How to Deal with an eBay Buyer Who Doesn't Respond - dummies

How to Deal with an eBay Buyer Who Doesn’t Respond

By Marsha Collier

Most of the time, the post-transaction between eBay buyers and sellers goes smoothly. However, if you have difficulty communicating with the winner of your auction or fixed-price sale, you should know the best way to handle the situation.

Request immediate payment

One convenient way to avoid payment issues with a buyer is to request an immediate payment upon purchase. When you list an item for sale, you get the option on fixed-price sales (and auctions with a Buy It Now option) to request an immediate payment from the buyer.

When buyers click the Buy It Now button, they are presented with a PayPal payment window requesting immediate payment. In this scenario, the item is not considered sold until the buyer completes the PayPal payment.

Set buyer requirements

In your My eBay Account area, under Seller Account→Buyer Requirements, there’s an area where you can specify who can bid on or buy your items. In this area, you can require that anyone who buys or bids on one of your items falls into some safe categories on eBay. You can require several things from your buyer, including

  • Has an existing PayPal account.

  • Has no Unpaid Item strikes in a set prior period.

  • Has a minimum feedback score.

  • Has a shipping address only in the countries where you state you will ship.

Go into nudge mode

Buyers should pay for the item without delay through PayPal — or at least pay within the next 24 hours after the close of the sale. Sometimes winners contact sellers immediately, and some use Checkout and pay for the item immediately, which saves you any hassle. However, if you don’t hear from the buyer within three business days of your initial contact, don’t panic.

After three days of no communication (allow for weekends), you can go to your My eBay page and send a payment reminder message. You find the Contact Buyer link on the item’s transaction on the My eBay Sold page.


If a few more days pass and you still haven’t heard from the winner, send a polite-but-firm message letting <random eBay user> know that when he/she won or bought your item, they became obligated to pay and complete the transaction. If Mr. (or Ms.) X doesn’t intend to buy your item for any reason, he needs to let you know posthaste.

Don’t threaten your buyer. The last thing you want to do is add insult to injury in case the buyer is facing a real problem. Besides, if the buyer goes to sleep with the fishes, you’ll never see your money.

Technically, you can nullify the transaction if you don’t hear from a buyer within three business days. However, eBay members are a forgiving bunch under the right circumstances. You might give your buyer a one-week grace period after the listing ends to get in touch with you and set up a payment plan. If, at the end of the grace period, you don’t see any real progress toward closing the deal, say goodnight, Gracie.

Do a little sleuthing

After you send your polite and gentle nudge-nudge e-mail, but before you decide that the transaction is a lost cause, take a look at the bidder’s Feedback as a Buyer history.


To check a bidder’s feedback (starting at your item page), do the following:

  1. Click the number in parentheses next to your winner’s User ID.

    This action takes you to the member’s feedback profile page.

  2. Click the Feedback as a Buyer tab.

  3. Scroll down the feedback profile page and read the comments.

    Check to see whether the bidder has received negative feedback from previous sellers. Make a note of it in case you need some support and background information (should you be chastised at a later date for blocking an unwanted bid).

Contact the winner by phone

If the item is a large transaction and you really want it to go through, your next course of action is to contact the winner by phone. To get the contact information of an eBay member for transaction purposes only, do the following:

  1. Click the Advanced Search link, which is next to the Search box on the top of most eBay pages.

    You arrive at the Advanced Search area.

  2. Click the Find Contact Information link, which is under the Members area in the left-side link box.

  3. In the Contact Info box, type the User ID of the person you’re trying to contact and the item number of the transaction in question.

  4. Click the Search button.

    eBay e-mails you the registered contact information of the person with whom you want to be in touch and also sends your contact information to that person.

Wait a day before calling the person. Sending a last-chance e-mail after seven days that says you want to put the item back up on eBay if the buyer is no longer interested. Also mention that you want to apply for any credits you can get from eBay due to an incomplete transaction.

If enough money is involved in the transaction, and you feel it’s worth the investment, make the call to the winner. eBay automatically sends your request and your information to the bidder, and that may be enough of a nudge to get some action.

If you do get the person on the phone, keep the conversation like your e-mail — friendly but businesslike. Explain who you are and when the auction closed, and ask if any circumstances have delayed the bidder’s reply. Often the buyer will be so shocked to hear from you that you’ll receive payment immediately — or you’ll know this person is a complete deadbeat.