How to Resolve Common Issues with Buyers on eBay

Most transactions on eBay are processed seamlessly. Despite wishful thinking, it is inevitable that a small percentage of eBay purchases involve issues between buyer and seller. Some of these are avoidable while others are not. In any case, there are a number of transaction problems that appear again and again, requiring sellers take action and put a pause on selling. Here are five of the most common situations, presented with straightforward solutions.

1 – Buyer wants to change address

It is not unusual for sellers to be contacted by buyers after the sale to ask questions about the transaction. One of the most cited request is to send the item to a different address than the one reference in the PayPal Transaction Details. Unfortunately, this can prove difficult for sellers as PayPal Seller Protection does not cover transactions in which the seller ships to a different address.

What to do: Explain the situation to the buyer, referring to the aforementioned PayPal rules. If the buyer still wants to change the address, the most straightforward option is to refund on PayPal and then cancel the transaction on eBay. The buyer can purchase the item via a new listing, once they have updated their address.

2 – Item is no longer wanted

Buyer’s remorse is certainly not exclusive to eBay but it does happen reasonably often on the site. Even if the item was described accurately and arrived without damage, it still may not be exactly what the buyer was looking for.

What to do: Sellers who do not offer returns on products are under no obligation to refund the buyer. Dependent on the situation, however, it may be worth considering whether to complete a return for better customer satisfaction. If the buyer agrees to cover the return shipping costs, the seller loses minimal time re-listing the item but potentially gains a loyal customer. Keep in mind that eBay rewards sellers with flexible return policies.

3 – Buyer doesn’t pay right away

eBay buyers are obligated to buy the item after winning an auction or using ‘Buy it Now’ to make a purchase. Unfortunately, not all buyers pay as fast as you may expect.

What to do: First, send a message thanking the buyer for their purchase. Let them know that you will send the item as soon as payment is sent. This is a polite nudge for them to go ahead and pay for the item. An alternative is to send an invoice. An invoice can be sent up to 30 days after a listing ends.

If this doesn’t work, the next best move is to open an unpaid item case. Sellers using are able to do this as soon as two full days after the end of the auction or listing. Buyers receive a notification that they must pay within a specific time frame or the transaction will be cancelled.

4 – Item Significantly Not as Described

As per eBay’s Money Back Guarantee, buyers are entitled to a return if an item does not fit the description in the listing. Of course, this can be somewhat subject to perspective.

What to do: Sellers using have three days to resolve the situation with the buyer. After this, the buyer can ask eBay to step in and help.  There are five methods sellers can choose between to resolve the situation:

  • Accept the return, with the seller providing a full refund, including both original and return shipping costs.
  • Refund the original sale and allow the buyer keep the item.
  • Offer a partial refund and allow the buyer to keep the item.
  • Ask buyer to consider a similar item in exchange (or replacement).
  • Dispute the return with eBay. This option will require as much proof as possible that the item was properly described in the listing.

There is not one method that is ideal for every SNAD scenario and every eBay seller. Sellers who specialize in low cost items are more likely to refund the buyer and allow them to keep the item.

When considering whether to dispute the return with eBay, keep in mind that eBay does have a reputation of siding with buyers to maintain the the high level of buyer protection on the site. Fighting your case will require time and perseverance.

5 – Item not received

The mailing service is not perfect and there is always a number of packages that do not make it to their destination. In a similar manner to SNAD cases, buyers are protected by the Money Back Guarantee when it comes to items that are not received. Buyers can report items as missing up to 30 days after the most recent estimated delivery date has  passed.

What to do: Sellers on have three days to respond to the item not received request. Here are the options of what to do next:

  • Upload tracking, if this hasn’t been done already. If the tracking shows that the item has been delivered, the request will close automatically within 24 hours.
  • Ask the buyer to investigate further. It is worth pointing out to the buyer that they should double check the mailing address or whether the package has been delivered to a neighbouring house.
  • Offer to send a replacement or refund the buyer. This is the most reasonable solution for sellers who do not have tracking information or the tracking details shows that the package has been in transit without movement for 7 (domestic) or 10 (international) days or more.
  • Dispute the return with eBay. This option will require as much proof as possible that the item was delivered to the address listed in the transaction.

It is worth knowing that sellers can claim compensation from the relevant mailing service after a certain time period has elapsed.

Experienced sellers, how do you resolve these common issues with buyers?

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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