This guide is written for sellers principally but may also make good reading for buyers.
IntroductionIt is very hard as a new seller to deal properly with rude and angry buyers.
It is SO tempting to write a rude and angry response back.
After drafting an impulsive reply, it is usually toned down considerably before sending, but may still include some negative overtones. Also, helpfulness to the buyer's problem is reduced.
When the buyer is rude, some of the effects are :
- it ruins half your day (if you're like me).
- it depresses the whole Ebay experience, you may question why you are selling on Ebay at all.
- my reply is delayed for several hours while I calm down, so I can provide a more "neutral but helpful" response.
- my overall response is not so helpful as if the buyer had been nice
When a buyer has an issue with an item or a delivery, whether or not it is justified, if they are polite and friendly in their message, I am usually more than happy to help sort out the problem quickly, even if it is beyond my normal return policy. And I respect their politeness, which they may have made an effort to do.
After a few bad experiences, I decided to look up how to handle angry buyers, and found some very good tips on other Ebay guides, and other websites.
I have followed some of this advice and I believe it has considerably helped me to be a better seller - and in some cases, helped my buyers to be better buyers.
Here are some of the ideas I have to offer, based on my experiences, which have been aided by tips I have read from other sources:
The tips are for sellers but will be useful for buyers to read also.
Quick Solutions1) If there is a simple and quick solution that doesn't cost you too much, just do it. Don't waste time arguing, wasting both your time and your emotions. You may end up with a fully fledged dispute and Paypal awarding costs to the buyer - even if it wasn't your fault - with the dispute left on your record.
Possible solutions include:
- refunding the buyer;
- offering a partial refund to the buyer, thereby avoiding a loss;
- refunding in full on return of the item from the buyer (be specific who pays the return postage in your returns policy);
- sending a replacement item (check it before sending, & consider Recorded Delivery);
- offering some other compensation which may be appropriate, e.g. an extra small item or a discount voucher for your website if you have one.
You can justify occasional small losses by the time saved arguing, by the increased sales you will get with the improved feedback you will achieve, and by the good feeling that you are behaving "better" than the rude customer. If you can use the time saved to make more sales then overall you will not lose.
Replying2) If you can only write an angry response, don't write back immediately. Wait until you have calmed down enough to reply objectively. Wait until you can propose a sensible solution, not a reactive response. Wait until you can reply politely and factually. Wait until you can even impress your buyer with your impartiality. It is amazing how this can transform the tone of the discussion in a lot of cases. Sometimes using this approach, a difficult situation can be turned into a good outcome, and your buyer may leave feeling that you have done a really good job handling the problem and give you great feedback.
3) Use the buyer's name in opening, and use your name to "sign" your communication. Use first names if you feel comfortable with it. This helps to show the buyer you are a real person and worth respect, and using names is so much more friendly than anonymous communication.
4) Always keep communications to resolve problems within the Ebay Messages scheme. You can still read and reply from within your email program, which is better and removes more of the superflous text added by Ebay, plus you can save a draft. Keeping within the Ebay message system ensures that should a dispute arise, Ebay will be able to see all buyer / seller communications and make the most informed decision.
Negative Feedback5) In some cases, acting impartially and helpfully gets the problem solved, but the buyer still leaves negative feedback. Some buyers will never be happy even when the seller resolves a problem, and negatives are very damaging.
There is the possibility for a seller to request feedback revision - please follow Ebay policy on this, they have good help pages on the subject. However, very often a buyer who has left a negative will not respond to you. Very often they have a history of leaving negatives or reacting badly to problems, as can be noted when looking in detail at their feedback and the feedback they have left for others.
Some buyers speak very little English, which makes sorting out problems difficult.
In these cases there may be nothing you can do, except move on, forget about it, and concentrate on future customers and sales.
6) If you're stuck with a negative feedback, there is one last thing you can do, although do it carefully.
You may have already left positive feedback which can't be changed.
You may still be able to leave feedback but you can only leave a positive as a seller (with a comment).
If you can still leave your feedback, include factual details about the experience to aid other sellers with regard to this buyer.
If you have already left feedback, you can leave an additional feedback comment to reflect your actual experience with the buyer, or to reply to the buyer's feedback.
On your feedback page, at the bottom, there are options to "Reply to Buyer Feedback", or "Leave Follow-up Feedback". Try to remain factual so outside observers see you are impartial and have tried to help despite the sale going wrong. Follow Ebay Feedback policy and advice.
This way you can have your say on the buyer's feedback page which others can see.
7) Reduce the number of "bad buyers" bidding on your listings. You can set buyer requirements to prevent certain buyers bidding on or buying from your listings.
I have written a separate guide Unpaid Item Strikes - Avoid Bad Buyers which helps with this issue.
And Ebay has help pages on setting Buyer Requirements, they aren't easy to find but they are there.
8) You can also block specific buyers who have caused you problems from bidding on or buying your items in future by adding their IDs to your Blocked Buyer list, which you can find here :
If you are a buyer reading this - please, please, try to be polite when dealing with sellers. The likely outcome will be so much better and faster for everybody.
Sellers usually try really hard to be good sellers, please respect this.
I hope this guide is helpful to you - if so, kindly rate it below.
I have written other Guides, if you are interested in reading them you can see a list of all my Guides here