When is a Seller Not a Seller?

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... When they are a "non-performing seller".
Seller non-performance is when a person wins an eBay auction, and the seller then decides not to complete to auction. I think many people just accept this, but it is against eBay rules, and you can and should take action against these people who abuse the eBay system.


I am now going to paraphrase the eBay policy on Seller Non-Performance.

"When a seller lists an item on eBay, and a buyer bids for and wins that item, the seller and buyer have entered into a contract. Both members are expected to honour that contract. In accordance with that contract, the seller may not:

   1) Fail to deliver an item for which payment was accepted.
   2) Significantly misrepresent an item by not meeting the terms and item description outlined in the listing.
   3) Refuse to accept payment for an item at the end of a successful sale.
   4) State in their listings that PayPal payments made via credit card will not be accepted."

So, if you are the winner of an auction - the seller MUST accept payment (the amount you won the auction for) and deliver the item to you (or allow you to collect it - whatever is specified in the listing).


Generally, the reason sellers do this is because the listing did not reach a price that they wanted - they feel like they haven't made enough money from the auction and so try to stop the completion of the contract they have entered into.

Sellers may make excuses like "the item was advertised outside of eBay and someone bought it", or "someone offered me more money than the final eBay selling price" or "my personal reserve on the item was higher than the price you paid". These excuses are just that - EXCUSES. DO NOT ACCEPT THEM.

Ebay rules also state that items listed for auction may not be sold outside of eBay. This is to protect buyer and seller, and prevent the seller from circumventing the eBay fee structure. The seller is perfectly able to put a real reserve on the listing to prevent it selling for less than they want, and if a seller does not use this facility that eBay provides then they forfeit the right to decline a sale.

Check seller feedback! If you see a few negatives, or neutrals, read them - take a little time to have a thorough check. You will often find that these sellers have been non-performers on one or more occassions. If you see non-performer-type feedback (even if it has been mutually withdrawn), think twice about bidding on the seller's items!!!!


First, contact the seller and tell them that their excuses are not good enough, and that by listing an item for auction and letting it run to its completion that they are entering into a binding contract and they MUST complete the sale. Try to be civil, even though it is very frustrating!!!!

If this does not help, do try a few more times - there is always the possibility that you can come to an agreement. Sometimes the seller will not know that they are breaking the rules - in which case they will have to learn to get it right the next time! DO NOT leave the seller negative feedback yet - this often leads to you both having negative feedback, and sometimes agreeing to mutually withdraw it. This is often the end of proceedings and the seller will have got away with it!

Finally, you can use the "report a seller" link at http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/policies/seller-non-performance.html. You will need to send all e-mail communications with full headers as evidence. But please do not be deterred by having to do this. If the report is succesful, then the seller will be penalised. The actions eBay may take include:

      Listing cancellation

      Limits on account privileges

      Account suspension

      Forfeit of eBay fees on cancelled listings

      Loss of PowerSeller status

The more we report non-performing sellers, the more seriously eBay will take it. I'm sure you'll agree that it is very frustrating to think you have got a bargain on eBay (fairly and within the rules), then only to have it taken away from you by a seller who is breaking eBay rules.


Well.... Put a reserve on it using the reserve tool that eBay provide. If worst comes to worst then you can cancel the listing at any time from the My eBay page. If you want an item to sell for more than a certain price, use the reserve tool, or use buy it now. Do not think you can get away with cancelling the sale after the auction has been won!

I hope you found this guide helpful - if you disagree with anything here, or would like to contact me, please feel free to get in touch!
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