Resolving Disputes With Sellers

eBay seller dispute
There is a solution for every problem - just remain calm!. Getty Images

eBay is a safe online place to trade under most circumstances and hundreds of thousands or millions of transactions are completed seamlessly every day around the world. However, with this many buyers, sellers, and transactions occurring every day, this also leaves opportunities for things to go wrong. Sometimes there are issues with the product, the delivery, or the description of an item. Just think about it - millions of packages every month circling the globe can be a recipe for disaster.

But not to worry, there is a solution for every eBay-related problem.

As a buyer, an issue with your order happens most often when the item doesn't make it to you through whatever shipping method was used (United States Postal Service, Fed EX, or UPS), or when the item that you receive is not as the seller described it in the description or in the photos. There are a few actions you can take as a buyer to resolve the issues, or get a full or partial refund from the seller. The key is knowing the correct steps to take and following through with both the seller and eBay to resolve the issue. 

Revisit the Listing to Make Sure You Didn't Miss Anything

You can access the listing under the Purchase History tab on your eBay account. Your purchase history goes back 2 years, but you only have 45 days to dispute a purchase. It is best to address any issues with the product as soon as possible after you receive it.

Pull up the listing and read it again carefully. Also look closely at the photos. Defects, damage, or any flaws should be described in the text as well as shown in the photos. Many times, the seller has done their job to describe the defect, but you may have been in a hurry to make the purchase and not read the description carefully.

It happens. We live in a rush and hurry world and people miss things. That is ok, there is a solution for every problem. 

If the flaw was accurately described in the listing, then you have made an oversight. Most sellers have a fair return policy, so it is perfectly acceptable to open a return if you don't want to keep the item. Follow the steps to return the item here.  You may have to pay return shipping, but depending on the cost of the item that you no longer want, that may be a small price to pay to get your original investment back. eBay is unlikely to take action against a seller or rule in favor of a buyer if the seller has clearly fulfilled his or her obligations according to the terms set forth in the item listing. Chalk it up to "win some, lose some" and move on. If you don't see any mention of the problem with the item, move on to the next step, contacting the seller directly.

Contact the Seller Directly

Before calling eBay to ask them to take action against a seller, always contact  the seller directly to attempt to resolve the issue. A quick message through the eBay messaging system can often clear up misunderstandings or disagreements without having to involve eBay in the tedium of online dispute resolution.

Just make sure you use the eBay messaging system for these reasons:

  • Everything will be in writing
  • eBay can see that you tried to resolve the issue 
  • The buyer will see that you contacted them, as an email might get sent to their spam folder and go unseen
  • Don't make a phone call or send a text as eBay won't have access to those methods of communication and can't review the conversation - it will be your word against the buyer's

Though ideally these steps will be enough to bring the dispute to a satisfactory resolution, sometimes more drastic steps are required. eBay doesn't like poor sellers any better than buyers do—after all, eBay's business model depends on happy customers. And honestly, most sellers want customers to be happy because they want buyers to return to eBay and purchase more items.

 If you're not satisfied and can't get a seller to work with you toward a compromise or resolution, you should feel free to take additional steps.