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How to handle a return request

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.

About returns

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, eBay will notify you by email (to your registered email address) and through eBay Messages. You have 3 business days to respond to the request and resolve the buyer's issue. Your response options are outlined below. In some cases, eBay may automatically accept a return request on your behalf.

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

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 to start resolving a return. You can also open 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.

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.

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, eBay may refund the buyer and seek reimbursement from you, without requiring the buyer to send the item back.

Here are your response options:

  1. 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 deduct an amount from the buyer's refund to cover the loss in the item's value.
    eBay may automatically accept a return from a buyer on your behalf if an eBay shipping label is available. Once you've received the item, you have 2 business days to review and issue a refund, or ask eBay to step in and help. 
    How to accept a return
  2. 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 full refund
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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 eBay to step in and help.

If eBay steps in to help, they'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 deduct from the buyer's refund to cover the loss in value.

Note: 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.
  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.

eBay will then ask the buyer to ship the item back to you.

How long a buyer has to ship the return:

Once the return is accepted, eBay will provide the buyer with a date by which they should ship the item back to you. After 15 business days, if there are no indicators that the item is on its way back to you, eBay may close the return and protect you from negative feedback. Some returns may remain open for up to 35 business days. Returns cannot be closed at the request of a seller.

  • eBay or seller-provided labels: If an eBay label was automatically provided or you provide non-eBay return labels and upload tracking, eBay may close the return if there are no tracking scans or signals from the buyer showing the item was shipped within 15 business days of when the label was provided. If tracking is not uploaded, eBay may wait up to 35 business days before closing the return
  • No label provided: If the buyer is responsible for return shipping, eBay may close the return if there are no tracking scans or signals showing the item was shipped within 15 business days of the return being accepted. If you are responsible for providing return shipping and do not upload a label, eBay may wait up to 35 business days from the date the return was accepted before closing the return.

Your options

How to issue a full refund

To issue 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.

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. Here's how:

  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 item

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard.
  2. Select View return details beside the item.
  3. Select Send the buyer a message and then Continue.

On the next page, enter your offer to replace or exchange the item and select Send.

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 issue their refund within 2 business days. To do this, go to the case in your Returns dashboard and choose Refund buyer. If you don't refund the buyer within 2 business days of receiving the item, eBay 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
  • eBay will 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

You may be eligible for fee credits if you refund the buyer on eBay without us stepping in. Learn more about fee credits

Note: Carefully check the returned item before issuing a refund. Eligible sellers may be able to deduct an amount from the refund if an item is returned used or damaged. See our seller protections for more details.

What to do if an item is returned used or damaged

Once you receive the item back, you need to refund the buyer. However, if the item has been used, altered or damaged, it may be appropriate to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund to cover the loss in the item's value.

If the return is eligible, you'll see the option to deduct a specific amount or a percentage when you refund the buyer through the return request. Once you've sent the refund, eBay will keep the return open for up to 10 days to help the buyer if they ask eBay to step in, but because you're protected there's nothing more for you to do.

See eBay’s seller protections for full details of eligibility and how eBay protects you in these situations. Keep in mind that you're not eligible for fee credits when you deduct from the buyer's refund for a return that was used, altered or damaged, and you’ll no longer see this option if eBay steps in to help with the return.

Your options

How to deduct from the buyer's refund when the item is returned in a different condition

If you qualify to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund:

  1. Find the item in your Returns dashboard.
  2. Select Report Problem or Refund Now and enter the reason for the deduction.
  3. On the next screen, select the percentage you want to deduct from the refund amount (see the guidelines below).
  4. Add a comment explaining why the refund isn't full.

Select Refund now.

Guidelines for how much to deduct from the refund

Here are some guidelines to help you determine how much to deduct from the buyer's refund.

Condition of returnRefund 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)
      Sold multiple items but the buyer didn’t return all of them
  • 35%–50% deduction

    Misuse of this protection

    Sellers may only deduct an amount from the buyer's refund in order to recover lost value when an item is returned used, altered or damaged. Sellers may not use this protection to recoup market losses on items returned in the same condition or recoup return postage and/or restocking costs.

    See the Seller protections abuse policy for more examples of activity that eBay doesn’t allow.

    Get help from eBay

    eBay knows that 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, eBay is always ready to step in and help.

    If asked to step in to help, eBay may ask the buyer to return the item to you if any of the following apply:

    • eBay can't determine whether 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 eBay steps in at any stage and the item is returned used or damaged, you'll no longer be able to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund to cover the loss in value.

    Learn more about asking eBay for help.

    Frequently asked questions

    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, eBay always suggests providing a great customer experience.

    What happens if the buyer used the item, or it's damaged while it's being returned?

    It's the buyer's responsibility to make sure that the item is returned in the same condition, and ensure that it's packed properly and protected during shipping. If the item is returned used or damaged, you may qualify to deduct an amount from the buyer's refund to cover the loss in the item's value.

    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 there is no indication that the item is on its way after 15 business days, eBay 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.