How eBay resolves disputes

Is the customer always right? It's an interesting question when you're talking about something like eBay. Both buyers and sellers are essentially customers to the online auction and shopping giant, but when one of each is involved in a dispute, with whom does eBay side?
In short, it depends on the case at hand. Some are open and shut cases - such as if a buyer hasn't received an item. This is thanks to eBay's investment in technology, which allows sellers to have tracking and, if so, for the technology to determine whether or not an item was sent. On the other side, if a seller hasn't received payment, this can also be confirmed by the tech. Then there are trickier situations which require human intervention - such as an appeal from the buyer regarding product quality. 
Being the formative buying and selling environment that it is, eBay has methods in place for resolving disputes quickly and effectively. Let's have a look at how this is done, and how you could prevent your eBay interactions from ever getting that far. 

The resolution centre

The first port of call for eBay's resolution centre is to try and get in touch with the other involved member. There might be a legitimate reason as to why the seller hasn't been able to send the item, or why the buyer hasn't yet sent payment. A polite email should be your first action - it's what eBay requests, naturally - and you should give a reasonable amount of time for the person to respond.
If you still have no luck, you then file your dispute with eBay. For sellers, you'll have the options 'I haven't received my payment yet' and 'I need to cancel a transaction'. For buyers, the options are 'I haven't received it yet' and 'I received an item that does not match the seller's description'. In this case it's eBay that contacts the other involved member - be it the buyer or seller. How it goes after this depends on the people involved, but rest assured eBay will be doing everything in its power to settle the case fairly.
Of course, you'd hope that your eBay dealings never get to this point. eBay is set up in a way which should result in everyone being happy at the end of the day, so here's how sellers can ensure they don't have the hassle of a dispute process.

How can eBay sellers avoid disputes?

Whether you sell on eBay as a business or you're just shifting a one-off unwanted item, as a seller you should always strive to be prompt and polite. This means responding to any questions kindly and shipping the item in a timely fashion, in line with what was stated on the product page. Consider packaging quality and ensure you've labelled the parcel securely. It can result in positive feedback, making it easy for people to trust you in the future.
However, you shouldn't be shipping unless proper precautions have been made. You should never ship anything without a Delivery Confirmation or Tracking number. Not only does this reduce stress for you, but you will be required to submit it if the buyer files a dispute or claim against you. You can also scan a copy of the shipping label receipt, should you need to send it to the buyer at a future date.
Ultimately, eBay provides so much opportunity for sellers to give as much information as possible about the product they're selling. Be as accurate as you can; you're only asking for trouble if you start fibbing about the condition of a t-shirt, only for it to turn up stretched and with a hole on the sleeve.
The rest is down to you. Selling on eBay can be enjoyable and pain-free, as long you're smart about it. Ensure you're open and communicative, realistic and honest, and you can avoid disputes entirely.

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