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What to do if an Auction goes Wrong

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 24 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Auction Ebay Dispute Square Trade

The vast majority of transactions on eBay go perfectly smoothly and everyone is satisfied. However, there are times a problem occurs, and the company has procedures in place to take care of those.

What Can Go Wrong

In any transaction, there are several things that can go awry. You might not receive an item you’ve won and paid for, or it could arrive broken, or not as the seller represented it. For a seller, you might not receive payment for your item, or there could be a problem with the payment – a cheque that won’t clear, for instance.Always, the first step is to contact the other party and see if things can be resolved between the two of you. In many instances, they can, and the problem is due to an honest mistake.

What do you do if that won’t work?

eBay Dispute Console

When you can’t find satisfaction from direct contact, you need to use eBay’s Dispute Console. It deals with two types of disputes, for “unpaid items,” and for “items not received or significantly not as described.”

The first thing to do is report the dispute. You can do this from your My eBay page (it’s on the left hand side of the page). You will need the transaction item number, which you’ll see on the item page, in the top right-hand corner.

That will bring you to the Dispute Console. Select the appropriate item. You’ll need to give details, such as the transaction date, the status of the dispute (whether open or closed), and the other party’s eBay ID.

For Buyers

Remember, a wining bid represents a contract. That means the seller must deliver the item once payment has been received. If it’s not delivered, or is greatly misrepresented, or the seller refuses to accept payment, he’s in breach of the contract.

If the dispute can’t be resolved by eBay due to the seller’s non-performance, there are steps the company can take, including cancellation of the seller’s account, or even a referral to the police in extreme cases.

First, though, you must report the seller to eBay, with as much documentation, including copies of e-mails, as you have, and the company will decide what action to take. Be warned, however, that unless your allegation is very provable, it’s likely nothing will happen.

For Sellers

The main complaint a seller will have is non-payment for an auction, and the buyer is as much bound by a contract as the seller. If you don’t receive payment, you can report it up to 45 days after the auction closing date, although you’ll generally have to wait seven days before you file.

After a seller files, eBay will send the buyer an e-mail and he’ll receive a pop-up reminder when he logs into eBay. If there’s no response, the seller has the option of filing for a Final Value Fee credit.

However, the buyer can respond, saying he’ll pay immediately, and payment will end the dispute. If the buyer claims he’s already paid, he must present proof. Finally, the buyer and seller can communicate with each other to resolve the dispute.

Any dispute will automatically be closed after 60 days, or sooner if the seller chooses to close it for one of several reasons. eBay also have out outside mediator that can work with buyers and sellers to come to an amicable solution in extreme cases.

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