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:
How Long Should I Wait to File an Unpaid Item Strike?
There is a minimum waiting time of 168 hours (7 days) before you can open an unpaid item case. I say 168 hours because the first day starts exactly at the time the item ended. For example, if your item ended at 7pm on May 10th, you would not be able to open an unpaid item case until 7pm on May 17th. Once you open the unpaid item case, you have to wait an additional 7 days before you’re allowed to close it and receive a final value fee credit if the buyer does not respond to the eBay dispute. If the buyer does respond, you can close the dispute and receive a credit immediately.
Communication is key when it comes to dealing with nonpaying bidders. No matter how angry or frustrated you become, do not take a negative tone or threaten the bidder with promises to file unpaid item strikes or otherwise “report them to eBay.” Threats will not make the bidder more likely to pay. If they do end up paying, they will just be angry and more likely to cause an even bigger problem in the future. If you are concerned about receiving payment for your item, contact the bidder by sending them a message through eBay thanking them for their purchase and ask when and how they plan to make payment. If you do not get a response and 7 days have gone by, you can proceed to filing the unpaid item case.
The Two Types of Unpaid Item Disputes
There are two types of unpaid item disputes. The first is the standard “I sold an item and haven’t received my payment yet.” Just like it sounds, this dispute is for items where the buyer has not paid for the item. This case can be opened 7 days after the item sold. Even if the buyer emails you telling you that they aren’t going to pay for the item it still won’t be possible to open this type of case before 7 days have passed. The second type of dispute is the mutual agreement to cancel the transaction. You can use this dispute if the buyer decides they don’t want the item, you lost the item that was for sale, the buyer is in a country where you don’t ship, or a variety of other reasons. The buyer does not receive an unpaid item strike for a transaction cancellation. If the buyer contacts you about not wanting the item and you want to quickly get your final value fee credited and the item relisted this may be your best option because you can open it earlier than 7 days after the transaction ends. Be careful with this type of dispute though. Just because you open the case does not necessarily mean the buyer will agree to it. If the buyer decides not to accept the cancellation and wants to go through with the transaction you will not be able to open the regular unpaid item dispute. Make sure you communicate with the buyer about what the transaction cancellation is and make sure they understand what it means to accept it.
How to File an Unpaid Item Dispute or Transaction Cancellation in the eBay Resolution Center
Opening unpaid item disputes is relatively easy. Like all things, once you know what you’re doing it’s a snap. The most important thing to remember when opening unpaid item disputes is that you also have to close them. If you don’t close the dispute you won’t receive a final value fee credit.
Let’s get to it.
Open My eBay and scroll down until you come across “Sold” under “Sell.” Click on it.
Scroll down to “Sold Items” and click on the “view” drop down menu. Select “Awaiting Payment.”
Find the transaction you want to open an unpaid item case for. On the far right, click the drop down menu next to where it says “Print Shipping Label.” Select “Resolve a Problem.”
This brings you to a screen where you can select which type of dispute you want to open. Remember, if you open the transaction cancellation dispute, the buyer will have to agree or not respond for 7 days for you to receive a final value credit. Once you try to cancel the transaction you cannot open the other kind of dispute. If you aren’t certain that the buyer will agree to cancel the transaction, do not open this type of dispute for a nonpaying bidder. First, I’ll go through the unpaid item dispute. Check the top box and click continue.
This brings us to the next screen. If you tried to open an unpaid item dispute before 7 days has gone by, eBay will tell you to come back later. Otherwise, you can choose “What has happened so far?” from the drop down menu. The most applicable option and the one I almost always choose is simply, “The buyer’s payment has not been received.” If the buyer has been suspended on eBay, you can select “The buyer is no longer registered” and eBay will give you a final value fee credit immediately. You can tell if a buyer has been suspended because it will say “No longer a registered user” next to their userID. If you are unsure of which option to click, choose “The buyer’s payment has not yet been received” since this will always be true if you’re opening a nonpayment dispute. Click continue.
This brings us to the confirmation page. Make sure the answer under “What has happened so far” is correct.
The unpaid item case will now be opened. EBay will give you the date of when you can come back to file for a final value fee credit. If the buyer responds that they won’t be paying for the item or you aren’t happy with their response you can close the case and receive a final value fee credit any time after they respond.
Now, to view the dispute, go back to “My eBay” and locate the transaction. You can either click through your sold items to find it or use the technique at the beginning of this guide to find your unpaid items and look from there. You should now see this underneath the transaction you just opened a dispute for.
Click “view case” and you’ll be taken to the dispute in the eBay resolution center. Here, you can send a message to the buyer, view all of the previous messages sent and received, and close the case to receive a final value credit. Be advised that no one at eBay is reading this dispute. There are millions of unpaid item disputes open at any given time. You are only talking to the buyer, so don’t leave any messages directed at a phantom eBay employee. You don’t really need to leave a message at all, but you can leave one asking if the buyer is going to pay or something similar if you like.
Clicking “Close case” brings us to the following screen. Here, you can close the dispute because the buyer paid, close the dispute because 7 more days have gone by without payment or the buyer has responded that they aren’t going to pay within the dispute, or choose to send a mutual agreement to cancel the transaction. Again, be careful with the cancelation because the buyer has to agree to the mutual agreement in order for you to be eligible for a fee credit.
If you want to open a mutual agreement to cancel the transaction you would choose that option from this screen:
The next screen looks similar to the regular unpaid item case. Choose the correct option and click “send request.” The buyer will get an email asking if they want to agree to the cancellation. If they do, you will get an email with the subject, “Transaction has been cancelled: Item Title (Item Number).” If the buyer does not agree you will get an email stating that the buyer wishes to complete the transaction.
Congratulations, you’re on your way to striking nonpaying bidders everywhere. Most bidders who intend to pay will do so long before the unpaid item dispute process happens. Based on my experience, only about 1 in 5 buyers will pay for the item after the dispute resolution process starts. Nonetheless, opening nonpaying item disputes is an integral part of success on eBay as it is the only way to receive a fee refund when the buyer does not pay for the item.