You Play, You Pay … What to do to Prevent the eBay Nonpaying Bidder

Posted on May 10, 2008. Filed under: eBay, Tips - for the eBay Seller | Tags: , , , , , |

One of the biggest problems with eBay is the dreaded Non-Paying Bidder ( NPB ).  Below are some suggestions to help PREVENT the nonpaying bidder from ever getting an opportunity to bid on your items:
1. For expensive items, consider using the BEST OFFER option.  Be sure to put the Buy Now price higher than you are willing to accept and then use the Best Offer option to entertain offers from eBayers.  That way, you can evaluate the potential buyer’s feedback, in conjunction with the amount they are offering for your item, and you will end up with a better quality of eBay buyer (one who is actually likely to pay) because you are able to screen them in advance.
2. Consider taking PayPal only and in your description stating that you will consider other payment methods, such as money order, from buyers who email you in advance.  Bidders who have their PayPal account linked to their eBay ID are much less likely to bid on an item without paying.  When you first list your item, be sure to use the “Buyer Requirement” section of the Sell-Your-Item form to restrict any potential bidder who does not have a PayPal account.   And if you have a bidder who emails you and they have great feedback, you can always use your Buyer Exemption List to allow that particular eBayer to bid on your items.
3. If you do not ship to certain countries, be sure to use the “Buyer Requirement” section of the Sell-Your-Item form, for each and every item you list, to restrict bidders from countries you will not ship to.  That will prevent you from having to find out AFTER the auction ends that an international buyer is the high bidder. 
One of the things I have also noticed is that the longer you wait after the auction closes before directly communicating with the buyer (ie sending an invoice or sending an email asking if the buyer needs any additional information to complete the transaction), the greater the likelihood that the bidder will not pay.  If the high bidder does not send payment via paypal in a day or two or communicate to you that they are sending a money order if you take payments in the mail then you need to be sending the buyer an invoice and / or an email asking how you can assist them in getting the payment to you.
If a buyer is new to eBay and/or if the purchase is a large one, you may want to consider giving the buyer a call (use the eBay system to obtain their telephone number).  I have had several new eBay buyers who did not understand the eBay process.  They are used to purchasing on Amazon where it is a one-step process.  They do not realize that on eBay, it is actually two steps — they must first “purchase” the item and THEN “pay” for the item in a separate step.
Nonpaying bidders are an unfortunate part of doing business on eBay because eBay still requires you to pay the insertion fee even when your bidder fails to pay (after several weeks you are eligible to receive a credit for your final value fees as long as you don’t mind risking getting a negative for filing an Unpaid Item Dispute against a nonpaying bidder). 
Nonpaying bidders cost good eBay sellers a great deal of time and money and that is not likely to change because in eBay’s open system, there are no real consequences for buyers who purchase items but do not pay.  As an eBay seller, you will want to do the best you can to prevent nonpaying bidders while keeping in mind that the problem is simply inherent in the way eBay has set up their Playground.   “You play, you pay” means that in eBay’s Playground it is the buyer who plays and it is the seller who gets to pay.

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