Hack 71 Dealing with Stragglers, Deadbeats, and Returns


Filing non-paying bidder alerts and credit requests in the event of a failed transaction.

Although sellers are responsible for paying all fees associated with an auction, eBay is not unreasonable about refunding those fees when it comes to returns, deadbeat bidders, and other extenuating circumstances.

Regardless of the terms of a failed transaction, every seller can complete the following two-step process to recover any final-value fees associated with an auction. Unfortunately, listing fees are nonrefundable, but they are never very large.

6.8.1 Non-Paying Bidder Alert

If a bidder never pays, if a bidder returns an item, or if you and the bidder settle a transaction for less than the final bid price, the first (and sometimes only) step is to file a Non-Paying Bidder Alert.

This is different from the "payment reminder," available in the Selling tab of My eBay. Sending a payment reminder is optional, and is not a prerequisite to using the Non-Paying Bidder form. A Non-Paying Bidder Alert can be filed only after 7 days (and no more than 45 days) have passed since the end of the auction.

Start by going to Site Map Request Final Value Fee Credit Non-Paying Bidder Alert (cgi3.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?NPBComplaintForm), and enter the eBay item number as instructed.

You'll be presented with a list of reasons. The reason you choose here will have a very real effect on the way eBay handles the rest of the process. There are effectively three different scenarios:

  • 1. Urge the bidder to pay. If you choose any of the following options, an email will be sent to the bidder reminding him of his obligation to pay. This will also enable you to subsequently use the Final Value Fee Credit Request Form, discussed in the next section. The options are:

    • High bidder didn't contact you.

    • High bidder refused the item.

    • High bidder didn't send payment.

    • High bidder sent payment, but check bounced or payment was stopped.

    • High bidder didn't comply with seller's terms and conditions stated in listing.

    • One or more of your Dutch auction bidders backed out of sale.

  • 2. Cancel the transaction. Choose either one of the following to end the process here and get a refund immediately:

    • High bidder paid for item and returned it. You issued a refund to bidder.

    • Both parties mutually agreed not to complete the transaction.

  • 3. Apply for a partial credit. Use one of the following options if the transaction was successful, but the amount you ultimately received from the customer was less than the final bid price (for example, if you issued a partial refund, as described in [Hack #70]). As with reason #2, your refund will be immediate, and the process will end here.

    • Sale price to high bidder was actually lower than the final high bid.

    • High bidder in Dutch auction did not complete the transaction. You sold the item to another bidder.

6.8.2 Final Value Fee Credit Request Form

If the action you took when filing the Non-Paying Bidder Alert resulted in a warning email being sent to the bidder, you are obligated to give the customer another 10 days to comply and send payment in full. If the bidder still hasn't paid after those 10 days, then you can follow up by filing a Final Value Fee Credit Request. (Note that credit requests will be denied if 60 days have passed since the end of the auction.)

When you complete a Final Value Fee Credit Request, the bidder involved will receive a Non-Paying Bidder Warning. A bidder who receives three such warnings will be suspended from eBay. For this reason, you should be diligent about following through for deadbeat bidders. Likewise, you should be extremely careful about filing undeserved credit requests to harass bidders or save money on listing fees, lest you be suspended yourself.

Go to Site Map Request Final Value Fee Credit Request Your Final Value Fee Credit (cgi3.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?CreditRequest), and enter the eBay item number in the form shown in Figure 6-5.

Figure 6-5. Use the Final Value Fee Credit Request Form to get most of your fees back after a failed transaction

Here, you'll be presented with the same assortment of reasons that appeared on the Non-Paying Bidder Alert Form, plus a field in which to specify how much money ? if any ? you received from the bidder. Click Submit when you're done, and eBay will credit the appropriate amount to your account.

Your credit will take effect immediately. To see how much money has been credited, go to My eBay Accounts View Account Status.

6.8.3 Relisting and Other Options

When all is said and done, you'll most likely still have the item, which means you'll want to relist it and try to sell it again.

Before you relist, make sure to add the deadbeat bidder from the first round to your Blocked Bidder List, as described in [Hack #54]. You can also see if any of the other bidders on the auction are still interested by using the Second Chance Offer on your My eBay Selling page.

You can relist any item on eBay by going to the completed auction page and clicking "Relist your item." You can relist multiple items quickly in the Unsold Items section of your My eBay Selling tab.

Relisting in this way has three advantages over creating a new listing:

  • You don't have to enter all the auction details again; eBay will do it for you. All you need to do is click Go To Review to jump to the last page of the form, and then click Submit Listing to start the new auction.

  • If you turn on the Relisted Item Link option, a prominent link will be placed on the old auction, directing any customers who happen to see it to the new auction page. It's a great way to get a little extra free advertising for your item.

  • If the first auction failed because it didn't receive any bids or the reserve wasn't met, eBay will waive the listing fees for the relisted auction.

Silver lining clause: More often than not, an auction that is relisted after a deadbeat bidder backs out usually closes at a higher price the second time. Why? First, two back-to-back 7-day auctions have twice the exposure (14 days) of a single 7-day auction; if you do it right, anyone who visits the first auction will see a link to the relisted auction. Second, any unsuccessful bidders on the first auction are likely to return and bid more aggressively on the second auction, especially if you're selling something rare. Third, a diligent seller is likely to improve the auction description the second time around, which can result in a higher price.