Cannot Pay with Paypal (Ebay Checkout Cheque, Other) Problems

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A common problem with unpaid items and Ebay Checkout.

I sell a lot on Ebay.
There have been quite a number of times where a buyer - very often an inexperienced Ebay buyer - has problems completing checkout and paying for their item.
They often wish to pay but run into technical problems with Ebay Checkout, and indirectly Paypal as well.
This may affect UK buyers as well as overseas buyers.
It is important for buyers and sellers to understand this and know the solutions, so as to avoid unpaid item cases, bad feeling, and a waste of both the buyer's and the seller's time.

Confusion with Ebay Checkout

The problem lies with the Ebay Checkout, which forces the buyer to choose a payment path between Paypal, Personal Cheque, Other, and maybe more depending on the seller's payment options for the item.
Once the buyer has picked a payment method from the Ebay list, they are then "locked in" to that method and cannot change their mind.
More specifically, if they wish to pay by Paypal but have chosen for example "Other" they then CANNOT pay with Paypal.
This may occur where they do not have a Paypal account, and wish to pay using their credit or debit card.
Although Paypal can be used without a Paypal account to accept credit and debit card payments, this is NOT mentioned to the buyer during Ebay checkout. Consequently the buyer may click "Other" and expect to be able to then pay with their card.
But ... they are then given only the option to contact the seller. No other way to pay! And no way to change their mind and pay with Paypal using their card or any new Paypal account!

A typical sequence of events

  • The buyer clicks all sorts of links to try to pay, without success.
  • The buyer stews about it and leaves the item.
  • The seller sees the unpaid item and sends an invoice to pay (this is difficult when checkout is "complete" but can be done).
  • Or, the seller cannot find a way to send the invoice because checkout is "complete", and resorts to opening an unpaid item case as soon as it is possible to do so.
  • The buyer (often new to Ebay) receives an unpaid item case notification. There is still no way for the buyer to pay online. Now, they may try to contact the seller saying they are having problems paying. (If they ignore the problem and end up with several unpaid item cases, they may soon be banned from Ebay)
  • The seller tries again to send an invoice to pay. This link is hard to find when Ebay Checkout is "complete", but if you find it, the buyer will still have problems with the "Pay Now" link they are provided with. For example they may get a red alert Ebay page, saying
    "Unfortunately, these items aren't available. They may have been purchased already or the item listing has expired. If you encounter this message more than once, please contact us, and we'll do our best to help."
  • The buyer writes a message to say it is still impossible to make the payment.
  • The seller is left with an item they have been charged a final value fee for, and no way for the buyer to pay online.

Advice to Buyers

  • If you don't have a Paypal account but wish to pay with a debit or credit card, you should still select "Paypal" as the payment method if there isn't a specific payment method shown for cards. Paypal will accept card payments (VISA, Mastercard etc) even if you don't have a Paypal account - on the subsequent Paypal screen you should see options to sign in to Paypal, OR to pay with a debit or credit card.
  • If you have any problems making payment, contact the seller as soon as possible. The seller may not know what to do but at least they will know you are trying. You can suggest any of the below solutions to the seller.
  • Know that if you are buying from a different country to the sellers country, a personal cheque will not normally be accepted - even though it may be shown as a payment option.  Direct bank payments can also be awkward if paying from one currency into another, as either or both of the banks may charge a fee. If you have no Paypal account nor a debit or credit card, contact the seller to ask for help.
  • If you wish to back out of the transaction, contact the seller politely to request a cancellation. Explain the reasons you wish to cancel, so as to avoid any bad feeling with the seller - as they have already been charged a final value fee on the item. This should avoid an unpaid item case which would go on the buyer's record.  Respond and accept the cancellation request when you receive it from Ebay, so the seller can get their final value fee back immediately.

Solutions for Sellers to offer

The seller can alleviate the buyer's problems by being proactive. This would be unnecessary if the Ebay checkout was better - but it isn't.

  • When as a seller you see an item that is not paid but checkout is "complete", write to the buyer as soon as possible. Thank them for their purchase and mention that they have selected a payment method other than Paypal. Ask how they want to pay, and say that they may now have problems paying with Paypal, and invite them to contact you for help if so. 
  • Update 2015 : advise the buyer of the problem and send a revised invoice, explaining this should now allow them to reselect Paypal if needed (see solution below for details).
  • The buyer will be very pleased to have found an understanding seller who can solve the problem. They will usually write back and a dialogue can be started (so avoiding frustration, an unpaid item case, and bad feeling)
The seller may offer one of several solutions :
  • Update 2015 : Sending a revised invoice now seems to allow the buyer to re-select Paypal as payment method. Unfortunately the option to send a revised invoice is not available in your Sold Items page or in Selling Manager when checkout is "complete". But you can find it as follows : Go to the product ordered; Select the quantity sold; Find your customer and click More Actions; Send revised invoice; Check postage options, add any additional comment and preview or send. I recommend also sending a separate message to the buyer explaining about Paypal now being available from the revised invoice.
  • The seller can send a separate Paypal money request to the buyer, explaining that the buyer can pay through their Paypal account, or even without a Paypal account, using a debit or credit card through Paypal as a one-off payment. The buyer can supply their Paypal account email address, if any, to send the payment request. Otherwise, use the Ebay email address provided by the buyer. Once payment has been received, the seller can manually mark the item as paid in Ebay.
  • Ask the buyer to pay directly to the seller's email address via the Paypal website, Send Money. The seller should specify the Paypal email address for the buyer to send to. Mark manually as paid in Ebay when payment is received.
  • Offer to accept a direct bank payment if the buyer is in the same country. Provide bank details so the buyer can set up the payment online or at their bank.
  • Offer to accept a cheque if buyer and seller are in the same country (you may not want to offer this due to delay and any cheque fees / extra postage fees)
  • Offer to cancel the offending transaction. When the buyer responds to accept the cancellation, the seller's final value fee is refunded. Invite the buyer to purchase again via Ebay, this time selecting Paypal as the payment method.
I hope this article helps both buyers and sellers to use Ebay Checkout, and Paypal, more effectively.
If this information has been useful to you, I'd really appreciate your "Yes" vote below.

Further Guides 

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