Seller Tips: What to Do When You Can’t Complete an Ebay Sale


This past week, I’ve had an unusually high number of dud sales that were totally my fault. I sold an item, got it out to ship, and found some awful defect that I hadn’t mentioned in the listing. One was a denim dress that I was really excited to sell. I was going to make $30 off of it! I don’t know how I missed the six (!!!) faint yellow stains on the front of the dress. Then there was a pair of pink Timberland boots–the sole was totally coming off one shoe! When you deal in used clothes, it’s inevitable that there will be some wear and tear. But I could have avoided both of these problems by inspecting my inventory more thoroughly.

So what do you do when you can’t complete a sale?

Step One–Message the buyer explaining the problem in a polite, concise manner: “I’m so sorry. When I started to ship this item this morning I noticed a defect. Would you like me to send it anyway or cancel?” You can attach a photo of the problem to your message.

Step Two–After the buyer responds, work with them. Occasionally the buyer will want the item anyhow, or want a discount. Come up with a mutually agreeable solution.

Step Three–Follow through with that agreement. If that means cancelling, choose the option “Buyer asked to cancel the sale or there was a problem with the buyer’s address”. The other cancellation option can negatively effect your seller account. Double check to make sure the refund is processed right away. If you’ve agreed to ship the item anyhow, don’t wait! Get it packaged and labeled as soon as possible.

I’ve also had to cancel sales because:

  • The buyer asked me to
  • The item was accidentally listed as buy-it-now at a ridiculously low price
  • I lost an item in my inventory
  • The buyer made unreasonable demands

The vast majority of the time, buyers will not object to a cancellation with immediate refund, even if it’s your fault. However, if they don’t cooperate, you can ask Ebay to step in and help.┬áBut for the most part, it’s easier to deal directly with the buyer. If the worse case scenario happens and the buyer leaves you negative feedback, contact Ebay customer service and see if there are grounds to have that feedback removed.

Have you ever had to cancel a sale? Comment below!