Would you mind awfully paying for your eBay purchase?

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Today we have our first look at the text of eBay’s new automatic unpaid item reminders. These are now sent out automatically by eBay four days after a BIN or the end of an auction, for any listing that has not been marked paid for (either via PayPal or manually by the seller). Here’s what they say:

We opened an unpaid item case for [your item], because the seller either hasn’t recorded your payment or didn’t receive it yet.
Your payment must be received no later than [8 days to the second after the listing ended], to avoid an unpaid item being recorded on your account (and possible restrictions).
If you’ve simply forgotten to pay, please pay now so that we can close this case and the seller can dispatch the item to you.
If you can’t reach the seller or there’s been a mistake, don’t worry – you can appeal tosue remove the unpaid item after the case closes.

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Click to embiggen

Leaving aside the typo in the last sentence (I can assure you, appealing to Sue will not get your strike removed…), this email just illustrates what a farce the “unpaid item” process is.

  • eBay are sending this email but they’re not even sure your item hasn’t been paid for. Perhaps you posted a cheque and the seller forgot to record it against the item? Perhaps you’ve already agreed a delay with your seller, or you’re bidding on more of their items?
  • We need to make a threat to get you to pay (“possible restrictions”) but we don’t want to annoy our buyers, so we’ll make the threat so vague as to be meaningless.
  • “If you can’t reach the seller” you can still click a PayPal pay now button…
  • “or there’s been a mistake” – it’s your legal right to change your mind, but we’re not going to remind you of that, OR give you the facility to actually cancel your order within the eBay system.
  • They seem to have forgotten to include any sense of urgency. You’ve got four days…

Our correspondent points out that he doesn’t automatically view images in emails, so the GREAT BIG YELLOW PAY NOW button wasn’t visible when he first looked at the email: a text link would have been useful.

More useful still would be a decent, legal order cancellation process, so that waffle about mistakes and restrictions could be removed from these emails. “You haven’t paid; did you forget? Click THIS BUTTON to pay, or THIS BUTTON to cancel your order” would be to the point and much more useful for both buyers and sellers in getting unpaid items either paid for, or back able to be listed.

Update 2009/10/29 16h10 Kind of an update on this: the email as per above is part of a very small test that eBay are doing, and is not being sent out to the vast majority of buyers. More information when I have it.



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