Nonpaying buyers

If there's one thing that just ain't tolerated at eBay, it's unpaid items. eBay reminds all potential buyers, before they place a bid, that "If you are the winning buyer, you will enter into a legally binding contract to purchase the item from the seller." You'd think that was clear enough, but sadly, many people out there think bidding and buying on eBay is a game. If you see a high bidder on your auction who has very low or negative feedback, dropping a line reiterating eBay policy never hurts.

How you, as a seller, communicate with the high bidder is also important. Many times a well-written, congenial, businesslike e-mail can cajole the basically good person into sending payment. To see some samples that get the job done, drop by Chapter 12.

I've been selling and buying on eBay for more than eleven years. During that time, I've had to file only twenty nonpaying buyer alerts (see the steps a bit later in this section). I think that nonpaying buyers tend to bid on certain types of items. After you've seen some unpaid items, you'll get an idea of which items to stay away from. My items? A gas-powered scooter, a video game, and some Beanie Babies. Serious collector or business items have never been an issue.

To reduce the number of nonpaying buyers, eBay has established that all eBay users are indefinitely suspended if they have three nonpaying buyer alerts filed against them. An indefinite suspension is a suspension of members' privileges to use the eBay site for more than sixty days, with no definite reinstatement date. If users attempt to re-register at eBay and use the system under new IDs, they risk being referred to the United States Attorney General's Office for the Northern District of California for criminal prosecution.

Before filing an unpaid item dispute, give the winner a second chance to send payment. If you still don't receive payment, follow these steps to recoup your final value fees and be eligible for the nonpaying buyer relist credit:

1. As soon as you have a winner, contact him or her.

2. If you don't hear from the winner within three days of the auction's end time, send a payment reminder:

a. Go to the My eBay Views area on the My eBay page. Under Selling, click the Sold link.

b. Click the View Payment Status link next to the pertinent auction.

c. Click the Send a Payment Reminder link.

You may send a reminder between three and thirty days after the auction closes.

If you still don't hear from or receive money from your high bidder, it's time to swing into action by filing an alert.

You must file the alert no earlier than seven days and no later than forty-five days after the auction has ended.

Follow these steps to file an unpaid item dispute:

1. In the My eBay Views area of the My eBay page, click the Dispute Console link.

Alternately, go to the following address:

2. Check the Dispute Console to select the transaction that is eligible for filing.

eBay sends the buyer an e-mail, and the buyer has the right to respond in the dispute management process.

Eight days after filing an unpaid item dispute, you may close the dispute and apply for a final value fee credit in the Dispute Console. At this point, eBay offers several options. To close the dispute, you must select one of the following:

i We've completed the transaction and we're both satisfied. You received your payment and you're ready to ship! The buyer will not receive an undeserved Unpaid Item strike.

i We've agreed not to complete the transaction. If you feel sorry for the buyer or believe their tale of woe as to how they cannot possibly buy your item, you can select this option. The buyer won't get a strike on his or her permanent record, and you will receive a final value fee credit. (The item is eligible for the standard relist credit.)

i I no longer wish to communicate with or wait for the buyer. You've had it — either no response or no payment. The buyer receives their well-deserved Unpaid Item strike and you get your final value fee credit. (This item is eligible for a relist credit.)

You must file for your final value fee credit within sixty days of the transaction's close.

Don't forget! When you file for your final value fee credit, you also have the option of blocking that buyer from participating in your sales.

If you work things out with the winner, you may remove the unpaid item strike within ninety days of the close of the listing. eBay sends an e-mail to notify the winner that the strike has been removed at your request. You'll find the link to remove the warning at your Dispute Console:

1. Go to the My eBay page. Scroll down the My eBay Views to the Dispute Console link and click it.

2. On the Dispute Console page, next to the dispute in question, select Cancel the Unpaid Item Strike for This Dispute from the drop down menu.

3. Click Confirm to remove the Unpaid Item strike.

An e-mail is sent to the buyer letting the buyer know that the strike has been removed and his or her reputation is clear.

In the case of Multiple Item listings or eBay store items, you may file an unpaid item strike only once per listing. You may file against as many buyers as necessary in that one alert, but you can't go back and file more strikes later. You may remove an unpaid item strike at any time.

Not knowing who's who eBay members have user IDs rather than expose their e-mail addresses for all to see. However, you must supply eBay with your contact information. When you register with eBay, its software immediately checks your primary phone number area code against your ZIP code to verify that the two numbers are from the same city. If you've supplied incompatible codes, the eBay servers will recognize that and ask you to reinput the correct codes.

An eBay member who's involved in a transaction with you can get your phone number by clicking Advanced Search next to the eBay search box and then clicking the Find Contact Information link under the Members area on the left side of the page.

Don't be lured by phishing

Fraudulent e-mail has become a common occurrence. Without warning, a request for confirmation of your personal details arrives allegedly from your bank, Internet ISP, credit card company, PayPal, or even eBay. These e-mails are phishing for your personal information and passwords to defraud you of your money or your identity.

These e-mails look just like a legitimate e-mail from the company that holds your data. If you follow the links in the e-mail to "update" your information, you'll be brought to a Web page that duplicates a legitimate Web page. How can you protect yourself from these scammers?

I Never go to the Web site in question from the link in the e-mail. Open up a new browser and type the URL that you normally use to enter the site. After you log in, you'll know whether there's a problem with any of your information.

i Always look for secure Web site information. If you're logged onto a secure Web site, the URL will begin with https:// rather than the standard http://. You'll also see a lock symbol in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window.

I Regularly log onto your Internet accounts.

By keeping in regular contact with your providers, you'll know about issues with your accounts before they have a chance to cause a problem.

I Report the e-mail. If you receive an e-mail supposedly from PayPal, forward the e-mail to [email protected]. Forward an e-mail purportedly from eBay to [email protected]

I take things into my own hands by checking the suspicious e-mail's underlying code. You can do this if you use Internet Explorer and Outlook, by opening the e-mail, right-clicking it, and choosing View Source. When you view the HTML code, you'll be able to see the actual URL of the site that would get your response if you click the link, as shown in the figure.

We have suspended your account as it appear to have been used by a third party

without your authorization.

Do not respond to this email to update your eBay account

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When you arrive at the page, you can then request contact information, as shown in Figure 4-2.

Figure 4-2:

eBay's Member contact information form.

Figure 4-2:

eBay's Member contact information form.

To be on the up-and-up at eBay (and to keep others honest, too), make sure that you

1 Have your current phone number on file at eBay: If a buyer can't reach you, you're in violation and you can be disciplined.

1 Have your current e-mail address on file: If your buyer continually gets e-mail bounced back from your e-mail address, you could get in big trouble.

i Report all underage buyers: If you suspect that a buyer in one of your transactions is underage (eBay requires that all users be over 18), eBay may close the account. Underage buyers may be using their parent's credit card without permission, or perhaps even a stolen card, for registration.

1 Verify e-mail purportedly coming from an eBay employee: If someone e-mails you claiming to work for eBay, be sure to check it out before replying. When eBay employees conduct personal business on the site, company policy requires that they use a personal noncompany e-mail address for their user registration. If you suspect someone is impersonating an eBay employee for harmful purposes, contact the eBay Security Center.

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