Many sellers make the mistake of not listing clear payment and shipping terms in their listing. Other sellers include information that is either inaccurate or potentially harmful to sales. I recommend stating what payments you accept as well as how and when you ship within the listing description. If you look at the top sellers on eBay by feedback at SellerDome you’ll notice that almost all of them include this information within the listing. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the best way to conduct business on eBay is to emulate those who are successful. The inclusion of clear, concise, and correct payment and shipping terms within your listing will make you stand out as a professional seller, cut down on buyers asking questions about your policies, and decrease post-transaction issues from buyers who didn’t read all the little boxes at the end of your listing. The good news is that you should only have to write the terms out once and then use an insert to include them in all of your listings (How to Use Inserts in the Item Description to Save Time Listing on eBay).
First, it’s easier to point out what you shouldn’t do in your payment and shipping terms. This is not the place to list all the things that could go wrong during the transaction, threaten nonpaying bidders, or tell people that you aren’t responsible for lost packages (You are). Nothing makes me shake my head more than seeing a seller with, “PAYMENT IS DUE WITHIN 24 HOURS OF AUCTION END. NONPAYING BIDDERS WILL BE LEFT NEGATIVE FEEDBACK AND A NONPAYING ITEM STRIKE. DO NOT BID IF YOU DO NOT INTEND TO PAY.” You aren’t going to scare away nonpaying bidders by including something like this. Nonpaying bidders fall into only a few general categories – those who don’t understand that eBay isn’t a place for them to have fun bidding on stuff they have no intention of paying for, kids using their parents account without permission, people who get caught up in a bidding war and then regret the price they paid, and those who end up with a payment issue like a Paypal limitation that makes them unable to pay. A disclaimer like this isn’t going to make any of these people not bid on your item. The only people it is going to affect are buyers who have every intention of following through with the transaction. Buyers don’t want to see a list of all the things the seller is planning to do to them before the auction even ends. Imagine if you walked in to Best Buy and someone was there yelling at you about all the things you shouldn’t do in the store. It wouldn’t make for a particularly pleasant experience. Listing a bunch of things buyers shouldn’t do in your listing is the same thing. Just like customers at Best Buy know what’s expected of them, bidders on eBay know as well. And those that don’t are never going to know and there isn’t much you can do about it. I’ve spoken with sellers who thought they had to say in the listing that they would file for fee credits on items that weren’t paid for. I assure you this is not the case.
You want to list clear instructions to the buyer without including any negative language that would cause a bidder not to bid. I recommend using clear bold headings with a larger font at the end of your listing with “Payment” and “Shipping” along with “Return Policy” and an “About Me” if you like. Something that looks like this:
It’s simple, clear, and bidders are more likely to read something that’s short rather than extremely complicated. In your shipping terms, make sure you say what service you use (i.e. USPS Priority Mail) and how soon after receiving payment you usually ship. Say whether or not you ship internationally. If you do ship internationally, you may want to say that you only ship via USPS Express International (International Shipping on eBay for Sellers) and do not make any exceptions. Include what kind of tracking or Delivery Confirmation number will be made available to the buyer. State how long it usually takes after shipment to receive the item. That should be about it. For payment terms, list your accepted forms of electronic payment. It’s now against policy to state that you accept money orders, checks, and the like so you shouldn’t mention anything about it or your listing will get flagged by eBay. You don’t need to go into much detail about Paypal as bidders will know what that entails. If you use a third-party checkout rather than eBay’s checkout you’ll want to make a note of that. If you accept some of the less common payment services such as Moneybookers or Paymate you would likely want to say something about how easy they are to use and how they work so there won’t be any surprises when buyers try to pay and they can’t figure out why they can’t login to Paypal. Keep it short and include only information that would benefit buyers and make you seem like a caring, professional seller.
The major problems with a lot of sellers’ terms of sale is that they simply aren’t enforceable, are unclear or too long, or scare away potential bidders with threatening language. Like I’ve said before, sellers are responsible for lost packages and buyers aren’t responsible for purchasing shipping insurance to protect the seller. If a buyer makes a complaint that the item was not as described, Paypal doesn’t care if you have a hundred terms of sale that say the buyer can’t return the item. Paypal is still going to grant the claim and allow the buyer to return the item. For this reason, it’s best to shorten your terms of sale and make them in line with how eBay and Paypal actually operate. Buyers will be more likely to read and understand the terms and keeping a positive and informative tone will increase the amount of bidders that trust you and ultimately purchase your items.