4 min article

How to handle a return request as a seller

If a buyer wants to return an item to you, how you can respond will depend on why they’re returning it and on your return policy.

If the buyer opened the return request because the item is damaged, doesn’t match the listing description, or they received the wrong item, you’ll have to accept their return request even if you don’t accept returns.

When you create a listing, you’ll add a return policy. 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 have to accept the buyer’s return request, even if you don’t have a return policy.

When you receive a return request, we’ll send a message to your registered email address and to your eBay Messages - opens in new window or tab. Once the buyer opens their return request, you have 3 business days to resolve their issue. If you’re unable to resolve the issue within this time, either you or the buyer may ask us to step in and help find a solution.

How to start resolving a return request

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

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, 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 shipping cost. You’ll also be responsible for covering return shipping costs. If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to issue a partial refund. See Partial refund guidelines.

How to accept a return

Give a full refund: You’ll issue a full refund to the buyer, including original shipping 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 issue a partial refund

Send the buyer a message: If you have any questions regarding the buyer’s request, you can contact them directly. If you can’t agree on a resolution to the issue after 3 business days, the buyer can ask us to step in and help.

If we’re asked to step in to help, we will ask the buyer to return the item to you.  If the item is returned used or damaged, you will no longer be able to issue a partial refund to the buyer even if you qualify to issue partial refunds under our seller protections.

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

 

 

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 (this may or may not include the original shipping cost depending on your returns policy). If you offered free shipping, you’ll need to refund the buyer the full amount of the item, including the original shipping cost.

If you stated in the listing that you’ll cover return shipping charges, choose how you’ll arrange for the item to be returned.

Based on your returns policy, eBay may automatically accept the return and provide a return shipping label to the buyer on your behalf.

If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to issue the buyer a partial refund. 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. If you offered free shipping in the listing price, you’ll need to refund the buyer the full amount of the item, including the original shipping cost. This is 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. If you can’t agree on a resolution after 3 business days, the buyer can ask us to step in and help.

If we’re asked to step in to help, we’ll ask the buyer to return the item to you. If the item is returned used or damaged, you will no longer be able to issue a partial refund to the buyer even if you qualify to issue partial refunds under our seller protections.

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 provide a great customer experience that encourages 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 (this may or may not include the original shipping costs). 

If you offered free shipping, you’ll need to refund the buyer the full amount that they paid.

You can advise the buyer that they’ll be responsible for covering return shipping costs, or you can provide a label.

If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to issue the buyer a partial refund. See our 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. If you offered free shipping in the listing price, you’ll need to refund the buyer the full amount of the item including the original shipping cost. This is a good option for low-value item.

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 color or size—and you’d like to offer them a gesture of goodwill.

How to issue a partial refund

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

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. 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

Tip
In some cases, your response options may differ. For example, you may have opted to automatically accept return requests.

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 shipping, choose how you’ll arrange for the item to be returned.
  5. If the buyer is responsible, choose your return address from the dropdown menu.
  6. Enter a return merchandise authorization number, if you use them.
  7. Select Confirm.

The buyer then has 5 business days to ship the item. If you haven’t received it within 10 business days, you can ask us to step in and help.

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 issue 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 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 - 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

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard - opens in new window or tab.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Offer a replacement or exchange 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 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 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.

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 2 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 2 business days of receiving the item, and the buyer has uploaded return tracking, 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. 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.

We’ll also automatically relist your item for you. If you don’t want your item to be relisted, simply uncheck the Relist item box when issuing the refund.

Tip
When you issue a refund to the buyer before we are asked to step in and help, your final value fee will show as a credit on your next invoice.

Partial refund guidelines where the item is returned used or damaged

In most cases, you’ll issue a full refund to the buyer, but if an item is returned used or damaged it may be appropriate to issue a partial refund to the buyer. Read the Seller protections policy to find out how to qualify to issue partial refunds.

See the table below for guidance on issuing 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 it 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) 

35%–50% deduction

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

Misuse of this feature

This feature 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 to recoup return shipping 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.

PayPal fees

When you issue a refund, your 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 as part of a replacement or exchange to your buyer instead of issuing a refund, there is no change to your PayPal fees.

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 to 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 and the item is returned used or damaged, you will not be able to issue a partial refund even if you qualify to issue partial refunds under our seller protections.

Learn more about asking eBay for help.

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

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