Despite what you may have heard, it is often possible to return eBay purchases for exchange or refund, though the steps involved are not quite the same as those you'd take for an online retailer.
- Gift Recipient: Contact the person who gave you the gift. This is often the most difficult and embarrassing step, and one of the reasons why eBay gifts that didn't work out are often not returned anyway. Whether or not it's a step you're willing to take is up to you—but there is often no other way to get a refund or exchange for gifts bought on eBay. Of course, since you're already reading this, it's likely that you've either already taken this step or are the giver in question and have been contacted by your gift recipient.
- Gift Giver: Find return/exchange terms in the item listing. Return to the item listing in question and read it carefully to find any return/exchange instructions provided by the seller. Caveats: (1) Do not contact eBay directly; eBay did not sell the item to you. Your business is with the seller. (2) If the item listing clearly states that the item was sold AS-IS, no refunds or exchanges, or if the listing provides a clear time frame for returns/exchanges that has already lapsed, realize that your chances of successful return/exchange are slim.
- Gift Giver: Contact the seller to request a refund/exchange. Follow whatever steps the seller has suggested in the item listing, and follow them carefully. If the seller supplied no particular instructions, use the contact link near the top of the listing to send a message to the seller. Be clear and concise: state that you request a refund or exchange and ask how to return the item and to which address it should be shipped. Don't simply say "I'm not really satisfied..." without asking for anything; this is a waste of both your time and the seller's time.
- Gift Giver: Wait for confirmation. Await the seller's acknowledgment and confirmation that a refund/exchange is possible before you proceed further. Do not re-box the item and send it off without first receiving such confirmation. Especially in cases involving shipment damage, sellers may have shippers come to your location to examine goods before return. Even in other cases, packages sent back to the shipment address may (for a variety of reasons) simply never be heard from again—and you won't get your refund! Be patient and wait for a response; send a second message if necessary.
- Recipient or Giver: Repackage according to the seller's instructions. Be careful to attach any RMA information and/or other requested documentation from the seller, and be sure to package the item well, even if it is nonfunctional or arrived damaged in the first place.
- Recipient or Giver: Ship to the return address supplied. Depending on the seller in question and their refund/exchange terms, you may be required to pay for return shipping. Always get a tracking number and ship with insurance for high-value items.
- Recipient or Giver: Track the returned package and confirm. Once your tracking information shows that the package has arrived at the seller's location, contact the seller again to request confirmation of its arrival and to request notification when the refund is made or when the replacement is shipped.
- Recipient and Giver: Await refund or reshipment. It can take anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks for a refund to appear on an account or for a replacement item to be sourced and delivered. Be patient; there is nothing to be gained by contacting a seller early and repeatedly to ask for updates.
- Gift Giver: Notify seller of satisfaction or pursue dispute alternatives. If the refund or exchange is received successfully, contact the seller once more to confirm that the transaction is complete. Leave positive feedback or at least avoid leaving negative feedback since the seller did in fact work with you to complete the transaction fairly. If you do not receive a refund or exchange to which you believe yourself entitled, either open a dispute through eBay and PayPal or dispute the transaction with your credit card issuer. Do not open disputes if the auction terms exclude refunds or exchanges explicitly.
- Coordinate. Both the gift giver and the recipient need to be on the same page for this to work out well. Be open and frank, and don't let embarrassment create complications. Few things are more natural and common than post-holiday returns, but on eBay in particular, successful returns depend on interaction between the giver (who is the original buyer) and the seller in question, which means that the recipient needs to go through the giver if a return is to be made or an exchange requested.
- Be friendly, professional, and polite. It's simple human nature—no seller will go the extra mile for a buyer that is difficult to work with. It'll get you nowhere to be angry, rude, aggressive, or overly assertive; in fact, it cause reluctant sellers to dig in their heels when they might otherwise not have.
- Don't lose your head if you aren't entitled to a refund/exchange. In the case of damaged goods or when the terms clearly offer you refund/exchange as an option, it's find to open disputes, but if you lose such a dispute or the terms clearly exclude the possibility for refunds/exchanges, you can often get your investment back by re-selling the item on eBay.
What You Need
- Original item listing