I sell some stuff on eBay once in a while, but I don't consider myself an "expert" seller, and I'm always concerned about running into problems due to the horror stories we all hear about. So I thought to myself, "I can't be the only one who has questions about selling, shipping, and the ever-changing eBay / PayPal "Policies", so why not utilize a resource that I know and trust?" And that resource, my friends, are my fellow CAGs! (and I do know... and trust... some of you... )
I'd like this thread to become (subject to changes/additions):
1. A resource list of what to do (and what to avoid doing) to protect yourself as a seller on eBay, as well as
2. A compilation of both good and bad experiences (especially Dispute Resolutions) in order to separate fact from fiction about eBay / PayPal policies.
In order to keep my thoughts organized, I've decided to maintain edits to the OP by myself for now (just until the information base becomes a little bit more expanded and contains some more "experienced" advice). But please post your significant facts, experiences, thoughts, rants, and questions at the end of the thread, so we can all learn together! Thanks!
A ??? in front of a suggestion/policy will indicate that the section is not complete yet.
statements in this color and in italics indicate a request for confirmation or more information.
Important Information to Keep In Mind:
- Be prepared to get negative feedback.
- If a buyer pays with a credit card (CC) (or even funds their PayPal payment with a CC), then the buyer can file a "chargeback" with their CC company at any time.
- eBay and PayPal fees for each auction are pretty significant.
DOs and DON'Ts:
ALWAYS include Delivery Confirmation (DC) - Delivery Confirmation is a sequence of letters and/or numbers that allows a package to be uniquely identified, and is used to keep track of delivery attempts (time & location). Postal services are supposed to periodically "scan" packages that include DC in order to create a record of the item's location, but this is NOT guaranteed. Delivery Confirmation is NOT automatically included for some types of shipping methods (i.e., USPS First-Class Mail). Delivery Confirmation usually costs around $0.20 if you print out shipping labels online, but the price may vary if you go in-stores. Dishonest buyers can claim that they never received the package if you do not use DC.
use the blocked bidders list - The Blocked Bidders List prevents specified users from bidding on your items - better safe than sorry!
???use the "Exclude Shipping Locations" and "Buyer Requirements" options when creating a listing - When you create/revise an auction listing, you can determine specific locations that you will not ship to (i.e., international countries, US Protectorates, Hawaii, Alaska, APO/FPO/PO Boxes, etc.). I don't think these location exclusions actively prevent buyers from buying/bidding on your items; they may just make it impossible for buyers with shipping addresses in these exclusions zones from PAYING for the item. You can also set Buyer Requirements to weed out potential troublemakers (i.e., require PayPal account, # Unpaid Item strikes, primary shipping address, # Policy Violations, Feedback score, etc.). Again, I'm not 100% sure if this prevents bidding or just prevents payment.
???use Signature Confirmation (SC) when appropriate - required for payments over $250 USD as part of the criteria for PayPal Seller Protection. If you plan on using SC, have the cost already incorporated into a singleshipping & handling fee; adding on a separate Signature Confirmation fee after the sale has been made is actually a violation of eBay's policies. According to the PayPal CSR I spoke to over the phone, ANY signature will be acceptable (it does NOT have to be the intended recipient). If using USPS Signature Confirmation, sellers can request a copy of the Signature obtained during delivery/pickup (via email, fax, or First-Class Mail); however, such signatures are notorious for being practically illegible. How messy/non-intended recipient signatures hold up in actual Dispute Resolutions is currently unconfirmed. One danger of Signature Confirmation is when no one is home to sign for delivery AND the buyer refuses/is unable to go to the post office to pick up the package; after a certain amount of time (15 days? for USPS) the package will automatically be "returned to sender". Logically, you should probably only offer the buyer a partial refund due to the waste of time, effect, and original cost of shipping, but the outcome of actual Dispute Resolutions in this situation is currently unconfirmed.
???insurance - eBay sellers are "responsible" for items getting to the buyers in the intended condition. If you plan on insuring your package, have the cost (currently approximately $1.30 per $100 value) already incorporated into a singleshipping & handling fee; adding on a separate insurance fee after the sale has been made is actually a violation of eBay's policies. In my opinion USPS insurance is worthless because it requires the buyer to directly contact USPS and follow the proper required procedures (bringing package to post office, etc.); failing to do so will invalidate the insurance claim. It is not confirmed whether eBay requires buyers to comply with USPS insurance claims policies BEFORE resolving a dispute; sadly, it would not surprise me if eBay does not. Therefore, a dishonest buyer could claim a package was lost (if DC was not included) or damaged, get a refund from the seller (through eBay/PayPal if the buyer wins the appropriate dispute), and never contact USPS to start the insurance claims procedure (b/c the package was never lost or damaged in the first place), thereby screwing the seller out of the insurance claim. eBay's ShipCover insurance is slightly more seller-friendly because it only requires the buyer to have filed a "Package never arrived" or "Damaged during shipping" claim in the eBay Resolution Center before initiating the insurance claim on the seller's behalf. Actual experiences with ShipCover or USPS insurance claims would be highly appreciated! I would recommend using insurance only with expensive items or if you suspect the buyer will try to scam you somehow - I will probably end up listing all the different possible claims and detailing how to protect yourself in each scenario.
???take pictures when you package your items - I'm not sure if this actually helps in a Dispute Resolution, but it certainly can't hurt (if you don't count memory space) If you're worried that your buyer is thinking about scamming you, you can send a note during shipping saying "Your item was shipped today with [your choice of shipping service here]. It was carefully packaged using [some description]. Photographic documentation can be provided upon request. Thank you for your purchase!" What do you guys think? Too antagonistic?
sell on eBay or use PayPal - this would have inevitably come up, so I'm getting it out of the way right now. To be honest, there ARE a TON of ways for dishonest buyers to cheat honest sellers.
have a separate insurance fee or Signature Confirmation fee - adding on any type of fee separate from the existing shipping & handling fee is a violation of eBay Policies. Do not OFFER insurance or signature confirmation to buyers; decide whether or not you are going to get it BEFOREHAND and include it into your shipping & handling fee.
use USPS First-Class Mail International - USPS First-Class Mail International does NOT offer tracking or delivery confirmation. In fact, some types of USPS Priority Mail International (specifically, Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Boxes) do NOT offer DC either (regular USPS Priority Mail International is supposed to include DC). Only USPS Express Mail International guarantees both tracking and delivery confirmation, but it also costs at least $27. @International shippers: I would appreciate confirmation on whether USPS Priority / Express Mail International provide Delivery Confirmation).
???ship to an "alternate" address - I only accept PayPal, so I always ship to the address listed under the Transaction Details page in order to meet the criteria for PayPal Seller Protection. I'm not entirely positive if Seller Protection comes into play if the buyer uses an alternative form of payment (i.e., credit card).
eBay and PayPal Policies - Fact or Fiction:
eBay Policies: (alphabetical order)
Buyer Protection - eBay buyers are protected in situations where they do not receive their item OR the item received was not as described; "buyer's remorse" does NOT qualify for Buyer Protection. Here's is eBay's Seller's FAQ about eBay Buyer Protection.
Resolution Center - eBay buyers have 45 days after making payment to open a case on eBay. Sellers have 7 days to respond before eBay automatically sides with buyers.
- ???Item Not Received (INR) Claim - can be opened immediately after the estimated delivery date OR 7 days after payment if an estimated delivery date was not provided. Sellers must provide Proof of Delivery (AND Signature Confirmation for transactions over $250 USD). It is possible to LOSE an INR claim if you DO NOT SHIP within your stated time frame (the "Handling Time" option when creating an auction listing).
- ???Significantly Not As Described (SNAD) Claim - can be opened immediately upon delivery. I'm not sure how eBay requires "proof" that you didn't misrepresent your item, although I suppose taking pictures can't hurt. Any and all personal experiences with this situation would be greatly appreciated! Buyers can escalate this into a Counterfeit Item case; eBay does not require buyers to provide 3rd-party proof that the item is counterfeit, but there is no documentation on how sellers should prove authenticity.
Hold Policy - PayPal holds your "payment" for 21 days or until you receive positive eBay feedback or until 3 days after delivery confirmation. If the payment is not automatically released after the conditions are met, contact PayPal directly and they will release the payment instantly.
Proof of Delivery - a tracking number with delivery notification; I"m pretty sure any of the standard Delivery/Signature Confirmation services are sufficient as long as the package isn't lost during shipping and/or the postal employee doesn't forget to scan the package when it is delivered. For Signature Confirmation, I am told (by a PayPal Claims representative over the phone) that ANY signature from a resident at the delivery address is sufficient (in other words, it doesn't have to be to your intended recipient).
Proof of Shipment - a receipt of a delivery service accepting the package; in reality, a tracking number if sufficient if your package is scanned at least once along the way (and I suppose you'd have to prove that the tracking number is for your package). If you're worried about your package getting lost or stolen BEFORE it gets scanned at least once, then you should go directly to the post office and get a physical receipt when they accept/scan your package.
Seller Protection - ship to the correct address in 7 days, use Signature Confirmation for payments over $250 USD, and keep Proof of Shipment and Proof of Delivery. This does not protect you from buyers filing "Significantly Not As Described" (SNAD) claims.
Edited by ragingst0rm6, 02 November 2011 - 08:47 AM.
unwikified the OP for now, added a section on taking photos