

Misuse of this feature

Seller protections is an incentive for you to provide buyers with exceptional experiences, such as offering free returns. This feature may not be used to recoup market losses on items returned in the same condition or recoup return postage and restocking fees.

It may only be used to recoup losses when an item is returned used or damaged. Sellers who misuse this feature may be subject to a range of actions, such as losing access to this or other site features, or losing seller protections.

 

Get help from eBay

We know that our sellers 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 asked to step in and help, we may ask the buyer to return the item to you if any of the following apply:

  • We can't determine that the item received by the buyer matches the listing description
  • You offer returns and your stated return window applies
  • You already offered to accept a return

If we're asked to step in and help, you will no longer be able to issue a refund even if you qualify to give partial refunds under our seller protections

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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