How long does an eBay buyer have to lodge a defect?

Stuart Baldry is a Tamebay reader and an experienced trader on eBay, Amazon and other marketplaces as Managing Director of Urban 33. In this post he explores his recent experiences with eBay Customer Support trying to get to the bottom of how long buyers have to open a case.

Yet another set of confusing eBay messages about defects has come to my attention and I thought I would share them with you.

In the last two weeks, (May) we have had cases opened on eBay from transactions dating back to January and February. Firstly, I was shocked to see that cases could be opened from that long ago and secondly that these are now going to affect my TRS status when it comes in to force in August. I decided to call Customer Support.

To begin with I was told customers have 45 days from the payment date to open a case, and then I was told that this had changed in the recent release to 30 days from date of payment.

I then asked if that was the case, how did the customers open these two cases? Apparently these cases are for communication only and the customer could not escalate the case to eBay for review.

I then asked the agent if this was going to affect my defect rate as these cases had been opened. I didn’t really get an answer to this, just that I should deal with the customer and refund them with no question.

When I came off the phone I felt very confused as to what the rules are and how this is going to affect me in the future with regards to defects. I decided to call back and get some clarification on the issue.

I was then told that customers have 90 days after payment date to open a case. Within the 90 days customers and the seller can escalate these claims to eBay to decide upon. After 90 days cases can be opened by buyers but these are classed as ‘communication only’.

Cases can be opened at any time after 90 days with pretty much no time limit. A case opened before 90 or after 90 days will be classed as a defect. I was told that this was ‘concrete clarification’.

Shockingly I was then told that if a case is escalated to eBay support after 90 days it would always be found in the sellers favour and would not count as a defect. This doesn’t look good in terms of customer support after 90 days.

As I decided to write this article for Tamebay I called Customer Support again to clarify and I have now been told these are ‘the rules’ around cases:

Buyers can open a case within 30 days of the estimated delivery date and this case is a defect for a seller. The case can be escalated by either party after 8 days and cases close automatically after 30 days. If the case is found in the sellers favour it is not classed as a defect.

After 30 days customers can still open a case. eBay class this as ‘communication only’ and it is still classed as a defect. If a buyer or a seller escalates the case after 8 days it will always be found in the seller’s favour and won’t class as a defect. If not escalated the case will close after 30 days and will class as a defect.

The few points I take from this are:

• eBay need to sort out their customer support and have a clear line on rules so sellers know what they are working with.

• Customers have what looks like infinity to open cases and potentially affect your defect rate. The issue I have here is after three months all details of the sale disappear from a sellers’ account. If you sold something as a second or made any notes on condition of the item, this has all but vanished for you to fall back on.

• With cases after 30 days, there is no clear avenue for sellers to take if they cannot resolve something with a buyer, if I hadn’t called customer support I would have let the case close and have another defect on my account.

• However from a customer point of view, after 30 days if I open a case on eBay I am not going to get anywhere with a bad seller who won’t communicate with me.

This seems to be a very grey area for both buyers and sellers and eBay need to re-look at this as to what is best for both going forward.