How to Avoid Seller Defects on eBay

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Since eBay developed the new DSR (detailed seller ratings) system, many honest sellers have been suffering at the hands of uninformed or opportunist buyers. In order to avoid the dreaded defect, sellers need to firstly understand where they are coming from.  There are seven categories:

  • Open cases for item not received
  • Returns for item not as described
  • Open cases for item not as described
  • Neutral/Negative feedback
  • Cancelled transaction
  • 1,2, or 3 stars for item description
  • 1 star rating for delivery time 

Open cases for item not received
A buyer who hasn’t received their order will message to ask of its whereabouts, however if the estimated arrival time has passed, eBay practically forces a case to open. When this happens there is little you can do. Though if the buyer ends up receiving the item and are kind enough to let you know, then do take the time to appeal this defect with customer service.
Preventative methods are best for this situation and as a seller you should ensure the parcel is securely packed and labeled. We use franking labels, which have been known to peel off, so any such labels should be stuck down with tape. You should always include a return address to ensure the parcel makes its way back to you.
You will need to decide whether the extra costs of tracked post are worth it in relation to the amount of defects you receive in this category. It costs at least a pound extra to send tracked, plus the time to record each item. However, if too many items are going missing then this might be your best option.
‘Returns for item not as described’ / 1,2, or 3 stars for item description/ Opened Cases for Item Not as described
‘Not as described’ is a tricky one as it is often subjective. Assuming you as the seller have done your utmost to describe your item to a tee, note any defects regardless of how minor, and include a decent number of photographs then you may be left feeling very frustrated. We always include measurements of the clothing we sell incase a different brand has a different fit. For used items it is often best to ‘over-describe’ the defects.
If a buyer simply does not like the item, or it does not fit, then you will often be hit with this defect. This is why it is a good idea to include a flyer with all your order that asks the buyer to contact you before leaving feedback or opening a case if they are not happy with their purchase. Many buyers may understandably not be aware that 3 stars is a defect so it can’t hurt to let them know this yourselves in your flyer, as many wont intentionally open a case.
Cancelled transaction
First of all, do not cancel any transactions by selecting ‘I am out of stock or cannot fulfill the order’ as this is an automatic defect. Always select  ‘buyer asked to cancel’. If the buyer has not asked then get creative. For example, if you oversell on an item, message the buyer to ask if they would like to accept the item in a different size/colour or alternatively if they would like you to cancel the order instead.  This way, they will either accept the alternative and no harm is done, and you can even give them a partial refund if needed, or they will decline the offer for the alternative item and ask for you to cancel the order.
Even without cancelling an order, you may still receive a defect for refunding an item in full (partial refunds are fine). Therefore, never refund a buyer in full before their order’s estimated arrival date. If you need to refund them and cannot select the ‘buyer asked to cancel’ option, then consider refunding in increments using both eBay and Paypal.
1 star rating for delivery time
You need to offer same day dispatch for all your orders, however be sure to clearly state what the cut off time is in all your listings. For example at the bottom of our listings we have in bold print that all orders are same day dispatch if purchased before 2pm. Aside from posting as soon as humanly possible there isn’t much else to do. You may want to include on the aforementioned flyer that if your buyer is not satisfied with delivery time, they should contact your first.
Neutral/Negative feedback
Provided you have done all of the above and are willing to help your customers, and more often than not surrender to their every need to protect your account then you shouldn’t be receiving too many of these. You will however get those left by accident or those hard to please buyers that just weren’t happy but never bothered to inform you of this. Don’t just let these go. The first step is to contact the buyer and kindly ask if they would consider revising their feedback. Explain to them that you are willing to help resolve any issues. You can then send them a feedback revision form if they agree.
If they are not willing or just do not respond, then unfortunately you will have to give eBay a call. Sometimes they will remove it, sometimes they won’t, but it’s worth a shot.

The fact is, some defects just cannot be avoided. I recently discovered that even defects left my accident will not be removed by eBay, even if the buyer has loved the item, left glowing feedback and messaged to say it was accident. If you take care to do all of the above and monitor your defects regularly to see what your main defect categories are, there you should be able to keep yourself under the 2% limit.

Good luck!

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