Everything You Need to Know About eBay's Return Policy

eBay is the second-largest online marketplace in the U.S. and has over 688 million monthly visitors.

With tons of products being sold every month, it’s understandable that some items may become damaged during shipping or that the wrong item may be sent by accident.

This is where eBay’s Return Policy comes in handy.

This article will discuss eBay’s Return Policy in-depth, including which items can be returned, how long the buyer has to return them, how return shipping works, and more.

Table of Contents:

  • What is eBay’s Return Policy?
  • What happens when you start the return?
  • How does the return shipping work?
  • When can you ask eBay to step in?
  • Useful tips for returns on eBay

What is eBay’s Return Policy?

Generally speaking, if your item arrives damaged, is the wrong item, or doesn’t match the listing description, you’re covered under the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy. This means that even if a seller’s return policy says they don’t accept returns, these items may still be returned.

Note that the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy only covers purchases made with the following payment methods:

  • Credit card or debit card
  • Apple Pay or Google Pay
  • eBay gift card, eBay voucher, or eBay Bucks
  • PayPal or PayPal Credit

On the other hand, if you simply don’t want an item (and it isn’t damaged or different from the listing), then you can check the item’s listing and the seller’s return policy to see if it has a return period.

Luckily, according to Statista, eBay’s American customers are mostly satisfied with its sellers and overall processes, as the customer satisfaction score was 76 out of 100 in 2021. eBay’s customer satisfaction score has stayed high from 2000 to 2021.

graph showing the customer satisfaction score of eBay’s American customers

How many days do you have to return an item?

When setting up their return rules, an eBay seller can either choose “no return,” “7-day return,” “14-day return,” “30-day return,” or “60-day return” for each of their listings.

Following eBay’s Money Back Guarantee policy, the number of days that you have to return an item is different depending on the specific circumstances. The return period looks as follows:

Return of item that hasn’t arrived or wasn’t available for collection: In this case, you have 30 calendar days after the estimated delivery or collection date to report the item.

“Not as described” returns: If the item differs from its description or picture on the listing, you can either return it within 30 calendar days after the estimated or actual date of delivery or within the seller’s stated return period — whichever is longer.

“Remorse” returns: A remorse return refers to a situation where the buyer regrets making a purchase and no longer wants the item. For this return, you need to check the seller’s stated returns window, as some sellers won’t accept these returns at all.

Can you return more than one item from your order?

Depending on the listing and order type, you can return one or more items:

  • Lots, sets, and bundles: You need to return the entire set of items. For example, if you ordered a pencil set, you can’t just return one pencil.

  • Multi-quantity listings: You can return any number of products. However, you only have one chance. For example, if you choose a quantity of three shorts at checkout, you can return one or all three of them. But, if you choose to return two pairs of shorts, you’ve used up your chance and can't return the other one later.

  • Multiple purchases from the same seller: If you purchased multiple items (from different active listings) from the same seller, you can return each item. For example, if you ordered three coffee mugs that the seller listed individually, but you paid for all three simultaneously at checkout, you can return each mug individually.

Can you return an item if your account is suspended?

No, if your account is suspended, you'll only be able to return items when your account has been reinstated. This will occur after the reason for your suspension has been resolved by eBay.

How to return an item to a seller

Here are the steps to follow in order to make a return:

Step 1: Start your return

In “My eBay,” you can find the item that you want to return under “Purchase history.” From there, you can head over to “More actions” and choose the “Return this item” option.

 image of where the purchase history button is located on eBay's website

(Image Source)

Step 2: Select your reason

Depending on the seller’s return policy, eBay may connect you with the seller so that you both can come to an agreement.

Step 3: Ship it back to the seller

You’ll be issued a shipping label and packing slip, after which you can pack the item, apply the label, and ship it.

Are you a frequent eBay shopper? Have a look at these 40+ interesting eBay statistics.

What happens when you start the return?

In 2021, eBay had 19 million sellers — which is 12.2 million more than it had a decade earlier.

image showing the number of global eBay sellers

As mentioned earlier, not all of them have the same return policies, and the type of refund you get will depend on those policies. If you return an item that’s damaged, doesn’t match the listing description, or is the wrong item, the seller may respond in four different ways:

1. Give you a full refund

After you return the item in the same condition as it was received, the seller issues a full refund, including the original shipping cost as well as your return shipping fee.

2. Offer a replacement or exchange

Some sellers may not want to give you your money back but will give you the option to replace or exchange the item.

3. Offer a partial refund

In this case, the seller doesn’t give you all your money back and instead gives you some of the money back while also letting you keep the item. This can be a great compromise if the item you received only has minor damage — such as a minor scratch or defect.

4. Contact you via message or email

The seller might send you a message requesting more details about your return. If this is the case, eBay will send you an email with details of the next steps.

How does the return shipping work?

There are several different ways you can return the item. However, the most common way is to return it via eBay's standard return policy, which includes its pre-selected shipping carriers and label.

When you request a return (and it’s accepted), you’ll receive an email with the subject line “Send back the item” from eBay with all the return details. Keep in mind that you need to ship the item back within the date provided in the email.

Who pays for the return shipping?

The seller pays for the return if the item is damaged, faulty, doesn’t match the listing description, or when they have a free returns policy.

On the other hand, you’ll pay for the return shipping if you change your mind and don’t want the item (if the seller’s policy states that).

Here’s what’ll happen when:

When you pay for the return shipping: You can choose how to send the item back to the seller. This includes either using the eBay label (in which case eBay will deduct the label cost from your refund) or purchasing a label directly from your own carrier and uploading it to the return.

When the seller pays for the return shipping: The seller will let you know how they want the item to be sent back to them. In most cases, they'll either ask you to send the item back using an eBay return shipping label or a label from their preferred carrier.

How to print a return shipping label

Here’s how you can print an eBay return shipping label:

  1. Go to “Purchase history”
  2. Find the item under “Returns and canceled orders”
  3. Select “View return details”
  4. Choose “Print label”

How to add tracking to your return

In 2020, the biggest share of U.S. eBay sellers lived in California, Florida, New York, and Texas.

If the eBay seller you purchased from is far away from you, you may want to track your return for added security against delays or other issues during the refund process.

When you use the eBay returns label, accurate tracking information is automatically uploaded — making it easy for you and the seller to know where the item is at all times.

If you're using your own return shipping label, do the following:

  • Step 1: Go to the return request under “Purchase History.”
  • Step 2: Select the shipping carrier from the dropdown list. You can enter your own carrier’s name when you choose “Other.”
  • Step 3: Enter the tracking number.
  • Step 4: Select “Mark as sent.”

Note that if you’re shipping an item that costs $750 or more, you have to use a tracked service with signature confirmation.

When can you ask eBay to step in?

You can ask eBay to step in if you’ve asked your seller for help and they weren't able to help you within three business days.

However, most sellers want to fix their buyer’s problems themselves. Therefore, eBay suggests that if you and the seller are still talking and working on a solution after the three days, give them a little longer to figure things out before asking the company to step in.

At the end of the day, you still have 21 days after the initial refund request to ask eBay to help — which gives you plenty of time to work with.

Ultimately, working directly with the seller is highly beneficial for you and them alike.

image showing the benefits for eBay customers when they communicate directly with sellers

How to ask eBay for help

If your seller doesn’t answer you within three business days or can’t come up with a solution, you can ask eBay to help by doing the following:

  1. Find the item in your “Purchase history”
  2. Select “See request details” if your item didn’t arrive or “See return details” if you’re trying to return your item
  3. Select “Ask eBay to step in”

What happens when you ask eBay for help?

After you’ve asked eBay to step in, it’ll try to resolve your issue in the fairest way possible. Usually, customer service will get back to you within 48 hours. However, if the issue is more complex, it may take longer.

Once eBay decides on the situation, an email will be sent to you and the seller. If the case is closed in your favor, you’ll get a refund within 48 hours.

However, if eBay doesn’t agree with your decision, you can appeal by supplying new information (that you think might help the company reconsider) within 30 days of the case being closed.

Useful tips for returns on eBay

Here are a few steps you can follow to make the return process as seamless as possible.

1. Check the listing’s return policy before purchasing it

As mentioned earlier, sellers may have different return policies when it comes to specific items.

Before making a purchase, you can check what the seller’s return policy for your chosen item is by looking beneath the item description.

There, you’ll see the return period as well as the type of return. For example, in the listing below, the seller offers a “30-day buyer-paid return,” meaning that you can return the item within 30 days of delivery — but you’ll have to pay for the return shipping out of your own pocket.

example of an eBay listing's return policy

Also, read through the return details to see whether an item is eligible for a full refund, replacement, or exchange.

Save on your eBay purchases by using our coupons.

2. Return the item in the same condition

The chances are good that a seller won’t give you a refund if the returned item is even more damaged when it reaches them than when you initially received it. To make sure that the item returns back to the seller in the same condition you received it, you need to pack it well:

  • Use a quality box
  • Use the right box size
  • Use packaging supplies such as bubble wrap when necessary

3. Note shipping deadlines

Check the shipping deadlines and estimated delivery date before making a purchase — especially if the item needs to be shipped internationally. This is extremely useful if you need an item before a specific date. For example, a wedding dress.

4. Look at seller ratings before buying

A seller’s rating or feedback score shows you whether other buyers have had a positive or negative experience with them. For example, if a seller has a 99.5% rating, it means that 99.5% of their customers had a positive experience with them.

Need tips to make the best eBay purchasing decisions? Head over to our eBay buying tips article.

Ready to return your item?

By following the tips and instructions outlined in this article, you can return your eBay item without trouble.

If you run into any problems with your return, remember to contact eBay directly, and a consultant will be able to contact the seller to get your return resolved quicker.

Check out the top 25 retailers with the best return policies.

about the author

Tiara Rea-Palmer
Director of Partnerships
As an expert in online savings and an avid deal enthusiast, Tiara heads up retail relations at CouponFollow, where she stays up-to-date on all the best deals, discounts, and freebies, as well as negotiates exclusive coupons and offers for CouponFollow users. In her free time, you can find Tiara writing, DIY crafting on a budget, and traveling with free rewards card miles.