How to Handle eBay Buyer Complaints and Problems?

In: Information

23 Mar 2009

Not all auctions go smoothly. Maybe the item arrived damaged. Maybe it didn’t arrive at all. Maybe it wasn’t exactly what the buyer thought he was getting. Maybe the buyer is a loud, complaining, major-league son of a rutabaga.

There are really no hard and fast rules for handling post-auction problems. You have to play it by ear and resolve each complaint to the best of your ability. Most eBay users are easy to deal with and just want to be treated fairly. Others won’t be satisfied no matter what you offer them. You have to use your own best judgment on how to handle individual situations.

In any case, if you have a complaining customer, you need to do something about it. Here are some of your options:

  • Ignore them. If you specified “all sales are final” in your item listing, you don’t technically have to do anything else at this point. Of course, complaining customers tend to leave negative feedback, and might even complain to eBay about you; this is not the option I’d recommend.

  • If the item never arrived, put a trace on the shipment, if you can.

  • If the item was insured, you can initiate a claim for the lost or damaged item.

  • Negotiate a lower price for a damaged or disappointing item, and refund the difference to the buyer.

  • Offer to refund the purchase price if the item is returned to you.

  • Offer a full refund on the item, no questions asked, no further action necessary. (With this option, the buyer doesn’t have to bother with shipping it back to you; this is the way Nordstrom would take care of it.)

Most important are those complaints that escalate to the eBay level, via eBay’s Item Not Received or Significantly Not as Described process. Under this process, a buyer can file a complaint if he doesn’t receive his merchandise within ten days of the end of the auction. The problem here is that many transactions will fall outside this arbitrary waiting period.

For example, if a buyer pays by personal check and you hold the check for 10 business days before shipping, the buyer hasn’t received his merchandise in 10 days and can technically file a complaint.

Fortunately, nothing major happens if the buyer files a claim at the 10-day mark. Once the buyer files a claim, eBay notifies you (the seller) of the claim and asks for a response; no formal action is taken until 30 days after the end of the listing. If, at that time, the buyer hasn’t received the item (or the two of you haven’t communicated and worked something out), the buyer has the option of escalating the complaint into eBay’s Standard Purchase Protection Program.

At that point eBay can get involved and refund the buyer’s money (up to $200) and take action against you as a seller. That action could result in a formal warning, a temporary suspension, or an indefinite suspension. Of course, it’s also possible that eBay could evaluate the situation and take no action against you. The outcome depends on the situation.

Obviously, if you’re doing your job right, no complaint should escalate into the Standard Purchase Protection Program. If you do get an Item Not Received complaint, make sure you respond and inform the buyer why he or she hasn’t received the item yet. The key here is communicationespecially when you’re dealing with inexperienced buyers.

5 Responses to How to Handle eBay Buyer Complaints and Problems?



October 2nd, 2010 at 4:18 am

Hi I want to report about a dodgy description of item I bid after reading response from the seller he is auctioning raffle tickets .the item No230532250250-the seller is Ob100bi8.the item in auction is an iphone4 32g,if he does not send me a iPhone as in the auction I bid than I DO NOT want to go ahead and make a payment.I think he should not be allowed to carry on trading on eBay,please reply I am very upset.



November 29th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

8GB New Slim 1.8″LCD MP3 MP4 Radio FM Player &Free Gift
Item Id: 230528532413
End time: 22-Sep-10 11:15:17 AEST


I am so stupid I trust this seller to close the dispute at paypal. now item can’t receiver and paypal can’t refund money to me. How can I do and the seller not reply me message



December 4th, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I purchased an item from an eBay seller when after a very long time item arrived – the item turned out to be a fake knock off – fake L V scarf
which was not listed as such- When I complaint to eBay that seller is selling L V knock off products they totally ignored my complaint
I was denied from a refund and seller failed to communicate with me or offer a refund or accept a return. Seller refused to respond to any of my answers
PayPal had the same support. Stopped selling and buying from eBay this was a repeated type an experience for me
90% of sellers are from East Europe ( Asia) and eBay allows all types



January 10th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

My son in law has an eBay store. When he calls he’s put on hold forever and told hey don’t have the autority to fix the problem….. they do not respond to problems quickly or for that matter they don’t respond at all. There are no supervisors…and sometimes the person on the phone hangs up. It’s very frustating for my son-in law he’s paying alot of money with a store front. This is his and his families livel hood he has a 100% feedback and is always honest. He is banging his head against the wall trying to get ebay to respond. He’s followed thier direction but seems to hit a dead end. How can he get his problems resolved?


Con Heagney

May 27th, 2011 at 6:03 am

I purchased an excaator for £11000 through ebay and transfered the funds to ebays bank account, problem is ebay say they did not recieve the money and Barclays, their bank tell my bank the money was recieved. Now ebay will not reconise that they recieved the money so I cannot get the money returned.
they will not talk to me, any suggestions

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