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Safely Resolving Ebay Disputes

Apr 21, 2008
While eBay has a rather detailed and elaborate dispute resolution procedure outlined on their website, however to the new eBayer it might seem rather confusing, especially if you're dealing with the trauma of an eBay dispute. In this article I shall guide you through each individual step in order for you to obtain recourse, and for you to see the steps involved and the amount of time expected.

Let us examine as an example, what you would do if you made payment for an item yet failed to receive it from the seller.

Before initiating a dispute claim, give the seller a chance to send the item. It could easily have been an honest mistake rather than a malicious one. If you are worried about the amount of time it has taken for the seller to send the item, drop him a polite email enquiring about it rather than getting ahead of yourself and open a dispute. Perhaps the seller has already posted the item, or has been too busy lately, or has forgotten about the item. Such things occur and it would be better to settle amicably through an email rather than dragging the auction through mediation for months. Check your own email address registered to eBay to see if the seller can reply you. As an absolutely last resort, you might have to call the seller's number on eBay. This might incur additional long-distance charges for the call, but it is definitely better than enduring months of mediation.

If all the above did not work, the first step is to open an "Item Not Received" dispute. This can be done at http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?InrCreateDispute

All you are required to do is submit the item number and claim that you did not receive the stated item.

Step 2 - eBay then contacts the seller via email stating your claim: that you have not received the item. The seller then has three options. He can tell you that your payment has not been cleared yet, that the item is in the mail, or that the seller will refund you the money. The seller is also given the option to send you a message.

Step 3 - You are given the option of talking to the seller to work out what has happened. During this time, either the item has been delivered or the seller agrees to refund you the money.

Step 4 - You can then close the dispute either satisfactorily if you have obtained the item, or unsatisfactorily by claiming $200 under eBay's purchase protection program. This can be done after 30 days, or 10 days if the seller did not respond.

However, this is not the only route of recourse for a unsatisfied buyer. Apart from eBay's own dispute settlement process, there exist other third-party mediators. This is used mainly if the item is of high value. One such third-party meditor is SquareTrade at www.squaretrade.com, who is a third party mediator to many websites. They contact the seller and act as a mediator between the buyer and seller to negotiate.

Committed sellers with a good reputation, who are willing to go through SquareTrade's mediation for disputes are allowed to display the SquareTrade mark on their auction. This gives their buyers $250 fraud protection as well as confidence in the seller. However, one must always be careful to avoid being a victim of fraud. There are a few specific scams which are especially prevalent on eBay, which we will cover in the next article.
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