EBay’s Non-Paying Bidders
eBay is an imperfect system, simply because for the most part it is run on non-binding contracts. You can’t make people who bid on your items pay, even though by bidding, they’re under “legal” contract to pay. eBay could solve this problem by charging buyers' credit cards (which they have on file) once they hit the “confirm purchase” button. But they don’t want to take that responsibility. I guess that would also give them another fee to charge sellers.
I used to call people who didn’t pay or respond to me. I sold cheap zodiac necklaces and I remember the last time I ever talked to one of my buyers. It went something like this:
“Hi, [name]. I’m Lynn. You purchased a necklace from me on eBay [for $7.99]. Are you going to pay?”
“Oh hi. I’m so sorry. But I had a family emergency. I’m on the way to the hospital right now. I’ll pay you at the end of the week.”
“OH. I’m sorry. Thank you. Bye.”
She never did pay.
I’ve heard all sorts of excuses, and “family emergencies” top the list by far. Not that they’re always lying, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. In the end, you’re still left with no payment for an item that sold.
The point is, buyers don’t take very seriously the consequence of clicking the confirm bid/purchase button. You’re going to have to accept it and move on. How much you want to try to
harass contact them is up to you. But after seven days, you can file an Unpaid Item Dispute and at the very least get your final value fee back. You won’t get your listing fee back, however. It will be treated as an unsold item.
The process takes awhile, and if you don’t remember to go back in to check on the status, eBay closes the dispute and refunds nothing. So keep track!
If the buyer doesn’t respond, you have to wait eight days before you can close it. You can no longer file an unpaid dispute if the sale is over 32 days old, and a dispute can only be opened for 60 days after the sale. If the dispute is not closed within 60 days (this is 60 days from the sale date, NOT 60 days from when you opened the dispute), it will automatically be closed with no fees credited.
Sometimes you’ll get buyers who let you know they won’t be paying for whatever reason (accidental bid, my kid placed the bid without my permission, I don’t have money to pay, I don’t want it anymore). Instead of filing that the buyer didn’t pay, you can file a mutual agreement claim. This is where you indicate that you’ve both agreed to cancel the transaction. You will get your final value fee back without the buyer getting an unpaid item strike. Most of the time I will do this if the buyer contacts me about not being able to pay. At least they had the courtesy to let me know, so I’m not waiting two weeks for a payment that will never come.
Some sellers charge a fee for canceling a transaction. I never incorporated this into my listing descriptions because I figured trying to get these people to send me money for nothing would be more trouble than it’s worth. One time however, I had a pair of very time sensitive event tickets. The winning bid was $510. The buyer complained of “PayPal issues” and asked me to resell the tickets. I resold the tickets at $405 a few days later. That was a significant drop in profit so I asked her to send me the difference. I didn’t really think she’d do it, but I tried to sound reasonable about it. She agreed, but a week or so passed and still no payment. So I filed an Unpaid Item Dispute and a day later, she sent the money!
Until eBay starts charging upon purchasing, you'll always get a few non-paying bidders. So get your final value fee back, leave them negative feedback, and relist with the hopes of getting an equal or higher sale price.
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