How to Resolve eBay Disputes

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When you sell - or shop - on eBay, all you want is a pleasant experience; one where money and goods change hands easily, and everyone goes away happy.

But what happens when you find yourself on the receiving end of poor customer service, negative feedback, or fraud? The last thing you want to do is panic, follow the wrong advice, and make the situation worse. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to resolve any eBay-related dispute, so long as you understand what dispute solutions, and mediation services, are available, and how to use their services.

With that in mind, let’s first take a look at what causes eBay disputes, and then at how you can resolve them quickly and easily.

What Causes Disputes on eBay?

Disputes on eBay are between the buyer and the seller (and not between either parties and eBay itself).

Sometimes disputes arise because of simple miscommunication or misunderstanding. For example, a seller may forget to mark an item as dispatched, or a buyer may have mis-read an item’s description.

However, in other circumstances, disputes arise because one of the parties involved has received poor service, poor quality items, or because they’ve experienced fraud, i.e. they have received only half of their order, not received an item that has been marked as dispatched, or have been billed for an order that they never placed.

What Kind of Disputes are There?

When you’re using eBay, the two kinds of disputes you may encounter are transaction-related disputes and feedback-related disputes.

Transaction Disputes

As a rule, when someone raises a dispute about a transaction, either as a seller or a buyer, it is for one of the following reasons:

1.) Unpaid Items

If you’re selling on eBay, and your customer doesn’t bother to pay you for an item they’ve bought, you can raise an ‘unpaid item dispute’. You’ll need to do this within 32 days of the end of the auction.

According to eBay, you can raise a dispute immediately, if you realise that your buyer is no longer registered as a user on eBay.

If your buyer is still registered as a user, however, eBay states that you should allow your buyer two days to pay for their order. Only after you have waited for two full days should you raise a dispute in eBay’s Resolution Centre.

Once your dispute has been raised, and dealt with, eBay will offer you a ‘final value fee credit’, which will cover the cost of the sale.

2.) Item not Received or Different

If you’re a buyer who hasn’t received your order - or if you’ve received something that doesn’t match the listing description - you can resolve this by following the procedures laid out by eBay.

If you raise a dispute within 30 days of delivery you will be protected under eBay’s Money Back Guarantee, provided that your item is not:

  • A vehicle, a business or website for sale, Digital Goods, real estate, intangible goods, classified ads, services, or certain kinds of business equipment.
  • Duplicated from an existing claim made through another resolution method.
  • An item which has been sent to another address after delivery.
  • One that is not wanted, i.e. you only want to return it due to ‘buyer’s remorse’.

Feedback Disputes

Negative feedback isn’t something to take lightly, especially since it plays an important role in developing trust with other buyers and sellers.
So, if you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of feedback that seems unfair, or even libelous, you can attempt to have it withdrawn.

In the past, buyers and sellers could use eBay’s mutual feedback withdrawal process. However, this process is no longer available.

If you’re using eBay as a buyer, sellers can no longer leave negative - or even neutral - feedback for you, so you don’t need to worry.

However, if you’re a seller, you can still receive negative and neutral feedback. If you have received feedback that reflects badly on you (and that genuinely isn’t deserved), you need to do the following to get it removed or altered:

  • First, contact the buyer by using the ’Request Feedback Revision’ page. When you request feedback revision, the buyer will be notified and can then opt to edit their feedback. Allow them a few days to do this - not everyone is online all the time!
  • After a few days, if you receive no reply from the buyer - or if the buyer refuses to change their feedback - you can ask eBay to intervene on your behalf. Visit the Feedback Removal Guidelines guidelines page for more information.

Other Dispute Solutions

While eBay is likely to be the first place you go to for help with a dispute, they’re not the only people who can help you. Both PayPal and SquareTrade offer hassle-free dispute solutions for problematic eBay orders.


If you’re the kind of shopper who always uses PayPal to pay for your orders, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re likely to be covered by their Buyer Protection Program.

Are You Eligible?

To be eligible for assistance from PayPal, you need to raise a dispute with them within 180 days of making your purchase. In addition to raising your dispute within this time frame, you also need to ensure that:

  • Your account is in good standing.
  • You are not raising the dispute due to ‘buyer’s remorse’.
  • That your item is not one of the following:
    • A motorised vehicle of any kind.
    • Custom-made for you.
    • Real Estate.
    • Any kind of pre-paid card.
    • Something paid for in person (not likely with eBay, but it’s worth mentioning).
    • A money transfer to one of your friends or relatives.
    • Something that violates PayPal’s policies.

My Purchase is Eligible for Dispute - What Do I Do Now?

When you need help with a dispute, visit PayPal’s Resolution Centre, and follow their instructions to raise your dispute. This gives the seller an opportunity to resolve the dispute. Give them several days to respond.

If you don’t receive a response (or a refund) from the seller within a week or so, then you must ensure that you escalate your dispute into a claim within twenty days of opening it.

After you have escalated your dispute into a claim, PayPal will look into it for you and, if you are eligible to claim under their Buyer Protection Program, will refund the cost of your order, plus postage and packaging.

Unauthorised Transactions?

If you haven’t actually bought anything, but have noticed strange activity on your account, PayPal won’t consider you liable for any unauthorised activity on your account.

As soon as you notice fraudulent transactions, you should call PayPal or write to them using the details on their suspicious transactions tips page. Alternatively, you can follow the instructions provided on the main PayPal Website.


For those of you who prefer to be insured against problems from the outset, SquareTrade is an independent, UK & USA based company. They provide warranties for electrical goods, like TV’s, phones, and tablets.

Purchasing a Warranty

According to eBay’s buyers’ FAQ, when you purchase eligible electronic item(s) via eBay, you have the option to purchase a warranty from SquareTrade directly from the item description page (before you checkout and pay for your order). After you’ve checked out, you can still purchase a SquareTrade warranty from your payment confirmation page or through the post-purchase reminder email that you’ll receive.

What a SquareTrade Warranty Covers

The plans that SquareTrade offers cover all of the issues that you’re likely to encounter with a problematic electronic item. According to SquareTrade, your warranty will cover the following:

Phones and Tablets:

  • Problems with battery charging.
  • Cracked and physically damaged screens.
  • Non-responsive touchscreens.
  • Sound and speaker-related problems.
  • Wi-Fi connection failure.
  • Faulty charging ports.


  • Screen Failure.
  • Sound and speaker-related problems.
  • Button failure.
  • Any burnout caused by your power supply.

Filing a Claim with SquareTrade

When you need to make a claim against an item you’ve received, you should visit the File a Claim page on the SquareTrade website. Once you’ve logged into your account, you can file your claim by following the instructions provided.
Alternatively, if you’d rather speak to someone, you can call them on 020 3514 2354 or 0808 189 1453. Their lines are open Monday to Friday, between 8am and 8pm.

What Happens Next

Once your claim is filed, SquareTrade will send you a free, prepaid envelope, or box, so you can send in your item for repair. On their FAQ, they state that they may organise a home repair for televisions. If SquareTrade finds that your item cannot be repaired, they will either provide a replacement, or failing this, refund the replacement cost of the item.

Additional Resources 

If you need help with writing a professional-quality letter to the other parties involved in your eBay dispute, Starting Business provides a range of professional, legal templates for business letters that can be tweaked to suit your needs.

Finding yourself involved in a dispute because something went wrong with your eBay transaction isn’t pleasant. However, if you use one of the mediation services mentioned in this post, you’ll find that resolving your dispute is stress-free and easy. 

Bookmark this post, so it’s always on hand to refer to if you need it - and don’t forget to visit the Starting Business store for useful downloadable documents and templates.