Over the past two years I have seen a large increase in the number of non paying bidders on Ebay. For every five items I sell there is one that does not get paid for. This seemed to start right after sellers were stopped from leaving feedback on buyers in 2010. It also coincided with Ebay starting to market itself more as a shopping outlet on TV ads. People used to companies like Amazon may not realise that bidding is a binding contract and if you are buying used goods from an individual its a private sale you are not covered by distance selling regulations.
In general there is an expectation by buyers that a sale can be cancelled or reversed at the sellers expense, but Ebay is not Marks and Spencer. I think this affects people like me the mos because I only use Ebay to sell my own unwanted items. I don’t buy things and sell them for profit so I have no profit with which to fund people’s non payment habits.
There are a number of options available to deal with this. I have reviewed them here based on my own experience and then explained how I am trying to deal with it.
Only sell at fixed price with buy it now and immediate payment required.This is fine of you know the value of an item, but you may not get the best price for it this way and the fees are considerably higher. Because listings run for longer this is only an option if you are going away anywhere while the listing is running.
Use the “second chance offer” facilityIf an item has been bid on by several people and the winner refuses to pay you are given the option of offering it as a “second chance” to the first losing bidder. If they don’t respond you can offer it to the third and so on. The problem with this is you don’t know if the original buyer really has refused to pay - there is usually no communication from them - so you have no idea if they are going to pop up a week later and try and pay for it.
I have tried this method a few times and never had any response from anyone I have made a second chance offer to. It may work for you, but it hasn't for me.
Phoning the bidderI have never done this as the items I sell are usually low value, but its possible to get the buyers contact details from Ebay and phone them. I am not sure what good this would do though.
Report the non paying bidderIt is possible to report the non paying bidder to Ebay in the resolution centre. This will not get the item paid for, but it will get you a refund on your final value fee. You won’t get the listing fee back, but as the item has not sold you may be able to relist it free anyway.
Automatic Unpaid Item AssistantThis is how I deal non paying bidders, as it reduces the time involved in reporting non payers and stop the buyer leaving negative feedback. You will find full instructions for setting it up on this page on the Ebay web site.
The process works like this:
- The auction ends.
- I use the “send invoice” function to send the buyer an invoice.
- If it is not paid within four days a dispute is automatically started.
- If the buyer does not pay within three days Ebay marks a strike against them and refunds my final value fee.
The advantage of this is that many sellers have their accounts set to block bids from people who have had multiple non payment strikes.
How to block bidders who have a history of not paying for items.Do the following:
- Sign into My Ebay
- Click on the Account tab
- Click Site preferences and scroll down to Buyer Requirements.
- Edit this to add: “Have received 2 unpaid item(s) recorded on their account within 12 month(s)” and “Have a Feedback score of -1 or lower.”
This will prevent repeat offenders from being able to bid on your auctions. If all Ebay accounts were set like this by default the non paying bidder problem would be significantly less.