Author Topic: For Sellers - Unpaid Item Disputes  (Read 7859 times)


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For Sellers - Unpaid Item Disputes
« on: April 12, 2015, 11:07:20 PM »
Sellers on eBay, please note that eBay has changed its dispute process earlier this year.

If you have a non-paying bidder (or NPB for short), the way forward is fraught with potential hazards. Once upon a time, you were able to open a cancellation request and, as long as the buyer did not specifically choose to reject the request, you as the seller would end up being reimbursed your final value fees for the sale (aka FVF).
There was no disadvantage to the seller in doing this - other than the risk of the buyer refusing the accept the cancellation.

Now - it's different.

eBay will now automatically issue you, the seller, with a defect if you open a cancellation request - in almost all circumstances. See here for details:

Specifically - "Remember though if you’re cancelling the sale, it will count as a defect."
(     § Cancellations - ¶ What’s changing with the cancellation process?)

Even if your buyer has requested the cancellation, you as the seller can be issued with a defect, which directly impacts on your ability to sell. (Please take it as read that I consider this both unfair and ridiculous.) As I understand it, you'll be able to select from a variety of reasons when cancelling the order. "Transactions that you cancel through eBay or refunds through PayPal because you no longer have the item (out of stock) or choose not to send after it’s sold will count as a defect."
(     § Cancellations - ¶ Do transactions that I cancel count as defects?)

But even if you carefully select the "buyer requested" as the reason for the defect, you can still be hit with a defect. Again, I quote, "Sellers can easily initiate a cancellation on a buyer’s behalf. If your buyer asks you to cancel a transaction, just be sure you do so through the eBay cancellation link in My eBay and select the “buyer requested” reason for the cancellation. This lets eBay know the buyer requested the cancellation. Remember, cancellations requested by your buyer will not count as defects. However, if you issue a PayPal refund without a cancellation request from the buyer, eBay may conclude that you have cancelled the transaction, which would count as a defect."
(     § Cancellations - ¶ What should I do if a buyer contacts me through email or by phone to request a cancellation instead of through eBay?)

In terms of how this affects sellers' ability to handle non-paying bidders, consider the way that in the past (prior to February 2015), a buyer might contact the seller to say, "Please cancel this order. I don't want it any more/can't pay for it/have found it elsewhere/my grandmother has been kidnapped in Peru/etc." The seller would have the choice either to cancel the purchase (in the interests of quickly resolving the FVF issue and being able to relist immediately, plus potentially having the buyer - impressed with the seller's obliging kindness in cancelling for them - becoming a future long-term customer ... OR opening an Unpaid Item Case in the Resolution Centre (particularly if the buyer's reason seemed specious, or if their history indicated that they had a habit of not paying once they'd won an item or clicked onto Buy It Now).

It's harder for sellers to see buyer histories now, of course. eBay has removed almost any way that sellers used to have in being able to assess a buyer's potential and likelihood to cause problems. (Details of THAT for another time, I think.) But there are still some possible ways... including seller-issued positive feedback with a negative comment indicating that the buyer did not pay. (eBay sellers who issue such positives-with-negatives do run the risk of being chastised by eBay, depending upon whether or not the comment is classed as being sufficiently negative to warrant removal and/or punishment from eBay, and upon whether or not the "buyer" lodges a complaint.)

By whatever method the seller could manage to assess the NPB as being a serial NPB and potentially more trouble than it's worth, currently sellers are facing more danger to their accounts as a result of defects than as a result of negative feedback in itself. The risk of a defect being issued EVEN IF the buyer has specifically asked the seller to cancel the sale is high enough to give every seller a dilemma. Should they run the risk of going ahead with the cancellation request, hoping that the buyer will actually click on the request to accept it? Should they run the risk of the defect remaining on their account even if the cancellation request was at the buyer's own request? (eBay say "Sellers may request the removal of defects that have not been automatically removed if they believe they provided a positive buyer experience that did not warrant a defect. eBay will make an effort to do what is right for the buyer and seller based on the information available through postage tracking and in eBay’s systems"
(     § Seller performance and defects - ¶ Can sellers still contact eBay to get defects removed?)
 - but you'll note that eBay doesn't GUARANTEE they will remove the defect. There are enough cases already where sellers report that they have been issued with defects and the defects CONTINUE TO REMAIN even though the sellers have contacted eBay with all the evidence to show that the buyer requested the cancellation...

So here are the risks:

         • Seller may agree to buyer's request to cancel and proceed with a cancellation request process - buyer doesn't respond - FVF may not be automatically credited and it may NEVER be credited... or the seller may have to contact eBay repeatedly, spending valuable time trying to get the FVF credited.
         • Seller may agree as above and proceed with cancellation request process - buyer may either respond or not (or even refuse the cancellation request, either through error or through a deliberate act) - seller receives a defect. Seller may contact eBay to have the defect removed by showing the buyer's messages indicating that the buyer asked for the cancellation; eBay staff may insist they cannot remove the defect, or say it will be removed (without it actually being removed), or say reassuring nothings about the defect falling off the seller's dashboard after a while, OR (hallelujah for the seller) actually remove the defect. It is rarely a smooth process as I understand it, and may take hours of the seller's time even if it has a positive outcome.

All of this leads one to the sure knowledge that sellers are increasingly going to minimise their risk by opening an Unpaid Item Case after 4 days, and closing that case 4 days later. It still ties up their stock for 8 days, and runs the risk of the buyer being furious at not having their purchase cancelled and going ahead with paying before the case can be closed (out of resentment and a wish to wreak their fury upon the seller). But the risk of receiving a negative by a spiteful buyer in such circumstances must be weighed up as possibly being less detrimental than the risk of an automatic defect through offering cancellation. (Also, a buyer who's had a cancellation offered can still leave negative feedback - or a neutral - which has the same effect! Both give the seller an instant defect.)

I think we will see sellers deciding it's safer to avoid offering cancellations - and simply opening an Unpaid Item Case so that, hopefully, the NPB will be issued a strike by eBay when the case is closed.

"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is ...a part of the maine; ...any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde"


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Re: For Sellers - Unpaid Item Disputes
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2015, 10:31:37 AM »
From experience, an unpaid item dispute is the only safe way for the seller to handle this.