eBay UK rolls out automatic unpaid item disputes
eBay UK has announced that the Unpaid Item Assistant is now available for UK sellers. This allows sellers to specify a period of time (between 4 and 32 days) after which, if the buyer hasn’t paid, an unpaid item dispute will be automatically opened for them by eBay. If the buyer doesn’t pay within 4 days of the dispute opening, it will be automatically closed, the buyer given an unpaid item strike and the seller refunded their FVFs.
Buyers will not be able to leave feedback while a dispute is open: if they pay, the dispute will close and they’ll be able to leave feedback as normal. If the case closes with the item still unpaid, any feedback they left prior to the case being opened will be removed.
There are a few conditions. Sellers can only use the Unpaid Item Assistant on items that *only* accept PayPal as a payment method. Items that offer collection, or paper payments (cheques and POs) are not eligible.
To add the Unpaid Item Assistant to your listings,
- go to My eBay, select the Account tab
- select Site Preferences
- click Show beside the Unpaid Item Assistant option
- select Yes – I want Unpaid Item Assistant to open and close cases on my behalf
- choose the number of days after which you want the dispute to be opened, and click the Save button.
- If you don’t see the lowest options (4 days is the shortest), change your combined shipping rule to give buyers less time to combine purchases.
I’ve seen very few sellers so far saying they’ll be using this feature: I certainly won’t be adopting it myself and I think you’d have to be an incredibly busy seller with a LOT of unpaid items to make it worthwhile. Buyers who haven’t paid yet need careful handling or they turn into victims who take revenge on sellers’ feedback – and however much we might like to take an “if you win/BIN, you pay” stance, with TRS margins so close for many, taking a principled stand can be expensive if it means the loss of FVF discounts.
It’s possible to turn off the UIA for individual transactions – but I won’t be doing that either, it’s just too much hassle to remember to do it for every buyer who’s “having problems with their PayPal account” or promises to pay next week after payday.
Personally, I would have much preferred eBay to take the opposite view on this one. eBay remains the only site on the internet where you can have bought something, but not paid for it. Rather than making it easier to open a dispute with a buyer, they should have made it easier to ensure you get paid for what they’ve bought. If eBay would roll out instant payment options that worked for multiple purchases, then many more of us would adopt instant payment only listings, and neither we nor our buyers would be left in this silly limbo where buying a 99p CD and then changing your mind turns into a battle royal.
What do you think? Will you be hiring an Unpaid Item Assistant, or sticking with lovingly hand-crafted unpaid item disputes? Leave us a comment.