Lesson 1

Dealing with Bad eBay Buyers

In this lesson, we are going to cover some ways that you can deal with a problematic eBay buyer.

Sometimes you just have to wonder why some buyers actually bid. The auction ends…and then the problems begin.

One of the most frustrating problems is when the buyer never responds. Have they disappeared off the face of the earth? Has their computer exploded? Whatever the reason, they ignore your emails and apparently forget that they purchased a second-hand Beatles record collection off you a couple of days before.

The first step

What should you do? First of all, you need to send them a couple of reminder emails: the first a couple of days after the auction ends, the second, 7 days after the auction ends. Firmly remind them of their purchase and that payment is due 10 days after auction end.

While you may be fuming, it's possible that the buyer has a legitimate reason for not responding. A family emergency, illness, computer problems… these are all legitimate reasons why they may not have got in touch. So give them the benefit of the doubt and wait for 10 days before you take further action.

Filing an unpaid item dispute

If there is still no response after that time, grit your teeth and consider filing an unpaid item dispute. Then relist your item and consider blocking the non-paying buyer from bidding.

This solution is not completely satisfactory if you suspect the non-responder has simply gone AWOL, but it's all you can do in the situation. At least you haven't lost money!

After you've filed an unpaid item dispute, eBay should credit your listing fee back and send the non-paying bidder a warning email. The good news is that eBay is able to suspend non-paying bidders after three warnings.

The dreaded chargeback 

A more serious problem - and the greatest risk to eBay sellers - is the fraudulent credit card chargeback. Unfortunately, fraudulent chargeback's are an unavoidable risk when you receive a payment by credit card or through PayPal.

Chargebacks occur when the buyer asks their credit card company to remove a charge from their credit card statement. This can take place anytime from immediately after the transaction takes place to months later, and they can be very difficult to appeal.

There are two things you can do. Firstly, be aware of potentially risky situations, and secondly, learn what pieces of documentation can help you appeal a fraudulent chargeback.

So what situations are likely to lead to a chargeback?

Item not as described: This is a common one. If you haven't provided a full description of your item or stated your terms and conditions clearly, then it's much easier for a buyer to claim your item wasn't what they expected.

Buyer asks for the item to be sent via urgent shipping at any cost or shipped to a different address: Approach with caution! There have been some instances where buyers have paid with a stolen credit card (hence the different address), resulting in an "unauthorized" payment claim once the real cardholder realized what happened.

But, it's not always easy to spot these situations and you can't always assume the worst.

Avoiding chargebacks 

However, if you are unlucky enough to be victim of a fraudulent chargeback, then you'll have a much greater chance of a successful appeal if you do the following:

  • Always use a shipping company that provides tracking and an online confirmation number. Many shipping companies will also get a signature on delivery if you so desire. This documentation means that it's easy to prove otherwise if you do get an ‘item not received' chargeback.
  • Ship to a confirmed address: If you use PayPal, then a confirmed address is one that has been identified by Paypal as safer than other addresses. For this reason, it also gives you an extra leg to stand on when appealing a chargeback for non-delivery.
  • Always retain proof of refund if you give one: There's nothing worse than providing a refund and the buyer initiating a chargeback as well!

And of course, always provide as much detail as possible in your item description. A good description and a couple of good-quality photos are your best protection against chargeback's for item not as described.

Another tricky situation is when the buyer backs out from the sale

If they email you promptly after the auction and let you know that this is the case, then you should accept graciously and post neutral rather than negative feedback. If you have to chase them up, or the buyer has a bad excuse, then it is fair to leave negative feedback and warn other sellers. In both these situations, if the auction had other bidders, then could consider a second chance offer.

When you create a second chance offer, an email will be sent to each of the bidders you select. EBay will automatically offer the item at the maximum bid price the auction received. The first to accept the offer will be the new winning bidder.

One dilemma that some sellers face is when the you ship an item to your buyer but the package doesn't arrive or arrives damaged.

This situation is one of the worst in terms of the negative feedback possibilities. You can only hope that the buyer will be willing to try and resolve the situation with you, rather than making an overly hasty feedback post.

The key to dealing with this problem is insurance: you are in a much safer position if you have it. But whatever the circumstances, the first thing you should do is email the buyer back and apologize. Offer a refund or a replacement if you have one.

If they choose a refund, then it's best to pay by money order or check. PayPal is not such a good choice as they take a cut of the total, so the buyer won't receive the full amount.

If you have insurance, you can then go through the process of placing an insurance claim. The process can vary in terms of complexity and length, depending on who you shipped with. For this reason, it's wise to check out the insurance claim process before taking out insurance!.

Here’s another scenario that can be a real pain: The buyer initiates a chargeback

Fraudulent chargebacks are the main risk you take when you receive a payment by credit card or through PayPal. Chargebacks are designed to protect buyers, and they occur when the buyer asks their credit card company to remove a charge from their credit card and get the money back.

This can take place anytime from immediately after the transaction to months later. Unfortunately, some buyers take advantage of this, charging back a payment on an item they ordered and have no intention of returning, so that they essentially get it for free.

The best way to stay safe is to never ship to any other address, even if the buyer offers a plausible reason for doing so – even if they say it is for a present. If you are victim of a fraudulent charge-back, and you have followed the rules, then PayPal will help you resolve it. Another way of protecting yourself is to maintain proof of delivery from the shipping company.

That’s it for this lesson. Hopefully the tips above will help you if you run into trouble with a buyer, so make sure you come back and revisit this lesson if you end up dealing with a problematic buyer.

Have you got a problem that you need help solving? Join over 100,000 online retailers in our free Community Forum and get expert advice. 


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