What to Do if Your Buyer Does Not Pay Right Away

The excitement of selling an item can soon dissipate if payment is not received quickly. The good news is that buyers are obligated to complete a purchase if they win an auction or uses Buy It Now to purchase an item. Here’s what you can do if the money is slow to arrive or not at all.

No contact from the buyer:

Send an invoice

While sending an invoice is not essential to receive payment on an item, it can give the buyer nudge to get things moving. The buyer may pay right away on receipt of the invoice or use it as a reminder to get in touch and explain the delay. An invoice can be sent up to 30 days after a listing ends. Sending an invoice is easy; the option is found on the Actions drop down menu under the Sold section within My eBay.

An alternative to sending an invoice is to message the buyer and thank them for their purchase  – a polite reminder that you are waiting for their payment. Some sellers, especially those with high turnover, will not attempt to communicate with the buyer at all, preferring to file an Unpaid Item Case as soon as possible.

Open an Unpaid Item Case

On eBay.com, an Unpaid Item Case can be opened via the Resolution Center as soon as 2 full days after the listing ends. Be aware that some buyers may find requiring payment within 48 hours a little demanding.

  • This time period varies between countries, so check the Unpaid Item policy on the eBay you use. In Canada for example, the time period is a little longer – 4 days.
  • Once an Unpaid Item Case has been opened, the buyer receives a notification that they must pay within a specific time frame or the transaction will be cancelled.
  • The time frame on eBay.com in which a buyer must pay is 4 days.
  • If the buyer does not pay within the timeframe (or reach an agreement with the seller), the seller needs to manually close the case to receive their final value fee credit back.
  • It will be recorded on the buyer’s account that they did not pay for an item – a black mark that could lead to loss of buying privileges.

Buyer has changed their mind:

Sellers should expect to be contacted by the occasional buyer who is informing them that they will not be paying due to buyer’s remorse e.g. they’ve found the same item cheaper, they no longer want the item, it was a mistake. There are two choices here:

  • Send the buyer a cancellation request (or vice versa) with “buyer does not want item” as the reason
  • Open an unpaid item case as in the no contact scenario.

The latter offers better protection for a seller as the buyer cannot leave Feedback and they receive a strike against their name.

Cancelling a sale

Both the buyer and seller in an eBay transaction can request a cancellation within 30 days of the sale but neither has to accept. If the buyer does not approve of the cancellation, the seller cannot then open an unpaid item case or try and cancel again. For this reason, it is preferable that a buyer requests a cancellation in the event of buyer’s remorse. In reality though, it is easier for the seller to get things moving and request one. The sooner it is accepted, the sooner a seller can re-list the item (and receive their final value credit back) or try a Second Chance Offer if the original listing was an auction.

Seller tools to consider:

As hard as sellers can try, non-paying buyers are an unfortunate and unavoidable part of doing business on eBay. Try not to take it personally and consider using these eBay tools to help reduce and deal with non-paying buyers.

Second Chance Offer

A handy feature for auction listings is the Second Chance Offer. If the first bidder doesn’t pay or has changed their mind, the next bidder in line can be contacted and granted a Second Chance Offer to purchase the item at their highest bid. The Second Chance Offer feature is a great back-up solution that avoids having to re-list the item. Read more in our Second Chance Offers post.

Unpaid Item Assistant

This eBay feature automatically opens and closes unpaid item cases on the seller’s behalf, taking the hassle out of checking the status of a sold item. Unpaid Item Assistant requires an opt-in via site preferences within account settings under My eBay. Unpaid item cases can be opened automatically after a selected specified time period ranging from 2 to 32 days after the item was sold. If the buyer doesn’t pay within the time period, the case automatically closes and the seller receives their final value credit. The buyer has an unpaid item recorded on their account and is not allowed to leave Feedback for the transaction.

Use buyer requirements

Buyer requirements can be added to listings to block eBay members with fulfill a specific criteria from bidding or purchasing. One of the criteria is members who have had unpaid items cases recorded against them. Choosing to add these requirements to a listing can help to protect against some untrustworthy buyers, but it can also reduce the number of potential buyers or bidders.

Immediate Payment

A free option that can be added to Buy It Now listings, Immediate Payment means that the listing will continue to run until the buyer has completed payment. This is an easy way to get guaranteed payment quickly. However this is only available on items with a Buy It Now option.

How do you prefer to deal with non-paying buyers? Do you use any of the mentioned seller tools?

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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