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A Quick Guide to eBay Seller Protection

Published at Oct 22, 2015.

It’s commonly believed that eBay seller protection is nonexistent. That’s not true. While buyers get the better end of the bargain, eBay has several policies in place to protect sellers.

Understanding these policies is as important to being a seller as knowing your rights is to being a citizen. Of course, reading through all that legalese can leave your mind completely numb. We assembled this quick guide so you could learn how seller protection works without falling asleep on your keyboard.

What eBay Seller Protection Will Defend You From

1. Returns Abuse

The problem: Some buyers game the system to get a full refund when they shouldn’t.

Abusive Buyer on eBay

We know what you're up to, Randy.

The protection: If the buyer doesn’t return the item exactly as they received it, or if they lie about the item not being as described when it actually was, then you are not required to give them a refund. However, you may need to prove that you’re in the right by showing eBay that your listing was accurate.

2. The eBay Money Back Guarantee

The problem: If customers don’t feel like you are resolving a problem, they can ask eBay to make you give their money back.

The protection: You will not need to provide a refund if you can prove you held up your end of the bargain. This includes:

  • When a buyer says they did not receive the item, but you completed all tracking requirements and your courier shows the item as delivered.
  • When a buyer tries to return an item even though they received it exactly as described and shown in your listing.

eBay automatically closes Money Back Guarantee cases if the customer resorts to a chargeback or PayPal Purchase Protection. Thanks to that, you won’t end up refunding someone twice. If a customer still tries one of those after you’ve already provided a refund, you can place an appeal with eBay.

3. Transaction Defects

The problem: One of the worst things that can happen to a seller is having a transaction marked as defective. This happens when you get poor feedback or fail to deliver the item as promised.

Once you get a transaction defect rate above 2%, you can’t be a Top Rated Seller. You’ll also fall below the minimum standards if it rises over 5%.

The protection: You can defend yourself from certain forms of negative feedback by completing the requirements for automatic five-star ratings. Consistently meeting these requirements is the most certain way to keep your defect rate down.

Additionally, eBay knows that some buyers are just crazy. Defect rates won’t affect your Top Rated Seller status unless five or more buyers mark a transaction as defective. At least eight buyers will need to do so to put you at risk of falling below the minimum standards.

This layer of protection saves you from getting clobbered if you get a couple defects in your first handful of sales. It also means you won’t fall below any standards just because of one or two unfair buyers.

4. Buyers Who Don’t Pay

eBay Seller Protection: Security for Your Business

eBay isn't afraid to kick the lowlifes out of the club when they cause too many problems.

The problem: Some buyers will order something or win it in an auction, then neglect to complete the payment. One rare breed of jerk will do this and then post negative feedback on your profile.

The protection: eBay removes any feedback posted by buyers who haven’t paid. You can also report an unpaid item. If the buyer doesn’t pay you afterwards, you can get back any fees you paid to eBay for making the sale.

Additional Reading

Please note that eBay’s policies may change over time, and this post is just designed to give you a quick overview of how they work. You can review the full eBay seller protection policy here.


While eBay may offer more protection to its buyers than its sellers, you’re far from defenseless. Know when you’re protected and don’t be afraid to ask eBay for help with an abusive buyer. Other sellers—and your bottom line—will thank you for it.

Looking to get a better idea of how eBay seller protection works and why it’s important? See "A Quick Guide to eBay Returns for Sellers" or "How to Get a Great eBay Feedback Score."

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