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How to avoid getting negative feedback from buyers on eBay

Want to avoid negative feedback from buyers blighting your eBay account? There are a number of measures you can take to do so, from carefully wording your returns policy, through to ensuring clear descriptions of items and photos. In this article, we’ve got 10 tips to help you keep your nose – and eBay account – clean.

1. Returns policy

Write up a carefully worded returns policy to give buyers a clear incentive to contact you in the event of a problem instead of leaving negative feedback, and then refer to it in your auction description so that your customers don’t miss it.

2. A friendly letter

Include a friendly letter in every box you ship out that explains your returns policy. The goal is to educate your customers and train them not to leave feedback first and ask questions later.

3. What's included

Expectation management is the key to happy customers: Start by clearly spelling out each and every item included in your auction. Next, elaborate on your item’s defects, even if it makes your item sound worse than it really is. If the item arrives in better shape than the customer expected, you’ll get glowing feedback (and often more bids) as a result.

4. Report an unpaid item

Sellers can report non-paying bidders (NPBs) and get most of their eBay fees back when a transaction falls through. But beware: Some bidders may take it personally and reprimand you in retaliation, so use it only for completely unresponsive bidders.

5. Suspicious bidders

Monitor your listings and keep an eye out for suspicious bidders. Examine the recent feedback of bidders with low scores, which may not indicate bad bidders so much as inexperienced ones (the ones most likely to leave negative feedback).

6. Blocked bidders/buyers

If another eBay member ever causes you trouble, add that member’s ID to your Blocked Bidder/Buyer List. This includes sellers for whom you’ve recently left negative feedback. The last thing you want is a buyer with a grudge to bid on one of your items without fear of reprisal.

7. Completed listings

Before selling anything on eBay, search through completed listings to find out what it’s worth. Selling a worthless item is not only a waste of your time, it’s also a virtual guarantee of a disappointed customer and a blotch on your record.

8. Clear photos

Blurry, dark pictures (left) are a recipe for negative feedback. Take clear, well-lit photos (right) of the item you’re selling so the customer knows exactly what she’ll receive. Try and use a digital camera as opposed to a phone camera (unless you’ve got a modern phone with a really good snapper).

9. PayPal shipping tools

If the customer paid with PayPal, use PayPal’s shipping tools to enter the package’s tracking information even if you didn’t ship from the PayPal website. That way, the customer can track the package without waiting for you to dig up the tracking number.

10. Mutual feedback

Finally, never leave feedback for a buyer until you’ve received positive feedback yourself. Even though the fear of retribution is now gone, a buyer is still more likely to contact you in the event of a problem if you haven’t played your only hand.