How to Create the Perfect eBay Listing: Step 5 – Return Policies & Problem Transactions

Now that you’re able to write the perfect eBay listing, it’s time to be proactive and think ahead to potential problems. Though most eBay sales will go off without a hitch if you’ve followed my advice so far, every once in a while you will need to deal with a problem.

Preventing Problem Transactions

The best time to deal with a potential problem is before it occurs, so we’ll review a few ways to make sure you prevent as many problems as possible.

There are a few more things you can do to prevent problems.

Hide the postage rate. I know this sounds ridiculous, but some buyers get upset when they pay more than actual shipping charges. Even though it’s perfectly reasonable for you to take a small handling charge to cover postage supplies and gas to get to the post office, I avoid the whole argument about handling charges by not printing the postage cost on my packages. If you print your label through Paypal or the USPS website, you have the option of not showing the postage amount. Choose it.

Block bidders with low feedback…or check the feedback of your bidders regularly. When you’re setting up your auction, you have the option to block buyers with low feedback. If you don’t want to risk a bidder with more negative than positive feedback, choose this option. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll be blocking new eBay buyers, who haven’t had time to build their feedback up yet.

Another strategy is to keep a close eye on your auctions, which you should be doing anyway. Check the feedback of people bidding on your auctions. If you have a bidder who seems to be on a bidding, but not paying spree, you can cancel his bid.

A Word About Return Policies

To take returns or not to take returns…that is the question. There are pros and cons to each option, and in the end, you need to make the choice that’s best for you.

Taking Returns. Having a clearly stated return policy is a great way to gain trust with your bidders, especially if you don’t have high seller feedback. Yes, it’s a hassle if people use your return policy, but you’ll gain more bidders. If you do accept returns, I suggest you clearly state that the buyer must pay return shipping. You don’t want to lose money on a buyer that returns something, just because he changed his mind about buying it.

All Sales are Final. If you have good seller feedback, not taking returns is a viable option. Buyers can see from your feedback that you are a reliable seller, so they will trust your description of the item. Not taking returns is the hassle-free way to go, but you may be losing out on some bidders by going this route.

Dealing With Problems

Despite all of the above, you may still find that you have problems with a buyer. Though not all buyers can be reasonably appeased, keep these things in mind when dealing with eBay transaction issues.

Respond to problems promptly. If a buyer emails you about a problem, respond right away. If you respond quickly and reasonably to their concerns, you make it less likely that the transaction will turn ugly.

If the buyer is being unreasonable, politely point them to your description. You do not have to bend to a buyer’s every whim, if they’re out of line. Yes, the buyer may leave negative feedback, but most people will see an unreasonable feedback as just that: unreasonable.

Fix your mistakes. If you sell on eBay long enough, chances are at some point you will make a mistake. If you do, bend over backwards to make it right. Ask the buyer if they would like to return the item, and if they would, offer to pay return shipping. If the buyer is unhappy with the product, because of an oversight you made in the description, sometimes they will still want to keep the item. In this case, you can offer a partial refund.

The bottom line is, if you make a mistake, fix it to the buyer’s satisfaction.

Follow up with eBay. Regardless of the problem, follow up with eBay. Leave proper feedback for bad buyers. File a non-paying bidder report for those that don’t pay. This is the only way other sellers will know that this particular buyer is a problem. It’s important to follow up.

Though there is no way to ensure every eBay transaction goes perfectly, by following the advice in this series, you can increase the odds that you’ll have a great transaction!

To read the rest of the How to Create the Perfect eBay Listing Series, read:


By , on Jul 8, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. I have always had a “no returns” policy when I sell on eBay and haven’t noticed a difference in the price my things sell for compared to others. I think most people purchasing on eBay are worried about returns because they know the risk associated with buying used things. I guess for an eBay Store it would be more of a necessity.

  2. I recently sold and item to an “oceanographer” I know it’s a scam but is there a way of getting my item relisted without having to paying the listing fees again?

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