Transacting Promptly

Keep your trading partner happy by trading quickly

eBay on iPad
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Transaction time is important for eBay buyers and sellers alike. Sellers who fail to deliver items in a timely manner can see their feedback slip—and future sales affected as a result. Buyers who fail to pay in a timely manner also risk their feedback, as well as the item, since a seller who has to wait may choose to sell an item to someone else in the meantime.

Keep your feedback and your sanity intact by shipping or paying promptly. Though sometimes time frames shown in item descriptions can help to make both parties' obligations clear, if you follow these rough guidelines, you'll always avoid upsetting your trading partner.

For Sellers

  • Notify immediately when payment is received
  • Ship within three days
  • Try to ensure delivery within two weeks

A good rule of thumb for sellers is that you should be prepared to ship within three days of an auction's close to ensure arrival within two weeks. Savvy online buyers in today's e-commerce-enabled world are unprepared to wait any longer than two business weeks for an item to arrive, and in most cases, buyers begin to get anxious if they wait longer than seven to ten days. So when you receive a payment, contact your trading partner immediately to thank them, and then ship as fast as you can.

Buyers' speedy expectations aren't unfair. In today's market, nearly all standard shipping services can cross a nation within a week and go anywhere around the world in two. Standard business practices in the online industry are to ship within 24-48 hours, and premium shipping services like UPS 2nd Day Air or United States Postal Service Priority Mail generally promise rapid cross-national delivery without substantially higher costs. In short, today's online shoppers have come to expect same-week service.

Remember that buyers who have never done business with you before have placed their faith in you based on your feedback and the item listing in question. From their perspective, there have no guarantees that they'll receive what they bought, and they're thus anxiously waiting for their item in hopes that all goes well. To disappoint them is to invite neutral or negative feedback at best, or to be faced with fraud investigations or credit card disputes at worst.

For Buyers

  • Notify within 24 hours
  • Pay within 48 hours if using PayPal
  • Send paper payments to arrive within ten business days

Buyers, beware: sellers aren't prepared to wait forever to get paid. Though you've won an auction, you haven't fulfilled your contractual obligation with the seller until you have made payment.

Unfortunately, as many sellers know, eBay buyers engage in a number of practices that make life very difficult for sellers. Some buyers bid without having the funds to complete the transaction, simply in the hope that eventually they will. Other buyers either don't take auctions seriously and win auctions without ever intending to pay for them. Still, others are simply slow, forgetting about their bid after making it and not realizing until they check their email days later that a payment is owed.

In any case, in which you can't immediately pay by PayPal at auction close, you should strive to contact your seller within 24 hours to make clear to your seller that you do indeed intend to pay. Then, follow through quickly. If you don't, you may receive negative feedback, and a seller may ask eBay to reimburse them for the auction's selling fees. eBay monitors and may suspend buyers whose trading partners repeatedly ask for fee refunds.

Several options are available to buyers or sellers that are tired of waiting for their trading partner to perform. If you find yourself in such a situation, follow the steps outlined below.

For Sellers Waiting on Buyers

  • You must wait at least seven days to begin the claim process
  • You must begin the claim process within 45 days

If your auction is long closed and your buyer still hasn't paid, visit the eBay Unpaid Item Process page to begin the process of having your fees refunded. Note that the process itself takes time since after you file eBay will attempt to contact the buyer directly to resolve the situation.

Whether or not the buyer eventually pays, if you feel as though you've had a bad experience with a buyer, always feel free to leave negative feedback to fully inform other eBay members (and the person's future trading partners).

For Buyers Waiting on Sellers

  • Attempt to contact the seller first
  • You must wait at least ten days to begin the claim process
  • Consider also filing a credit card dispute after 30 days

If you've paid for an item but have not yet received it many days or even several weeks later, and you have contacted your seller to attempt to resolve the situation to no avail, it may be time to file a dispute. The Item Not Received or Significantly Not as Described Process is designed to help you to notify eBay when a seller has failed to deliver.

Once a dispute is begun, eBay will attempt to contact your seller to notify them that you've filed a claim. eBay will then mediate between buyer and seller in an attempt to resolve the dispute. This process may go on for up to 90 days, during which you can either inform eBay that the seller has come through and the dispute has been rendered moot, or escalate the claim to the Trust and Safety team for further action.

Since eBay is not a law enforcement agency and has no jurisdiction over financial resources other than their own, you may want to file a dispute with your credit card issuer if after the first 30 days of the dispute process you find yourself unsatisfied. Keep in mind that you must notify your card issuer of your dispute in writing within 60 days of your payment to be protected.

Once the situation has reached a resolution, good or bad, be sure to post feedback about your experience so that other eBay members are fully informed when buying from the seller in question.