Bubble Wrap

Bubble Wrap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a massive pet peeve when it comes to buyer returns. I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization that this is just an eBay thing even though this is mostly where this happens to me. I sell more on eBay than most other places and therefore I know the law of averages is in effect so this must happen everywhere.

But, far too often, it goes like this:

Buyer wants to return an item. I say no problem. Then either:

  • They ship it back in the box I shipped it to them in but… they include none of the packing materials. I shipped it to them wrapped in bubble wrap and cushioned by packing peanuts? They send it back happily bouncing around inside the package with no padding whatsoever.
  • Or they re-pack the item in some ridiculous way. Such as sending an item the size of a Barbie shoe in the box their printer came in. Or they take our original package, literally take the entire box we shipped it to them in, and then drop that box… into another yet larger box and mail THAT back. (I just got one of these last week.)

Some of this, I’m sure, is just shipping things stupidly. But, as a frequent buyer myself, I just don’t get this. Why wouldn’t you mail the item back close to exactly as it came to you? Why would you add a random second box? Why would you switch to a much larger/heavier box? Why would you remove the packing materials?

I just can’t understand their logic. Did they throw out all the packing materials immediately upon opening the box and… cannot possibly retrieve it seconds later when they decide to return the item? Are they trying to passively aggressively show me that they think I use too much padding, that items long to be free and bounce around inside the boxes like they would in the wild? Are they trying to “stick it to me” by making the return shipping more than it cost for me to ship it to them (which will never work because I usually refund original shipping when I agree to reimburse for return postage)? Is it all a scam to score free packing materials?

Mostly all buyers that email for a return do so the same day their item arrives. I just don’t understand why they can’t just repack the item up in the box and materials they just opened when it’s time to send it back. This is not the time to improvise! But I see both of these scenarios again and again so there must be a reason.

Have you encountered this? Why do you think people do it?