In this guide, we’ll review some eBay seller tips regarding buyer scams and getting negative feedback removed.
We all know that eBay has a pretty generous buyer satisfaction and return policy. It’s so generous in fact, it typically overrides any pictures or return policy (or disclaimers) a seller may have in their product listing description.
When a buyer is not satisfied with the item you sold them, they are pretty much guaranteed the option of returning the item for a refund. If they are at fault for possibly damaging the item it will not matter. They will most likely return the broken item to you. And eBay will side with them; it’s a bit unbalanced, to say the least.
It’s a perfect system for any buyer who wants to be a bit shady; the seller will lose just about every time. And this protection system has been evolving against the seller for quite some time now.
Now let’s talk about one of the biggest eBay headaches for sellers trending right now.
There should be strict return policies for electronics!
Ever hear the story about the man who buys a video camera for that upcoming family vacation? Then he takes it back to the store for a full refund afterward? At one point in the recent past, portable electronics were like short term rentals for consumers, which was free.
These items are not only high on the list for scammers. eBay has made it easy for buyers to buy an electronic item, try it out, then for just about any reason send it back for a full refund. Sometimes, they’ll even get the shipping charges refunded to them.
There’s a reason most big box stores have strict policies on electronic items and charge a 15% restocking fee. Those stores will limit the duration of returns from 30 to 15 days, especially for mobile phones, computers, cameras, etc.
On eBay, I consider electronic items to be the riskiest thing to sell. The big box stores have learned from the past. Can eBay change the policy to favor the sellers again? Buyers regularly abuse this customer satisfaction guarantee, that will cause the seller to lose every time, in time and money. Many wish eBay could be good again, like back in the late nineties.
Here’s a great resource I follow online to keep up with all the latest eBay news! It’s called Ecommerce Bytes.
More about selling electronics
Selling items such as video game systems, mobile phones, old computers, stereo amplifiers, cameras, speakers, and other old electronics will have a high risk of malfunctioning, for any number of reasons. This is especially true for vintage electronics such as the old Retro Video Games systems like the Nintendo NES, Sega Genesis, or SNES.
Damage to the electronic components can occur from user error or from the shipping company. A seller can test the device, package it well, insure it, and take photos, then go out of their way to securely package it with quality shipping supplies. The minute the package is dropped off for shipment, it’s out of the seller’s hands. The deal is done, or so we think!
So double think your strategy if you believe that selling these items on eBay will just be a quick, easy sell.
Getting screwed as a seller, once your package is dropped off!
A seller takes a big risk not to get burned, but somehow always will!
A delivery driver or warehouse worker could kick or throw the package. A buyer could drop the package and claim it was not their fault. Everyone will point the finger to someone else.
Another issue of getting screwed as a seller is that electronic items seem to also have a high risk of being stolen too. The item could be stolen by delivery drivers, a scam artist buyer or worse, porch pirates during Christmas time!
With such bias on the eBay buyer satisfaction policy and shipping companies wanting to watch their own ass, it’s no surprise the seller is the loser every time something might go wrong with the shipping.
Overview of the latest iPhone scam story
Below is a short overview of recent events that happened to a fellow e-Bayer. This seller was very experienced with the eBay selling process.
The link to the full article is below.
Seems like such a simple process selling a mint iPhone 6… Follow me through 1 to 9!
- The seller posts a mint condition iPhone 6 up on eBay with lots of good photos and a great description! He even has the original box.
- The seller makes sure the buyer has a PayPal account. This will help filter out fraudulent buyers, as directed by eBay.
- The auction ends, and the iPhone sells for $328.oo to the highest bidder, and they pay via PayPal right away.
- The seller packages the mint condition iPhone 6 in its original box. They pack it into a high-quality flat rate box and promptly ships it out via USPS with shipper’s insurance.
- The buyer receives it a few days later and reports the iPhone 6 was damaged, maybe during shipment. He or she opens a return claim with eBay customer service. The PayPal funds from the transaction are immediately frozen.
- The seller responds and requests pictures of the damaged phone (front and back), with the original packaging. The photos of the damaged iPhone should also include a clear view of the serial number on the back.
- These pictures are required so an insurance claim can be filed with the Post Office. The seller receives only two pictures. Both photos were fake showing another iPhone that was damaged. It was also showing no serial number from the box or the back of the phone.
- The buyer gets a return label from the eBay claim with a tracking number, then ships back a package containing an old Credit Card Scanner. Did you hear me? Not an iPhone, an OLD CREDIT CARD MACHINE. Then eBay tracks the return with the tracking number and once a delivery confirmation is reported, a refund is issued straight back to the buyer.
- The seller is screwed at this point. They have no proof of a damaged iPhone, so no claim can be filed against the shipping insurance. The buyer gets away with a return scam based on eBay’s favorable buyer policies and gets a free iPhone 6. The seller loses an iPhone and money for the purchase and is left with a piece of junk credit card scanner! Wow, that stings.
Don’t believe me, do you? Check out the entire story here:
Recent iPhone buy and sell return scam on eBay, seller loses big time!
Removing Negative Feedback from your profile
Can you remove negative feedback from your eBay profile? I have done it! Friends of mine have done it! A word of caution, however, there’s no guarantee of an exact system to getting it done.
Don’t ever listen to someone who says it can’t be done either. There are a list of things you can try and have some moderate success removing negative feedback. Moderate success, in my opinion, is better than nothing!
So do you want to know the SECRET for removing eBay negative feedback?
PERSISTENCE! That’s right, you heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. How much is your time worth for you to fight and get that negative comment removed?
For most power sellers, it’s probably not worth your time. Especially, if you’re averaging 10 or more positive feedback every day. The bad feedback will run off and be hidden in the good comments. In fact, you probably get a pretty consistent 0.5% of buyers that leave neutral or negative comments anyways. You’d never keep up with filing all the rebuttals with eBay customer service.
But, if you are a perfectionist like me, or just want to challenge the eBay feedback system to prove a point. I’ve listed some strategies below for what you can do in this situation.
Because there is no exact checklist to follow for doing this, I’ll describe my experience removing negative feedback in a couple of short stories below. And, yes these are both 100% true.
Two case studies below for getting negative feedback removed:
I’ve always had great success selling on eBay. A few years ago, I was not very active and had an out of date e-mail address which I did not check anymore. My contact info on my eBay profile still had this old e-mail address.
One day I had a Barnes and Noble Nook eBook reader that was brand new in the box. I had only used it once or twice, and the going price was about $120.00. After fees and shipping, I’d probably net $100 bucks. Not Bad!
I listed it and sold it for $120 with free shipping and I made about $87.00. In my listing, I showed several detailed pictures of the item and even shipped it out in the original box (with bubble wrap and a premium shipping box).
The buyer received it, but of course had an issue! They said it was not able to register into the Barnes and Nobles marketplace for eBook purchases. All they had to do is follow the instructions and register the device with a new username. I had done a factory reset before shipping it out to clear my personal information off.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, they said it was a fraud and sent it back to me. And they left me negative feedback, calling me a “Scam Artist and Con-man.”
Why were they so mad and why did they leave that comment? Because they tried contacting me first to resolve the issue, but since my old e-mail address was registered, I never got the message. During that time, I was very inactive on eBay, so the thought of logging back in after the sale never came into my mind.
I was probably in the wrong by not responding and having an old e-mail address, so I messaged the buyer and explained what had happened. I admitted fault, and I apologized for not responding. I tried explaining that I am an honest person, but I felt very offended by being called a con man.
I requested the buyer update the accuracy of the negative comment, to at least describe what had actually happened. They said, “no, tough luck con man!”
That is when I proceeded to fight back and called eBay customer service. I waited on hold for 45 minutes, but it was worth it!
So… What the heck did I do to get it removed?
The buyer made a critical error in the comment they left. They essentially lied about what happened to them by calling me a “Con man and Scam Artist.” After 30 minutes of persistence and battling through first level support, I finally got a supervisor on the phone.
I told the supervisor essentially what had happened here, a customer bought a product online and was unhappy with it. Then they returned it free of charge and got a 100% refund. That scenario is far from a Con or a Scam.
Not to mention, I was able to sell things on the eBay platform still. How does that look for eBay to allow a seller to keep selling when their profile feedback says Con Artist!
They promptly agreed and removed it within one hour of hanging up the phone. The buyer and seller policies I linked above clearly state that all negative comments have to be truthful. And reflect what actually happened during the transaction. It’s clearly stated between the lines of all the legal terms used in the policies.
If the buyer would have said what actually happened, left a comment like this “The seller was unresponsive to my problem, I returned item for a refund!”, It would have been a lot tougher to get it removed. But at least that would have been well deserved negative feedback.
Don’t get me wrong; I could have probably still fought eBay customer service to get it removed. But it would have taken a lot of PERSISTENCE. With many follow-up phone calls and maybe trying different scenarios, it most likely would not have been worth my time since I was 100% at fault.
OK, but what if the negative comment was truthful to what happened?
This leads me to a second scenario that recently happened to a friend of mine. They are an eBay power seller and sold a used Droid mobile phone; it was their personal phone for about a year.
Being a power seller, my friend had shipped the phone using some thick bubble wrap and a sturdy shipping box, without the original box.
The listing contained a detailed description with plenty of pictures of the phone. It was fully tested and in excellent working condition. One of the photos even showed the phone turned on with the screen lit up, to show no sign of damage.
Several days later after shipping the phone, my friend gets alerted via the tracking number confirmation that the phone is delivered!
Sure enough, the next day, they login to do some more eBay selling and BAM! Negative feedback was received! With the following comment “Received phone with cracked screen, the phone is also stolen.”
Naturally, my friend was upset! The phone was clearly not stolen and was not damaged when it went out for delivery. So, what happened? Honestly, you can only speculate two scenarios. One, the buyer dropped the phone after unpacking it, causing the screen to crack. Or two, it was damaged during shipment by the shipping company.
The buyer gets a full refund and sends the broken phone back. My friend checks it out and it is the same phone (nothing was fake or stolen here). But they have a damaged phone now. And they are out money for the shipping costs because the buyer got a full refund, with the shipping included!
A claim, in this case, could be filed with the shipping company, but my friend did not buy the extra insurance, so they decided to kiss it off as a loss.
So now they have lost a lot of time, hold a broken Droid Phone, and now have to look at that negative feedback? Ouch…
Here’s how this negative feedback was removed!
It took a total of two weeks and many phone calls, persistence was key! Let’s review how the phone calls went. If you follow a similar pattern, you’ll have a good chance at getting just about any negative feedback removed!
By the way, if you are not good at dealing with people on the phone, or don’t have the patience, see if you can get a friend to help you out. In this case, my friend and I called together using the speaker phone.
Our first phone call was convincing customer service to escalate the call to a higher authority. We had to stay focused and calm, and not let ourselves fall into the frustration of going crazy listening to all the scripted customer services answers.
After 45 minutes of frustration mixed with some patience, I was able to help out my friend by convincing the customer service agent that we respect their position. We are unsatisfied they’ll have enough authority to help our unique problem here, and it’s probably best suited we speak with a supervisor.
We said this line about 8 or 10 different ways, and with enough persistence, we got a supervisor on the line.
So the next thing is a bit shocking, the supervisor is going to call us back in the next 24 hours! Really?? This must have been a recent change, because the last time I called for a supervisor a few years ago, I spoke to one instantly.
For the next two weeks, many different supervisors called. My friend missed the call and they’d leave a voicemail. In the voicemail, you were told to call the toll-free number back. You then wait on hold and talk to the first level support again, then wait for a call back from a supervisor.
My friend answered the next call back from a supervisor and got no real help getting the removal done. He demanded to leave the case open. The supervisor agrees and says “OK,” someone will look into this more and call you back in the next 24 hours.
Then of course life is busy, and you miss the callbacks. eBay is hoping for this to happen!
A few more days went by, and my friend was in the mood to try again. So he called the eBay customer service number, and after a quick 30-minute wait, they talk to first level customer service again.
The case was already opened, so they got the instant response of “The supervisor will call you back in the next 24 hours.” My friend politely declined that option.
Guess what happened next? My friend firmly demands to speak with a supervisor now! By saying “I understand you have to do your job, but this has been dragging on now for almost two weeks now. Surely you can provide excellent customer service to me and find me a supervisor to speak to now!”
What do you know! Magically, the supervisor was on the phone several minutes later to work out the problem. A few moments later, my friend hears a response that is music to the ears.
The supervisor says something like this:
“Sir, it looks as if after further investigations there are holes in the information reported back from the buyer. Based on the inaccurate information provided by the buyer, I have no choice but to remove this negative feedback. Sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused and we value your business as an eBay seller!”
And just like that, VOILA! Negative was feedback removed after persistent and persistent phone calls. It took just getting the right person from eBay on the phone.
I’ve seen this technique used for all sorts of other customer service nightmares! The same method can sometimes be used for getting bank fees reversed or late charges removed.
How do I know? Well.. I use to work in online banking customer service. We use to play the same customer service escalation games on all the unhappy customers.
Customer service agents in every industry have some level of authority for reversing charges or making a customer’s case a higher priority for a supervisor to jump in.
The customer service at eBay is no exception to this rule! Even if sometimes you feel like you’re getting nowhere, persistence will win most of the time!
Keep in mind though, there is no magic method or system to do this. There’s NO 100% guarantee, so your efforts could be a waste of time if you never get that right person.
My Final Thoughts…
eBay works great for lots of Power Sellers out there. It’s best not to take anything negative that happens personally, it’s just not worth your energy or time. At one point in time, eBay was good for sellers.
The fees were reasonable, and you could leave negative feedback for buyers. This has all changed in the last 5 – 7 years. The fees are a bit high now, and you can’t leave negative feedback for buyers anymore.
If selling on eBay is proving to be too much of a losing proposition, then start looking at other options. Craigslist or other online store platforms like Shopify are great alternatives! I’ll talk more about those options in future articles.