A New Seller’s Guide to Cancelling eBay Transactions

Selling an item is usually considered the exciting part of running an eBay business. Unfortunately, the exhilaration can be short lived. Sometimes, the transaction just isn’t destined to complete and a cancellation is necessary. It can be the fault of the buyer, seller or even a combination. This article will first explore why transaction cancellations happen, how the process works and finally, the consequences eBay sellers face when cancelling.

Why cancellations happen

There are a number of different scenarios in which an eBay transaction may need to be cancelled.

On the buyer’s side, cancellation may be requested for a variety of reasons, including an accidental (or duplicate) purchase or incorrect shipping address. Alternatively, the buyer may have spotted the same item being sold elsewhere for a cheaper price. Another common example is the buyer experiencing buyers remorse and are not sure whether they should go through with the transaction.

Sellers sometimes need to cancel transactions too. It can happen that an item has become lost, damaged or otherwise sold since the eBay listing was posted. In this case, there is no chance that the transaction can be completed successfully and a cancellation is absolutely necessary.

Another scenario in which a seller would consider cancelling a transaction is when the buyer does not pay for an item. In this situation, filing an Unpaid Item Case is the best course of action.

How eBay cancellations work

The following circumstances have to be true for a cancellation to be possible:

  • The item hasn’t been sent yet
  • The buyer has not filed an Item Not Received request
  • The seller has not opened an Unpaid Item Case

A buyer can submit a cancellation request up to one hour after purchase. After this time, they must contact the seller and ask for a cancellation. As a seller, you have no obligation to accept the request.

Sellers are able to cancel a transaction up to 30 days after a sale, as long as the above conditions are still met.

If the buyer has already paid with PayPal, a full refund will be issued automatically after the cancellation has been confirmed. If PayPal was not used, the seller is given 10 days to refund the buyer using the original payment method. Once the buyer has been refunded, the seller will receive a Final Value Fee credit.

Buyer requested cancellations

Once a buyer has communicated that they would like to cancel the transaction, sellers have two options to move forward:

  • Ask the buyer to submit a cancellation request via their Purchase History, or
  • Cancel the transaction via Seller Hub or My eBay and select ‘buyer requested to cancel’ as the reason.

The latter is still counted as a buyer requested cancellation and the seller is therefore not penalized for it. The buyer is unable to leave negative/neutral Feedback or low detailed seller ratings.

If the item was already paid for, the seller will receive a Final Value Fee credit. PayPal fees will not, however, be refunded.

In the event that an item has already been sent, a cancellation is not possible. A return (with the shipping costs at the buyer’s expense) is a common solution, though it is at the seller’s discretion.

Cancellations for lost or damaged items

While buyer requested cancellations have limited penalties, this is not true for cancellations due to seller error. If a seller has to cancel an order due to the item being lost, damaged or otherwise unavailable for shipping, they will receive a transaction defect.

If a seller has a transaction defect rate above 2%, their seller rating will fall below standard and may face selling restrictions. Top Rated Sellers have to maintain a transaction defect rate of less than 0.5%.

For transactions cancelled due to seller error, buyers are still able to leave negative or neutral Feedback.

Cancellation consequences

When considering cancellations on eBay, there are two very different streams of discussion.

On the one hand, buyer requested cancellations are undoubtedly frustrating to deal with but have fewer lasting repercussions. PayPal fees are, of course, the most tangible loss if the buyer paid for the item before deciding to cancel. For higher priced items, these transaction fees can feel surprisingly exorbitant.

Without payment involved, wasted time is the biggest issue with buyer requested cancellations but is negligible when considering the hassle and cost of a potential return later. For many sellers, dealing with a buyer requested cancellation is much preferred to a prolonged returns process.

Cancellations caused by seller error have more serious consequences, however. Too many cancelled transactions can result in bad Feedback and selling penalties. For this reason, sellers should be careful to maintain an accurate inventory of stock and store items safely and logically.

Experienced eBay sellers, do you have any tips for newcomers to help avoid transaction cancellations? Have you noticed buyers requesting more cancellations lately? Share your experiences in the comments below

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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