Common eBay Seller Mistakes and How to Fix Them

(Almost) Everything Is Fixable on eBay

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Oh, the joys of mobile smartphones. Accidental dials, replying to the wrong person when texting, and having your phone on speaker for delicate conversations? It happens. Remember the baby who bought a car on Daddy's mobile phone back in 2013? That was probably the biggest accidental eBay purchase in history. If that purchase can be corrected, anything can.

Common eBay Seller Mistakes

Sellers make mistakes, too.

Hey, we are human and mistakes are part of life. If you haven't made one of these mistakes yet, you probably will. It's not a matter of if you'll make an error, it is a matter of when. Maybe you have:

  • Entered the wrong price for an item (those pesky decimal points!)

  • Sold an item and can't find it

  • Entered the wrong weight for an item (shipping nightmares!)

  • Re-listed an item that has already sold

  • Entered the wrong quantity of a multi-quantity item - and subsequently ran out

  • Used the description for one item and the photos for a different item when using "Sell Similar"

  • Broke or damaged an item when preparing it for shipping

  • Mixed up packages and send the wrong orders to people

Everything is fixable on eBay. Here are some strategies for correcting common seller mistakes.

You Shipped the Wrong Item

Messaging the buyer as soon as you recognize the error is the most professional way out. Always contact the buyer through the eBay messaging system.

All correspondence will be available to eBay Customer Service Reps to help if the case is escalated or if you need to refer to something in writing. If you shipped the wrong item, contact the buyer and let them know the correct item will be shipped immediately. A good response is:

"Hello, thank you so much for your purchase. We are so sorry - we accidentally shipped the wrong item. The correct item is on the way to you now. Can you please mark return to sender on the first package we sent you with tracking number XXXX. We sincerely apologize for this error and thank you for your patience as we correct our mistake. You should receive the correct item shortly."

Asking the buyer to mark the package return to sender makes it easier on them to get the item back to you without having to do any work, print a label, or worry about anything. The package will still be trackable through the USPS / eBay tracking system. 

You will need to pay the postage out of your pocket when you ship the correct item, but as long as the buyer marks the incorrect package return to sender, you will get it back and can re-list it. Here is the official word from USPS about Return to Sender. 

You Broke the Item When Packing it For Shipping, Discovered It Is Damaged, Or Can't Find It

Fortunately, if the cancellation is the seller's fault and the seller can't ship the item, there are some workarounds. First, message the buyer and explain. Ask if they would like a replacement item from your store. Say something like:

"Hello, thank you for purchasing the Starbucks mug. We are so sorry to have to inform you that we dropped it during packaging and it has broken. Unfortunately, we do not have another identical one. Would you be willing to choose something else from our store as a replacement?"

If the buyer agrees, you are out of the woods and you can ship another item using the eBay shipping label workflow.

On the eBay side, it will look as if the transaction happened perfectly and there won't be any issues with defects.

If the buyer wants a refund, process the refund through Paypal. You don't want to show a canceled transaction because you can't fulfill and order. Then, choose a little complimentary gift to send the buyer as an apology. Print the label through the eBay shipping workflow, so it will look like the original item was shipped. This way you don't have to cancel the transaction and the buyer gets a refund and a consolation prize.

You Entered the Wrong Weight for Calculated Shipping and Didn't Charge the Buyer Enough

There really is no workaround for this except to suck it up and pay out of your pocket. It is unprofessional to message the buyer and ask for more money once the sale has been processed.

Every seller has done this at least once. In my case, I sold a Jack LaLane juicer and put 10 ounces instead of 10 pounds in for the weight. And, of course, it went clear across the country. Live and learn. 

The Bottom Line

Don't panic if you have made an error on eBay. Call eBay Customer Service at 1-866-540-3229 for help. Part of our eBay fees pay their salary, so don't hesitate to reach out and ask for help.