eBay Reworks Dispute Resolution Process

Company wants to send buyers a message of '100% guarantee.'

by Auctiva.com staff writer
- Apr 14, 2009

As part of an ongoing effort to increase buyer loyalty on its U.S. site, eBay says disputes between trading partners will now be handled by its own customer service team, rather than through its PayPal payments unit.

By resolving disputes in fewer steps—and issuing refunds in most cases—the company hopes to send buyers a message of "100 percent guarantee," according to eBay's resolutions team. Changes to the process—which primarily impact Shipment Not as Described and Item Not Received claims—will begin rolling out over the next few months.

eBay announced the new process in conjunction with a number of changes that include—among other things—integrating the process of creating and printing shipping labels into eBay, making Selling Manager free to all sellers and pushing the deadline for adding return policy and handling time to listings out to June 15.

Under the new resolution process, eBay will review buyer claims and determine whether a refund is warranted. Sellers will have five business days to "make it right" for the buyer, or appeal if eBay takes action. Most of the time, the problem will be taken care of without further intervention, eBay says. The process will work by encouraging the buyer and seller to interact to work things out.

If the buyer is still not pleased, eBay will provide a refund and recover funds from the seller if the seller is at fault. eBay says it's prepared to absorb the cost in instances when both the buyer and seller are right.

"In certain cases, eBay will refund the buyer and not find the seller at fault," the company states in an FAQ explaining the new process.

eBay plans to revise the Unpaid Item process later this year to automatically refund selling fees in certain cases

Not a blank check

But eBay claims the new process does not write a blank check to buyers. Buyers will be limited to a certain number of claims and a cap will be set on payout amounts. Additionally, claims won't be allowed when the buyer hasn't paid the seller. And by handling the process internally, eBay says it will be able to better monitor and prevent buyer fraud or abuse and adapt quickly to sellers' needs.

If a refund is given, sellers can recover final value fees for the transaction through the standard Unpaid Item process. However, eBay says it plans to revise the fee-refund process later this year to automatically refund selling fees in certain cases.

eBay also plans to begin removing negative and neutral feedback left after a seller files an unpaid item dispute for fixed-price items.

The bottom line, according to eBay, is that sellers need to make customer service a priority, but eBay will step in when necessary to ensure no buyer walks away unhappy. To help mitigate potential problems, sellers are encouraged to provide clear pictures and descriptions of items and their condition, provide tracking information or delivery estimates for all shipments and respond promptly to post-sale questions.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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