General Question

Nimis's avatar

Who should pay for shipping?

Asked by Nimis (13199points) May 7th, 2012 from iPhone

I’m curious how both buyers and sellers feel about this.

On eBay, suppose a seller’s description of the item is not accurate. The buyer wants to return the item.

It seems pretty straightforward that the buyer should be refunded their entire purchase price. But who should pay for the cost of shipping? Original shipping (seller to buyer)? Return shipping (buyer to seller)?

What if the cost of shipping costs more than the item itself?

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9 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

I’ve been on both sides and think it comes down to if the parties agree the description wasn’t accurate.

When I’m selling something and I can see their point, I’ll refund the full amount they gave me (including shipping) and pay for shipping back to me. I’ll feel like that’s my obligation if I want the item back. In this case if shipping was more than the item, I’d just say they could keep the item or offer some other option.

If we just disagree then I generally refund the full purchase amount (again including shipping) and ask that they pay the shipping cost back. In this case I would make the refund once I’d received the item back. Most people are OK with that in my experience as long as you don’t cram it down their throats as their only option.

The second scenario is what I expect as a buyer (full refund, I pay shipping back) but I’m always thrilled if the seller pays return shipping as well.

AshLeigh's avatar

I live in Alaska. Shipping is expensive. If I’m not happy with the item that they sold me, I am not paying for the shipping.

lillycoyote's avatar

If the item is being returned because the seller’s description of the item was not accurate, and they buyer didn’t get and pay for what they thought they were buying, then the seller, certainly, should pay the shipping costs for the buyer to return the item. In other circumstances it may not be that clear cut.

bongo's avatar

I agree with @lillycoyote, I have bought things in the past which simply did not match the item description and so completely useless to me. I don’t see why a buyer should pay for the seller’s mistake in returning the item back to the seller. A full refund, postage and all (both ways) should be given in that situation, having an item which is useless to the buyer (for whatever reason due to inaccurate descriptions) gives the buyer extra hassle.
If the buyer has simply changed his/her mind about said item that is a different story and I would be happy to pay postage to return the item as this causes the seller extra hassle which is not his/her fault. However I will only send an item back in the same method of return postage as the method of delivery. I have been asked in the past to send things recorded delivery back to return an item when they originally sent the item out standard mail. This is not fair.
In the UK the law does not expect the supplier to pay for return postage if the consumer wishes to just return the item, but this law does not apply if the consumer cancels the contract as an ‘unfair term’ unless the seller states before hand that no refunds are given (I think, my understanding of legal jargon isn’t great, also not sure if this applies in the US at all.)
Recovery of sums paid by or on behalf of the consumer on cancellation, and return of security

14.—(1) On the cancellation of a contract under regulation 10, the supplier shall reimburse any sum paid by or on behalf of the consumer under or in relation to the contract to the person by whom it was made free of any charge, less any charge made in accordance with paragraph (5).

(2) The reference in paragraph (1) to any sum paid on behalf of the consumer includes any sum paid by a creditor who is not the same person as the supplier under a personal credit agreement with the consumer.

(3) The supplier shall make the reimbursement referred to in paragraph (1) as soon as possible and in any case within a period not exceeding 30 days beginning with the day on which the notice of cancellation was given.

(4) Where any security has been provided in relation to the contract, the security (so far as it is so provided) shall, on cancellation under regulation 10, be treated as never having had effect and any property lodged with the supplier solely for the purposes of the security as so provided shall be returned by him forthwith.

(5) Subject to paragraphs (6) and (7), the supplier may make a charge, not exceeding the direct costs of recovering any goods supplied under the contract, where a term of the contract provides that the consumer must return any goods supplied if he cancels the contract under regulation 10 but the consumer does not comply with this provision or returns the goods at the expense of the supplier.

(6) Paragraph (5) shall not apply where—

(a)the consumer cancels in circumstances where he has the right to reject the goods under a term of the contract, including a term implied by virtue of any enactment, or
(b)the term requiring the consumer to return any goods supplied if he cancels the contract is an “unfair term” within the meaning of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999(1).
(7) Paragraph (5) shall not apply to the cost of recovering any goods which were supplied as substitutes for the goods ordered by the consumer.

(8) For the purposes of these Regulations, a personal credit agreement is an agreement between the consumer and any other person (“the creditor”) by which the creditor provides the consumer with credit of any amount.
Reference

Unfair Term:

5.—(1) A contractual term which has not been individually negotiated shall be regarded as unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.

(2) A term shall always be regarded as not having been individually negotiated where it has been drafted in advance and the consumer has therefore not been able to influence the substance of the term.

(3) Notwithstanding that a specific term or certain aspects of it in a contract has been individually negotiated, these Regulations shall apply to the rest of a contract if an overall assessment of it indicates that it is a pre-formulated standard contract.

(4) It shall be for any seller or supplier who claims that a term was individually negotiated to show that it was.

(5) Schedule 2 to these Regulations contains an indicative and non-exhaustive list of the terms which may be regarded as unfair.
Reference

silky1's avatar

The shipping terms are usually included in the original item purchase contract. Regardless of who should pay, the fact remains if the seller has specific terms in the purchase agreement it is who has to pay.

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gambitking's avatar

Okay, I woulda gotten to this sooner but I had to flag a certain spammer. Tons of other places for that, Fluther is definitely not one of ‘em. Anywho….....I’ve been on both sides of this.

So first of all I wouldn’t say that just because the buyer claims the item was not described properly, that they should automatically get a full refund. Furthermore, if the seller is blatant enough about “No refunds and no returns” on the listing, then the buyer takes most of the responsibility. It really depends on how far off the description is.

If the item is broken, or the wrong material (plastic instead of glass, etc) or doesn’t work, then yeah you should get a refund. But if the description says the poster is an inch more in width than the item you got, are you really gonna make a big deal about it?

When I sell something and the buyer isn’t happy for whatever reason, I try to work it out some other way than shipping things around. (honestly, it rarely happens, and when it does it’s a scammer I saw coming a mile away before I even shipped, or it’s a really REALLY nit-picky thing). I’ll put it this way: I’ve never refunded a full purchase to a buyer, nor received a return shipment and i have perfect feedback. So try to work it out without shipping, it can be done.

If a return shipment must happen, then usually I would say the seller should foot the bill for an economy class ground shipment, nothing fancy. But ONLY if the buyer can prove the seller is at fault and the item really has some sort of problem. And as the seller in that case, there’s no refunds happening until the item is back in my hands.

JLeslie's avatar

One time I sold something on Amazon that had a problem and I refunded the shipping. I felt badly it was not what it was supposed to be, long story, and I cared about my rating on Amazon, and cared how I would feel if in the buyers position. The item was not returned, which was fine with me, so I was just refunding the entire amount that had been spent by the buyer originally.

If it was something that didn’t fit right, that there was an inherent and predictable risk the item might not work our, I would expect the buyer to pay the shipping for a return.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

In my ebay experiences, I’ve asked the seller to refund my entire purchase plus the cost of pre paid return shipping. 99% of the time they’ve said to keep the item if it would cost more to return. The one time I was asked to send the item back then the person emailed me a shipping label I could print out and use. So far with ebay, sellers have been really reasonable, especially if you email them pics of damages or whatever.

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