A couple months ago, I implemented a 20% restocking fee on returns. I had several reasons for doing this:
- Now that we are being charged Final Value Fees on our shipping, eBay wasn't going to refund that if we ended up refunding our buyer.
- Returns cost me time. I have to go through the motions of refunding the buyer, requesting a transaction cancellation, relisting the item, and putting it back into storage. Hopefully I won't have to re-polish shoes, or re-wash clothes, or anything else like that.
- Returns cost me money. As I just mentioned, I'm losing the Final Value Fee on the shipping. I also have to pay to relist the item. Yes, only a nickel, but nickels add up very quickly.
- My hope was that the restocking fee would discourage buyer's remorse returns.
I've had to enforce it a few times, with mixed results. I had a buyer who admitted that she didn't read the listing, and wanted to know if I would charge the restocking fee if she returned the Care Bear. Of course I will. YOU didn't read the listing. Why would I not charge that fee? Of course that's not how I worded it. But it still ruffled her feathers. She was annoyed with me right from the start. I stood my ground though. I also blocked her. Not for returning the item, but for giving me a hard time about my return policy. She found out I blocked her, and she gave me a negative. So ... not a real good outcome.
I had another buyer who insisted the size tag was wrong on a shirt I sold her. It was new with tags. The card tag and the silk tag both said the same thing. She wasn't too thrilled and felt that it was "unfair to charge a restocking fee when the shirt obviously isn't a size 7." But again, I stood my ground. She returned it, I promptly refunded, she agreed to cancel the transaction, and never left me feedback.
I had a third buyer who wrote me to let me know that the shoes were great and that my description was accurate, but that the heels are too high for her comfort. I reminded her of the restocking fee. She apparently changed her mind, because I never got the shoes back and she left me positive feedback. That is exactly what I was hoping for when I implemented the restocking fee. I hoped that it would make people think twice about returning for silly reasons.
This week, Cheryl on eBay Underground discovered that eBay is in fact refunding our FVFs on shipping. I double-checked my invoice and sure enough - they are! So now I'm rethinking my restocking fee. Here's what I've decided to do:
I'm going to leave the restocking fee wording in my listings. This will hopefully continue to deter the silly returns. I will waive the restocking fee on most of my returns. If the buyer comes right out of the gate being nasty (hello Care Bear lady), then I'll charge it (as long as it wasn't my mistake, of course). On the other hand, manners go a long way in my book. For example, I sold a pair of pants this week that didn't fit the buyer. Yes, I included measurements in the listing, so I could certainly charge the restocking fee since it wasn't my fault. But she was very nice and apologetic when she contacted me, so I don't mind waiving that fee at all.
I'll just have to decide on a case-by-case basis. I'll leave the wording, so I'll always have the option of charging it if I'm grumpy :) But more often than not, I suspect I won't be charging it. That will make the buyers feel special!
What do you think? As a buyer, would you buy from a seller with a restocking fee? As a seller, would you charge a restocking fee?