Sometimes, our eyes simply deceive us. That aquamarine shirt you saw through your screen turned out to be turquoise in your hands. It’s also missing a button on its sleeve. Being on the receiving end of a defective or misrepresented item can be frustrating. At eBay, we call these items INAD, or Item Not As Described. As sellers, these are obviously cases you’d want to reduce to a minimum, but when the going gets tough, here’s what you can do to resolve INAD requests efficiently and diplomatically.

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What Is INAD?

INAD is short for Item Not as Described. Any item that does not meet buyers’ expectations or match the listing title, photos, item specifics and item description is categorised as an INAD case. Sellers must acknowledge and resolve the disputes within 3 business days (known as the Seller Make It Right, or SMIR, period), be it in the form of return, replacement, or a refund.

If the request isn’t resolved in 3 business days, then the case will be escalated to eBay; and if the case is ruled in buyer's favour, it would count as a defect, affecting the seller’s performance (SPS). 

Here’s a list of common INAD requests:

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1. The item doesn’t work / is defective.

From awkward zippers to scratched surfaces, defects come in many forms.

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2. The item doesn’t match its description / appear as photographed.

You’d be surprised how many different shades of blue there are in the world.

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3. The item isn’t what I ordered.

We can understand how one might confuse the X-T100 model for the X100T model.

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4. The item is missing a part / a piece.

Leave nothing out! Even the tiniest screw.

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5. The item arrived damaged.

Keep everything snugly wrapped in bubble wrap and polystyrene sheets.

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6. The item doesn’t seem authentic.

Sell genuine items. No fakes allowed!

NOTE: If a buyer asks to return an item they no longer want, this would count as buyer’s remorse and said request would not be categorised as an INAD request.

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Where You Stand On INAD

Are five INAD returns bad news? Well, if you’ve sold 1,000 items, this would only be a small dent to your business; but if you’ve only ever sold five items, then you should be concerned.

As sellers, you can keep track of how your INAD returns compare to your peers’, i.e. within the same item listing category. To do this, simply

1. Go to your Seller Hub on My eBay

2. Select Selling, then Performance

3. Click on Service Metrics

On this page, you’ll be able to see the total number of transactions you’ve had, the number of INAD returns, where you stand compared to your peers, and a breakdown of your INAD returns.

Let’s say the average rate of INAD returns is 0.83%. With only five INAD returns out of the 1,000 products you’ve sold, you’re sitting at a healthy 0.5% below the average. With figures like that, you’re doing well, so keep that quality control machine running and it’ll be a smooth ride for your business.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Ideally, it’s great for business if you can eradicate INAD requests. Here’s what you can do to prevent them:

1. Be meticulous with your item description. Always assume that buyers are more intelligent than you. These are individuals who have most likely done their research before committing to a purchase with you, so you would do well to be transparent about your product.

Learn how to do this efficiently here 

2. Don’t forget item specifics! This appears at the top of your item description, and provides a quick and easy summary of your item to buyers.

3. Great photographs should not be misleading. The basic requirement is to upload clear, high quality images of your item from multiple angles; but it is also important to note that you should not heavily edit your images as to distort the item’s colour or exaggerate its size.

4. Include clear return and refund policies. Be crystal clear and transparent to prevent things from becoming unpleasant.

5. Avoid selling products with high rates of manufacturing flaws. As the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. But if it is, don’t sell it.

6. Do no not sell counterfeits. As sellers, you have the sole responsibility over the items you advertise. At eBay, any item that infringes someone’s copyright or trademark is considered unauthorised in our listing guidelines and will be removed promptly.

7. Ensure all items and parts are included and correct before shipping them off. If the item comes with 15 bolts, make sure all 15 are sent. Even with just 14, it would count as a legitimate INAD request if the buyer demands for a replacement or return.

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The best ways to tackle INAD

There are several options available to you when you receive an INAD request, including:

1. Accepting the return. You pay for shipping and send our return label or your own. Wait to get the item back before refunding the buyer. This is especially important due to the possibility of fraud.

2. Offering a replacement with a similar / different item. The buyer can still decide to get a refund instead.

3. Issuing a full refund / partial refund. In both cases, the buyer keeps the item. For partial refunds, you will only have one chance to offer an amount. Partial refunds are also a useful option when the buyer isn’t completely satisfied with their purchase. For instance, if an item arrives with a minor scratch, but the buyer is happy to keep it.

You may also choose to send the buyer a message to find out more details about their INAD request, or have us step in if you’re having difficulty resolving the issue.

The above are immediate and short-term solutions for each INAD request you receive. In the long-term, however, you may want to reconsider your item descriptions, changing your supplier, or even completely removing the problematic item from listings if the same issue keeps happening. If it isn’t, then you may appeal for unfair cases.

Handling Fraud

In the very rare instance where the buyer has returned a different item than what you sold or if the item was sent back damaged, or if you have a very strong reason to believe that you are being scammed, then you should

  1. First, take a picture of the item.
  2. Upload it on eBay and state that you cannot offer a refund yet as you are investigating a fraud.
  3. Make an online report to police in the buyer’s country.
  4. Attach the police report on eBay.
  5. Report the buyer internally on eBay at http://spd.ebay.com/RBASellerHub.

You can also add in the warning that you have lodged a report with local police and that they are investigating the issue. Once the case is closed, block the buyer.

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Issuing Refunds

To issue a full refund:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard.
  2. Select See return details beside the item under “Actions”.
  3. Select Give a full refund and then Continue.
  4. On the next page, you'll see the refund amount. Select Refund the buyer.

To issue a partial refund:

  1. Go to your Returns dashboard.
  2. Select See return details beside the item under “Actions”.
  3. Select Offer a partial refund and then Continue.
  4. On the next page, enter the amount you wish to offer the buyer. Select Send offer.