3 min article

Best practices for avoiding and handling issues with buyers

There are some simple, practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of something going wrong with your buyers' purchases. And if the buyer does let you know there's a problem, it's important to get back to them promptly.

From May 2021, sellers will no longer need to open an unpaid item case if a buyer doesn't pay. Instead, sellers can simply cancel an order if payment hasn't been made starting on the 5th calendar day from when the listing ended. This change is already available to some sellers – if it's available to you, you'll see Buyer hasn't paid as an option when cancelling an order in Seller Hub or My eBay Sold. If you can't see this option, don't worry – it'll be available to you in the coming weeks.

When a buyer has an issue with an order, it doesn't just risk creating an unhappy customer, it can also create extra work for you. Below are some tips to consider while listing and sending your item.

If a buyer does get in touch to let you know they've had a problem, there are also a few best practices to keep in mind while working with them to resolve their issue.

When listing your item

  • It's important to set proper expectations for the buyer – make sure your listing title and item descriptions are accurate, and include plenty of photos, making sure to highlight any scuffs or blemishes.
  • Provide as many item specifics as you can – you want the buyer to know exactly what they're buying.
  • State your return policy clearly in your listing. Even if you don't accept returns when a buyer's changed their mind, you can use automated return rules to manage returns for items that don't match the listing. This can make the process much easier for the buyer, and much less effort for you.
  • When stating your handling time, make sure it's something you can manage. Failing to send items on time can lead to them arriving late.
  • To help you get paid quickly and avoid unpaid items, set your payment preferences to require immediate payment when a buyer uses Buy It Now.
  • Choose a shipping method with insurance and shipment tracking
  • Offer PayPal as a payment method

After your listing ends

  • Use one of the carrier services integrated with eBay, and upload tracking details within your handling time. This lets the buyer know where their item is, and it helps to protect you in case they claim they don't receive their item. If you buy and print postage on eBay, tracking information is uploaded automatically.
  • Make sure you pack the item securely and carefully, to reduce the chance of if being damaged in transit – while an item can be in perfect condition when you send it, if it arrives damaged, the buyer is entitled to send it back to you.
  • Provide the buyer with any appropriate proofs of authenticity for the item, but make sure to keep copies of them, in case we need to ask you to prove that the item is genuine.
  • If you offer free returns, consider including a returns label in the package. If the buyer wants to return the item, they'll still need to open a return request, but it'll make sending the item back easier for both of you.
  • Make sure the buyer has paid before you send the item.

Working with the buyer

It's important to work with your buyer and help them resolve any issues that may come up with their order. Here are some steps you can take:

  • If a buyer lets you know that they have a problem with their purchase, you should get back to them as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that you have 3 business days to resolve their issue. After that, they can ask us to step in and help.
  • If the buyer has opened a return request for an item that doesn't match the listing description and you do not respond, we may refund the buyer and seek reimbursement from you without requiring the buyer to send the item back.
  • When communicating with the buyer, do your best to be polite and professional in your responses, even when they're upset or angry. It helps to provide a better customer experience, and might make it easier to come to an agreement about the issue.
  • If the buyer wants to return the item, they may accept a replacement (where you send them the same item again) or an exchange (where you send them a similar but different item).
  • Buyers may also accept a partial refund, where they keep the item and you give them back some of their money.

Learn more about helping buyers if their item didn't arrive, or how to handle a return.

When creating your listing, make sure you provide a detailed description of your item and a clear statement of your return policy. This will help you avoid problems, but if something does go wrong, we're always here to help.

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