Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

This is a dramatic reversal of their established policy and one that addresses the most common complaint levelled against the site. The April 14 announcement described it as an effort to “provide buyers with a more familiar e-commerce resolution experience”and even stated that “buyers are welcome to contact Ebay for any reason.“

Unhappy buyers or sellers will shortly be able to call eBay customer support when disputes arise over items not received or items not as described.

The company is notorious for being hard to contact directly with buyer issues. Currently, when a buyer or seller is dissatisfied the dispute process must be initiated online via PayPal, Ebay’s electronic payments company.

Now eBay is going to take a more active role in resolving buyer-seller disputes itself with a system that aims to become “the primary entry point for buyers who are unable to resolve disputes with eBay sellers”.

Regardless of the payment method used in the transaction, the plan is now to move disputes from Paypal to Ebay – something that eBay believe will also help them to better monitor fraud or abuse.

Direct communication between buyers and sellers will continue to be strongly encouraged but when this proves unsatisfactory, the buyer can contact eBay via a toll-free number or a web-form. A customer support representative then reviews the case and will contact the seller if they believe the claim warrants further investigation.

The seller will then have five business days to provide proof of delivery and proof that the item was as described, or to refund the buyer.

If five business days elapse without a response, Ebay will refund the cost of the item and shipping fees to the buyer and, when appropriate, seek to recover funds from the seller.

Buyers will have 45 days from payment to file a claim – the same as with the current PayPal dispute resolution system.

The new Ebay system will be trialled from June 15 (access to the number is limited for now) with the expectation that it will be available to all American users before the end of the year.

It may yet become another battle ground between eBay management and its member e-tailers but for now some of the most vocal Ebay sellers are giving the changes – that also include new tools for package-tracking and label-printing – cautious applause.

The new Ebay resolution process applies to items listed on ebay.com only, not Ebay sites outside the United States. Buyers outside the US purchasing items on ebay.com will be able to submit a web-form instead of calling Ebay.

By Roland Arkell