How Does the eBay BEST OFFER Option Really Work?
The eBay “BEST OFFER” option is supposed to allow the eBay buyer and seller to negotiate a lower price. The negotiation begins with the seller choosing to use the BEST OFFER option on a fixed price or store inventory listing. Then the buyer makes an offer to the seller using the formal BEST OFFER system rather than simply exchanging emails and conducting a transaction outside of eBay. The seller can accept the offer, can reject the offer, can make a counter-offer, or simply ignore the offer. The offer and/or counter-offer is good for 48 hours unless the auction ends sooner. Below is information I copied directly from the eBay website:
Important: If the MakeOffer button does not appear on the listing, the seller is not interested in receiving offers and you should not try to contact this seller through other means to negotiate price or terms. This is a violation of eBay’s Offers to Buy or Sell Outside eBay policy.
When to Respond to a Best Offer
You should use Best Offer only when you’re serious about purchasing the item, service or property at your Best Offer price. Like the bids made on auction-style listings, your Best Offer is binding. if your offer is accepted by the seller, you are obligated to pay for the item, service or property.
Best Offers are good for 48 hours, or until the listing closes, whichever comes first.
Best Offer gives you the chance to negotiate the price with the seller. One advantage of a Best Offer is that you have the opportunity to buy the item at a lower price than the Buy It Now price. However, you should only make what you consider to be your “best” offer for the item because any seller who receives multiple offers for an item is likely to accept the highest Best Offer.
Making a Best Offer – Information from the eBay site for Sellers
If you are selling an item with a fixed price, as part of the listing process you can choose the Best Offer option. With Best Offer, you give buyers a chance to negotiate with you on price. It’s used mostly for high-price items such as cars, boats, and jewelry. Each Best Offer is good for up to 48 hours. A Best Offer is binding, just like any other bid. There is no charge to use Best Offer but it does have some limitations and restrictions.
After you receive a Best Offer, you can do one of the following:
- Accept the Best Offer and end the listing.
- Decline the Best Offer. You can explain your reasons to the buyer if you want to.
- Respond with a counteroffer. If the buyer doesn’t respond within a reasonable amount of time, you can let the counteroffer expire.
- Let the offer expire after 48 hours or when the listing ends, whichever comes first.
However, our experience has been that some eBayers will take a “no response given” as a “yes”. If you don’t tell them no specifically then they feel it is safe to assume that you agree with their request. This type of buyer will usually wait a day or two (although sometimes only a few hours) and without a response from me, they will purchase the item(s) in question and then deduct the “discount” they had inquired about. For example, sometimes they ask if they can get $1 off each item if they buy 5 different items and so at the time of checkout they will subtract the $5 discount that was self-awarded. And this has occured previously (I have first-hand experience) because I do not respond to their email request to have a better price.
Now, since eBay buyers can self-award discounts and when those discounts are not honored by the seller the buyers can leave negative feedback and/or report the seller for nonperformance if they do not ship for the lower price, eBay sellers today are then effectively forced to respond quickly to email requests from buyers who want to purchase the item at a discount. eBay does not consider it extortion for the buyer to request a discount. If the buyer asks for free golf balls to be sent with their golf club purchase then that is extortion according to eBay. Demanding a discount, either before or after shipment, is not extortion according to eBay. So, we spend time responding promptly to potential buyers who want cheaper items rather than focusing our efforts first on timely shipping and good customer service to buyers who do purchase our items.
Now, this type of thing is not limited to just the BEST OFFER option. If you do not specifically say in your auction description that Local Pickups are NOT Allowed then some Buyers will absolutely put their foot down and demand that you make the item available for local pickup. “You didn’t say in your auction that I couldn’t pick up the item… and you are in my local area… so I am going to come by and pick up the item.” So, if you wonder why some sellers auction listing terms are incredibly long, it is because they have to include everything they will NOT do because otherwise eBay buyers will demand that they allow whatever it is that was not included as part of the terms.
But I digress… back to the BEST OFFER option. Even when a potential buyer uses the BEST OFFER option formally there are still problems. For example, I had one potential buyer use the BEST OFFER system to submit an offer for an item that he wanted to purchase for less than half the price I had listed. I read the email that came in on a Saturday but I didn’t respond. Normally, I would have checked the person’s feedback and considered making a counter-offer but the initial offer was so low that I didn’t take action at the moment the offer first came in. And I got really busy Monday morning taking care of customers and so the offer expired. This is the email I then received from the potential buyer:
“I made an offer for your item. Rules say you are to respond in a resonable period of time. Now I get notice that my offer expired. My offer has not expired! I belive you have failed to follow the rules and that my offer, not responded to by you, becomes the selling price. Please confirm my right to purchase immediately….I am a clergyperson. This is the best I can do.” signed Rev Ray
I took a deep breath and then proceeded to block yet another potential buyer because I saw what was coming next — Rev Ray was going to purchase the item at the full price and then subtract out 60% of the cost in order to arrive at the discounted price that he so rightly deserves (in his own mind).
The frustrating part about selling on eBay now is that I have a harder time taking care of the good eBay buyers. I am so busy battling eBay directly with all the glitches and unexpected problems and rule changes and I am so busy blocking the numpty buyers and answering emails from eBayers wanting a “better deal” that my priority is no longer the true customer, the eBay buyer who actually purchases my item at the price I set and agrees to the terms I have listed and actually then pays for the item timely. eBay simply doesn’t understand. I am a businessperson. I want to take care of the buyers who purchase my items because I want them to come back and buy from me again. I want to provide good customer service. I want to have a good reputation. But it is becoming harder and harder to offer good customer service within the eBay system and eBay will not recognize the fact that they are creating and nurturing a system where even the best of sellers are set up to fail.