The Marketplace Boom   //   April 11, 2024

‘I’m not freaking Macy’s’: Sellers react to Mercari’s new return policy and fee structure

Secondhand marketplace Mercari recently introduced a new set of rules that would eliminate selling fees in the U.S. and allow customers to initiate returns for any reason. While Mercari’s goal was to lure more shoppers and sellers, the recent announcement had been unpopular with some existing sellers who took to Reddit to discuss how the changes could impact their business.

Sellers have set up a petition on to waive the new $2 direct deposit fee that sellers must pay to withdraw earnings from their account, which has gained over 600 signatures. Mercari’s new return policy, which lets shoppers initiate returns within three days, has also been a concern for sellers who worry about damages to their original product, and what it could cost their business in the long run. As a result, some sellers said they are planning or considering taking down listings.

One Reddit user who said they sold perfumes wrote that “many people will blind buy perfumes if they know they can return it for any reason. I’m dealing with my 1st return ever right now. 5 years, never a bad review or return until now.” The user added that “what I’m getting back is visibly less than what it was when it was sent out,” — implying that the buyer had used some of the perfume before returning it.

In a statement to Modern Retail, a Mercari spokesperson said, “our goal has always been to make selling on Mercari as easy as possible. The ability to return items is expected in e-commerce and our new 3-day return policy is intended to balance the needs of the buyer and the seller.” The spokesperson added, “if there are issues with returned items, such as an item comes back in a different condition than when it was shipped, we have policies in place to address such discrepancies.”

The spokesperson also said that Mercari has waived the $2 direct deposit fee through April 3 and has refunded the fees it charged sellers since March 27.

In a previous interview with Modern Retail, Mercari U.S. CEO John Lagerling said that the changes to the fee structure and return policy were done to attract higher-quality inventory, to increase buyer confidence and to give Mercari a competitive edge compared to other marketplaces.

“I’m not going to mention them by name, but you have marketplaces that have a lot of makers, a lot of people that create things, and the fees around selling on those platforms have just been going up a lot very aggressively,” Lagerling told Modern Retail.

Previously, Mercari charged a 10% flat commission for every sale on its platform. Now, the company has instead added a service fee for every purchase shoppers make. The service fee runs as low as 5% and is displayed at checkout.

But it’s the return policy that some sellers are most worried about. Gennifer Rose, a blogger at and reseller of women’s fashion on Mercari, said that she plans on being more cautious about listing “hot items” — high-demand products from brands like Free People, Anthropologie and Reformation — on Mercari due to the new return policy. She worries that shoppers may be less diligent about reading product descriptions, measurements and product imperfections, and more inclined to return items.

“It really made me question how often am I going to have to expect to take things back. Buyers and sellers are human beings — not everyone is honest,” Rose said. “It just really disincentivizes people to do the right thing and to just be diligent consumers.”

Rose has been a seller on Mercari as far back as 2017 and has over 200 products currently listed on the platform. Some of the clothing Rose sells is meant for events like weddings and she worries that the return policy would attract buyers who will return her product after they use it. Although she said she has yet to receive a return request at Mercari, she is considering listing high-demand products on other platforms like Poshmark, where buyers have to open a claim when they want to return an item.

She added that the new policy could cause her income to be less predictable. “If there’s an error on the listing, if there’s damage that wasn’t disclosed, that’s all fair,” she said. “But to say you can return something for any reason. I’m not freaking Macy’s, I depend on that money to get deposited.”

For sellers in other categories, the return policy isn’t too much of an issue. Desiree Martin, owner of Bibles Books and More, has been on Mercari since 2019 selling overstock items from Amazon like used books and shoes. She said the three-day return policy isn’t as concerning as other platforms with 30-day return policies like eBay. Items like shoes, she said, have fewer variables that would cause people to make returns as people already know their sizes.

However, she is observing how shoppers are responding to the additional fees that are now being added on to their payment. To compensate for the service fee, Martin has been changing up her pricing strategy. Because Martin isn’t getting hit with the 10% commission, she is now able to offer lower prices on some items.

“Over the last week or two since they’ve rolled out the no fees [policy] my sales are probably up a good 30% to 50%,” Martin said. “I don’t know if that’s because of [the additional] publicity… or if it’s just the fact that I’m able to accept lower offers and so I’m able to sell more things.”

The additional fees — such as the service fee, payment processing fee and delivery — that add up upon checkout could be an unpleasant surprise for buyers. Phil Masiello, CEO of revenue acceleration agency Crunchgrowth, said that if a customer doesn’t see something like a service fee until they check out, it could cause people to abandon their carts once they see their total cost.

“The customers are going to wind up dropping their carts… so you’re attracting more sellers, but you’re not attracting more buyers,” he said “What you’re going to have are a bunch of sellers who can’t make any money anymore and they’re gonna wind up going back to the Amazons of the world and the eBays the world.”