The Role of Customer Service in eBay


There is more to starting and maintaining a profitable eBay business than listing your items, sending a note to the winning bidder, and then shipping off a package. An invisible aspect of the buying and selling process can literally promote or destroy your business. Even if you have the most wonderful product or item in the world and you offer lousy, rude, or ineffective customer service, your business will be doomed. In this article, we will briefly cover the importance of customer service for your ultimate success as an eBay seller.

Earning Respect

Earning respect as an eBay seller means providing the best in services to your customers. How do you do this?

  • You answer e-mails as promptly and completely as possible. Let your customers or potential buyers know that you are willing to help them with any questions or issues they may have.
  • Be honest when answering questions. If you do not know the answer to a question, let the person know, and do your best to find out.
  • Know your product. Be prepared to answer detailed questions from buyers, especially for more complicated pieces of equipment, such as computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), motors, and hardware or software components.
  • Back up your products. While you do not want to lose money, offer returns or satisfaction guarantees in order to encourage your customers to feel safe and comfortable buying from you.

Let your customers know you accept returns in the event they do not like the product or it is not as you described. . Also let them know that you are willing to make an exchange or offer refunds if your customers are not satisfied.

Generating Buyers

To encourage and generate buyers, make sure that your item listings are complete, easy to understand, and to the point. Be professional when describing your items.

Use clear photographs and invite questions from interested buyers. One of the best things you can do to generate new buyers is to encourage positive feedback. Positive feedback is one of the most important tools a buyer can utilize in deciding which seller to purchase an item from.

Gaining Positive Feedback

In order to generate positive feedback, do your best to please the customer. Describe your items accurately. The bottom line is that if you do not offer good customer service, you may not enjoy a return customer. In worst-case scenarios, negative feedback or poor ratings may drive others away from your business as well.

Customer service is important for all businesses, whether they are brick-and-mortar or online stores. Communication is key between buyers and sellers regardless of where the sale takes place.

Keep in mind that in some countries, business negotiations, etiquette, and courtesy expectations may be different from how you do business in the United States or another country. As you become more experienced selling items on eBay, you will get a feel for expectations from clients around the world.

In a nutshell, treat your customers the way you would like to be treated if you were buying a product. In doing so, you will keep their needs and desires in mind while receiving optimal benefits for doing so on your end of the deal.


At times, a buyer may be dissatisfied in some way with your product or service. Resolving disputes in a manner that satisfies both the buyer and the seller is important and also a good way to generate positive feedback and trust in your buyers. It also promotes the concept of quality customer service.

Dispute Resolution

Introduction Let us face it. Any time you sell something, and especially if you become adept at selling items on eBay or open an eBay store, there will be occasions when you need to deal with problem customers. Learn how to deal with difficult buyers, resolve seller or buyer problems, and determine your refund policy when dealing with customer dissatisfaction. How you deal with such difficulties also will have a large impact on the reputation and customer feedback you receive on eBay.

Resolving Buyer/Seller Problems

Tens of thousands of transactions occur every day on eBay. The vast majority of buyers and sellers are perfectly happy with the process and have no complaints. However, there are times when unexpected situations or mishaps occur. Dealing with such issues immediately, courteously, and with respect will help maintain your feedback and reputation as a buyer or seller on eBay.

At the foundation of any form of dispute or approach to complaints or resolution is communication. Keep attitude out of it. Have you ever gone into a department store to return an item or complain about it? If you have, you likely will have noticed that if you go in with a bad attitude, say rude things, or make unreasonable demands, the customer service representatives, despite their best efforts, may also get their hackles up and the disagreement may turn into an argument.

Let us put it this way: How would you like a customer service representative to respond if you felt the need to return an item, for whatever reason? You would want to be listened to. You would want to be taken seriously, treated with respect and courtesy, and engage in the refund or exchange process as painlessly as possible.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online How to eBay course?

Buyers and sellers on eBay, at least a vast majority of them, feel the same way. However, keep in mind that, as in any large marketplace or venue, there are a few bad apples in the bunch. Once in a while, you may run into a customer who claims an item arrived damaged in some way, was not as you described, or did not satisfy the person's expectations. Some may even demand a refund.

When dealing with such customers, do your best to maintain open and friendly communication through e-mail. Never give out your phone number to buyers or sellers. Try to find an amicable way to resolve the issue or dispute without resorting to anger or threats.

Following are several common issues that may come up during your eBay business selling endeavors:

  • Buyer is slow to pay.
  • Buyer is slow to respond to the winning bid notification.
  • Buyer backs out of the transaction after the bidding has closed.
  • Buyer claims that the item has been damaged in transit.
  • Buyer demands a refund.

In any of the above instances, do your best to open a line of communication that benefits each of you. When you list an item, specify a definite time frame during which the buyer must pay for the item or the item will be relisted.

Dealing with a Buyer Who Refuses to Pay or Backs Out of the Transaction

Do not send your items until you have received payment. If a buyer backs out of the transaction after the bidding has closed, you are left with few options other than relisting the item. While you may be disappointed that you have lost the money or wasted your time in listing the auction, there is not much you can do about a buyer who decides he or she does not want the item after all. However, if you feel it is worth your time, you can apply for a final value fee refund from eBay.

Dealing with Damages

In the event a buyer contacts you and claims that the item has been damaged during transit or the item does not work, offer to send the person postage to return the item in its original box or packaging back to you. Specifically state in your item description or shipping and handling comments that you are willing to offer a refund as long as the item and the box it was shipped in are returned to you.

Dealing with Refunds

If a buyer demands a refund, send the person adequate shipping or postage and request that he or she return the item before a refund will be issued. Upon your receipt of the item in the same condition in which you sent it, refund the customer's money as quickly as possible, cut your losses, and move on.

Customer Dissatisfaction and Negative Feedback

On eBay, feedback is one of the most valuable tools that help sellers and buyers determine the honesty and integrity of other buyers and sellers. The more positive feedback you generate, the less impact an occasional negative feedback will have on your overall feedback rating. In some cases, a customer may place untruthful or negative feedback based on your attitude and your ability to handle the dispute resolution or issue.

In such cases, resist the urge to respond in kind. Any time a buyer offers feedback, you, the seller, have the opportunity to reply or respond. Be specific when disagreeing or challenging negative feedback offered by a buyer, and keep attitude and emotion out of your reply. If you cannot do that, remember what Thumper's mother said: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Avoid negative feedback by trying to deal with customer dissatisfaction amicably and with respect and courtesy, no matter how annoyed or frustrated you might be with a buyer. Remember the old adage: "The customer is always right." While this may not always be true, it is a good and effective business model to follow. Yes, you may end up losing a bit of money now and then, but that is a risk that all business people take.


The most important thing to remember when dealing with customer complaints or disputes is always treat the other individual as you would wish to be treated in the same situation. This does not mean allowing customers to walk all over you; however, you should state plainly and clearly your policies regarding shipping and handling, refunds, or dissatisfaction, and follow up with your customers in such instances.

Tips to Success on eBay


Taking certain steps to ensure a successful business endeavor as an eBay seller requires focus, organization, and a good degree of customer service.

In addition to selling popular items and providing excellent item descriptions, treating your potential buyers with courtesy and respect will help you gain a foothold in the eBay world. Following a variety of tips for success when selling or buying on eBay will make your experience with eBay more pleasurable and profitable, for both sellers and buyers.

Tips for Sellers and Buyers

---Know your product. Create detailed and honest descriptions of the item and make sure that your item listing also has a good photo. In the item description, give your customer an idea or price range of shipping and handling for that item.

---When posting photographs on eBay, check the quality of the photo before you post your item online. Avoid clutter or personal objects in the background of your photo by placing the item on a white or solid color piece of fabric, or use it as a backdrop to your photo.

---Write an adequate and effective title description of your item, using keywords, keyword phrases, and specifying whether your product is new, used, old, antique, or so forth. Check and double-check your title and item description for spelling errors or grammar mistakes.

---Sellers should always respond in a timely manner to questions or comments sent to them regarding the item up for sale. Whenever possible, respond to requests for information or clarification within 24 hours.

---Promote the best in quality customer service and keep the buyer informed of the payment and shipping process. Encourage positive feedback by treating your customer as you would wish to be treated yourself.

--- Compare prices for similar products or items and price them accordingly. While everyone wants to make a few bucks by selling items on eBay, it will not do you any good to charge more for your item than the person can buy it for in a retail store.

---Do not overcharge for shipping and handling. Break up the costs of your packaging supplies and offer your buyers a variety of shipping options. Charge the minimum you can for these services. It is your choice to go into the eBay selling business, but that does not mean you need to pass on inflated costs to your customers.

---List your items accurately and honestly. By failing to mention that your item is defective, broken, or otherwise unacceptable, you are endangering your future as an eBay seller and will generate negative feedback that will severely impact your potential.

---Be a responsible buyer. Check the prices for similar items and bid accordingly. If you really want an item, contact the seller and ask about an option to make an outright offer. Communication with sellers has encouraged many buyers to purchase a rare or unique item outright.

---Following the purchase of an item, take the time to leave feedback for the seller. Doing so gives you a chance to describe the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of your experience with that seller and is a valuable tool that helps others make good buying decision processes.

---Before purchasing an item on eBay, make sure that you understand what payment methods are available to you, and an estimate of possible shipping and handling charges for that item. If such details are not listed in the product or item description, contact the seller before placing a bid and ask about shipping and handling charges.


Buying and selling on eBay can be a pleasurable, exciting, and lucrative experience. It can also cause problems that you never imagined if you do not treat customers right. The majority of buyers and sellers on eBay get along just fine. You increase your chance of success if you take advantage of customer service models, know what to expect from eBay, and use the site's customer support line, frequently asked questions pages, and sellers' tools.

An eBay store is an excellent way to generate extra income without even having to leave the comfort of your home.