eBay UK rolls out automatic unpaid item disputes

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empty piggybank the Unpaid Item Assistant is now available for UK sellers. This allows sellers to specify a period of time (between 4 and 32 days) after which, if the buyer hasn’t paid, an unpaid item dispute will be automatically opened for them by eBay. If the buyer doesn’t pay within 4 days of the dispute opening, it will be automatically closed, the buyer given an unpaid item strike and the seller refunded their FVFs.

Buyers will not be able to leave feedback while a dispute is open: if they pay, the dispute will close and they’ll be able to leave feedback as normal. If the case closes with the item still unpaid, any feedback they left prior to the case being opened will be removed.

There are a few conditions. Sellers can only use the Unpaid Item Assistant on items that *only* accept PayPal as a payment method. Items that offer collection, or paper payments (cheques and POs) are not eligible.

The automatic UID rolled out for eBay.com sellers last month, and is now also available for and sellers.

To add the Unpaid Item Assistant to your listings,

  • go to My eBay, select the Account tab
  • select Site Preferences
  • click Show beside the Unpaid Item Assistant option
  • select Yes – I want Unpaid Item Assistant to open and close cases on my behalf
  • choose the number of days after which you want the dispute to be opened, and click the Save button.
  • If you don’t see the lowest options (4 days is the shortest), change your to give buyers less time to combine purchases.

I’ve seen very few sellers so far saying they’ll be using this feature: I certainly won’t be adopting it myself and I think you’d have to be an incredibly busy seller with a LOT of unpaid items to make it worthwhile. Buyers who haven’t paid yet need careful handling or they turn into victims who take revenge on sellers’ feedback – and however much we might like to take an “if you win/BIN, you pay” stance, with TRS margins so close for many, taking a principled stand can be expensive if it means the loss of FVF discounts.

It’s possible to turn off the UIA for individual transactions – but I won’t be doing that either, it’s just too much hassle to remember to do it for every buyer who’s “having problems with their PayPal account” or promises to pay next week after payday.

Personally, I would have much preferred eBay to take the opposite view on this one. eBay remains the only site on the internet where you can have bought something, but not paid for it. Rather than making it easier to open a dispute with a buyer, they should have made it easier to ensure you get paid for what they’ve bought. If eBay would roll out instant payment options that worked for multiple purchases, then many more of us would adopt instant payment only listings, and neither we nor our buyers would be left in this silly limbo where buying a 99p CD and then changing your mind turns into a battle royal.

What do you think? Will you be hiring an Unpaid Item Assistant, or sticking with lovingly hand-crafted unpaid item disputes? Leave us a comment.

13 Responses

  1. Great article and I’m sure most sellers would agree with your assessment. Unfortunately ebay just don’t seem to be listening

    Personally I prefer to go for the [I want to cancel a transaction] via Resolution Centre. Less confrontational and you still get your FVFs

  2. It’s all a big joke realy isn’t it. There is no transaction to cancel until the “buyer” has paid.

    As you say, eBay need to change the whole buying experience, to bring it in line with EVERY other online ecommerce website…

    …You ain’t a buyer until you’ve paid!

    It’s like me looking in a shop window and saying “oh, that’s nice”, but when I walk on the shop owner runs out and tries to make me pay.

    eBays buying experience is stuck in the internet 90’s.

  3. its for the big boys really init
    we get about 2 or 3 non payers a month
    far better just relisting, ebay keeping the listing fees ,than to bugger about chasing them,
    and risking them putting the boot in and screwing up hundreds of pounds of fvf discount

  4. If eBay would allow you to pay for multiple purchases on your iphone I would never get an unpaid item case opened πŸ™‚

    I do think an automated cancel transaction instead of unpaid item so sellers can get their FVF back would do the trick. The wording is cronic on the unpaid item disputes it is either patronising or threatening. I got one after 4 days (first one in years – couldn’t pay with my iphone) and I was so mad I had to calm down accept the faceless automation.

    I know both sides of this game, and if it makes me angry….

  5. eBay give a buyer all the rights as soon as an item is chosen or selected or won in a bidding contest. Does any other website permit this?

    There should be no right of feedback for any buyer until a seller or payment handler has confirmed that a cleared payment has been made by the buyer. This would also commit any payment handler to take ownership of any follow up issues as they have cleared the funds on behalf of the seller and eBay.

    And eBay only take their fees when the above payment dilligence has taken place.

    Thats all eBay need to do to keep it simple.

    The current position is that eBay take their fees as soon as an item is selected or won in an auction regardless of the payment timetable.

    Hence the need for all this process which otherwise would be entirely uneccessary!

  6. for us, its all about what is profitable in both time and money.
    we dont care about the politics or the legality of it all,
    its just so mush easier to let ebay keep the fees and not harass the non payer, though if we start to get too many non payers .we will need to rethink

  7. I won’t be using it. I guess for some high volume sellers it might be useful though.

    My first reaction is ‘it’s new, it’s from eBay = it won’t work properly’. Although my UPIs have increased a lot lately, I prefer to deal with each one individually and not have a one-rule-for-all type attitude.

    I’m also not keen on the PayPal only rule. I don’t accept ‘checks’ (eBay’s spelling in the UK announcement) or postal orders, I do accept other electronic payments so I would have to revise all my listings to take these options out.

    If it was more flexible I would give it a go, but as it is it’s not for me.

  8. In my view there is no such thing as a “non-paying buyer”. They are not a buyer until they’ve paid!

    I also think that eBay shouldn’t take their fees until the WHOLE process is complete.

  9. Its a good move by eBay.

    Orders do not even arrive from Amazon until after payment. (It would help if eBay had a checkout of course.)

    Buyers who dont pay are a royal pain in the backside. We have for some months now opened disputed after 4 days and closed them after 8. Easily over 100 of them. Not one bad feedback has arrived.

    We did try going all immediate payment last year but that didn’t work as many buyers wanted to buy multiple items and got confused – and many buyers still like to call and pay by card.

    So NPB get a reminder after two days and a disute after 4 – unless they contact us.

  10. We work on the following:

    Day 1. Automated email – order confirmation

    Day 2. Send invoice if not paid

    Day 4. Automated payment reminder

    Day 10. Order confirmation email and payment reminder sent

    Day 14. Order put into dispute

    Day 20. final payment reminder

    Day 22. Claim fvf

    So we give our buyers just over 3 weeks to pay and if they email to say there is an issue we allow upto 29 days for payment

    Seems to work and yes we get about 1000 to 1200 orders at week, so we are reasonably busy – 1500 orders a week would be better, working on that.

  11. Maybe its because I sell mostly collectibles and mostly at auction but I get a lot of NPB. Being able to automate this process and do it in bulk would actually be a huge help for me so I’m pretty excited about this.

    Of course, I still don’t have it since I’m apparently not in any test group so I cannot play with it to see how it works in practice.


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