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eBay unpaid item case: how to recover your payment

Last updated July 7, 2023 5 min to read
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When an eBay shopper wins an auction or clicks ‘Buy it now’, they are obliged to pay for that item. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

Dealing with unpaid items costs a seller time and money, by tying up stock, disrupting cash flow and wasting time that could be better spent selling. But eBay has procedures in place to help sellers in this situation.

Here are the steps you need to take to open an eBay unpaid item case and recover your fees.

What to do if a buyer doesn’t pay

When a buyer doesn’t pay up immediately, don’t assume the worst. It may be the case that they’re unaware they won an auction. Or maybe it just slipped their mind.

For this reason, eBay suggests getting in touch with a buyer before manually opening an unpaid item case.

Provide a positive customer experience by sending a polite reminder that payment is due. Creating a template could save you some time here.

If you discover the person who purchased an item is no longer registered on eBay, you should open an eBay unpaid item case immediately. Otherwise, you should give the buyer a couple of days to pay their outstanding invoice before asking eBay to follow up.

What to know before opening an eBay unpaid item case

Beyond chasing payments, an eBay unpaid item case aims to protect sellers from loss of fees and negative feedback.

Some eBay sellers might be reluctant to open one, in case it results in negative feedback from the shopper in question. Others might just think it’s not worth their time. So is an eBay unpaid item case worth the effort?

No payment, no feedback

Opening a case actually blocks feedback from someone who hasn’t paid for an item.

Cases alert eBay to the situation and, if payment doesn’t come through, feedback from the buyer is automatically removed or blocked in most circumstances.

However, if payment does come through, a shopper may share their experiences. That’s why it’s worth personally reaching out to buyers before opening a case. Being patient and polite might actually lead to positive feedback, which can boost sales, reputation and even your chances of appearing in eBay’s ‘Best Match’ position.

You can get your fees back

When a sale is finalized, eBay automatically charges your account a Final Value Fee. Launching an eBay unpaid item case enables you to get this back if payment never comes through.

This is the main advantage of opening a case and is particularly important if you’re dealing with high value items. For business sellers, the final value fee is usually 8.7% of the final sale price. This can add up to a hefty chunk of cash!

Be 100% certain they haven’t paid

Falsely opening a case may annoy your customer. But it can also annoy eBay!

If you receive payment and are then reimbursed your Final Value Fee after opening an eBay unpaid item case, this could lead to all your credits for this time period being reversed or disabled. Repeated instances of false reports can even lead to eBay account suspension.

That’s why you need to double check an order’s payment status before launching a case.

It’s about caring for the eBay community

If you open a case and payment remains outstanding, eBay will mark this on the buyer’s account.

If this account fails to pay for items repeatedly, eBay will eventually limit or remove their buying privileges so they can’t torment any more sellers.

How to open an eBay unpaid item case

If you’ve reached out to a customer and still haven’t received payment, it’s time to launch an unpaid items case. Here’s how to do it!

Step 1: Opening a case

You can open a case 2 to 32 days after a sale. Simply go to the Resolution Center – a link appears at the bottom of most eBay pages. On the main page, select ‘I haven’t received my payment yet’ and then click ‘Continue’.

Opening an eBay unpaid items case

From there, you just need to sign into your seller account and fill out the order details – if they’re not already there.

Step 2: Wait a few days

The moment you open an unpaid item case, eBay will email the buyer requesting payment within four days.

During this time, the customer may contact you asking for more time or another arrangement. Feel free to accommodate their needs, but ensure all outstanding payments are settled within a month of the sale date. You’re not entitled to get your Final Value Fee back once 36 days has passed.

Step 3: Closing the case

Sellers are also responsible for closing their unpaid items cases. This can be done four days after opening a case, or up to 36 days after the listing ended.

If payment isn’t received and you don’t close the case, your account won’t be credited with the listing’s Final Value Fee. It’s worth noting, however, that payment through PayPal or other electronic methods will cause the case to close automatically.

To close a case manually, sellers need to once again go to the Resolution Center.

Your requests and cases

Find the case under ‘Your requests and cases’ and click into it. Where it asks ‘Have you received payment’, select yes or no. Once closed, cases can’t be reopened but buyers can appeal the decision.

The eBay unpaid item assistant – an automatic alternative

Enabling eBay’s unpaid item assistant will help you save time by automating the process.

eBay unpaid item assistant will automatically open cases on your behalf. and you’ll just receive an email when payments or credits come through. If a case remains unresolved, it will also close the case and relist the item for you. This removes the risk of forgetting to close a case and losing out on credits.

This handy tool is only available to sellers using electronic payments. If you offer the option to pay by check, postal order or outside the eBay checkout, it can’t detect which orders are unpaid and won’t work.

You’ll see the option to turn on the assistant under ‘Site preferences’ in My eBay.

eBay unpaid items assistant
The eBay unpaid items assistant can be found under ‘site preferences’ in My eBay.

Best practices for dealing with unpaid items on eBay

Knowing how to handle unpaid item cases is essential knowledge for eBay sellers. But they can also take further steps to improve the situation – and even to reduce the chances of non-payment happening at all.

So what’s next?

When a case is closed without payment, you can try to secure a quick sale by sending out a second chance offer to other item bidders. Alternatively, you can relist the item again and hope you’ll get a great offer for it. In this case, eBay may also credit your account with a refund for the original listing fee.

Preventing non-payment

eBay’s business policies give sellers the ability to control their payment methods. If you find unpaid items are becoming a frequent occurrence, maybe you should only accept immediate payment.

However, this won’t work for sellers accepting ‘Best Offers’ or set up auction-style listings. If you’re one of these sellers, you can set up buyer requirements under the ‘Site preferences’ section of My eBay.

Blocking bids from customers with a record of non-payment can help stop it from happening to you. You can even implement this setting for a single listing if you’re eager to ensure the sale of a particular item.

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, unpaid item are part and parcel of being a seller on eBay. However, in the vast majority of cases, this isn’t an issue. When it does crop up, think about how you can mitigate the downsides that come with non-payment while also maintaining a great customer experience.

Did you know that over 60% of US online retail purchases were made through Amazon last year? Amazon’s hold over eCommerce is well established, with 9.1 million active Amazon sellers worldwide and an average of 66 thousand orders per day. Newer sellers may be wondering how they can get more sales on Amazon in such a competitive environment.

The truth is, they absolutely can because with Amazon’s booming market share come many opportunities. We’ve assembled this digestible list of 14 quick wins and strategic moves, to help you up your game and sell more on Amazon.

1. Do keyword research

Having the right keywords can be one of the most important tactics in reaching your target audiences. Using the keywords that are common to searches for your products is the objective, but search engine optimisation (SEO) is a constantly evolving game. That means that keywords used successfully in the past may not be as effective with updated search engine algorithms today.

The terms used by customers to find products change daily and are affected by seasonal, cultural, and economic factors. Hence, it’s important to stay on top of the latest SEO trends and make sure you cast a wide net when implementing keywords for each product listing.

Each product should be optimized with as many relevant keywords as possible – into the hundreds! This gives you the best possible chance of getting your products found by customers, helping you sell more on Amazon.

Amazon keyword research tools like Helium 10, SellerApp, Jungle Scout, and AMZ One can help by generating a list of related keywords with search volume, competition level, and other useful metrics, making it easier for you to choose the best keywords for your product listing

2. Use a repricing tool to get more sales on Amazon

When it comes to sealing the deal and making a sale, price is a main deciding factor for many customers. As an Amazon seller, you always want to make sure you’re pricing your products competitively, but equally, you don’t want to lose your margin! 

This is something that using repricing software can help with. Repricing software automates the pricing process in real-time, ensuring your prices stay in line with those of competitors, and with market fluctuations, while you get more sales on Amazon.

Repricing software also has many customisable features that allow you to set prices at optimal levels to help drive sales, without compromising profit. It’s worth taking a trial to see how it can help lift your sales. 

3. Get more Amazon reviews

Online reviews are important to spread confidence through word of month and for building credibility for your brand. It’s also a fact that 72% of shoppers won’t buy until they’ve read reviews of a product from people like themselves – people they trust. 

Even a strong product with great marketing behind it still has to overcome the fear of the unknown if there’s no social proof. Plus, positive reviews are a significant factor in deciding which products win the Amazon Buy Box.

Get more Amazon reviews by encouraging feedback from your customers. The best way to do this is by utilizing feedback software to automate the process.

4. Provide great customer service

Customer service is absolutely essential in eCommerce. Offering top-quality customer service not only adds value, but helps retain customers. A big part of making a sale is assuring the customer that they can trust you to deliver, and that trust is hard earned but easily lost. Providing good eCommerce customer service is critical, and committing to providing great customer service is all the more so!

As an Amazon seller, you need to be on top of your customer service. Responsiveness, a friendly manner and quick and easy resolution processes are all ingredients that make for a winning approach to great customer service. 

But it can be confusing trying to streamline it all. Thankfully, there are all sorts of tools available to make this job easier, like helpdesk software to keep all your customer interactions in one place. This helps you to respond quickly and accurately to customer inquiries when they come in, so that your customers always know you’ve got their back.

5. Leverage Amazon seller tools

The best part about being an Amazon seller is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are numerous tools available to help you maximize your business and get the most out of selling on Amazon, whether third-party or FBA. 

From repricing tools, to help desk software, to review software and even shipping assistance, many tools exist on the market today that specifically help Amazon sellers optimize their listings, prices, feedback, shipping, customer service and even their taxes. 

There are many different seller tools available, so it’s worth reading about options and making an informed decision about the right ones to choose for your business. With the right tools, you can grow your business more than you ever thought possible. 

6. Get more sales on Amazon with ads

Running ads is almost guaranteed to help you get more sales on Amazon, but it’s easy to just throw money at them and hope for the best. You can do better! Pay attention to your advertising cost of sales (ACOS) metric, the figure for how much ad spend you need in order to make a sale.

By advertising more efficiently, you lower your ACOS and ensure you get more bang for your buck. Over time, you’ll learn what works and you can employ a strategy with regards to how you run your ads. Taking an insight-driven approach to Amazon ads results in a more profitable Amazon business!

7. Optimise your product pages

The old saying goes that 80% of readers never make it past the headline of any piece of content. That means once you’ve written your product title, you’ve effectively spent 80 cents of your dollar.

When writing product titles, stick to the formula of:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Features (size, colour, gender etc). 

This lets you include the right keywords in the right order to immediately tell shoppers that this is the product for them.

Moreover, making sure to visually design your product pages so that they’re clean, simple and easy to read will also help win over shoppers. No one wants to read through a cluttered page. The more straightforward (yet informative) and the cleaner you make your design, the more likely you’ll be to win over those elusive eyeballs!

8. Win the Amazon Buy Box

The quickest way to get more sales on Amazon is by ensuring that your products show up consistently in the Amazon Buy Box (the area in the top right of a product page, where shoppers can ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’). This is because over 82% of sales happen through this highly sought after space.

Although the exact formula to win the Buy Box is unknown, there are a few things that we know are essential. These are mainly metrics that prove the seller is providing a good customer experience. Customer reviews play a big role here. The more positive reviews a seller can amass, the likelihood of winning the Buy Box increases. 

In addition to reviews, something else that’s obviously very important to Amazon shoppers is price! By using repricing software, you can automatically set your prices at the optimal level to win the Buy Box and maximize profit, even if you’ve got an enormous inventory.

9. Amazon account health rating

The Amazon account health rating (AHR) is a new feature that helps you monitor your account health based on its adherence to Amazon seller policies. 

It considers both negative factors (such as the number of unresolved policy violations on your account) as well as positive factors (how your account positively impacts the customer experience through its selling activities). 

Each account will be given a rating, which is regularly reviewed as Amazon monitors the performance of its sellers. If your account is off-target, you will be notified so that you can improve your performance. Conversely, a good AHR rating will work in your favor, helping assure customers that they’re doing business with a compliant seller. 

10. Maintain your Amazon SLA

A big part of being a seller is cultivating trust with your customers. That means showing them that you operate in an above-board manner and that you’ll make good on your promise of fulfillment to them. One way of doing that is by making sure your Amazon store has a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is a promise to your customers that they’ll receive their orders on time. When it comes to fulfillment, the SLA is based on the capacity to fulfill open orders and on-time shipping and delivery. 

SLAs help manage customer expectations by defining standards and outlining circumstances under which you as the seller won’t be liable for unfulfilled promises (e.g., natural disasters preventing shipping, etc). 

eDesk’s customer service solution is designed to alert you when your SLA is expiring, so your business is never caught without one. Having a current SLA helps you maintain transparency with customers, thereby building trust which helps ensure customer loyalty.  

11. Focus on products that already sell

Most ambitious business owners want to try new streams of revenue, but it’s important not to lose sight of the things that are making you money now. 

By doubling down on the products that already provide your Amazon store with a reliable revenue stream, you not only deliver to market demand but ensure that you have the financial runway required to take risks on innovative new products, if need be. 

Review your financial statements every quarter and look at the items that are performing best in your store. Think about how you can continue to market these with ads, SEO keywords and upgraded images to maximize their selling potential in your online store. 

12. Sync your inventory

Inventory can be a delicate balancing act. Hold too much inventory for too long and you need to pay over the odds to store it. But hold too little inventory and you lose out on vital sales, or even customers, due to an inability to fulfill. Amazon can also penalize you if your inventory performance isn’t up to standard.

Stock control is something every seller needs to understand and have the capability to manage for optimal results. Smart inventory management is an under-appreciated way to increase your Amazon sales and profit margin. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Investing in the right tools and software can help sellers take the stress out of balancing supply and demand.

13. Expand into new Amazon marketplaces 

Amazon currently has 20 marketplaces around the world, which include the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Australia and more. 

You can scale your brand by moving into some of these marketplaces. This can involve doing market research to find out which products are popular in each market and then uplevelling your shipping operations in order to be able to ship globally.  

But expanding into new markets also means you’ll need to take language into consideration and localize your listings so that they feature each marketplace’s local language and SEO keywords in the appropriate language. Multilingual customer service is also needed in order to be able to service customers across various marketplaces in their local language. 

Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. eDesk’s help desk solution is designed to support customer service and workflow in multiple languages, so you can expand your business without investing in the overhead of hiring a global team. 

14. Spy on your competitors

Ok, maybe “spy” is a bit of an exaggeration, but profitable sellers are always on the lookout for what their competitors are doing. You want to make sure you’re offering the right inventory for your market at the right prices. Repricing software will monitor this for you, taking the guesswork out of pricing at the right levels. 

Using data gleaned from helpdesk reporting can also help you gather valuable insights and feedback from your customers, which will help you to better understand what customers want and need. Acting on analytics-driven insights from easy-to-read reports means you’re always one step ahead of the competition. 

Final thoughts

The quest to increase your store’s Amazon sales doesn’t need to be an uphill struggle. There are many resources available to Amazon sellers today to help them optimize their store and develop a healthy sales pipeline. 

By staying in touch with how the Amazon platform grows and using the right tech tools to drive your business, you can continue to do what you do best: building a great brand, winning customers, retaining existing customers and improving your bottom line. 

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