Common Post-sale Buyer Requests

Selling the item is only the start of a seller’s interaction with a buyer. As with other online purchases, buyers may have questions or concerns following the sale. Here are some of the most common requests to expect a variation of.

Changing the shipping address

It is inevitable that at some point sellers will be asked to send the item to another address than the one referenced in the Paypal Transaction Details – perhaps it is a gift or the buyer would like the item sent to their work address instead. It sounds like a reasonable request, and in the vast majority of cases the request will be for a genuine reason. Problem is, if a seller sends an item to a different address, they are no longer covered by PayPal’s Seller Protection. The first requirement listed for Seller Protection is “ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.”

How to respond: Explain the situation to the buyer, referring directly to PayPal’s Seller Protection rules. Most buyers will understand; after all, it is not the seller trying to be difficult, it is PayPal policy. If the buyer still wants to change the address, refund them via PayPal then cancel the transaction on eBay. Advise the buyer that you will be re-listing the item as a Buy It Now and they can purchase the item again at the same winning price after adding the new address to their PayPal account.

The more you know

  • Make sure to cancel the transaction in eBay as well as refunding on PayPal. State the reason for cancellation is due to the buyer requesting shipping to an unconfirmed address – this will not cause a defect against the seller. Final Value Fees will be credited once the cancellation has been accepted by the buyer.
  • Some sellers choose to use their discretion on changing the shipping address. It is a risk but can encourage positive feedback from grateful buyers. It can however backfire if the item goes missing or the buyer is playing a scam and claims that the item was not received (see below for more on eBay’s Money Back Guarantee).

Item no longer wanted

Whether the purchase was a mistake or the buyer has found the same item cheaper elsewhere, buyer’s remorse is certainly not rare on eBay. Sellers who do not offer returns on products are under no obligation to refund the buyer in this case. eBay’s Money Back Guarantee ensures refunds for buyers in case of items being ‘not as described’ or not arriving at all, not for reasons for buyer’s remorse. However, if the seller has not sent the item out before a cancellation request comes through, it may be wiser to refund the buyer instead of sending out an unwanted item and causing further hassle.

How to respond: Refund the buyer and cancel the transaction, making sure to choose the option that the buyer requested the cancellation (final value fees will be credited). The seller then has no option but to re-list the item again. It means time wasted, but keep in mind that the buyer could make life difficult for the seller by claiming that the sent item was not received or not as described, thereby forcing a full refund and the forfeit of returning shipping charges.

The more you know

  • If a shipping label has already been created but the item not sent, shipping labels can still be voided and refunded.
  • An alternative way to handle the buyer finding the item at a cheaper price would be to price-match and beat the other seller. This ensures a sale and avoids wasting time re-listing the item.
  • If the buyer no longer wants an item and the transaction is cancelled, this is not counted in the defect rate for sellers.

Cheaper postage

Frugal buyers may come in contact following a sale to ask whether cheaper postage could be arranged. Perhaps they think that the cost is overestimated or they wish to have a slower, less secure service (e.g. ground shipping, no tracking etc). Ideally, questions regarding shipping should have been asked before the buyer purchased.

How to respond: While it is possible to revise an invoice and charge the buyer less for shipping, consider the time spent already calculating postage costs. In addition, sellers are allowed to charge reasonable handling costs to compensate for packing materials. The decision is the seller’s, but offering a cancellation is reasonable or even offering the dimensions and weight of the item to the buyer who can purchase a shipping label themselves.

The more you know

Do you have any common post-sale buyer requests to share? We’d love to hear them and help new sellers avoid easy mistakes.

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.