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What do I do if a buyer says the item didn't arrive?

This can be difficult to handle correctly. We believe that the majority of eBay buyers are genuine and honest, but there are always some who are out to scam you - it's the way the world is, sadly. If you're a business seller, then you are legally obliged to get the goods to your buyer within 30 days of purchase. First of all, can you prove it's been delivered? Was it sent by trackable means such as courier or a Royal Mail Signed For service? If so, and you have proof that it's been signed for, contact your buyer and ask them if there's been a mistake, give them a chance to 'change their mind' before you accuse them of trying to mislead you. You can also log in to your paypal account (if it was paid for with paypal), go to the transaction in question, and add the tracking details. This will help if your buyer starts a dispute through paypal. If your buyer is adamant that they've not received it, but you have a signature, then it's probably best to contact the courier or Royal Mail to investigate.

If the item was sent by normal post without tracking, then in most cases you will just have to take the buyer's word for it. If you're suspicious, you could try a little pressure along the lines of 'We're sorry you haven't received your item, we will contact Royal Mail who will investigate the matter and may contact you to establish whether the item has been delivered, please co-operate with their investigation'. This may be enough to put off casual scammers, and genuine buyers shouldn't have any reason to not co-operate. I tried this once and the parcel miraculously turned up within minutes of me sending the email.

Ultimately, if the buyer claims he hasn't received the item, and you can't prove that he has, then (if you're a business seller) you have to either replace the item or refund their money. If you replace it, it's worth paying the extra 75p to send it by Recorded Signed For. If you have a certificate of postage, it's always good to claim for the loss, you may not get compensation, but at least it will go on record in case the buyer claims non-receipt frequently.

Sometimes a buyer won't contact you, but will file a claim with paypal for an Item Not Received (INR). If you can't prove receipt by providing an electronic signature, then it's almost certain that the buyer will win. Paypal limit the number of times that a buyer can claim INR so they can't continually get goods for free. Once it goes to a paypal claim, you have two options, give the buyer a refund, or escalate it. Be aware that if you escalate it, and paypal decide in the buyer's favour, then they will charge you around £7 as an 'admin fee'. If you have 'paypal preferred' in your listings, this fee should be waived, but there are cases where it hasn't, so be careful.

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