Timelines for closing Cases and Requests

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Why this guide?

This guide is written from a seller's point of view, to document timelines for open cases and requests since changes in late 2014.
Real date examples have been used, all selling on Ebay UK to buyers in the UK. The guide is written in February 2015, with examples from Jan/Feb 2015.
The reason I am writing this is that the current setup is unclear, the cases process does not include expected timelines, help pages are incomplete and answers can be difficult to find.
When the seller has done their best to fix a problem but the buyer does not close the case, what timeline can be expected for the case closing by default?
This is the date that the seller will finally be refunded any fees, have holds removed from their received payments, and have the case closed and removed from the open cases they have to worry about.

Item not received, replacement sent

30 days after case opened.
Example: Item not received over the Christmas period. 
Case opened on 16th January, replacement sent.
Replacement confirmed received by message within the case on 31st January.
Despite a gentle reminder, the buyer did not actually close the case.
(Maybe closing the case is not prompted to the buyer enough)
Case closed automatically by Ebay on 16th February.
The email states : "This request was automatically closed because the maximum amount of time a request can remain open has been reached. You don't need to do anything else."
The request states : "The request was closed on Feb. 16 because we didn't hear back from the buyer within 30 days."

Item not received, full refund issued

Immediate.
Example: Item sent 29th January.
Case opened 5th Feb for item not received. I asked the buyer to wait until 2 weeks after posting date, if the item were still not received I would replace or refund.
Buyer stated on 13th Feb that item still not received.
I issued a refund which was the buyer's preference.
The refund was issued through the Ebay process with no need to open Paypal, with the confirmation :  "Thanks. We'll let the buyer know that you refunded them for the item." Email received stating "Thanks for sending a refund of £x.xx to your buyer."
The final value fee was credited to my account within minutes, despite (I believe from memory) the case mentioning it might take 7-10 days. The case was closed immediately by the refund action.

Cancel order by agreement with buyer, payment was received

Immediate.
Example: from 12th February. Using the new Cancel Order option next to a sold item which has been paid for but not yet sent out, there was an option to refund the item immediately.
It worked well as the cancel request was started and finished all in one go. The final value fee credit was applied within minutes to my account (though check this just in case).
Ebay confirmation :  "All done. You cancelled this order."
Email confirmation : "You cancelled an order from xx, and we already notified them. You already refunded the buyer for this order, so you're all set. Thanks for canceling this order for the buyer.
You'll get a final value fee credit in your account that you can apply toward listing more items to sell on eBay."

Cancel order by agreement with buyer, payment not received

10 days after cancel opened.
I often have to do this when a buyer chooses "Other" for payment (included so I can offer payment by bank transfer), when they actually want to pay with a card through Paypal. The Ebay process locks them out from changing back to Paypal. They order the item again and pay for it, but I am left with this spare order which I have been charged a final value fee for.
If the buyer agrees, I can start a cancellation of the spare order, but often the buyer does not confirm the cancellation and I have to wait it out.
Example: Spare order received on 27th January. After some time obtained buyer's verbal agreement to cancel the spare order, so started cancellation on 9th February.
My email confirmation stated "You agreed to cancel this order. We let the buyer know that you want to cancel this order.   Here's what you should do next:  If the buyer paid for this order, you should refund the order total and any shipping costs. We’ll ask the buyer to confirm they received the refund."
As the order was never paid, I wonder what the request actually asks the buyer - is it confusing? The buyer did not confirm the cancellation on Ebay so it stayed open.
Resolution Centre says : "Awaiting buyer's action." In "See details", it says "Order cancellation is pending   We'll ask the buyer to confirm the cancel."
Timeline : 10 days after I opened the cancel order request (actually 11 days, on 20th Feb), I received an email :
"You successfully cancelled an order. You cancelled an order from xxx, and we already notified them. You already refunded the buyer for this order, so you're all set. Thanks for canceling this order for the buyer.
You'll get a final value fee credit in your account that you can apply toward listing more items to sell on eBay."
I have received my final value fee back the same day, and the request has closed.
The wording from Ebay when dealing with these unpaid cancellations is particularly unclear, for example talking about refunding the buyer when no payment was made; and stating no timelines.

Cancel order (out of stock or can't fulfil for another reason)

Immediate.
Ebay confirmation 28th February :
"Your order cancellation is pending
Got it—we'll let the buyer know that you want to cancel this order.
Your cancellation reason: I'm out of stock or can't fulfill the order for another reason"
Email within minutes :
"You successfully cancelled an order
You cancelled an order from xxx, and we already notified them. You already refunded the buyer for this order, so you're all set. Thanks for canceling this order for the buyer.
You'll get a final value fee credit in your account that you can apply toward listing more items to sell on eBay."
The final value fee was refunded within a few minutes.
Note : This option may result in a "defect" for the seller.

Unpaid Item

4 days after case opened, claim final value fee manually.
The Ebay help is good on this and the process is now reasonably quick.
You can open an unpaid item case as soon as 2 days after the item is sold.
If the item is still unpaid you can manually close the case from the Resolution Centre and reclaim your final value fee  4 days after opening the case.
Example closed 28th February :
You will need to remember to check the Resolution Centre regularly - look for "Unpaid item case open - awaiting payment. You can close this case now". Then you can select "Take Action", "Receive fee credit", select "No" for payment not received, then "Close case".  If it is too soon, the No will not be available, so wait another day.
Confirmation : "This unpaid item case has been closed, You'll receive a final value fee credit and the unpaid item will be recorded on the buyer's account."
There is also a link here to "Check my final value fee credit" directly, though once you are taken to the My Account page you may need to select "Credits" manually to see the final value fee credit. Check again in a few minutes (F5) if your credit is not visible immediately.
Email : "You've received a final value fee credit. Also, an unpaid item has been recorded on the buyer's account."
The final value fee was received within minutes.
(You may find the "Awaiting payment" page prompts with "Request final value fee credit" against the transaction, but this doesn't always show so I make sure to check the Resolution Centre.)
You can set up the Unpaid Item Assistant to deal with unpaid items automatically (I do not use this for reasons outlined in a separate guide)

Ebay Help Pages

Cancelling an order
http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/cancel-transaction-process.html
Returning an item:
http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/buy/return-item.html
Seller Centre - Processing returns and cancellations
http://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/returns-cancellations
Unpaid item process
http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/unpaid-items.html
Resolution Centre - The link has "disappeared" in a recent menu restructure, but is at the bottom of most Ebay UK pages including My Ebay.
http://resolutioncentre.ebay.co.uk/

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