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How to Avoid Deadbeat (Unpaid Item) Status on eBay

Some bidders are more like kidders — they bid even though they have no intention of buying a thing. When honest eBay members spot these ne'er-do-wells, they often post the deadbeats' User IDs on Internet message boards. Some eBay members have created entire websites to warn others about dealing with the deadbeats . . . ahem . . . non-paying bidders. (Civilized but chilly, isn't it?)

Once a seller opens an unpaid item case (if you do not pay within two days), and you don't want to pay, you can be excused by appealing the case. You may also contact the seller explaining why. The following human mishaps are generally accepted by most sellers:

  • A death in the family

  • Computer failure

  • A huge misunderstanding

If you have a good reason to call off your purchase, make sure that the seller knows about it. The seller is the only one who can excuse you from the sale.

If an unpaid item case is opened against you but you've paid for the item, eBay requires proof of payment. That would include a copy of the check (front and back) or money order, a copy of the payment confirmation from PayPal (or other online payment service), or an e-mail from the seller acknowledging receipt of payment.

If the seller excused you from the auction, you need to forward the e-mail with all headers.

  • Fax hard copies to eBay at 888-379-6251 (write Bidder Appeal on the fax cover page).

  • Send the e-mail via an online form. Click the link to the online unpaid item appeal form and plead your case.

There's no guarantee that your appeal will be accepted. eBay will contact you after an investigation and let you know whether your appeal was successful.

eBay has a message for non-paying bidders: The policy is pretty strict. After the first complaint about a non-paying (deadbeat) bidder, eBay gives the buyer a warning. After the third offense, the violator may be suspended from eBay for good and becomes NARU (Not A Registered User). Nobody's tarred and feathered, but you probably won't see hide nor hair of that user again on eBay.

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