• John Lim

MF 356 : How dispute resolution works on Poshmark (and a quality assurance tip)



Today, we take a close look at Poshmark's dispute resolution process plus a best practice for quality assurance. More at www.bemovingforward.com.


Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Spotify, and Amazon Music.


A deep dive into Poshmark's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process


Back, way back on episodes 207 and 208, I gave the 10-thousand foot overview on how Poshmark transactions work, including a brief summary on what a buyer may do once they receive a package.


Today, let's unpack that a little more.


The three scenarios

Once a buyer receives an order, there are three possible scenarios that come into play.

  1. Buyer accepts right away. This is what all sellers hope for. Once a buyer receives the package, they accept it, and the transaction closes, releasing the funds into your account. The icing on the cake is if they leave a stellar rating. The celebratory candle on top of the icing is if they add a great review (what Poshmark calls a "love note").

  2. Buyer waits. If a buyer doesn't accept right away, they're granted a three-day review process. On the fourth day, the sale will close and the funds will disperse into your account. For new sellers, don't panic if this happens. It's completely normal and doesn't necessarily signal that anything is wrong. It doesn't even mean that the buyer is using all three days to inspect an item. There may be a number of reasons that a buyer waits the full three-days. For the most part, the three-day period passes and the sale closes out on the fourth day.

  3. Buyer opens a case. If there is an issue (whether perceived or actual) with an order, the buyer may open a case. This can happen right away upon receipt or anytime within the three-day inspection period. For sellers, especially new ones, this can be a nerve-wracking prospect and your heart may skip a beat if you receive a "buyer has opened a case" notification.

About that third one: don't panic, it's not the end of the world


If you sell long enough on Poshmark, you will eventually get your first buyer case or dispute. So, let's put this into perspective and talk about what it means and what you can do to protect yourself.


First, don't panic. Take a deep breath, maybe take a walk and get some fresh air before you return to your phone.


Now, let's turn our attention to Poshmark's unique way of handling disputes.


A deep dive into Poshmark's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process


Unlike many ecommerce platforms, in which a buyer can return a purchase with no questions asked, Poshmark starts with the assumption that all sales are final. As I've discussed on the mini-series, this is a big reason why we decided to use it as our ecommerce solution, as returns can be detrimental to a small retail business's bottom line. However, I've also emphasized, "all sales final" is not a free pass. If anything, it puts a greater responsibility on sellers to be transparent and communicative. For more on this, check out the mini-series.


There is one big exception to the "all sales final" rule. If there is a flaw such as damage, a scuff mark, or other issue that isn't disclosed in the listing, Poshmark can authorize a return. This is why it's extremely important to be over communicative. It's the little things such as a popped button or loose thread that can trigger a case. So, start by making sure your garment is in as good condition as possible. While most items sold on Poshmark are used or second-hand, you should still put in every effort to make them as presentable and appealing as possible. Many minor things such as the aforementioned loose thread or button you can fix yourself. It's also a good practice to clean, buff, and shine those garments or shoes before listing them for sale.


However, sometimes there are flaws that can't be cleaned or buffed out. This happens even with new items. That's ok, so long as you disclose them in your listing. I recommend you over communicate flaws with pictures and in your sales copy. Disclosing issues gives the buyer notice and protects you as the seller.


That said, even if you take every precaution possible and do your best to disclose and over communicate, cases may still happen. Sometimes, a buyer will notice something, whether actual or perceived, that you don't. Other times, disputes may arise over the accuracy of a shade of color, a description, or something that isn't flaw or damage-related.


So what happens when a buyer opens a case? The basic procedures are below:

  1. The virtual "court." Once a buyer opens a case, this will create a private chat between seller, buyer, and Poshmark.

  2. Buyer states his or her case. The buyer as the one who opens the case, can describe the issue(s) and upload photos.

  3. Seller can respond. The seller can reply with text and photos.

  4. Poshmark rules. Once both sides have presented their arguments and evidence, Poshmark will make a decision to:

  5. Approve a return. If this happens, the buyer must ship the item back within a certain period. The seller then has a period, in which to inspect it. If there are no issues, the buyer is refunded the money and the seller can relist the item.

  6. Deny a return. If Poshmark denies the return, the sale will close and the funds will release to the seller. The buyer can then relist the item for sale or keep it.

Tips on navigating Poshmark's ADR process


Getting a buyer case isn't fun but it doesn't have to be a horrible experience. First, know that most transactions close without a hitch. So long as you're communicative and responsive, you won't be getting too many cases. Second, understand that even the best sellers get the occasional buyer case. If you plan to grow your online retail business, it's more of a when than if scenario. Below are some tips on making this as smooth and painless as possible.

  1. Be polite. Your first reaction will be to question the sanity of the buyer. After all, you did your best in communicating the condition, you sent it out right away, so what gives? Take a few minutes to calm yourself and when you're ready to engage, read through the buyer's issue. If they provide an explanation but no photos, ask them to upload some so you can see exactly what the issue is.

  2. Try to resolve it. Sometimes, a buyer will open a case for something that can be resolved through troubleshooting. We once had a case opened for a dress because of a stuck zipper. We were able to walk her through how to get it unstuck and that solved the problem. The buyer ended up dropping the case.

  3. Do respond. Regardless of the issue, whether perceived or actual, respond with your own statement and photos. Follow rule 1. You can can disagree with the buyer's case but don't be combative or argumentative.

  4. Accept the outcome. Poshmark will ultimately make the call on the case. We've had cases ruled in our favor and others ruled for the buyer. While I didn't agree with some of the ones in favor of the buyer, we accepted the outcome. Do check items that are returned to you. Fortunately, most buyers will send items back exactly as received but if you do find an issue, report it. Once you get the item back, you can relist it. Often, someone else will want that item and buy it. If there is a flaw or other issue you missed that triggered the return, make sure to disclose that in an updated listing.

Quality assurance best practice


One practice we follow now with every order is to take photos of a sold item right before we pack it. This provides a more recent set than from the time the listing was created. Take as many as you can of multiple angles, from afar and close-up. Also, take a photo of the box once it's wrapped up and before you ship it out. Put these into a folder on your phone. Once the sale closes you can delete the photos. If, however, a case is opened, you have a fresh set you can use to support your side.


Finally, if you notice a flaw before you ship out an order that you missed when creating the listing, let the buyer know so he or she can make an informed decision. While you can't adjust a listing once an item sells, you can communicate with the buyer directly through messages underneath the item or within a bundle chat. A buyer may decide to proceed with the purchase if it's a minor flaw or they may decide not to purchase the item based on the updated information. As a reminder: buyers have three hours from the time of a full-price purchase in which to cancel an order. For orders that are based on a negotiated price, the seller can cancel a purchase on behalf of a buyer. If a buyer isn't sure, it's best to cancel the sale and update the listing with the flaw or issue (include photos). If the buyer still wants it, they can purchase it or make a new offer.


While not perfect, Poshmark's alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system is unique in that it gives a voice to both buyer and seller.


Learn more about Poshmark

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