eBay is often accused of protecting buyers at the expense of sellers. The Seller Protection Policy is eBay’s defense, but for many sellers, this policy falls short. While it claims to offers protection from abusive buying behavior and events outside of the seller’s control, the Seller Protection Policy also features restrictive (and sometimes ambiguous) conditions.
This post features nine ways eBay sellers can proactively protect their eBay sales, over and above the safeguards provided by the Seller Protection Policy.
Set buyer expectations
When it comes to proactively protecting eBay sales, it is vital to set buyer expectations. If the buyer knows exactly what they are getting, they are less likely to raise issues later.
As frustrating as it may be, many people shop online with their eyes and do not even attempt to read item descriptions. It doesn’t help that buyers using eBay’s app for mobile devices have to specifically click through to read the full item description.
The best way to combat this is to include a comprehensive collection of item photos in every listing. This should feature photos taken from various angles and distances, with specific focus on any visible blemishes, damage or imperfections.
As well as helping to set buyer expectations, detailed photography can also sometimes prove helpful in the instance of item damage.
Adjust buyer requirements
Sellers are able to block buyers according to a certain criteria. This is useful if you discover patterns of bad buying behavior and want to proactively avoid similar instances in future.
Buyer requirement settings vary, depending on which regional version of eBay being used.
eBay.com sellers can currently set buyer requirements to block buyers who:
- Have received a specific number of unpaid item strike(s) within a certain period of time (1, 6 or 12 months)
- Have a primary shipping address in a location without shipping options listed
- Are currently winning or have bought a certain number (1-100) of other items within the last 10 days
The last setting has the additional option to block buyers with a low (below 5) Feedback score.
If you’ve had issues with specific buyers in the past, there is the option of blocking them from purchasing or bidding on other items. Sellers are able to up to 5,000 user IDs to their personal buyer ‘blacklist.’
Adding a buyer to your blacklist is very easy and takes less than a minute. The only requirement is to know the buyer’s user ID.
Blocked buyers will remain so until manually removed from the seller’s blacklist.
The easiest way a seller can proactively protect their eBay sales is to upload shipping tracking as quickly as possible.
Not only does uploading tracking provide reassurance to the buyer, but it ensures protection from eBay for lost items or delayed/damaged shipments caused by events beyond the seller’s control.
Learn post-sale red flags
Fraudulent activity can come in many forms but there are some common characteristics and scenarios to watch out for. Learning these is an integral part of proactively protecting sales.
Some examples include:
- The buyer requests to pay for the item outside of eBay (thereby removing all seller protection)
- The buyer asks for the item to be sent to different address than the one on file (an easy way to claim that the item did not arrive)
- The buyer offers to pay more than the listed price (a way to get the seller’s guard down)
Learn more about these selling red flags and others in this guide.
Communicate with buyers
While there are a small minority of buyers who are just outright fraudulent, there are also buyers who are driven to unscrupulous behavior by frustration and impatience.
One way to try and reduce this problem is to provide friendly, efficient and helpful customer service. For most people, it is fundamentally more difficult to be rude (or take advantage) of someone being kind.
Communicate with them every step of the way, from post-purchase to item arrival. If the item is delayed, proactively reach out and let them know.
Consider accepting returns
This suggestion is a more controversial one, with experienced sellers being divided on the issue. Some claim that accepting returns for any reason (including buyer’s remorse) is a good technique to reduce misuse of the Money Back Guarantee via false Item Not As Described (INAD) cases.
eBay offers additional protection to sellers who offer flexible and/or free returns. It is also claimed by eBay that sellers with free returns may increase their sales by 25%.
Report problem buyers
- Intentional misuse of the Money Back Guarantee
- Demands for something not included in the original listing
- Abuse of the bid-retraction process
Sellers can report buyers, for both abusive or policy violating behavior, via Seller Hub. Full investigation is rare for all but the worst and most persistent offenders. Making a report could, however, help push eBay into action at a later date.
While it is true that reporting ‘problem buyers’ is not an immediate solution, it does help to give other sellers more protection. In this way, it is a way of proactively protecting future eBay sales.
Accept that fraud exists
There is no perfect online retail platform. The risk of encountering unscrupulous and fraudulent buyers is always present, no matter what kind of seller protection or avoidance methods are in place.
The good news, however, is that fraudulent activity is not as rife as it may seem. Most eBay buyers are legitimate and are not intentionally looking to take advantage of sellers.
It is a great idea to try and proactively protect sales as much as possible, but keep in mind that it is impossible to prevent and prepare for every instance of fraud. Some buyers choose to increase their prices (where possible) to make up for inevitable losses.
Experienced sellers, what are your thoughts concerning proactively protecting sales? Do you think eBay could do better to protect sellers?