eBay Sellers: How to Appeal a Case Decided in Favor of the Buyer [SOLUTION] & Negative Feedback Removal
eBay stinks sometimes. eBay’s dispute and return system can be abused by buyers in many ways. Once a buyer opens a case and escalates it to a claim (dispute), eBay’s system will step in and make a decision. In almost all cases the decision will be in favor of the buyer.
This article will explore how to appeal or respond in other ways to a case that is decided against you on eBay.
Before the Case is Decided Against You
If you’re reading this article you may already be past this point. However the best possible outcome is to avoid a case altogether:
A buyer can escalate a case to a claim after you respond to it, or after a set number of days (usually about 1 week.) Whichever happens first. With this in mind, don’t respond to the case right away if it’s obvious a buyer is going to force a claim. Instead gather your evidence of why the buyer is wrong and call eBay first. Don’t wait until after the case is decided to call because eBay will almost never reverse a decision.
“The Buyer is Never Wrong;” Compromise
As opposed to the old adage “the customer is always right” try thinking “the customer is never wrong.” That is, even if the buyer made a mistake, your goal is to resolve the situation. Don’t try to win an argument with a stranger on the internet.
Always be polite and understanding in communications with the buyer. Even if the buyer is rude, angry, or clearly wrong. Very few buyers will ever admit they were wrong for any reason, no matter how well you explain things. Try to figure out a compromise that will cost you the least amount of money and that the buyer will accept.
Remember: eBay Support will read through your message history. Try to get the buyer to clearly admit they were wrong and never be rude or mean to buyers.
Watch for Buyer Threats, Mistakes and Policy Violations
It is possible for buyers to make mistakes (usually in anger) that will allow eBay to take your side.
- Threats: If a buyer threatens you with violence, uses slurs or any other personal derogatory insults, call eBay. The buyer is violating eBay policy and terms of service and this can allow eBay support to make decisions in your favor.
- Feedback Extortion: Report buyers who are demanding a quid-pro-quo (“Give me a refund or I will leave negative feedback.“) In some cases if a buyer threatens to leave negative feedback unless you do something, eBay will remove the feedback. You’ll need to call eBay and support will look up the message history.
- Look at the Buyer’s Feedback: Do they have a history of scamming other sellers or buyers? If their account has been reported before, eBay may be more likely to side with you.
Call eBay Before a Case is Escalated
As mentioned above, if you think you have clear evidence that the buyer is lying or wrong, call eBay before the case gets escalated to a claim (dispute.)
You will need clear evidence in your message history with the buyer. This is harder than you’d think. The buyer basically needs to make a clear statement that they are lying, scamming, violating eBay policy, or admitting that they were wrong in a very straightforward way.
- The most common way to win at this point would be if a buyer files a case for the wrong reason. For example, if they claim “item not received,” but then in a message to you admit they received the item (even if they say it’s broken etc.) You would win this case on the grounds that the buyer did in fact receive the item.
How Do I Email or Chat with eBay Customer Support?
This is not possible currently. For the past several years the only way to get eBay support is over the phone. I assume this is a way to reduce and control the number of open help requests. I can report that currently in 2019 / 2020 usually the hold times are reasonable (under 5 minutes) and the customer support reps usually speak understandable English. Most call centers appear to be based out of India.
How Do Appeals Work on eBay? Where is the Appeal Button?
Once a case is decided against you, you may notice a small link on that page about filing an appeal. It will take you to this eBay help page which doesn’t help much at all. It basically states you need to provide “new documentation” to have any chance of a successful appeal.
(Sidenote: the eBay website occasionally mentions instructions on where and how to file an appeal, or click an appeal button, but currently those instructions are wrong. The only way to file an appeal in 2019 and 2020 is to call eBay directly with “new documentation.”)
Here are a few of the rare things that qualify as “new documentation” for this purpose.
- Police Report: local police case or log number stating the buyer committed fraud, returned an empty box, etc.
- New data available on tracking (beyond what was available at the time of eBay’s decision.) For example an update to the tracking after the case was decided showing that the buyer did not return the item.
- Official documents proving the item is not fake. (For example a buyer claims it is a knock-off, but you locate your original manufacturer’s receipt for the item, or have it authenticated by a professional 3rd party service.)
- Pointing out evidence that was already available at the time of the case decision will not help. (Even if you know you’re right! Trust me, I’ve tried!)
If you received an empty box as a return, or the buyer otherwise committed some sort of provable fraud, you can attempt to file a police report. If your local police department is cooperative it is possible this will be successful. You can argue with customer support all you want, but an official report from a government or other official agency is the only “proof of documentation” they will accept to reverse a claim decision.
- Depending on your local police department, they are often unlikely to help you. Disputes between a buyer and seller on eBay are often considered a “contractual dispute” and deemed a “civil” matter–not a crime. I’ve tried explaining this to eBay support, but they won’t budge on this.
- Many police departments won’t waste time and will use the above line to get you out of their hair.
- If it is a high value item or there are factors, such as threats of violence, credit card fraud, etc, you may have more luck with the police.
- All you need is a police case number that can be on file for eBay support to enter into their system. You don’t necessarily need to file charges against the other party.
Is the Above Appeal Information Helpful for You?
I realize the above information about appealing a claim will not be helpful in many situations. Unfortunately that is just the way eBay’s system works currently. At the very least it may save you an hour or two of trying to appeal a decision when your efforts will be in vain no matter what. This is also why this article stresses proactive action and especially taking action before a buyer’s case reaches the point where eBay is “investigating” or “deciding.”
What Else Can You Do After Losing an eBay Claim?
Request Feedback Revision from the Buyer
If you’ve followed the other tips in this article, you’ve been polite and understanding with the buyer no matter what they are claiming. If you are still on good terms with the buyer, you can request negative feedback revision from the buyer. All too often this is only successful after you give the buyer a full refund.
- Remember you cannot say “I’ll give you a refund if you remove the negative feedback.” This would be considered a form of feedback extortion and a buyer could report you for this.
- You can however word your message carefully: “We’re sorry about this problem and would like to offer a refund. Then if the issue is resolved we would appreciate if you revise the negative feedback using this link.” Notice that the refund offer and feedback are not dependent on each other in this message.
Report the Buyer
Report the buyer through eBay’s reporting tool. You can report the buyer once for each type of abuse they have committed. You can also report them again if they did the same thing on multiple items purchased from you. This won’t help you get your money back, but it can prevent the buyer from scamming or lying in the future. Repeat offenders may be suspended permanently from eBay, or lose the ability to open cases on future purchases.
- Beware excessive reporting. eBay has systems in place that will identify you as an “excessive reporter.” You can only report a certain hidden percentage of buyers before eBay will stop giving your reports any weight. Only use the reporting tool when the buyer really is scamming or violating policy.
Block the Buyer
Be sure to add the buyer’s eBay username to your blocked bidders list so you won’t have to deal with them again. Don’t tell the buyer you’re blocking them–just end communication completely.
Leave Follow Up Feedback for the Buyer
Sellers can’t leave buyers negative feedback on eBay. This has been the case for a long time. eBay’s reasoning is that buyers were afraid to leave negative feedback because they didn’t want to get negative feedback in return. Not only can sellers not leave negative feedback, there are many limits to what you can say in feedback. You usually can’t leave a positive feedback that actually contains negative details for example.
Your best course of action is usually to automatically leave all buyers positive feedback once they have paid. (This can be automated in your eBay account.) Sometimes buyers will immediately give you positive feedback in return. That’s a best case situation!
If the buyer ends up being a problem, you can leave a factual follow-up to the feedback you left. This does stick out and is quite noticeable to anyone viewing the buyer’s feedback in the future. Visit the eBay feedback forum to leave a follow up message on a feedback. Remember you can’t enter any personal information, links, or break any eBay policies in your feedback.
- Example Follow-Up: “Delivered on time. Buyer opened claim saying they didn’t like the color. Photo accurately showed color.”
- You’ll notice above that nothing negative is mentioned and no personal details or opinions are included.
Don’t harass the buyer, don’t try to get revenge. End communication with the buyer to de-escalate. Losing an item and/or a refund in a case can be a horrible experience, but it can get worse. You don’t want the buyer to continue to try to “troll” or harass you or your business in an ongoing way into the future.
Share the Story on Social Media (Or Not?)
One option is to put the buyer “on blast.” Meaning: share the story on social media.
- Beware however that eBay’s user agreement forbids sharing personal details. You should check on these details before you go sharing the buyer’s name, email address, etc. Don’t make a bad situation worse by breaking any laws or getting your eBay account suspended completely.
- Keep in mind that there are thousands of stories of scamming, so a buyer lying about something isn’t really noteworthy to most people. Having 2 people like your Twitter post about a buyer scamming you isn’t going to do anything–it would need to go viral, which is very unlikely.
Make it “personal” for the buyer
This is getting into very questionable territory. Rather than doing this, you’ll probably be better off just taking your losses and forgetting about the situation. However if you’re really looking for any possible other steps to take:
- Look up some of the buyer’s neighbors (using something like Google Maps and the buyer’s address) and notify them of their neighbor’s fraudulent activities by mailed letter. Remember to be professional and factual. You don’t want to be guilty of libel: don’t lie or exaggerate to make the buyer look worse. Don’t reveal any personal information, or violate any laws or eBay policies.
- Keep a level head, don’t lie, and remember the buyer has your address too. Is it worth it?
- Contact the buyer’s local police department and/or Post Office to notify them of the buyer’s activities. Keep in mind a dispute between a buyer and seller is likely not a priority for them. Reserve options like this for real scammers who steal items, return empty boxes, commit fraud, etc.
- Is the buyer really a scammer, or just a dissatisfied buyer? There is a difference – even if you know the buyer abused the return system, was rude, lied, exaggerated, or has buyer’s remorse. If the buyer truly committed a crime such as credit card fraud, then contact the police department with details. Be aware that a chargeback is not necessarily a sign of credit card fraud.
The Cold Hard Truth: Every Business Deals With Fraud & Returns
Cost of Doing Business
Returns, chargebacks, buyers returning due to “change of mind,” and many other issues are problems every business encounters. If you are a small eBay seller, it can be hard to keep this in perspective. The reality is that every business that sells on the internet loses money to “bad” buyers. This is a cost of doing business and needs to be factored into your prices. Once you figure in this extra cost in some cases it may simply not make sense to sell on eBay. For example if losing a case on one item means you aren’t making a profit on the last 10 items you sold, consider if it’s really worth it to sell on eBay.
eBay (and Other Marketplaces) Don’t Want to Spend Time Investigating
Unfortunately many cases, claims and disputes really come down to a “he said/she said” situation where an outsider can’t really be 100% positive of who is in the wrong. Or, even if it is possible, if it takes more than a few seconds of investigation, eBay is not willing to devote the customer service time to do so.
In the end, eBay knows that sellers will go to where the buyers are. So eBay’s default stance is that the buyer is always right.
Consider Alternatives to eBay
If you don’t like eBay’s policies or resolution systems, consider a different sales channel. Nowadays there a number of alternatives, though many of them require you to live in a high population city to have enough nearby buyers. Also keep in mind that most online marketplaces like eBay will have similar buyer-leaning policies.
If you want to avoid any possibility of returns, your best bet is an in-person sale arranged through something like Craigslist. Make sure to meet at a neutral, safe location such as in front of a local police station.
- Local Facebook groups for buying, selling, and trading groups for your town or city.
- Craigslist (only in some cities)
- Etsy (mostly for handcrafted items)
- Amazon (note that Amazon is even more in favor of the buyer than eBay in most cases)
- Local consignment shops (high fees)
- Pawn shops (low selling prices however)