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New eBay Buyer Cancellation process to impact arbitrage sellers

By Chris Dawson July 20, 2020 - 9:00 am

The eBay Buyer Cancellation process has changed. No longer can the seller cancel a sale claiming that it was at the request of the buyer but from now on if a buyer asks you to cancel an order, they’ll need to send you a cancellation request.

Once you receive their request, you’ll have three business days to approve or decline it. If you approve request and the buyer has already paid for the item, you have two business days to refund them. If you haven’t refunded them within 2 business days, they can file a claim through eBay Money Back Guarantee.

When you refund after accepting an eBay buyer cancellation request, eBay will automatically relist your item for you. If you don’t want your item to be relisted, simply uncheck the ‘Relist item after the cancellation’ box when issuing the refund.

This is great news for professional sellers who don’t like arbitrage drop shippers and really bad news for drop shippers who find an item that they have sold is no longer available or that their cost price has risen above their buy price.

Arbitrage sellers have a long history of scrapping product listings from retail sites across the Internet and listing them on eBay. There’s software to automate the entire process. Amazon is a common target as with a Prime account you can simply ship to any address that you choose for free – for arbitrage sellers who are serious they’ll even use Amazon Business Prime. For regular Amazon merchants it’s a right nuisance when their accounts are scraped and products advance sold before purchase by arbitrage sellers as the drop shipper does a poor job and the product sourced doesn’t exactly manage the product sold then a return or claim is likely to be forthcoming.

Why the eBay Buyer Cancellation change matters

So what is the change to the eBay buyer cancellation process and who will this impact arbitrage sellers? Previously, if an arbitrage seller was unable to fulfil an order they would send the consumer a very apologetic email explaining that the goods are temporarily out of stock and asking if they would like a refund rather than wait a long time for the order to be fulfilled. 99% of the time the consumer will be frustrated and reply demanding their money back which the arbitrager will be only too delighted to do. What the arbitrager was then able to do was cancel the sale on eBay using the “cancellation at the buyer’s request” option.

Now, the buyer has to request a cancellation which is slightly different to demanding a refund. The seller can’t select cancellation at the buyers request and it will be down to the buyer to state why they want a refund. The chances are high they they won’t give a reason such as item no longer required or changed my mind, and likely to state that the seller couldn’t fulfil the order. Get enough dings on your account and the impact on your account will soon start to take effect and not in a positive way.

For reputable sellers on eBay who generally only sell what they have in stock, this change will make little if any difference. It’s only when you make an error in your stock and can’t fulfil an order that you’ll have to cancel it and it’s likely you don’t claim it’s at the request of the buyer anyway and just take it on the chin.

It’s only those sellers who regularly cancel orders and claim the cancellations are at the buyers request, when in truth it’s down to running a crappy business model, that will be impacted. eBay don’t like cancelled orders and disapointed customers and it looks like they’ve done something about it.

  • JoeB
    3 weeks ago

    “The seller can’t select cancellation at the buyers request and it will be down to the buyer to state why they want a refund”

    I’m not sure where you get this information from, but given that the changes went live on July 18th, today (July 20th) I can still choose ‘the buyer requested to cancel this order’ without any contact from the buyer.

    • 3 weeks ago
    • JoeB
      3 weeks ago

      I’ve read the announcement – it doesn’t say anything like what you claim it says. Either you have more info than the announcement, or it’s not actually happened yet.

      Nowhere in the announcement does it state that sellers can no longer choose ‘buyer requested to cancel’.

      As far I can see the only real changes are that it’s gone from 10 days to 2 days to issue the refund, and that buyers are supposed to select the correct reason when asking to cancel.

  • Binnie
    3 weeks ago

    I had to do one yesterday after a customer accidentally ordered two of the same item. I rang her to ask her as I was about to post it. She said thanks for phoning but yes it’s a mistake and can I cancel one.
    It let me choose customer requested to cancel (sunday 19th )

  • Tom
    3 weeks ago

    It would be very annoying if they were to remove this. It creates another load of admin of trying to organize a customer opening a cancellation request if they no longer want an item. There must be a better way to stop arbitrage sellers and still enable sellers to do this for the customer.

  • bryan
    3 weeks ago

    How can they expect refunds to be done within 2 days, 10 days is bad enough. What happens if the seller is on holiday or without computer access for several days ??
    Also I often get buyers who make mistakes in buying items and ask to cancel but they expect me to do the ebay cancellation not them.

  • David
    3 weeks ago

    The link on the announcement takes you to this
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/help/selling/managing-returns-refunds/handling-return-requests?id=4136

    Normal cancellation will continue

  • Jonah
    3 weeks ago

    We tend to find buyers require us to do the ebay cancellation request not them- it’s all part of business and part of customer care. These are mainly all mistakes on the buyers part. I can see situations where buyers think sellers are playing hard ball or being unhelpful if we would have to ask them to perform the cancellation.
    We have picked up several long term buyers over the years who started out with cancellation requests – our quick polite response giving them confidence to shop again.

  • LEE PEARCE
    3 weeks ago

    I take it that this will eventually be linked to metrics!!

    Currently, a customer can use normal question for seller messaging to request to cancel an order, they also have the option to use the Order cancellation process.

    We have had both in the last 48 hours.

    The order cancellation process works and is a couple of clicks.

    Cancelling an order when the customer requests a cancellation via messaging can still be done and is a few more clicks but the aim is achieved and both parties are happy, well apart from my paypal fees if they paid.

    Now if the customer does not use the cancellation process, we need to reply to them to inform them on how to do it the way ebay wants it and hopefully they can do this before any dispatch deadlines pass and we take a hit in the metrics!!!

    Amazon already do this and its a pain, and bear in mind that to Amazon, cancelling an order outside of the correct process, regardless of if the customer requested this, means that you have let an Amazon Customer down and is punishable to highest degree!!!

    We had one last weekend on Amazon.com:

    Sorry, my daughter ordered this without me knowing, is it possible to cancel?

    Yes, please send an order cancellation request.

    No Reply or order cancellation request

    I have a couple of days as the order was placed Friday night.

    Resent the message with the added explanation of why it needs to be done this way including the lower visibility sanction imposed by Amazon for letting a customer down.

    Still nothing

    Tried phoning the customer and although no answer, i was able to leave a message.

    Still nothing

    One last message

    Still nothing

    I had a choice with the dispatch deadline looming, cancel the order and take the hit, mark the order as dispatched and then refund the order minus a 10% restock fee to cover the fees Amazon keep.

    I went with cancelling the order.

    Up till then, i was getting about 20-25 orders on the .com site, after cancelling, i was down to 6 – 8 orders for a couple of days, im up to normal levels now, but if its linked to selling metrics, then we will have to take a hit every now and again.

    It all well and good with these little tweaks, but if the customer cant or wont want to use the process in the way intended, it will be the seller who gets punished.

  • Toby
    3 weeks ago

    Have to agree with all the above comments. Cancellations are a messy business. So many reasons.
    I agree witht he principle of stopping drop sellers, they annouy the hell out of me., especially when the items they are advertising grab everything from my listing description and so imply it is us!
    However, when things are moving fast and you are selling on multiple sites then yes you can go out of stock. Commons reasons could be item was found to be damaged, human error in counting available stock, sending out replacements etc which can reduce stock before you can do it tot he listing. There are lots of genuine reasons.
    I’m not sure how best to draw aline between genuine sellers and drop sellers… i just know that this could punuish genuine ones as well, and isn’t that a theme we often see with ebay trying to solve an issue?
    Maybe they should have a system where it asks the buyer if they were happy with the sellers response? Surely that is what counts? If a seller has a whole string of customers with cancellations that the buyers were unhappy about, then that tells a story! We like to be completely honest with buyers if we have accidently run out. People like honesty.

  • 3 weeks ago

    Buyer-requested cancellations
    by uk_news_team eBay Employee on ‎17-07-2020 4:22 PM

    “From July 18th 2020, we’re making a change so that if a buyer asks you to cancel an order, they’ll need to send you a cancellation request.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Looks like another hasty and poorly thought-out eBay move.

    Why would eBay put out an announcement on Friday (17th) to take effect the very next day (Saturday 18th)?

    What was updated on the ‘help’ pages?

    What UI and workflow changes were made to accommodate this new directive?

    Does a buyer-initiated ‘request’ via eBay messages count? It doesn’t read that way, but this should be spelled-out too.

  • Don
    3 weeks ago

    I do not see the added value of a seller disabling to request the cancellation from their end….ebay!? What is the reasoning?
    This is a function that actually works fairly well.

  • NorthCrystal
    3 weeks ago

    This is a good news and bad news, from our perspective.

    Good: hopefully no more buyers buying “wheel nut for Skoda Rapid” and their car being “Audi a3” (just an example) and thinking it’s “okay”. they buy first and then message to ask to confirm the fitment. 90% of such behaviour results in cancellation and lost money for us.

    Bad: this will be linked to metrics in the future, so good luck with being “top rated slave” or whatever. also, adds extra work load and bureaucratic processes. what if I tell the buyer to send a request to cancel, but meanwhile I need to post it and the buyer takes their time to click the request ??

  • Wyatt
    3 weeks ago

    The seller choosing to cancel remains the same. I think all that has changed is if a buyer wants to cancel they used to message you saying to cancel. Now they have to submit a cancel request, which the seller has to accept or decline.

  • 3 weeks ago

    22/07/2020 @ 19:34hrs, I still have the option ‘customer asked to cancel this transaction’.
    Good solid implementation by eBay there as usual

  • Raveena
    3 weeks ago

    What happens when we have an elderly or someone not so comfortable working around the amazing eBay interface… and they call up and ask us to cancel it for them, for ease? How would we get around that?

    • 3 weeks ago

      Tell them to ring EBay to sort it out. It’s there rule and it’s there site so it’s there problem, easy.

  • Liz
    2 weeks ago

    “If a buyer asks you to cancel an order, they’ll need to send you a cancellation request.” We have had the same policy language (as well as the auto-relist of some canceled items) for the US/.com site I believe since at least Spring of 2019, but it didn’t take away the ability for the seller to select “buyer requested cancellation” without a formal request being filed. Over a year later, we can still choose that option when initiating a cancellation from the seller’s side.

    When pressed for more information on the US community, if I remember correctly the response from eBay employees was that requests sent via message qualified as a “cancellation request.”

    Concerns about arbitrage drop shippers like noted above were met with assurance that buyers could report sellers who abuse that option to eBay and sellers with a history of abuse may be subject to a variety of actions against their accounts.

    It may be that eBayUK is just following along to update their policy pages to be in line with the .com site and this is just another case of eBay bungling a policy update with confusing/unclear language.

  • Liz
    2 weeks ago

    Also, if eBay is interested in thwarting arbitrage drop shippers, they could start with the ones using hacked eBay accounts to sell products, then “drop shipping” from legitimate retailers using stolen credit cards.

    This is an interesting variation on retail arbitrage. Since they use stolen credit cards, they aren’t really paying for the items, and thus don’t need to care if their cost price has risen above their buy price.

    The company I work for was hit by this type of arbitrage/triangulation fraud to the tune of about $50k in a little over a month back in March. I have personally reported over 50 hacked accounts to eBay that were used in the fraud and eBay has done everything they can to shuffle to me to different departments, sweep it under the rug, and allow the fraud to continue for months.

    I’ve also seen an uptick in reports across social media in the US & UK of accounts being hijacked and used for fraudulent activity (both buying and selling), and that the victims are sometimes even receiving bills from eBay for store subscriptions and selling fees on fraudulent listings.

    • NorthCrystal
      2 weeks ago

      Re the stolen credit cards..

      That’s interesting. Some time ago I bought baby thermometer an eBay and it came from Amazon… Long story short, I complained to this eBay seller and they refunded me 100% instantly quoting that their feedback (on eBay) is very important for them. I found it strange to give away monies. I also sell on eBay (not drop-shipping) and I would ask the buyer to return the item in such case. We’re not charity and not giving things away for free. However it makes perhaps more sense if the item was bought on stolen credit card…

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