Seller Blog

Warranties, returns policies, and keeping buyers happy

1466 1805 Customer Satisfaction

A customer unsatisfied with their purchase is never an ideal situation, but it also gives you an opportunity to turn a potentially negative trade into a great customer experience that will make you stand out from other sellers.

Have clearly written policies on your listings and Store pages, and deal with warranty claims and returns promptly and your customer is more likely to return and not impact negatively on your feedback.

Even before a shopper purchases, they may look at your policies to gain confidence in the transaction – so present yourself as a professional seller who knows their stuff, and will keep their buyers happy.


Warranties are your legal obligation to fulfill – in New Zealand, all in-trade members must comply with the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and Fair Trading Act (FTA).

The CGA makes sure customers get what they pay for and, if needed, a repair, refund or replacement for a faulty product or substandard service.

The FTA requires that consumers are not misled or deceived.

As an in-trade seller, you must offer products that are:

  • of acceptable quality
  • fit for purpose
  • match the description given
  • match any samples or demonstrations given
  • able to be legally sold.

Returns policy

You may choose to accept returns in circumstances not related to a warranty or the CGA, for example, if the buyer orders the wrong item or changes their mind.  

As these are not legal requirements, you have more flexibility about the terms that you offer, but your returns policy should be clear, and if possible, consistent across all of your listings to avoid confusion.

Let the customer know exactly how long they have to return a product and what timeframe this refers to – the date of purchase, the day they received it, etc. This is especially crucial if your return period is shorter, such as 30 days or less. Common return time periods offered by sellers are 30, 60 or 90 days.

You may require that the buyer who has changed their mind must pay for return shipping costs.  You may also choose not accept ‘change of mind’ returns at all, however, if the buyer does return an item because it was defective, you must cover the cost of return.

If a member is returning an item because of a misrepresentation made in the listing (including the image) then your warranty or returns policy does not apply, and again, you must cover the cost of the return.

Know your stuff

Overall, your warranties and policies must not in any way mislead a buyer about their consumer rights.

We sometimes see sellers confusing returns and warranties, leading to:

  • Statements that the buyer is responsible for paying the cost of shipping returns in the event that the goods are faulty. This is not correct, under the Consumer Guarantees Act the buyer must be reimbursed for all shipping costs. This also means that Return To Base (RTB) statements are misleading.
  • Statements that may mislead the buyer about their rights. Any statement that attempts to limit the rights of buyers would not be enforceable. For example, to say that any complaints must be made within 15 working days is incorrect. The CGA allows a claim to be made, regardless of time.
  • “As is, where is” statements must not be made, because it misrepresents the buyers consumer rights (the CGA applies regardless of statements like this) and is likely a breach of the FTA.

It is best to ensure that you are clear on your legal obligations (warranties) and what policies you personally want to offer buyers to ensure they are satisfied (returns). The best way to ensure a positive trade for both yourself and the buyer is to clearly communicate both policies and keep them separate in your listing.

Not all trades will go as planned, but these tips can help both you and your buyer end up satisfied with the trade!

Ping for professional sellers

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We’ve got good news! Starting from Monday 28 May, we’ll be migrating all professional sellers onto Ping. We’ll be in touch once you’ve got Ping, and from that point the majority of your sales will go through your Ping account.

What are the benefits of Ping?

It’s instant

  • Payments are processed instantly(regardless if a buyer has paid via bank account, credit/debit card or their Ping balance).

It’s easy

  • Ping works seamlessly with your listing tools – no more mucking around swapping bank details, waiting for payments or missing references.
  • You can make as many refunds on a sold item as you need to (up to the value paid).
  • There’s no limit on transaction downloads, unlike Pay Now.
  • Enjoy flexible balance withdrawal options – either on an automated daily basis, or manually when it suits you.

It’s safe

Reach more buyers

  • Over 2 million member accounts have access to Ping!
  • Ping allows you to accept bank transfers instantly, giving you access to a wider pool of buyers who prefer bank transfers. Buyers can even do split payments, making it even easier to purchase your items.

Important things to note

  • Afterpay operates on the old Pay Now ledger, so if you offer Afterpay you’ll need to monitor the Afterpay ledger. This means you’ll have two bank payments made to you – one from Afterpay and one from Ping.
  • Buyers who use Buy Now and pay immediately with Ping will be sent a link to view your payment instructions. Payment instructions will be sent as an email for listings won via auction or Fixed Price Offer.
  • The Top Seller discount applies to Ping transactions, bringing the 1.95% fee down to 1.65%.

Have more questions?

Head over to our help page for sellers, or drop us a line.

Navigating ‘in trade’ and personal accounts on Trade Me

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With the changes last year to our ‘in trade’ policy and the year already well underway, it’s a great time to sort out your Trade Me account (or accounts).

There are two types of memberships you can create on the site – an ‘in trade’ business membership, and a personal membership. Anyone can create a personal account, as long as you don’t have one already. Anyone can also create a business account, but the two accounts need to be kept completely separate. This does mean that things like listings and feedback aren’t transferable, and belong to the account where they originate.

So if  you only have an ‘in trade’ business account currently and would like to be able to sell personal goods separately, feel free to go ahead and create that personal account!

Outside of having one personal and one business account per member, we don't allow multiple accounts on Trade Me.  If you operate more than one business or in more than one location, we may be able to consider your circumstances. This is a very rare situation and these accounts need to be approved by our Trust and Safety Team before they are created, as they’re created at our discretion.

This is because we don't want buyers put in a position where they don't know who they're buying from, and we also don’t want to make them feel like they’ve been tricked in any way (especially in cases where they’ve blacklisted a seller previously).

If you have any questions about creating a second account, it’s always best to touch base with Customer Support before you create the membership. That way, you shouldn’t run into any surprises later down the line. 

Change to success fee calculation – what it means for you

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The way we calculate success fees for ‘in-trade’ sellers is changing. From 14 March 2018, in-trade sellers will be required to pay success fees on the final sales value (the price of the item sold + shipping costs).

Why are you making the change?

We want this fee restructure to encourage more in-trade sellers to give Kiwis a better deal, by offering free or low-cost shipping. Our research shows that buyers perceive shipping costs on Trade Me to be expensive, which can create a barrier to purchasing or lead to buyers abandoning a sale. We also see some listings with inflated shipping costs and this results in a poor experience for buyers.

It’s widely recognised that consumers seek free shipping when purchasing online, and offering free shipping has been seen to increase sales.

This change is also consistent with payment methods like Pay Now, Ping and Afterpay, where the fee is charged on the final sale value.

When does this come into effect?

Success fees on the final sales value will come into effect on 14 March 2018 for in-trade sellers, so any listings created or relisted from this point will be charged on the price of the item sold, plus the shipping costs.

Any listings created up until 11:59 pm on 13 March 2018 will be calculated and charged at the current success fee rate, even if the item sells on or after 14 March.

This is going to affect my business – what are you doing to help sellers?

Even though there are currently over a million listings offering free shipping on Trade Me, we understand this is a big change for a lot of our sellers. Therefore, we’ve tried to add value elsewhere with some discounted offers and new features – just for our in-trade sellers:

  • We’ve introduced the Gold Trade Rebate to reward the sellers that actively strive to improve the buyer experience. With each listing that meets our criteria you’ll get 10% off the success fees. See our Gold Trade Rebate blog for more information.
  • Building on the strong partnership we’ve developed with Fastway Couriers, we’re excited to let you know that from today they have discounted our already reduced ‘book a courier’ rates an additional 10% for all in-trade sellers. For sellers that use a different courier booking system, Fastway Couriers are happy to discuss a personal solution for your business and can be reached directly on 0800 4 fastway.
  • We’ve recently opened up multi-variant listings to Tradevine and other API users, which will remove the hassle of waiting for a buyer to email with their size/colour choice, and reduce the number of listings you pay high volume listings fees on.
  • With over 50% of Trade Me’s traffic coming from a mobile device, we’ve also been investing in our apps. In the coming weeks we will have Trade Me Stores featured in the iOS app, so your buyers who like to shop on the go see the very best version of your business.

What if I don’t know the shipping costs at time of listing?

We understand that some products are large or awkward to ship, and a bespoke shipping rate needs to be provided.

For in-trade sellers where it is difficult to determine the cost of shipping an item, due to the nature of the item, we have provided an option to choose “Bulky/overweight freight (custom quote required)”. It will still appear as “To be arranged” to the buyer on the listing.

We expect sellers to use this functionality appropriately, and not choose it for things such as mobile phone cases or dresses. We’ll be monitoring usage of this to ensure it is not abused. It’s also worth keeping in mind that listings without specified shipping costs are less likely to sell, so we’d always recommend trying to get a quote for shipping where possible.

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Does this mean I can add the shipping costs to the Buy Now price and offer free shipping?

Simply transferring the cost of shipping and adding it to your Buy Now price is not ‘free’ shipping, as the buyer is still paying the shipping costs. We do not recommend this – it’s misleading for buyers and a breach of the Fair Trading Act.

We suggest you rework your product pricing structure to offer free (or low cost) shipping on the items you can afford to. Read on for some more tips on how to incorporate free shipping into your business model.

How will success fee refunds work?

When a trade doesn’t go ahead as planned and you’re applying for a success fee refund, the process will work the same way as it does now.

  • Apply via the site for a full refund of your success fees. This will include fees paid on shipping.

Remember, you only pay a success fee if your item sells, and the total success fee is capped at $149 for in-trade sellers. The 15% Top Seller discount will also still apply to the full success fee charged.

How to make free shipping work for your business

Someone has to pay for the cost of shipping. The big question for any online retailer is how to offer free shipping to their customers, whilst balancing the expense to their business.

Here are some ideas to make it work for your business:

  • Factor free shipping into your operation from the moment you buy inventory and include it in your financial models. Yes, it will cut into your margins, but think of it as another marketing expense – a tool to attract more sales. The return on investment should stack up.
  • Shout it from the rooftops – “Get free shipping here!” Customers love it, but they need to be made aware of it too, so mention you offer free shipping (and any other unique selling point of your business) in your listings to attract buyers. Marketing this perk will reduce potential sale barriers and help you stand out from other sellers.
  • Pick a few products that you have healthy margins in and offer free shipping on those. You don’t need to offer free shipping on everything.
  • If you have a fairly standard product line, for example you only sell mobile phone cases, then flat rate shipping could be the way to go. It’s not free shipping, but at least the simplified shipping costs of “$2 anywhere in NZ” for example, will be easier for buyers to digest. Just be sure that you’re not drastically over or under-charging your customers.
  • Finally, online retailers can reduce overheads by negotiating preferential shipping rates with courier companies. We offer our ‘Book a courier’ service for reliable, low cost, competitive shipping within NZ. Again, free shipping is what buyers really want, but if you can’t offer it on all products, then ‘Book a courier’ may work for you. Our partners at Fastway Couriers are also offering an additional 10% discount off their Book a courier rate, for all our in-trade sellers.

New free shipping banner

Another benefit of free shipping is the updated free shipping banner in search results, shown below. We’ve recently changed this banner so that listings offering free shipping (selected during the listing process) stand out to buyers.

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Free shipping – it’s your call

At the end of the day, we can only tell you the facts about free shipping: that it can reduce abandonment rates, increase average number of items in the cart, and increase the average sale price of an order* – but it is up to you to decide which shipping model is right for your business.

Your customer’s experience when they buy from you is paramount, as it’s what makes them return time and again, and recommend you to others. Free shipping is great for your buyers, but remember it’s equally as important that shipping is still reliable and offers tracking. It really is worth the extra investment in using a quality shipping service, and you may be eligible for the Gold Trade Rebate.

We hope you can try out free shipping, and in the long-term see the pay-off by generating more loyal buyers and customer advocates.

Frequently asked questions

How can I get a refund of the success fee for shipping if I refund my buyer?

If your buyer has overpaid shipping (e.g. combined shipping) and you refund them via Ping, Pay Now or AfterPay, you may be entitled to a partial refund of success fees. For partial success fee refunds, contact our customer support team with the details. If you are fully refunding the buyer the total amount of the item plus shipping, then simply apply via the site as you do now.

For My Products and Tradevine users, you can also set up combined shipping offers on your listings for buyers using the Shopping Cart. This will mean all the combined shipping costs are taken care of automatically.

Tip: If you are unsure of how much combined shipping will cost you when creating a listing, our ‘Book a courier’ service offers a shipping calculator, which is a handy tool that gives you an accurate idea of shipping prices.

If I sell something for $1 reserve will I be charged a success fee?

It depends. If you sell something for $1 with free or $0 shipping, or the buyer picks-up, there will be no success fee to pay. However, if you sell something for $1 with $3 shipping, then you will pay a success fee of 32 cents (7.9%) on the final sales value of $4.

If you’re selling a lot of items at $1 reserve and charging a shipping fee, it could be time to think about different options such as offering a flat shipping rate or a minimum order amount.

Are you changing your search algorithm on 14 March to promote listings with free shipping?

No, we won’t be changing our search algorithm for the time being, however, we’ll be promoting free shipping in other ways. We’ve highlighted listings with free shipping with a new flag on our desktop site, and are looking to do the same for our mobile apps very soon. We also allow buyers to filter by listings offering free shipping in search results.

Why don’t you show the total price including shipping on search results?

We’re considering it, but don’t believe that this alone will address the issue that buyers perceive shipping on Trade Me to be expensive. By including success fees on shipping we’re hoping to encourage more sellers to offer free shipping, and reward those sellers with the Gold Trade Rebate. In turn, this should make us an even more compelling e-commerce site for buyers in New Zealand, and drive more sales.

My business sells large bulky items that require a freight forwarder and can be expensive to send. How will we manage this new fee on shipping?

We understand that this change could have a significant impact when shipping items with high shipping costs.

You could consider the following options:

  • You may want to consider a $0 shipping option for local deliveries.

  • Offer pick-up on suitable items could off-set any extra cost.

  • Set up a minimum order value on My Products or Tradevine, to determine which listings could qualify for free shipping.

  • Find out how combined shipping could work for you from this blog post.

  • Try to negotiate a better rate directly with your freight forwarder.

Keep in mind that listings without specified shipping costs are less likely to sell.

If I offer $0 shipping options, such as combined shipping, does this still count as ‘free shipping’ towards the Gold Trade Rebate criteria?

Yes, if the buyer has not paid anything for shipping then that counts as ‘free shipping’. So whether your listing is marked as ‘free shipping’, $0 combined shipping, or another $0 shipping option, they all count towards the Gold Trade Rebate criteria.


Introducing the Gold Trade Rebate – get 10% rebate on success fees

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On Trade Me’s marketplace, it is important that buyers feel safe, see transparent pricing, and know their order will be processed quickly. Sellers who make buying easier increase their chances of creating loyal buyers who will return and purchase more often.

We want buyers to come to Trade Me first for anything they want to buy and we want our sellers to be incredibly successful. To encourage better shipping experiences for buyers, without inflated costs and ideally with free shipping, we are changing success fees to be calculated on the final sales value (the price of the item sold + shipping costs) from 14 March 2018.

We also understand that this may incur a cost to sellers, so in turn we’re rewarding New Zealand-based in-trade sellers with a new Gold Trade Rebate.

What is the Gold Trade Rebate?

Sellers will receive a rebate on their success fees for high quality buying experiences that meet these three criteria:

  • A total price shoppers can be confident in: no shipping costs, the buyer has received free shipping or a $0 option such as combined shipping.
  • Timely transaction: we’ll need the shipping tracking number within two business days of payment.
  • Security in their purchase: coverage with Buyer Protection gives peace of mind to shoppers, so we have restricted this rebate to transactions that have been paid for with Ping, Pay Now or Afterpay.

For every eligible sale sellers will receive a 10% rebate on their net success fees (calculated as the fee after any other discount has been applied, such as Top Seller). Please see our Gold Trade Rebate terms and conditions for more detail.

Why have you chosen these criteria?

We know buyer expectations continue to rise. To continue to be the place where Kiwis love to shop, we all need to raise the bar of the experiences we provide. We see this as a joint effort between Trade Me and our sellers, so we’ve put together this rebate to encourage you to provide free shipping and help with any associated costs.

New Zealand sellers: We appreciate the challenge for New Zealand sellers to stay competitive. With costs incurred with importing goods, paying GST and relatively small businesses we know that supporting free shipping may be more difficult, so we want to help level the playing field with this rebate just for New Zealand in-trade sellers.

Free shipping: Buyers love free shipping, it can reduce abandonment rates, increase average number of items in the cart, and increase the average sale price of an order.* For more thoughts on how you can get free shipping to work with your business model, have a read of our blog post on the final sales value changes.

Note that purchases will also be eligible for the rebate where buyers receive a $0 custom shipping option like combined shipping. Purchases with other shipping options such as ‘pick up’, ‘to be arranged’, or ‘bulky/overweight freight’ will not be eligible for the rebate.

Shipping tracking numbersBuyers want to receive their items quickly and track their progress easily. Processing the order, booking a courier and providing Trade Me with the tracking number within two business days of payment ensures items are dispatched quickly and buyers can follow their orders. Tracking numbers are automatically sent through if you use ‘Book a courier’, and we’re also making it easier for you to send them to us via My Products, Tradevine and manually in My Trade Me.

Many third party listing tools and integrators can submit tracking numbers via Trade Me’s API, so if you do not currently have the capability to add tracking numbers, please contact your integrator. Buyers will be able to see tracking numbers from ‘Won items’ in My Trade Me, which should help reduce the number of queries you receive about shipment locations and status.

For details on how to send tracking numbers to Trade Me, see this help page.

Buyer protectionBuyer Protection helps ensure buyers have a safe and great trading experience. Coverage is included when items are paid for with Ping, Pay Now or Afterpay, which is why we have limited the rebate to transactions with those payment types.

How will the rebate be applied?

The Gold Trade Rebate will be applied to all transactions by New Zealand-based in-trade sellers that meet the criteria from 14 March 2018 onwards, regardless of the listing date.

10% of your net success fee will be refunded to your account. The net success fee will be calculated as the final amount paid after any other discount has already been applied.

E.g. For a Top Seller: Rebate = 10% x (success fee - Top Seller rebate)

Your savings will be automatically paid into your Trade Me account within two working days of the tracking number being provided.

For our New Zealand sellers that are on our invoicing system, any success fee rebates due will be totalled and credited to you as part of the monthly billing process.

How will this work with success fee refunds?

There will be no changes to the process you follow now to apply for success fee refunds. The Gold Trade Rebate will be processed the same way as the Top Seller Discount and will be debited from your account at the same time that the success fee is credited.

I list using the new goods feed, will it work for me?

No. The new goods feed will not be able to handle tracking information. If you use this service to create listings, your account manager will be in touch to discuss options.

Frequently asked questions

If I offer free shipping to everyone, I’ll end up paying more for buyers that are in rural areas. How should I manage this?

You don’t have to offer free shipping on all your products, or to all your customers. It may be prudent to pick and choose which products you can afford to subsidise with free shipping, and to restrict $0 to non-rural buyers only. However, we do know that lots of Trade Me buyers live rurally, so excluding this market may alienate those customers. If you do want to try and offer free shipping on all your items, to all buyers, try offering free shipping on a minimum order amount to help offset the increase in costs to your business. This can also help increase your average order value.

I’m a seller in a rural area.  Most couriers won’t pick parcels up from me. How can I qualify for the Gold Trade Rebate if I can’t provide a courier tracking number?

Our ‘Book a courier’ service does pick-up from a lot of rural addresses. Outside this, it’s hard to see how you will qualify for the rebate. In this situation it may be worth negotiating better rates with your RD contractor to see if there is any wiggle-room. We also have some suggestions on making free shipping work for your business in our seller blog post.

Do I have to use Trade Me book a courier to get the Gold Trade Rebate?

No, you can use any courier service that provides a tracking number (and meet the other rebate criteria).

How do I add a tracking number?

You can currently add courier tracking numbers via ‘Sold items’ on My Trade Me,‘Book a courier’, My Products, Tradevine or any third party listing channel that has built its functionality via the Trade Me API.

If you use a listing tool that doesn’t allow you to enter courier tracking numbers, you’ll need to contact your integrator.

Adding courier tracking numbers via our Touch site or mobile apps is not available yet.

If I offer $0 shipping options, such as combined shipping, does this still count as ‘free shipping’ towards the Gold Trade Rebate criteria?

Yes, if the buyer has not paid anything for shipping then that counts as ‘free shipping’. So whether your listing is marked as ‘free shipping’, $0 combined shipping, or another $0 shipping option, they all count towards the Gold Trade Rebate criteria.

For more details on adding a tracking number, please check out this help page.

If you have any questions about the Gold Trade Rebate, please get in touch.