How to deal with dodgy ‘Item Not Received’ buyers on eBay

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TrustOne of the topics discussed at eBay Connect last week, was what to do when a buyer claims their item was not received.

Sellers are of course advised that it is best to send everything tracked. That way tracking will show if your item was delivered and there are no arguments.

Royal Mail should be helping us with tracking by affixing a 2D bar code to each and every parcel posted by a business. Sadly the implementation of the tracking side is delayed and Royal Mail aren’t yet publishing tracking details and we’re not likely to see support for 2D bar code tracking on eBay before 2017.

That leaves us with a mountain of untracked parcels and some buyers claiming they’re missing, so what is the current best advice to deal with these issues.

Fake tracking numbers are one option – a bar code which if scanned will take the buyer to a website telling them that their parcel has been delivered. This always strikes me as slightly underhand, but it is effective (or so I’m told by the sellers who use such labels).

On eBay, in the past sellers have done their utmost to avoid a buyer opening an Item Not Received case. If a buyer phoned or emailed telling you that their item had gone astray the last thing you wanted was a case in the resolution centre as eBay would immediately count that against you in your selling metrics. Too many resolution cases opened and you’d lose your selling privileges, and that’s even if you resolved them all by replacing or refunding the missing product.

That was before eBay’s latest update to selling standards. Today if a buyer claims an item is not received, tell them to open an Item Not Received Case so that eBay can track it. Tell them that you need the case so that eBay and Royal Mail can investigate (a slight exaggeration but not too far from the truth). It’s surprising, if you suggest the buyer checks with Royal Mail and their neighbours or even their husband or wife, how often a parcel will then turn up before they open a case on eBay.

Buyers have a reluctance to open resolution cases on eBay and repeat offenders will certainly be wary. Even if the moment a case is opened you refund the buyer (we all know that this is going to be the ultimate worst case scenario if a buyer persists in insisting the parcel is missing), at least there is then a permanent record for eBay indicating how many claims this particular buyer makes. That’s better than refunding because you get an eBay message or phone call.

Now that your seller metrics won’t be dinged by defects regardless of how many cases are opened against you (so long as you resolve them before they’re escalated to eBay), make sure that any buyer you refund has opened a case. You may be surprised how many go away and find their parcel and discover that cases aren’t opened in the first place.

35 Responses

  1. the above is all well and good
    but its ebay and that pillock with the glasses that are the big problem

  2. Getting a customer to open a INR doesn’t always work. The buyer goes to PayPal instead and opens a case and get their money back that way with no effect from ebay. Buyers are getting clever to work around these things. PayPal don’t talk to ebay anymore so we get hit every way.

  3. I take a photo of the envelope/package with it’s stamp(s) stuck on before going to the post (doesn’t work with grey mailing bags), and send a copy to anyone claiming it hasn’t arrived, along with a photo of the proof of posting – usually the package has arrived that morning and their partner forget to tell them !
    A friend sort of follows your advice, by explaining to the customer that Royal Mail will perhaps contact them after a claim has been submitted, in order to verify that the package has indeed not arrived, and they find that very often no more is heard about it.
    Sadly, according to many serial victims, ebay refuses to ban buyers who have repeatedly scammed multiple sellers, and until they begin to clamp down, we all have to expect the worst every time there’s a new message in our inbox.

  4. All of my INR cases in the last 12 months have been solved by requesting a redelivery on Royal Mail’s website to the buyer’s address. It seems the vast majority of problems with Royal Mail are caused by posties not leaving “Something for you” cards when the buyer is out.

  5. .
    I haven’t been on here much of late, but like many this subject interests me.

    Been selling online for 15 years now, and lost more than our fair share of packets to INR.

    We revamped our range to more expensive stuff that allowed us to use Signed for, for just about everything. That was fine and losses still occurred sometimes, mainly when posties ‘forgot’ to get signatures & that gave buyers to ability to claim INR as RM (and us) could not prove otherwise.

    We realised after a year that we were losing out on smaller orders as people would simply not pay for this service.

    Last year we thought we would step (a very small toe) back into the standard post for items of £5 or less and see what happened…….. YEP the INR claims started again…..

    This year we have started putting a QR code on all packets sent. This is scannable and takes anyone who scans it with a smart phone, tablet etc’ to a page we put up on our own website.
    We do NOt claim it has been delivered, but state ‘IF you have arrived at this page, you have scanned a packet with our QR code on it. You cannot find out further information without first signing in with the special password you received, when you signed up to you the service, hence if you do not have this password contact your seller, who can then scan further…

    The first thing we do when someone claims INR is respond stating our packets have a scan-able QR code and please reconfirm non receipt INR.

    After this, the next response (if any) is to stall and we advise we will contact RM and QR scanning to clarify status……….It has worked in the main and most buyers claiming INR walk away……..!!

  6. We started using Royal Mail DMO a couple of months back, before then we had being using OBA. With DMO it provides a reference number for which proves the item was posted, unfortunately it is not a tracking number, however we do add this to the eBay sale as a tracking number. By doing so, we have noticed a significant reduction in INR’s…
    If we do get an INR we are able to going back into DMO, retrieve a proof of postage receipt and send it to the customer.
    We were getting around 5 to 10 INR’S every week, now only 1 or 2.

  7. we dont bugger about with the cloak and dagger stuff
    if it cant be sent tracked or signed for we dont sell it
    and even then sometimes buyers really dont receive their item, ?
    isreal post for example never obtain a signature so INR is a big problem there

  8. Ebay may take action if buyer has made minimum of 14 inr claims in 60 days. Only if sellers kicks he’ll. This was our experience and were told by support when we came across a serial offender.

  9. its about time ebay offered some support and security or shoulder some of the cost of this problem
    offering an insurance scheme or a domestic shipping option similar to GSP

  10. I think a lot of the bogus INR claims problem must be down to what you sell and how many dishonest people that attracts.

    From 1st June to today, I’ve had £20K sales spread over 1148 transactions on ebay. The vast majority goes Royal Mail 48. If the weight goes over 2kg, I send on courier if it’s viable to do so.

    From that, I’ve had 3 INRs that I’ve had to refund. The cost of goods and postage, approx £15.

    Were the INRs genuine lost items? I think one guy was possibly lying, just from what he said about managing to get the item at his local market (unlikely because of what it was) but I’ve no reason to doubt the others. I can imagine 3 items per 1000 going missing en route with Royal Mail, whether that’s theft, delivering to the wrong address, or the package getting eaten by a sorting machine.

    From my point of view, INRs aren’t a significant issue and I don’t need to add tracking or get signatures.

    If your INR figures work out a lot higher than this, then you may be getting dishonest INRs and probably do need to track if the losses are too high otherwise.

    For example, if I sold mobile phones, it’d be full tracking.

  11. We always publicly apologise on the buyers feedback using follow up feedback left it an item is “lost” in the post.

    For some strange reason a few buyers don’t seem to like their dirty washing in public view and then turn their feedback to private I wonder why?

  12. Another weapon in the arsenal is to put a slip into each packet with a unique email address that isn’t published anywhere else, asking them to email with any issues.

    Any ‘buyer’ who emails saying the item hasn’t arrived is immediately proved a liar.

  13. I spoke to my Royal Mail account manager the other day. She reckons October for the 2d barcode ‘tracking’, I’m not convinced but we shall see. It’s only going to put off chancers anyway. Hardcore scammers will still claim regardless of the 2d barcode because I don’t think it’s going to classed as proof of delivery by the sales channels.

    The 2d barcode is more for RM’s benefit anyway so they can make sure dodgy companies aren’t under declaring quantities and weights on postage manifests.

  14. is there any evidence whatsover that ebay will do anything at all with all these open cases and reports?
    sure they SAY they do, but do they?
    i dont think so.
    they COULD monitor, ban, automatically track, proactively look out for the troublemakers, but it’s patently clear they dont.
    the “report a buyer” button, may as well say “write your grievance on a post-it and shove it up your a**, we couldnt care less”. (we cant write back to tell you about any action, because we never take any, we wont even look at your complaint).

  15. Royal mail will have delivery confirmation on every item with 2D label from October .
    The question is that will that stop buyers from false claiming the item not as described or even break the item to put a claim. To be honest the problem is not with the buyers , the problem is with ebay.

    Most of the buyers on ebay think that it is part of their right to put a false claim and this is a normal practice and nothing wrong with that as this the rule on ebay MONEY BACK GRAUNTEE which means they can have the item the money and bullying the sellers as well.

    I’m afraid ebay is encouraging the buyers to behave this way, most of the buyers buy from ebay and amazon, they never behave this way on amazon.

  16. Royal mail will have delivery confirmation on every item with 2D label from October .
    The question is that will that stop buyers from false claiming the item not as described or even break the item to put a claim. To be honest the problem is not with the buyers , the problem is with ebay.

    Most of the buyers on ebay think that it is part of their right to put a false claim and this is a normal practice and nothing wrong with that as this the rule on ebay MONEY BACK GURANTEE which means they can have the item the money and bullying the sellers as well.

    I’m afraid ebay is encouraging the buyers to behave this way, most of the buyers buy from ebay and amazon, they never behave this way on amazon.

  17. a good idea would be ebay give you warning the seller has a high level of INR cases , if the buyer buys from you there is a recomendation from prior to shipping the item to ship with tracking in the address section or use a ebay discounted postal label
    this would be a good idea as the buyer wouldnt know this status only the seller , at least it will give the seller a warning and option without ebay completeley blocking a buyers purchases if it was genuine
    i think this would be a good trial for ebay to roll out , if a buyer has more than 10% INR cases per month , put them on a watch list with ebay supplying a optional reduced tracking label , this will benefit buyers and sellers

  18. ebay could use something like traffic signals only sellers can see and not disclose with a buyer
    green light good buyer (no problems) , amber light , a few INR cases but nothing to worry about but be aware high value items be shipped with tracking , or red light , ship with tracking only
    ebay needs to disclose the buyers a little to genuine sellers so we can make our own choices

  19. INR the great never ending issue of eBay. Of the 10s of thousands of sold items sold in the last 8 years. Every single one of them that has been claimed INR has been eBay. Actually eBay UK is the worst of the lot.
    Mail Theft is what it is, and it should be treated as such. We have been hammered with these in the last month. All but one we think is just theft. We have really had to put out buyer preferences as high as possible. Some of this is organised in a major criminal way.
    The simple truth is we are selling more than ever tracked on ebay and charging for this. We are better priced on Amazon with FBA.
    RMG need to actually take more responsibility they are the people who are supposed to run a secure network. Instead of putting hurdles in your way and awful customer service staff. They should be looking at these address’s. I have been guilty in the past of not always claiming and writing it off. Now I send them one claim a day with all supporting evidence.
    Including the cases that are opened or emails claiming these INR. There is always a paper trail. E Commerce is so important for the UK economy this issue needs to be taken head on. Theft and scamming is an epidemic on eBay and it is mainly an eBay issue.
    Claim on everything maybe it gets enough exposure something gets done. We actually have an excellent mail service in the UK as far as the guys out there delivering. I also think when evidence is obtained the Police should be involved. Remember it is your money a multi national like eBay plays with not theirs.

  20. Todays scam messages

    From Italy translated

    “Item has not arrived I would like a refund, I had to buy it in the local store”

    There are 10 of this item world wide on eBay and manufacturing ended 15 years ago how lucky to buy one locally for this buyer

    Next one sent a message saying the item had not arrived so I replied with I will post a replacement out ASAP then got this

    “Good morning,
    the item arrived some weeks ago but I found the envelope only today. Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your quick answer!

    Do these scammer think we were born yesterday we have seen all the scams before

  21. We always look the person up on Facebook. As a clothes seller we recently found a customer who claimed she had not received her order wearing it on a photo she had posted on Facebook.

  22. Another scam customer coming up with an excuse that they cannot open an ebay case for a refund.


    “your duty to cancel and refund

    i am on an app so cant open a case im afraid

    refund asap”

    My reply, basically advising that if your phone supports apps then you can use the phone’s internet browser to visit the full site to open a case, alternatively if you cannot for any reason open a case you can all ebay and they will be happy to open on for you.

    Really does frustrate me that i am dealing with scams over £2.49, it is not like i was expensive or earning a fortune on this transaction, and now it is costing me labour to deal with the emails they are sending to rip me off.

    A sad world we live in.


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