How to open a UPI without getting bad feedback

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As a method for improving your DSRs Scot Wingo recently posted not filing unpaid item disputes (UPI) as tip for improving your DSRs.

Whilst this has certain merits and has been met with approval I’d argue against it on the grounds that bad buyers will never be sanctioned, UPI strikes are the one sure way to get persistant non-payers kicked off eBay. What I would strongly suggest is following some best practices when opening a UPI.

  1. As soon as you open a UPI add a message
    The wording from eBay is unfortunate to say the least – no one likes being involved in a “Dispute” so the email a buyer receives automatically isn’t the friendliest. By adding a friendly message along the lines of “Hi, we don’t appear to have received your payment, please could you let us know if you’ve already paid and how payment was sent” it takes the sting out of the “dispute” and sends a more friendly worded email. It also indicates to the buyer you’re a good guy and not assuming they are at fault, after all their cheque may genuinely be lost in the post.

  2. If the buyer doesn’t respond close the UPI
    Don’t leave open UPIs longer than you have to – if they buyer doesn’t respond close the UPI as soon as the seven days are up. A closed UPI with no response from the buyer removes their ability to leave any feedback whatsoever.

  3. Respond to messages promptly
    Check your UPI console at least three times a week if not daily while you have open disputes. The quicker you respond to a buyers reply the more likely they are to pay, or if not that you can close off the dispute.

  4. Avoid antagonistic language
    Keep your communications calm and friendly, either you have a customer who has genuinely forgotten to pay or one who has changed their mind and simply doesn’t want to pay. In the former they probably only need a gentle reminder and in the later an argument won’t get you paid but may get you poor feedback.

  5. Telephone your buyer
    Typed words can be easily misconstrued – don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your buyer. A friendly phone call often solves more problems than it calls and again gives you the opportunity to explain you consider it a non-feedback transaction

  6. If the buyer wants to back out of the transaction let them
    Offer them a mutual withdrawal from the transaction without giving them a strike. Remember in the UK under the Distance Selling Regulations if they do pay they still have the right to return the purchase anyway – you’re simply saving the postage cost.

  7. Tell them you won’t be leaving feedback
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling the buyer you consider it a non-transaction and won’t be leaving feedback. It’s also an indication to them that you don’t expect them to leave you feedback either and in my experience most don’t

  8. Highlight why they haven’t paid
    Make sure you highlight why the customer hasn’t paid and get them to repeat it in the UPI. Don’t forget, unless they specifically call out a shortcoming on your part, eBay have undertaken to remove any non-positive from non-paying bidders.

We’ll all get a bidder that doesn’t pay for their purchase sooner or later. Knowing how to handle a non-paying bidder should be one of the tools in your selling arsenal.

The most important tip of all is to remain calm and dispassionate when dealing with non-paying bidders, as soon as you get emotional or adversarial so will your buyer. Act as if you work for a large corporation and credit control is simply your job, the UPI console is the most important place on eBay to remember “The customer may not always be right but they are never wrong”.

If you’ve got some more tips on how to handle UPIs let us know in comments below.

37 Responses

  1. I can see the logic Chris but when you have staff,bills and a family to look after and a low feedback score someone else can sort out the bad buyers, it sure won’t be me putting my account or family finance’s at risk from a disgruntled buyer because I have opened a “Dispute” against them.

    Some one made a best offer the other day, I accepted then a few days later after I sent an invoice reminder I got a message back to say “there must have been a mistake I didn’t commit to buy this”

    That item cost me £2.00 ish to list and £17.00 in FVF, eBay can bloody keep the money, I want the other £10k this week, not a suspension because someone gets upset and eBay side with someone who blames his cat/dog/grandma/specsavers.

  2. I think it’s time the whole UID system got a severe overhaul: it’s completely and utterly out of date, and far too antagonistic for eBay 2.0.

  3. Does Scot Wingo live in the real world?
    Non paying bidders are on the increase, so why should we not use our only line of defence against the serial non payer?
    Ebay are already making enough cash from keeping the failed listing fee and they want us to let them have the final value fee AND also keep quiet about the non paying bidder?

    Will this become another stick to beat the seller with too? Won’t be long before there will be a maximum amount of UPI’s sellers can file in a month. Either that or it will another criteria used to kick off sellers who “file too many UPI’s”

  4. I always send a “did you get the confirmation invoice because I don’t seem to have heard from you” or “I don’t seem to have received your payment, it may be that your cheque got lost in the post” (if I have heard from them previously) BEFORE I open a UID. That seems to get a response from 80% or so of NPBs, and the last 20% are died in the wool recidivists who had no intention of paying anyway. If I don’t get a response in 3 days or so, then smack into the eBay system, and as Chris says, no messing about, they had their chance before. And as he says, clean and professional, no name calling, no emotion.

  5. peed off with running scared
    if they dont pay I file a UPI
    if they dont like it they can lump it
    how on earth can you block buyers who dont pay if no one ever reports them for not paying,
    because of the way things are set up,

    I dont tip toe around the buggers either,
    they know if they have paid or not!

  6. There is a common theme running through the comments on this blog and it comes from sellers with high feedback, I am not running scared Norf, I am running a business and I don’t have high feedback to fall back on.

    I am here for the money not the glory, some other bugger can police it.

  7. So far I have only sold a few items and everyone has paid. I really don’t know what I will do when the inevitable non payer comes along. It is not in my nature to ignore something that will leave me out of pocket through no fault of my own. But, with so little feedback, it would be so easy for me to end up with an unjustified suspension. Yet another instance where the small volume sellers are disadvantaged. It is time ebay either admitted we aren’t wanted or gave us some protection.

  8. I think it’s just plain horrible that ebay has put sellers in this positiion, to begin with.

    To file or not to file…..

    How idiotic!

    Ebay, are you reading this?

  9. If a buyer has NOT paid, then all feedback privilages should simply not be available.

    No feedback privilages should be avialable unless the transaction is completed…..That’s not unfair, just the right thing, for all concerned.

  10. Thanks Chris – a very useful post.

    I send a politely worded payment reminder after 3-4 days (most respond at this stage), then file a UPI once it becomes eligible. I’ll now add a polite message as soon as I have filed the UPI.

    Ensuring non-paying bidders are identified through the UID system should be even more important now that the FB system doesn’t highlight such issues – but I certainly understand why many sellers wouldn’t risk filing.

    eBay are missing an opportunity – as they can track payments made through Paypal, they could block non-paying bidders from leaving feedback on Paypal only transactions. (A whole different can of worms, I know!)


  11. cant argue with that whirly, I basically agree with you,
    I have no intention of doing ebays job for them,
    though I am not letting them away with FVFs if I can help it either, because then they will do nowt at all to improve the situation,

  12. Selling at fixed prices with immediate payment required works for me 🙂

    As for if you should UPI or not its simple: if the cost of the fees is less than a negative feedback would cost, you don’t UPI; if the fees are more than a negative feedback would cost, you do the UPI. Its not rocket science, there is no need to get emotionally evolved, its just business.

    The silly hats and pin collecting aspect is thankfully dying a death, run your business with your brain not your heart.

  13. trouble is these days your never quite sure what the cost of a negative is
    as your never quite certain just where the ebay sword of damacles is

  14. It is just another opportunity for ebay/paypal to keep the fees. They know exactly how the system is working and it is just fine for them.

    Now that most of the sales are through paypal, it would be easy to block feedback for any sale where the buyer doesn’t pay.

    It is quite simple, if the sale doesn’t complete e.g. the buyer doesn’t pay, then there is no transaction and therefore there is nothing to leave feedback for.

    Why the hell you have to claim your feed back I don’y know (well I actually I do) it should be automated that if the buyer hasn’t paid then after 2 weeks the seller is refunded automatically or just hits a button to claim it.

    The above is based on paypal payments, obviously other payments would be different. They could actually sell it as a bonus for auctions that say paypal only. But they’ll do none of this because they get a tidy sum in listing fees and FVF from non completed auctions.

  15. I’d be quite happy for it to be paypal only and a system such as road_hog describes to be introduced. None of these problems on amazon.

  16. It could work (ie; no payment, no feedback) for other payments as well.

    A seller usually marks an item’ payment received ‘ when another form of payment is involved….well we do anyway!!!!……….
    So no ‘paymet received’ click NO feedbacl privilages

  17. Thankfully I don’t depend on ebay, if I get kicked off I will be sad but not destitute as I have an office job to pay the mortgage.

    If someone doesn’t pay I send a nicely worded reminder after 5 days along the lines suggested above. If I don’t get a response I open a UPI when I can. And if I don’t get paid I claim my fees back. In a lot of cases it’s only about 20p – 30p but I’ll be damned if I’ll let ebay get one penny that they aren’t entitled to, and I’ll also be damned if I’ll let the non-payers get away with it. And yes there has been an increase in NPB since the feedback changes.

  18. I think this is a great piece of advise for sellers AND buyers. Instead of going on about the negatives in the blog, how about seeing the positives? I do understand that its hard to accept change and there has been a lot of it on eBay in the last 6 months. In the long run once all the dust has settled then it will be a better place for both parties. At the end of the day he is right in saying “The customer may not always be right but they are never wrong”, that’s the way it is in the B&M (Bricks and Mortar) business why not the same in the e-commerce world?

    There are people out there buying things on HP and not paying for them. Do you think the business go and leave them negative feedback or insult them? No they are professionals and they follow the procedures laid out for them. Its time to realise that and that there are procedures on eBay to follow too.

  19. Ana;

    ‘Its time to realise that and that there are procedures on eBay to follow too’

    Unless i’ve misread this forum, that is exactly what this is about. Doing the correct thing & following ebay proceedure.
    The point (I think) that is being made, is the potentual feedback problems, IF you do follow the ebay rules.

  20. Its hard to stay dispassionate about numpty buyers, especially when in response to an unpaid item (bare in mind I have my listing set up so that the buyer must pay immediatley for BIN’s, but this one seems to have slipped through the net!) they leave this kind of comment, like it’s me that’s in the wrong! BTW I had a message from this customer asking for a postage discount AFTER he committed to BIN.



  21. I should add that I actually telephoned this guy after the sale went through and against my better judgement agreed to free P&P on the 2nd item despite the fact that it would cost more, just to keep the deal sweet. He said he would pay later on that day (the day of sale) He made no mention of waiting for a debit card in the conversation and if I’m honest seemed totally underwhelmed and ungrateful that I had agreed to his postage discount demands!

    I just wanted to make it clear that I didn’t file the dispute until after I had spoken politely and professionally to the “customer” why the hell should this customer no 1 get away with it no 2 be allowed to leave feedback?

  22. #22

    Re.1 Thats what eBay want.
    Re.2 Thats what eBay want.

    As long as the buyer is happy he might come back, if it’s pointed out to him that actually he is in the wrong he might not come back.

  23. Since going PayPal only immediate payment in Feb 2008 I haven’t looked back, wish I’d have done it ages ago. UID’s and all the hassle that goes with it has totally gone. If I’d have wanted to be a debt collectiing agency I’d have set up business as one instead of a retailer.

  24. 25: This is a great idea, unfortunately it’s not suitable for all sellers. I experimented with this for 6 months (identical items, identical price structure) on another ebay id and the sales were so bad it was not worth continuing. Now for the suck-eggs comment: 😆 I urge everyone who is thinking about this to try it on for size first before making a complete commitment.

  25. #27 No Gerry,but I don’t want to loose all the good ones that eBay provides me with thats why I am not risking my account for the greater good of the site, someone who can swallow a neg can do it, or even better eBay can.

    Until the UPI system works safely for me I won’t be using it and will just write off any losses that come my way.

  26. #25 I TOTALLY agree, in the short time I was allowing Cash/Chheque/Bank Trans etc, I had no end of hassle from people who just liked to click and not pay! The problem is that even though I have paypal only, immediate payment, this is about the 4th NPB that I have had anyway! Hope you don’t have the same problem.

  27. To avoid NPB one has to choose immediate payment required. The ONLY option for this is Paypal. Why can’t merchants use providers like Worldpay/Protx etc. for their immediate payments? For the same reason that sellers can only list Paypal as the only payment option in some categories (and no, it’s NOT to prevent fraud lmfao),
    Thanks to the recent fb changes, we went from 99.1% to 97.5% overnight and hence in 30 days, we will no longer be powersellers (98% min. required) – thus we’ve changed to a zero tolerance. No payment, UPI strike and fees reclaimed. No fuss, no muss.
    There has been talk of Google releasing an auction site (Man, I wish they call it ‘G-Bay’ 🙂 and if they do, we’re going to say hasta to the fools at eBay. They claim that buyers are their biggest commodity, but what they fail to understand is that sellers are too! What makes eBay fundamentally different to Amazon, is that Amazon is a company that sells things via. its website and thus their sellers are an added bonus. If sellers collectively left eBay, the whole structure would crumble; it’s time they respected that.

  28. Anticipating, you’ll no doubt be glad to hear that eBay have said (at Live) that they’re intending to implement support for merchant accounts via their checkout.

  29. I have to say its lovely not having this hassle anymore! Amazon is much better at dealing with this and is so much better for us now!

    I bet ebay wished they had set it up like amazon now, it seems to be a much easier place to trade for both parties I should think (altho now I have said this something will probably go wrong!! lol)

    I did move over to instant pay when I was on there and it was alot easier, maybe it would just save hassle if ebay moved over to it, this is the choice paypal or nothing and just be done with it!


  30. on my daily sniff around ebay keeping an eye on the compitition
    just noticed someone in the same game as us
    has got a negative for filing an UID
    over 5000 feedback and their first negative
    its just simply disgusting

  31. @Stuart – you know, I’m starting to think eBay did you a favour 😉

    @North, depending on the circumstances, I have seen eBay remove those kind of negs recently. Might be worth an email if you’re feeling kind?

    “The Daily Sniff” would be a great name for a blog…

  32. I think its disgusting,
    but I have not found religion
    though on reflection
    it is so wrong they received a negative, I might just tip the wink to this seller

  33. Ty Sue … assuming we’re still with eBay by that time; it would be appreciated.

    The thought of a Paypal-only eBay makes me shudder; see for a few reasons why. We are *currently* involved in a Paypal dispute- same old story; buyer pays, company ships, buyer claims they didn’t receive item (despite actually doing so) and Paypal reverses the funds. We shipped the item via. Royal Mail Special Delivery with tracking # & receipts etc. and the transaction is apparently covered under Paypal’s “Seller Protection* Policy”. However, because (which we do not run by the way!) says that the item was ‘delivered’ but does not mention to which address, Paypal is saying they won’t cover us & hey, presto there’s £110 down the drain. The few eBay transactions we receive via. Google, CC through World Pay, Cheques etc etc are the only light in a dim tunnel. If eBay take that away, then we’re done with them for good & I am sure that there are other traders that feel the same way.

    * Can be substituted for : Exploitation.


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