Tips on Resolving eBay Disputes

What to Do When You Can't Contact eBay

Young woman sitting at desk, using laptop
••• Cultura RM Exclusive/Stefano Gilera / Getty Images

It’s no secret at this point that , particularly if you’re looking to avoid telephone support. It’s also no secret that even if you do contact eBay, there are times when eBay’s customer service isn’t going to be able to provide the help that you need. Here are some alternatives to consider when you’ve been trying to contact eBay directly and aren’t able to do so.

Use the Automated Customer Support System

Sure, for many people it’s nicer to have a problem resolved through person-to-person contact, but the eBay Customer Support system does, in fact, work well and can be used to automatically address most of the common issues that eBay members have, everything from figuring out how to to asking about to reporting in a listing. Try it.

Contact Your Trading Partner

Many eBayers don’t like to contact their trading partners when things go wrong, but in fact, this has been eBay’s first recommendation since the very beginning. Most of the time, direct buyer-to-seller (or vice-versa) contact is the best way to come to a resolution over disagreements.

Use Community Resources

Both the eBay’s discussion boards and eBay’s Answer Center are great resources for solving problems that eBay itself isn’t able to (or is unwilling to) solve. If you have a question and can’t get eBay on the horn to help out with an answer, try these resources out.

File an ebay Dispute

If you’re engaged in a dispute with another eBay member and can’t come to terms after contacting them, use eBay’s automated dispute form to notify eBay of the dispute. Someone inside eBay (usually someone that remains nameless and faceless) will mediate the dispute and ultimately make a ruling. Be sure to go through all of the steps (not just up front, but over the days following the dispute as eBay sorts through it) and to have all your ducks in a row in order to win the Buyer Protection battle in the end.

File a Credit Card Dispute

If your trading partner and eBay are of absolutely no help and you’re the buyer in the transaction, it may be time to consider filing a credit card dispute. As long as you paid your seller with a credit card (even if you did it through ), your credit card company will also be willing to hear your complaint and is likely to rule in your favor and refund your purchase price if you have a valid complaint.

Leave Feedback

Once all is said and done, whatever else has happened, you should leave honest feedback about your trading partner. Buyers have more recourse in this area than sellers since sellers aren’t able to leave negative feedback, but sellers do still have the ability to leave text comments as a part of feedback.

Block the Buyer

If you were the seller in the transaction, even if you can’t be made whole this time, you can still take steps to avoid having to do business with the buyer in question ever again by blocking them from bidding on your auctions. It might also make sense to block all kinds of problem buyers from your auctions to prevent future trouble.

Keep Your Cool, Even If You’re Frustrated

eBay can be frustrating at times. Most seasoned eBay buyers and sellers alike have had moments at which they swore they’d never  or on eBay again. But for most, those moments pass, often thanks to a few deep breaths and some frustration management.

At the end of the day, eBay is both right and wrong about their customer service contact strategy. It’s absolutely true that most of the time, it’s nicer to deal with the human being at the company in question (i.e. an eBay customer service rep) than to deal with automated systems, people you’re actively in a dispute with or third parties like credit card companies.

On that front, eBay is in the wrong by making it harder to directly and immediately reach a customer service rep. At the same time, it’s also true that nearly any issue on eBay can be at least as competently resolved using the methods above.

In many cases, the outcomes are probably better for all involved without both parties having to talk a customer service rep’s ear off. In that sense, at least, eBay may be right—though it’s likely to continue to lose them points with buyers and sellers alike.