A Message to eBay Buyers: Help Me to Help You

Posted on February 1, 2009. Filed under: eBay, Paypal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |


While I have MANY frustrations as an eBay seller, I would have to say that my number one frustration with eBay revolves around payment.  Unlike Amazon, where an order comes to me with all the payment details taken care of, on eBay I have to (a) educate buyers on how to use PayPal and (b) act in the capacity of a bill collector quite often if I want to get paid for an order and (c) try to delicately extricate myself from the adversarial position that eBay creates between the buyer and seller regarding payment.

I have often thought of creating a FAQ page where eBay buyers could go but since eBay buyers rarely even read the item description I know it would really be too much to hope that they would go to my FAQ page.  But if I were to create a page for eBay buyers, it would look something like this:

Help Me to Help You

(1). Please make sure when you place your bid that you actually have the funds available to pay for the item.  And, if you win the auction but don’t have the funds please consider the following:

a. If you cannot pay within a timely manner (3-5 days) but you can pay within a reasonable time frame (10-14 days) then please email don’t ignore my requests for payment but instead send me a short email.  Tell me that you can’t pay immediately and give the date you expect you can pay.

b. Please don’t give me a long drawn-out very personal explanation as to why you cannot pay in a timely manner.  Really, I don’t want to know and it only makes things uncomfortable.  It is not important to me the reason you can’t pay.  I only want to know when you can pay.

c. If you cannot pay or you changed your mind about wanting to purchase my item, then please tell me in a timely manner.  And, above all, offer to agree to a mutual withdrawal so I can get back a portion of my selling fees.  Again, I don’t need to know all the personal details about your problems.  Just work with me so that my losses are minimized and so that I can go on with selling the item again to someone else.

d. And, if and when you do ultimately pay, please be as considerate of me as I was of you.  When you pay 10 days late on a Friday night at 9:58 pm on  a holiday weekend, it really isn’t necessary to email me five times Saturday and Sunday and then request my phone number Sunday evening.  You really don’t need to harrass me to send your $10 item immediately and packaged well. 

(2) Please make sure you understand how a particular payment system works  if you choose to use it.   

a. If you use PayPal and pay by e-check, I have to wait to ship until the e-check clears.  You and I are both notified by PayPal when the e-check clears.  If you need the item more quickly then either plan ahead and order earlier, pay with a different method, or request and pay for an expedited shipping method. 

b. I ship to the address you supply to me through PayPal.  If I shipped to your old girlfriend’s address it is only because that is address you gave me.  So, please change your address with PayPal to the address where you actually want me to ship.

c. Speaking of Ship To addresses, I can ONLY ship to the address supplied in the Ship To section of a PayPal payment.  I cannot ship to an address you give me in the notes section or a separate email address.  PayPal requires me to ship to a specific address and I do not deviate from that.  It is for your protection as well as mine.  

(3) Please pay attention to the terms of service in my auction description as they will give you great information to help you.

a. I tell you in my terms that I gladly combine items to save you on shipping but only if you make one PayPal payment for all items.  If you pay separately, I ship separately.  And I really mean it.  Yes, really really.  That is because PayPal expects me to have separate tracking numbers for each payment.  And, also, I pay more in PayPal fees when you pay separately than when you make only one payment.  The eBay checkout system most often correctly calculates the combined shipping but I gladly send one invoice for all items if you do not know how to use eBay checkout.  Just ask me.

(4) I have to follow eBay’s rules and deal with their antiquated and broken systems.  It isn’t my fault but I’ll do what I can to help make up for the eBay problems.

a. eBay no longer allow me to accept paper payments unless you ask.  And, even then, I might have to say no to your request if I think eBay might restrict me from selling because my PayPal payment acceptance rate for orders is too low.  

b. The immediate payment required option helps me to prevent nonpaying bidders but does not allow me to combine items for shipping to save you money.  And, unfortunately, eBay designed their system and PayPal’s system to not allow reinvoicing for immediate payments if I refund you.  So, we have only two choices – refund and cancel the transaction or I ship the items separately. 

(5) When you pay me for your purchase, please pay me the full amount and not what you “think” you should pay.

a. No, I will not negotiate the auction price after you win.

b. No, I will not negotiate the shipping cost after you win.

c. No, I will not use your UPS account to ship.

d. If you pay less than the amount due, I will refund and will reinvoice you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this FAQ page.  I want to do the very best job possible for you by packaging your item carefully and shipping promptly.  If you pay me the appropriate amount in a timely manner and supply the correct shipping address in the Ship To section then you will be very pleased with my services.  Help me to help you have a great eBay experience. 

And if you need help making your PayPal payment or understanding PayPal’s requirements, please contact them directly.  If you are unable to locate PayPal’s contact information, please let me know and I’ll assist you.

Thanks and come again!

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9 Responses to “A Message to eBay Buyers: Help Me to Help You”

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I love this post! Having encountered many of the situations you described, I totally understand where you’re coming from!

I wrote a post a couple of months ago – similar in tone 0 regarding DSRs. While I never posted it on my listings, it did make me feel better to write about it. Hope this post does the same for you!


Hey Brews,
My TopSeller Manager had me do an FAQ and no one really read it.
My TopSeller Manager also mentioned that I should place my FAQ on my SYI Page ABOVE the picture and description of what I was selling…yeah, right!
All good examples of HOW a lot of buyers DO NOT READ and just assume.

Good article as always!

Nicely done! Your payment tips and tricks for eBay buyers is spot on.

Thanks for the compliments. And, yes, writing it out actually does help me feel better.

I’ve encountered every single thing you speak of. Great post

I totally understand and empathize with your frustrations-and have experienced them when I was an ebay seller.

Having said that I wanted to just wanted share another thought on this. If ebay didn’t have things set up in such a way that the burden of educating buyers about the system, basically is an ebay creation.

In what other business does the custoer-the seller in this case-have to jump through the hoops that they do with ebay.

Now, you have to educate buyers-especially about the DSR and feedback system. They don’t know that 4 isn’t good and that just one negative or neutral can end a small seller. The fact of the matter is-buyers shouldn’t have to know that. They shouldn’t have to take the time to click all the little stars, when they have already left feedback. They bought and paid for something and left feedback, that should be enought.

They system is designed to get rid of small sellers and what better way to do it than create a hostile atmosphere between them and their buyers. And it’s working. It’s really that simple.

Bottom line, all I’m saying is that IMHO, the blame, or at least 95% of it lays squarely on the shoulders of ebay management-an they should be ashamed.

“Help me to help me” would have been a more honest heading!

Paul, my entire point was “Help me to help you have a great eBay experience.” What the buyer does or does not do will go a long way toward the buyer having a positive (or not so positive) experience on eBay.

I am willing and able to provide a good buyer experience but there is so much within only the buyer’s control that is really up to the buyer whether they CAN have a good eBay experience.

I do not know what you mean by website.I will NEVER use any electronic payment as I went through much when my efforts were compromised.Plus being that ebay owns paypal and even thought they suggest other means of payment, this smacks of some improper action. I sold a bunch of stuff on ebay in the earlier days and received payment by cash check or money order.Those happier days are over I guess.

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