Archive | May, 2009

How to Print USPS International Shipping Label With Required Customs Forms

28 May

You may also be interested in these guides: The Perils of International Shipping With eBay and Paypal – A Guide to Successful Shipping Practices and Print USPS Small and Large Flat Rate Box Labels With PayPal On EBay

Printing international shipping labels is now possible with Paypal and at  All of the customs forms you need will print along with the label so you won’t need to fill out any forms at the Post Office.  Since it’s complicated to figure out what forms you need and how to fill them out, it is usually easier to print shipping labels online.  You also save between 5-8% when printing international shipping labels online compared to the price you would pay at the Post Office.  I prefer to print shipping labels at because Paypal does not include the Express Mail International Flat Rate Envelope as an option, which is my most common shipping mehod.  They also don’t have First Class International as an option.  Printing international labels the first couple times may seem a bit daunting, but once you figure out how to fill out the forms you should be able to complete them quickly.  Here’s what to do:

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How to File an eBay Unpaid Item Strike or Cancel A Transaction

27 May

One of the most frustrating aspects of selling on eBay is dealing with bidders that do not pay for the auction items they’ve won.  EBay has a process set up to coax buyers into paying for their items and for sellers to recover final value fees on items that aren’t paid for.  It’s a lengthy process that can take a minimum of 14 days if your buyer does not respond to the case.  You have to wait 7 days after the item ended to open an unpaid item dispute and an additional 7 days to close it and receive a final value fee credit.  Even then, your insertion fee will not be refunded and the cost of any additional listing upgrades will also not be refunded.  Proactively dealing with unpaid items will save you considerable money in final value fees and make you more aware of when its safe to relist an item.

You can also use the mutual agreement to cancel a transaction to recover the final value fee if the buyer returns the item.  Not a lot of sellers take advantage of this, but it can mean serious savings when the final value fee is 8-12 percent of the price of the item.

This guide is picture heavy so click below to read the entire guide:


Verify and Lift Limit on Paypal Account Without Credit Card or Social Security Number

25 May

In order to become “Paypal Verified” in the United States, Paypal requires users to confirm their identity by providing their bank account number and bank routing information. Paypal will make two small deposits into the account and you have to check the bank statement and enter the two amounts into Paypal.  This proves that you have access to the account.  Bank account verification doesn’t really confirm your identity though, because Paypal can’t actually see what name is attached to the bank account in most instances.  This means you could add anyone’s bank account information and as long as you have access to the account statement by mail or online you could register it as your own.

This guide is picture heavy so click below to read the entire guide:


Paypal 21 Day Payment Hold on eBay Sales – What It Is and How to Deal With It

21 May

You may also be interested in these guides: EBay Expands 21 Day Payment Hold Policy To All Sellers? and eBay and Paypal Seller Protection Policy – What’s Really Covered

At the beginning of 2008, Paypal instituted a policy dubbed the “21-Day Hold.”  This policy gives Paypal the right to restrict sellers from withdrawing a buyer’s payment from their Paypal account.  In effect, this denies the seller access to their money for at least 21 days, depending on whether or not the buyer is satisfied with the item they receive.  Paypal instituted this policy when they began beefing up their “Paypal Buyer Protection Policy.“  Paypal tells buyers that they will receive a refund from Paypal if they go through dispute resolution properly and their complaint qualifies for a refund. In reality, the money for the refund comes from the seller’s account, rather than Paypal’s own pot of gold.  To guarantee that the money will be readily available should a refund be necessary, Paypal holds the payment to give the buyer ample time to report a problem.  In the past, sellers had the opportunity to sell expensive items, collect payment, withdraw the money to their checking account, and then disappear.  Paypal would try to get the money back for the buyers but they would make no guarantee.  If Paypal was unable to retrieve the funds then the buyer would be out of luck and receive nothing unless they paid with a credit card and filed a chargeback.

The major problem with this policy is that Paypal doesn’t make it clear to sellers that this is going to happen. The only warning is a little blurb on the first page of the eBay Sell Your Item form under “Decide how you’d like to be paid.”   People making their first couple of sales on eBay are generally overwhelmed by the amount of policies in place, not to mention all of the other information they have to learn to be successful on eBay.  I’ve run a seminar that lasted more than two hours on nothing but item titles.  The amount of knowledge necessary to find success on eBay is staggering.  Many new sellers that receive the email saying Paypal is holding their hard earned money panic and don’t know what to do.  The question that comes up most often is, “Do I really send a $500 item across the country to someone I don’t know when I haven’t even been paid for it?”  The obvious answer is “no way.”  Unfortunately, when selling on eBay this is what you are forced to do.  No exceptions.

How Do I Know If A Payment is Being Held by Paypal?

The email you receive from service@paypal when the buyer submits payment will have the subject, “NOTICE OF PAYMENT RECEIVED – PLEASE SHIP ITEM.”  The email will look like this:

Paypal 21-Day Hold Email

Paypal 21-Day Hold Email

You’ve received a payment, detailed below. We’ve placed a temporary hold on the funds for this transaction.

PayPal and eBay are working together to make payments for eBay items even safer. Because we want both buyers and sellers to feel confident about sending and receiving payments through PayPal, we may temporarily hold payments for items sold on eBay.

Make sure to ship the item right away, so you’ll have access to the funds sooner. We’ll release the hold in 21 days unless you receive a dispute, claim, chargeback, or reversal on the transaction subject to the hold. We may release the hold earlier if either of the following occurs:

  • The buyer leaves you positive feedback on eBay.
  • We confirm that the item was delivered.* We can confirm delivery if you ship the item with USPS, FedEx, or UPS and either use PayPal shipping labels or upload tracking information from the transaction details page. This applies to transactions within the United States.

Additional hold period

If you receive a dispute, claim, chargeback, or reversal on the transaction subject to the hold, we may hold the payment until the problem is resolved.”

The transaction details page in your Paypal account will have this disclaimer at the top:

eBay 21-Day Hold Payment

When the funds are released you will receive another email from with the subject, “NOTICE OF FUNDS AVAILABLE” and it will state relevant information like the buyer’s name, the amount of the transaction, and the transaction ID number.

Who is Subjected to the 21 Day Payment Hold?

The Paypal 21-Day Hold only happens on eBay sales because Paypal Buyer Protection is only valid on eBay purchases.  Remember, the only reason this policy exists is to benefit Paypal.  They don’t want to refund buyers out of their own pocket.  In order to guarantee the funds are available to refund, Paypal limits the seller’s ability to withdraw the money.

According to Paypal, they hold payments for sellers who meet any of the following conditions:

  • You have been an eBay member for less than 6 months, and you sell an item for more than $100, or
  • You have an eBay feedback score of less than 100, and you sell an item for more than $100, or
  • You have a Buyer dissatisfaction percentage** 5% or greater than 5%, or
  • You have an average Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) of less than 4.5, or
  • You have received fewer than 20 Detailed Seller Ratings in the last 12 months, or
  • You are listing your item in a high-risk category such as gift certificates, video games, cell phones, computers or consumer electronics.

If you meet any of these critera your money will be held by Paypal.  Paypal says the amount of transactions affected by the 21 Day Hold is “usually less than 5 percent.”  If there are currently around 27 million listings on eBay that means almost 1.5 million of those transactions will potentially be held by Paypal at one time or another.  Paypal will stop holding payments if you meet these criteria:

  • You have been an eBay member for 6-months or more, and
  • Your total Feedback score is 100 or greater, and
  • Your Buyer dissatisfaction percentage** is less than 5%.


  • Your average DSR is 4.5 or greater and
  • Your have received 20 or more DSRs in the last 12-months
  • Your buyer dissatisfaction percentage is less than 5%

Buyer dissatisfaction percentage is measured by adding negative events as a percentage of your transactions. Negative events include negative & neutral Feedback, Detailed Seller Ratings scores of 2 or lower, and disputes for items not received or significantly not as described.

Like with Selling Limits, Paypal holds payments based on each individual UserID.  This means that if you create a new UserID you will be subjected to the Paypal 21 Day Hold as though you have no selling history with eBay.  You could have an account with a feedback score of 10,000 with 100% positive feedback, but if you open new UserID you will still have Paypal holds on that new UserID.

When Does Paypal Release The Funds?

As explained before, the purpose of the hold is to keep the buyer’s payment in the seller’s Paypal account until Paypal can confirm the buyer is satisfied with the transaction.  Paypal is then off the hook to cover the payment under “Buyer Protection” so they are willing to release the money.  Paypal will release the funds earlier than 21 days if the buyer leaves positive feedback or 3 days after Paypal confirms the item was delivered.  Paypal can only confirm delivery if you shipped the item through Paypal MultiOrder Shipping or the “Print Shipping Label” button from the Paypal transaction details page.  If you ship your items at the Post Office or print the shipping labels from or another website and manually input tracking information, Paypal will not be able to confirm delivery and you will have to wait the full 21 days unless a buyer leaves positive feedback.  The problem with this is that Paypal does not release any part of the payment including the shipping charge.  This means you will have to pay for shipping out of your own pocket.  Also, if you don’t have any money in your Paypal account when you accept the payment that gets held, you will either have to print the shipping label elsewhere, wait to transfer funds to Paypal from a checking account, or pay with a credit card.

I don’t recommend hounding buyers begging them to leave positive feedback so your funds will be released.  If you are concerned about getting your payment as soon as possible you should check the Delivery Confirmation number or tracking information to make sure the item has been delivered.  If it has, send the buyer a message through eBay asking if they received the item and whether or not they are satisfied with it.  If they respond that they are, ask them nicely to leave positive feedback and tell them you’ll do the same.  This should also get you higher Detailed Seller Ratings as it appears that you’re concerned about the buyer’s satisfaction.  If you printed the shipping label through Paypal, they are pretty good about releasing payments automatically like they say they will.  If you check the Delivery Confirmation or tracking number and 5 or more days have passed since it shows it was delivered and the payment still has not been released, you can call Paypal at 1-888-221-1161.  Tell them that the item has been delivered and you are wondering when the payment will be released.  They should be able to release it if there’s no problem with the transaction.  You won’t get anywhere trying to email them as their email support is completely worthless.

What If A Seller Refuses to Ship the Item Unless the Buyer Leaves Positive Feedback or Refuses to Ship Until 21 Days Passes?

This is an unfortunate consequence of the 21 Day Hold.  Some sellers will see that the payment is being held by Paypal for 21 days and refuse to ship the item to the buyer.  If you purchase an item and the seller refuses to ship it you should link them to this article that explains what the 21 Day Hold is.  If they still refuse to ship the item unless you leave positive feedback or wait 21 days you should open a dispute in the Paypal Resolution Center.  Do not agree to wait 3 weeks for your item or leave positive feedback before the item is received and you are satisfied with it.  Paypal will refund your payment if the seller doesn’t.

How Can I Get Around the 21 Day Hold?

Unlike with Selling Limits or Search Delay , this is one policy that there isn’t really any way of getting around.  The only way to get around it in the future is to sell items and receive excellent Detailed Seller Ratings.  Paypal and eBay are extraordinarily good at doing one thing – making and keeping money.  It’s in Paypal’s best interest to hold as many payments as possible so they won’t have to refund buyer’s payments out of their own pocket.  If they thought they could get away with holding every payment they probably would.  As a seller, you will have to play the game eBay’s way.  Your best bet is to ship your items immediately and print the shipping labels via Paypal.  If you ship Priority Mail the day after you receive payment, you should get the funds released to you within 7 days (4 days in transit and 3 days to confirm delivery).

The 21 Day Hold isn’t necessarily a ridiculous policy.  It guarantees that the seller will not receive payment for an item and disappear into the night.  Many merchant accounts require sellers to keep money in a rolling reserve to cover chargebacks.  This is the same idea.  The problem is that Paypal doesn’t make it clear to buyers and sellers that the policy exists.  As usual, they also also don’t do an adequate job of explaining why it exists.  They’re so caught up in their happy bureaucratic hocus pocus talk that they’re entirely unable to give it to us straight.   As the seller, you aren’t in any additional danger of losing the payment if it’s held for 21 days.  Long after all of your payments are instant, you still run the risk of buyers filing bogus disputes and chargebacks.  If you don’t have the money to cover the refund in your Paypal account, Paypal will try to get it from your bank.  If that doesn’t work they send it to collections.  If you ship quickly and properly you should have no problem getting most payments released within a week.  The 21 Day Hold is another hassle that eBay has instituted in the past couple of years.  When you hear about eBay sellers being disgruntled and leaving the platform for other auction sites and payment services this is what they’re talking about.  If you’re willing to play the game, and it is ultimately worth it to do so, you can minimize the hassle if you play properly.
If you found this guide helpful, check out the site index by clicking here for 75+ more guides including how to get around eBay selling limits, enabling PayPal’s merchant rate to save money on fees, and raising your auction and fixed price visibility in best match search.

Understanding eBay Selling Limits – What They Are and How to Get Around Them

20 May

What are Selling Limits and Why Does eBay Have Them?

EBay began limiting the amount of listings sellers could create at the end of 2006.  At the time, eBay was getting sued left and right for trademark infringement because of the amount of counterfeits and other fraudulent items that were readily available for sale on eBay.  The purpose of the policy is to limit how many “potentially infringing” items a seller can list in 30 days.  In eBay’s eyes, this minimizes the damage that any particular seller can do.  Plus, eBay can tell the courts that they’re proactively removing fraudulent listings and limiting the amount of potentially counterfeit items sellers are able to list.

What Items Does eBay Limit?

Sellers are only limited to the amount of listings they can create on certain items that eBay believes have a high chance of being fraudulent or counterfeit.  These items are usually brand name clothing and accessories, shoes, computer software, electronics, and similar items.  EBay has never made a list public and won’t tell you if a particular item counts towards the limit quota.  The best way to find out if an item will count towards your quota is to check to see if the item shows up immediately via keyword search.  If there is a delay between the time you submit an item and when it shows up in keyword search, then it is almost certainly an item that counts toward the limit.  If you are unfamiliar with eBay’s search delay, see my guide, My eBay Item Isn’t Showing Up in Search Results – What’s Wrong?.

How Does eBay Count Items Towards the Limit Quota?

EBay only uses the item title to identify what an item is.  For example, if you’re selling a Louis Vuitton purse, the only way eBay knows that you’re selling a Louis Vuitton is if you include the words “Louis Vuitton” in the item title.  If you do not include the brand name, eBay will allow you to list the item, even if your account is limited and even if you don’t change anything else in the listing.  I don’t recommend doing this because anyone who searches for “Louis Vuitton” will not see your listing in search results unless they include item descriptions in their search, which is rare.

How Do I Know If Seller Limits Have Been Placed on My Account?

EBay will not send you an email or contact you in any way if they have limited your account.  The only way you will find out is if you go to list an item and it shows a warning message on the “Review your listing page.”  This means that you could spend an hour creating a new listing only to have eBay tell you that you can’t list it.  If you’re concerned that you might be nearing your quota, you should edit the title of your item to how you want it and click through the Sell Your Item form to the “Review your listing” page.  If you don’t see an error message that looks like this at the top and bottom of the “review” page you will be allowed to list the item.

eBay Seller Limit

“Thank you for choosing eBay.

In order to maintain a safe trading environment, selling limits are occasionally placed on recently activated accounts. At this time, you are limited in the number of certain items you may list and/or revise in a 30 day period.

We sincerely value you as a member of our trading Community and look forward to a continued successful relationship with you.

Click here for a window with more information on eBay’s listing guidelines.

Click here for more information on limits that may affect your selling activity.”

You may also see a message like,

“In order to help maintain a safe trading environment, selling limits
are occasionally placed on listings. At this time, you are limited as
to the listing of certain items. Please do not attempt to relist this
item for 30 days.

Sellers who have a consistent positive selling history of such items
may be eligible to have these limits raised. If you would like eBay to
review your limits or if you have any additional questions, please
email us at Customer Support.

We sincerely value you as a member of our trading Community and look
forward to a continued successful relationship with you.”

How Many Items Can I List Before I’m Limited?

It depends on the category and how many items you list at a time.  For designer clothing, you should be able to list about 40 items before you receive the first limit.  EBay also counts items you revise as a new listing.  This means that if you make a mistake within a listing and go back to correct it, eBay will count it as a second submitted listing even if you are only selling the one item and make a minor change.  Every time you click “submit” on a listing, eBay will count it towards your seller limit as a new listing.  Because of this, you want to be certain that your listing is correct before submitting it to eBay, or you will waste precious listing credits.  Also, every second chance offer you send to a buyer counts as another item listed.  If you list one item for sale, revise it twice, and submit three best offers to buyers after it ends you would have used up 6 of your listings, even though you only listed one item.  Be careful with how you list and revise items if you’re concerned about reaching your selling limit quota. Also, consider sending a message to bidders asking them if they intend to accept before sending them a second chance offer.  This way, you won’t waste listings by sending second chance offers to buyers who don’t intend to purchase.

When Will the Selling Limit Expire?

EBay will tell you that you shouldn’t try to list the item for 30 days.  The listing limitation will not necessarily last that long though.  Once you don’t see the error message it’s safe to list the item.  If the account is newly registered, you’ll be allowed to list again 30 days from when the account was registered.  For example, if the account was registered on May 19, 2009, you’ll be able to list items again on June 18, 2009 at 12:01am Pacific time regardless of what day you received the limitation notice.  If the account is not new, you should be able to list item before the 30 days is up.  It depends on how many items you’ve listed and when the last time you submitted an item to eBay that counted towards your selling quota.

How Can I Get Around the Selling Limit?

First of all, make sure your Paypal account is verified and that it’s linked to your eBay account.  To do this, follow eBay’s instructions.  The easiest way to get around the selling limit is to take the brand name out of the title.  I don’t recommend doing this though, because your items will not show up when a buyer searches for the brand name unless they include item descriptions in their search results, which is rare.  If you have a history of selling brand name items you can email eBay Trust and Safety.  You will have to have excellent feedback from similar brand name items and ideally no negatives saying the items you’re selling are counterfeit or fraudulent.  Your account will need to be active and registered as a seller account for a minimum 90 days.  In your email, tell eBay Trust and Safety that all of your items are authentic.  Tell them where the items are purchased and if you have provided Paypal or eBay with invoices in the past, state that fact.  State your feedback score and percentage.  Tell them that you don’t sell counterfeits, never have sold counterfeits, and never will sell a counterfeit item.  Ask them nicely to lift your selling limit so you can list your authentic items.

It may also be possible to rearrange the brand name in the item title to trick eBay into thinking it’s a different item.  EBay has smartened up to this trick though, so it does not work as often.  If you’re selling a Louis Vuitton purse, you used to be able to change the item title to “Louis Purse Vuitton” or something similar and eBay wouldn’t recognize it as a brand name.  You can try to play around with your listing’s item title and see if you can figure out an arrangement of keywords that gets past eBay’s checks.  When a buyer searches for “Louis Vuitton” your item would still show up in their results because both words are included in the item title.  The problem with this technique is that item titles with random words inbetween the brand name won’t look as professional and appear to some buyers as though you’re trying to to get away with selling a counterfeit item by not including the exact name in the item title.

The best way to get around eBay selling limits is to register a new eBay UserID.  Sign up for a new eBay UserID just as you signed up for your original account.  EBay allows every member to have as many eBay UserIDs as they want.  EBay selling limits are only placed on the individual UserID, not on the account as a whole.  If your UserID is Designerclothes and you have a selling limit on that account, you can register Designerclothes2(as long as the ID is available) and list the item on that account immediately.  If you have several different UserIDs going at the same time you should always have an account that you can list on.

Why does eBay allow this loophole?  The bottom line is that eBay doesn’t really care if you list counterfeit items as long as they aren’t prosecuted for it.  Millions upon millions of counterfeit items were sold on eBay before they started doing anything about it and millions of counterfeit items have been sold on eBay since they started instituting selling limits and delaying items in search.  I could list hundreds of sellers who sell nothing but counterfeit merchandise on eBay.  EBay doesn’t care.  Every listing they deny costs them money.  The famous Louis Vuitton verdict cost eBay 63 million dollars in fines.  This year, eBay’s revenue should exceed 8 billion dollars, making the fine significantly less than 1 percent of their revenue.  The real problem is public relations and future lawsuits.  In order to ease the public’s concern and put themselves in a better position to win future lawsuits, eBay has instituted these policies; each of which is easy to get around, counterproductive, and useless in the fight against fakes.