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Mistakes on eBay – Not Just for New Sellers

Dollar Flipper eBay Tips 18 Comments

We all make mistakes.

I still make plenty of them. Really, I do. And these are only the eBay ones! If you ask my wife, she’ll let you know that I’m just perfect all the time. 😉

You’d think that since I’ve been doing this eBay thing for over 3 years now, I’d be mistake-free by now. Hah!

So what was the mistake this time?

A Listing Setting Was Wrong

I sold a jacket for $74.99 and had free shipping. It cost $10.65 to ship to California with my TRS discount.

That would have been a nice ~$40-50 profit after all the fees.

I was celebrating, but then about a week later, I received an e-mail from the buyer asking if he could return the jacket. I let him know “of course!” and to use the eBay return process.

Looking back, I should have realized that something was wrong when he used my personal e-mail instead of Hassle Free Returns (the eBay process I use).

About a week later, I received an e-mail from eBay saying “Chris, an issue with an item you sold.” Well, that doesn’t sound good!  This is when I realized something wasn’t right. I figured I would deal with this when I got home.

When I got there, a package was waiting for me on the porch – a medium flat rate mailer. I knew this was going to be the jacket.

It was still in perfect condition and had a note saying “Thanks Chris” written on the packing slip.

When I went to refund the buyer, the entire $74.99 price showed up.  What’s going on here? Is the buyer trying to scam me?

Nope. I found out the issue once I went to re-list the item. I had forgotten to turn on returns when I listed the jacket!  For some reason, eBay does not save my settings for returns. I have to select “Yes” for returns and add my 20% re-stocking fee.

In the end, I realized this was my mistake and I wasn’t going to bug the buyer any longer with the return. I had the jacket back, and it’ll sell again.

I’m out the $10.95 that I had originally paid to ship the jacket. If I had my normal re-stocking fee, I’d have gotten $15 back which would have covered the shipping (and any ancillary costs like labels, tape, and boxes).

Luckily, I already knew this return was coming and had budgeted the whole $74.99 towards my returns categories in YNAB. I took the money from my “purchase money” category where I always keep $200 allocated for spending.  I didn’t even notice the lost shipping money since I’ve sold enough items recently.

The lesson still stings, and it just goes to show you that even us “veteran” eBay sellers (I sold my first item in 2008) continue to make mistakes and learn from them. My process has been refined but still has a few hiccups. It wasn’t even worth it to try to get the buyer to cover some of the costs. He didn’t do anything wrong. I was the doofus here.

The big thing I want to know though, is this just me?

Does eBay retain your return settings or do you have to select it every time you list something?


Comments 18

  1. I will definitely be looking out for this the next time I list something on eBay. I am not sure if they retain your return settings, I don’t sell frequently enough to remember. Sorry I can’t be of better help.

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  2. Very good tip! I have only sold on ebay a few times and I got disgruntled because someone demanded their money back from me. They said the new shirt they bought from me had a hole in it, and wouldn’t email me or send a picture. It was like $7.99, so whatever, but still.

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      Oh yeah! The golden rule of eBay is that the cheaper an item sells for, the worse the buyer. I’ve had so many more issues with low dollar items compared to higher ones. Sucks that your experience wasn’t good! It really does get better. Frustrating when a buyer won’t show you the picture. I always say something like “I’ll offer you a refund if you can provide photographs of the damage for my files.” I think it makes me seem professional. For something so low though, it’s such a pain in the butt.

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  3. My settings don’t retaine if I list on my iPhone. Handling time, taxes, return policies and restocking fees change to default (2 days, no returns etc). If I am in a hurry I forget to edit all those fields. I just list for a day or two and then go on my computer and bulk edit all my listings to make sure I am not missing anything.

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  4. I have a no returns policy, BUT I do take returns if someone wants them and contacts me. I hadn’t realized I will also be out the shipping costs though, so maybe I need to rethink this strategy.

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      I think we all started out with no return policy. Just to be clear though, the reason this was an issue was because I didn’t have my 20% re-stocking fee on. If I had, it would have covered my shipping costs. That’s the model that I use. The buyer paid to ship the jacket back to me though since it was a size issue.

  5. I keep meaning to sell some of my son’s toys on eBay but I have this fear of doing it wrong so I haven’t done anything yet. I also wonder if eBay is better than Craigslist. What are your thoughts?

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      Kids toys are tough. Generally there are a ton of them and they don’t hold their value that well. If anything, I think it’s best to just unload on Craigslist so you don’t have to deal with them. Maybe pick a few that are worth a little bit more ($30+)? I’d try a search using the toy’s names and look at the “sold listings” to see if there’s anything that stands out.

      It’s pretty simple overall though. You can print a label right through the eBay system using the money that was given to you from the buyer. Buy a box at office max or use one of the free ones from USPS if it fits!

  6. my settings are randomly deleted every 6 months or so….but it prompts me to re-put them in.

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      That’s really weird. All of mine are retained except for this section. Once in a while my international settings get messed up too and I have to re-select GSP, but most of the time it works. Except for returns!

  7. My settings aren’t retained and it really miffs me! Every time I have to make sure to unclick “Global Shipping Program” – I’ve never ever (at least not knowingly) had a listing using this. So WHY can’t Ebay pick this up and keep it off? Yep, you are right – have to really watch them Ebay people! 😉 Because they aren’t the ones out the money – WE ARE! 🙁

  8. Ebay is kind of funny. Sometimes it does retain my settings, and sometimes it doesn’t. I check it every time since I’ve noticed that has always been the case with me.

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      Right? I feel like I get a little crazy checking and double checking. Don’t even get me started about that Gallery Plus setting that won’t ever go away.

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