If you are a new eBay seller, avoiding scammers, cheapskates and various other “bad buyers” will save time and, most importantly, money. Getting hit by a series of bad buyers can be discouraging and even business ending for many small, newbie sellers.
Bad buyers don’t happen very often, but as a new seller, you are more likely to encounter a bad buyer in your first few months as your new store will be a target.
So let’s review a handful of bad buyer examples and how you can avoid them.
Offer to buy off eBay scam
This one may be tempting, especially to new sellers. eBay has a lot of fees. A buyer offering to purchase your item outside of eBay, allowing you to skip the fees may sound like a good deal. Don’t do it.
This is a common scam targeting new sellers. A buyer will offer to buy your item now, sometimes they will even offer a bit more than your list price if you sell to them off eBay to avoid the fees. You make the sale, and then the buyer claims they didn’t receive the item, it’s defective, etc. You’re out of luck. eBay won’t help. eBay has a strict policy about selling off platform. eBay will only step in if the entire transaction, including any communication is through its platform.
The empty or damaged package scam
This one is harder to detect at a glance. The transaction will start easy enough. The buyer will purchase your item and the payment will clear as normal. But then, after the item is delivered, the buyer will falsely claim you sent an empty box or the item is heavily damaged, and request a full refund. eBay will force the return and then you will receive…an empty box! You’re out of your item and the money.
To try and side-step these scammers, review the feedback history of the buyer before you ship. If the buyer has zero feedback, bad feedback, or hidden feedback, don’t ship. Cancel the sale. This scam is more common with newer seller on more expensive items. For cheaper items like under $50 clothing items, beauty items, etc., you’re unlikely to be a target. So feel free to ship to a new buyer.
Feedback extortion scams
This one will happen to nearly every eBay seller, newbies and experienced sellers alike. The buyer often will start off haggling with you over the price. Then, after they buy and the item is delivered, they will reach out to you with some small issue. They’ll claim the item wasn’t as described, or it has some minor damage, or they’re “not quite sure it’s authentic”, or similar. Then will come the ask for an additional discount in the form of a partial refund coupled with the obvious implied or direct threat to leave negative feedback if you don’t comply. Don’t do it. Always insist on a full refund for a return. They return the item, you will refund in full. This type of scammer doesn’t want that. They want the item. They just want it cheaper. Most of the time, if you insist on a return for a refund, they will go away. However, for the persistent scammer…
This scam is exhibit A on why all communication must be via eBay. Never call, email, or text a buyer. Only communicate with buyers via eBay. If you have proof of the negative feedback in an eBay communication, eBay will side with you. eBay will block the buyer from leaving negative feedback, and you will not have to provide a partial refund.
Good feedback is very important to sellers on eBay. So protect yours, and others. Follow the no off platform communication rule, and report buyers that attempt feedback extortion. In the long run, bad buyers like these will get kicked off the platform.
The wrong address scam
Always ship to the address on file with eBay. No exceptions. Scammers will target new sellers with a seemingly innocent story about forgetting to change their address or going on vacation and wanting the package to go elsewhere. Do not ship to alternate addresses.
It is too easy for a buyer to open an “item not received” claim. eBay will force a return, and then you will be out of your money and your item.
If a buyer requests to ship to an alternate address. Tell them you will only ship to the address on file, and you will cancel the sale so they can update their address on eBay and repurchase the item with the correct address. Nicely thank them for shopping and move on to the next sale!
The rental scam
This is scam is common with electronics and clothing sales, especially luxury clothing and accessories.
A buyer will purchase your item and then use or wear your item all the way up until a few days before the return window closes. Then they will request a refund and return your item all the worse for wear. You’re item is now used and you’ve missed out on a significant amount of time to sell it to a real buyer.
This one is hard to avoid, especially for new sellers. However, there’s a few tactics that can help:
- If you are a new seller, avoid listing expensive items (clothing, accessories or electronics worth more than $50). This will make you less of a target for the “renters”.
- If you sell an expensive item, review the buyer’s feedback. If it’s bad or non-existent, consider cancelling the sale if the item is expensive.
- Once you are a more experience seller and have achieved Top Rated Seller status, you can deduct up to 50% off the refund. Be sure to let the buyer know your intention to do this (consider putting this in your store policies). This tactic will make a good percentage of these renter types to go away.
Be proactive about protecting your business on eBay. Use the policies and tools eBay provides to help sellers avoid bad buyers.
Set up your buyer requirements. Here you can block buyers from purchasing from you with unpaid items, negative feedback scores, or eBay policy violations. This won’t block every bad buyer, but it will filter out most. Also, if you have an encounter with a bad buyer, add them to your block list, to prevent them from coming back.
Don’t be discouraged by this list. eBay offers an excellent opportunity for resellers to scale up their business without building or hosting their own website. If you stand firm on following eBay’s policies, you can minimize your exposure to bad buyers.