It’s every eBay seller’s worst nightmare: after carefully packing up your sweet thrift find that sold for big bucks and sending it on its way to your buyer, it inexplicably goes missing. Your buyer is not happy and contacts you wanting to know where their stuff is. This happened to me a couple weeks ago for the first time, and it wasn’t a pleasant predicament to have on my hands.
However, once you’re in that situation you have two choices–makes things better, or make them worse. You can make things worse by ignoring your buyer and hoping the situation will magically resolve itself. (Hint: It probably won’t.) If you choose that route, you’re setting yourself up for defects and negative feedback. I don’t suggest doing that.
Here’s what I would do instead:
Step One: Call Your Local Post Office
Call the post office that initially received your package. Sometimes, they have more information than you can see online. For example, when I was waiting on something that I had purchased on eBay to arrive at my house, the tracking information said that it had been delivered when it actually hadn’t. I called the post office, and they were able to tell me that the seller had actually printed out two of the same labels and attached them to two separate packages. I’m assuming this was an honest mistake on the seller’s part, but the post office wasn’t happy about someone mailing two packages for the price of one. (Go figure.) Anyway, the moral of the story is that sometimes the postmaster knows what’s going on when you’re still clueless. It never hurts to ask. (And, as always, make sure you’re super polite on the phone with whomever you speak. That definitely never hurts–and usually helps quite a bit.)
Step Two: Contact Your Buyer
Use eBay’s messaging system to respond to your buyer. Open your message with an apology for the fact that there has been a problem with their order. If the post office was able to tell you anything from Step One, relay that information to your buyer. If not, still let them know that you did contact the post office and that you will continue monitoring the situation for new information. This shows your buyer that you do actually give a flip about the package and should help smooth over any upset feelings they may have. Ask the seller if it’s okay to wait ___ number of days to see if the package gets scanned again, and that if that doesn’t happen, you will refund their money. (The number of days is up to you and your buyer. My buyer agreed to wait one week past the expected delivery date.)
Step Three: Keep Checking For Tracking Updates
You’ll want to keep an eye on the tracking information at this point. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for email updates on the carrier’s website. Here’s how to do it with USPS: Do a Google Search for the tracking number. The first result should be from USPS’s website. Click on that link and you’ll see the page below:
Step Four: (If It Never Arrives) Refund
If the pre-determined date arrives and the package is still MIA, it’s time to refund your buyer. This part is not fun. However, if the package was insured, you should be able to recoup your money. Mine was not insured since it was a pretty low-value item ($20 + $8 shipping to Canada), but it’s still never a pleasant experience to flat out lose money. That being said, you are taking action to keep your buyer happy and hopefully to prevent negative feedback. That’s worth something.
Step Five: Get Your Fees Back
Call eBay and let them know what happened and that you refunded your buyer. They will be able to credit your account within a few days.
Step Six: File An Insurance Claim (If Your Package Is Insured)
Anytime I’m mailing out an item, I ask myself “Would it ruin my day if this package were to be lost?” If the answer is yes, I insure it. (I usually insure anything over $50.) Priority mail is automatically insured over $50, but you may need to add additional insurance. I use Inkfrog/Shipsaver insurance. It’s available under the “Applications” tab on My eBay. I’ve never actually had to file a claim, so I can’t speak from personal experience of the claims process, but you can do some Googling and read reviews to decide which kind of insurance you’d like to buy.
If you sell on eBay for a long time, you’ll almost certainly find yourself in this situation at least once. Do your best to stay positive and keep things in perspective. Focus on providing great customer service and move on once the situation is resolved. Onward and upward!