What to Do When You're Dissatisfied With Your eBay Purchase

Options include contacting the seller or filing a credit card dispute

Online frustration
Getty Images/Peter Dazeley

If you're an eBay customer, you may feel dissatisfied with eBay purchases from time to time. But how should you proceed when this happens?

It can be frustrating to have made a purchase on a major website like eBay only to be dissatisfied with the transaction and to find very quickly that the major brand in question (in this case, eBay) is very difficult to contact for customer service needs and often unhelpful on the telephone or in live chat.

For many consumers, a less-than-satisfactory purchase is a reason to contact eBay directly, but this is actually one of the avenues that is less likely to resolve your issue and leave you satisfied as a buyer. eBay just isn't put together that way. Instead, consider doing the following:

Contact Your Seller

Use the links next to the item in the "My eBay" section to contact the seller of the item and let them know that you have a question or issue with it. Most eBay sellers are actually quite dedicated to customer service and will do what they can to ensure that you aren't left high and dry—but the only way they'll know that you have a question, issue or demand is if you reach out to them.

File a Buyer Protection Claim

For some reason, many buyers hesitate to use this "official" mode of dispute resolution, but eBay has designed this method for buyers to make claims about items that have dissatisfied them.

If you'd like a refund or exchange and your seller isn't working with you, the buyer protection dispute process is your best chance of getting an easy resolution, so long as you have everything in place needed to win the buyer protection battle.

File a Credit Card Dispute

If you purchased your item using a credit card (or paid by PayPal using a credit card), contact your credit card issuer to dispute the charge if you feel that the item clearly hasn't lived up to the promises that were made in the item listing.

Credit card issuers are very good about protecting their customers from problem vendors of all kinds. Simply call them using the number on the back of your card and explain that there is a charge you'd like to dispute.

The downside is that this method can take weeks or even months to be resolved fully. Normally the card issuer will grant a preliminary refund to your account but will then continue to investigate for some time, possibly requesting documentation of various kinds along the way, before making a final determination.

Check for a Manufacturer's Warranty

In many cases, items sold on eBay are still covered by manufacturers' warranties. If you've purchased a mass-market consumer item, contact the item's manufacturer with a make and model number (and, if available, the date of manufacture, if stamped on the item) to see whether the manufacturer will replace it for you.

Purchase a Third-Party Warranty

Companies like SquareTrade offer third party warranties that can be bought to protect even refurbished or used items in many cases. There is generally a waiting period after the purchase of the warranty before you can make a claim (often of 30 or 60 days), but once you do, you supply the problem or defective item to the warranty company and they provide you with cash.

Resell the Problem Item

This is a regrettable "last resort," but in rare cases in which all other avenues have been exhausted, this can be a final option. Items that were of the wrong fit, kind, etc. can simply be resold as "untested" or "unworn" with an explanation in the description of the fact that it was the wrong item for you; others can be sold as "non-working, for parts" or even disassembled and sold in multiple auctions as replacement parts.

Leave Appropriate Feedback

After all is said and done, be sure to leave honest feedback detailing your experiences with the seller in question so that other eBay buyers know what to expect when doing business with the seller in question.