How to deal with dodgy ‘Item Not Received’ buyers on eBay

TrustOne of the topics discussed at eBay Connect last week, was what to do when a buyer claims their item was not received.

Sellers are of course advised that it is best to send everything tracked. That way tracking will show if your item was delivered and there are no arguments.

Royal Mail should be helping us with tracking by affixing a 2D bar code to each and every parcel posted by a business. Sadly the implementation of the tracking side is delayed and Royal Mail aren’t yet publishing tracking details and we’re not likely to see support for 2D bar code tracking on eBay before 2017.

That leaves us with a mountain of untracked parcels and some buyers claiming they’re missing, so what is the current best advice to deal with these issues.

Fake tracking numbers are one option – a bar code which if scanned will take the buyer to a website telling them that their parcel has been delivered. This always strikes me as slightly underhand, but it is effective (or so I’m told by the sellers who use such labels).

On eBay, in the past sellers have done their utmost to avoid a buyer opening an Item Not Received case. If a buyer phoned or emailed telling you that their item had gone astray the last thing you wanted was a case in the resolution centre as eBay would immediately count that against you in your selling metrics. Too many resolution cases opened and you’d lose your selling privileges, and that’s even if you resolved them all by replacing or refunding the missing product.

That was before eBay’s latest update to selling standards. Today if a buyer claims an item is not received, tell them to open an Item Not Received Case so that eBay can track it. Tell them that you need the case so that eBay and Royal Mail can investigate (a slight exaggeration but not too far from the truth). It’s surprising, if you suggest the buyer checks with Royal Mail and their neighbours or even their husband or wife, how often a parcel will then turn up before they open a case on eBay.

Buyers have a reluctance to open resolution cases on eBay and repeat offenders will certainly be wary. Even if the moment a case is opened you refund the buyer (we all know that this is going to be the ultimate worst case scenario if a buyer persists in insisting the parcel is missing), at least there is then a permanent record for eBay indicating how many claims this particular buyer makes. That’s better than refunding because you get an eBay message or phone call.

Now that your seller metrics won’t be dinged by defects regardless of how many cases are opened against you (so long as you resolve them before they’re escalated to eBay), make sure that any buyer you refund has opened a case. You may be surprised how many go away and find their parcel and discover that cases aren’t opened in the first place.