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How to Deal with an AWOL eBay Seller

The eBay community, like local towns and cities, is not without its problems. With the millions of transactions that go on every week, transactional difficulties do pop up now and then.

You may be faced with an AWOL seller — the kind of person who pesters you for payment and then disappears. Just as you're expected to hustle and get your payment off to the seller, the seller has an obligation to notify you after receiving your payment to let you know that the item has been shipped.

If you sent the payment but you haven't heard a peep in a while, don't jump the gun and assume the person is trying to cheat you, but do follow up.

Follow this step-by-step approach if you've already paid for the item but haven't heard from the seller:

  • The gentle-nudge approach: In your My eBay Purchase History area, click the arrow below more actions on your transaction. Click Contact Seller; ask whether your item has been shipped, and would they be so kind as to send you the tracking number. You'll find that the old saying, “You can attract a lot more bees with honey than with vinegar,” works great on eBay.

  • Civil-but-firm approach: Send a message through eBay again. Be civil but firm, and request the information. Meanwhile, tap into some of eBay's resources. Get an eBay user's phone number. After you have this information, you can send a follow-up e-mail or make a call.

  • Take-action time: If you still haven't heard from the seller within a week, go to your My eBay Purchase History area, and in the drop-down menu next to the item in question, choose Resolve a Problem.

    You can then open a case for an Item Not Received (or for one stating that the item is Not as Described). Know that eBay will investigate the case — and if everything pans out, you will receive a refund.

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