2 min article

Setting up your return policy

To save time when managing return requests, you can set up rules to automatically accept returns or send immediate refunds.

When you sell on eBay, you need to state whether you accept returns or not, and if so, under what conditions. For example, you might include information on who pays for return postage, or that you're willing to accept returns for a specific period of time after a sale. Whatever you decide your policy is, it needs to be clearly specified in your listings.

Automatic returns

If your policy is to accept returns, you can set up rules that automate the way that you manage different parts of the return process. For example, you can create rules to:

  • Accept some returns automatically, while continuing to process others manually
  • Refund the buyer automatically and allow them to keep the item, if the return postage cost is higher than the item's cost
  • Provide different return addresses for different items

Handling some returns automatically not only saves you time, it's also great customer service, as the buyer gets their return request sorted out straight away.

Returns that qualify for auto-acceptance

To qualify for automatic acceptance, a return request must meet the following criteria:

  • The request meets the time frame of your listing's return policy and is raised within your returns window
  • The return is domestic and will be posted back to an address in the UK

The process occurs for all return reasons, except for "Arrived damaged", "Missing parts or pieces" and "Doesn't seem authentic". For these return reasons, you can either accept the return or provide an alternative solution to the buyer. For more information, see our page on handling a return request.

Automatic returns acceptance process

Here's how returns that qualify for auto-acceptance will be processed:

  1. The buyer requests a return.
  2. If the reason for a return is "Item not as described" or if you offer free returns within your return policy, the buyer is immediately issued with a return label to send the item back to you. You're responsible for return postage costs for "Item not as described" returns.
  3. In cases of buyer remorse, if you don't offer free returns as a policy, then the return will still be automatically accepted, but the buyer is responsible for sending the item including the postage costs.
  4. Once you receive the item back, inspect it and issue a refund to the buyer. If tracking shows the returned item has been delivered to you or your address, but not yet refunded, we'll automatically issue the refund after 2 business days on your behalf.
  5. If you offer free returns, you can offer partial refunds in increments of 5% to 50% if the item comes back to you in a different condition than what you dispatched it in. Learn more about partial refund guidelines.

Setting your returns rules

Here's how to set your returns rules:

  1. Go to your Returns preferences - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Under Send a refund, you can choose to let buyers keep the item and automatically refund them if the refund amount is less than a certain amount. Simply enter the amount you're comfortable with.
  3. Choose the return reasons when this rule will apply.
  4. Under Approve a return, you can choose to automatically approve a return if the total refund cost is less than a certain amount. Enter an amount you're comfortable with.
  5. Choose the return reasons when this rule will apply.

Changes to your return rules will automatically apply to all future return requests, but won't apply to returns already in progress.

Creating advance returns rules

You can also create your own advanced return rules - opens in new window or tab. Here's how:

  1. From the Select a rule menu, choose Send a refund automatically or Approve a refund automatically.
  2. Fill in the total refund amount(s) and the return reasons.
  3. Create a list of items the rule applies to.
  4. Select the applicable selling categories.
  5. Give your rule a name and then select Save and turn on.

Tip
Even if you specify "no returns accepted", under the eBay Money Back Guarantee the buyer can still return an item if it doesn't match the listing description.

Return merchandise authorisation

If you use return merchandise authorisation (RMA), you'll have 8 calendar days to provide your buyers with a label before they can send the item back. After 8 days have lapsed, the return will be automatically accepted and a label will be provided to the buyer on your behalf.

For cases where you may want the buyer to return an item to a different location than the one from which you sent it, you have the flexibility to specify the location when you set rules in your Returns preferences - opens in new window or tab.

We recommend that you refund the buyer as soon as you receive the return. However, if the item's tracking information confirms delivery to you or your address, 2 business days have elapsed and the refund has not yet been issued to the buyer, eBay may automatically issue a refund on your behalf. We'll also consider buyer/seller risk and performance data in determining whether to automate a refund.

In some situations, a return label won't be available and we'll ask that you and the buyer make alternative postage arrangements. For example, the buyer may need to obtain their own return label to post the item back to you. 

The other conditions where auto-acceptance isn't enabled are as follows:

  • Seller on holiday
  • Use of the Global Shipping Programme
  • Click & Collect
  • Oversized items
  • Use of freight services
  • Multi-quantity listings

To save time and give buyers a quick resolution, you can set up rules to manage some types of returns automatically.

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