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eBay Survey Sparks Immediate Payment Debate

Sellers sound off on pros and cons of requiring buyers to pay instantly.

eBay is gauging sellers’ attitudes toward making immediate payment a requirement for some fixed-price and auction listings.

According a survey it recently sent to customers, eBay is considering whether to require immediate payment on all fixed-price listings that state shipping costs upfront and offer an instant payment method like PayPal, and for auctions that get winning bids from shoppers who have signed a one-time billing agreement that would allow eBay to automatically collect payments at the end of the auction.

In the survey, eBay asks sellers how interested they would be in such a feature, and how many times in the past six months a buyer has bought an item and not paid for it. However, sellers disagree on whether such a requirement would be a good or bad idea.

Rebecca Miller, an eBay seller of more than 12 years, says requiring immediate payment makes sense.

“Why shouldn’t a buyer pay immediately after they win something?” she asks. “They obviously wanted the item. Why not move the process along—and get it into their hands—as quickly as possible?

“I agree that eBay has never addressed the nonpaying bidders properly… which is why I’d want this implemented and tried”

“Businesses need that cash flow to stay in business!” she continues. “If someone doesn’t want to pay for an item right away, then maybe they shouldn’t bid on auctions, and should just look for items with a Buy It Now option when they are ready to buy.”

Other sellers aren’t so sure the requirement would help solve the problem of deadbeat buyers.

“I just wish eBay would address the problem buyers only,” writes a seller who goes by thebuybox2011, in an eBay forum discussing the survey. “Make them put up payment info after they have proven they will be a hard payer. Let those who pay go about their business.”

Another merchant, known as gopetersen, notes he avoids listings that require instant payments. However, a few sellers, like rrr555, agree with Miller.

“[I] agree that eBay has never addressed the nonpaying bidders properly… which is why I’d want this implemented and tried,” the seller writes on the thread. “I might be wrong, but, to me, this is the perfect solution. I don’t know how many good buyers would quit over this, but there is one thing that I’d be sure of: The buyers who stiff or are very slow to pay would really hate this policy idea. And that reason alone would be good enough for me to try it.”

Currently, sellers can choose to require immediate payment on fixed-price listings and auctions that have the Buy It Now option for no additional fee, eBay notes. With this option, sellers can require immediate payment be made through PayPal before a listing can officially end, eBay notes.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • When I filled out the survey, I expressed that there was a problem with shipping calculation for many items. In audio equipment, normally when speakers are sold – they are boxed individually. eBay has never provided actual shipping calculation for transaction when more than a single box is needed… the buyer needs to wait for a invoice from the seller. 

    Also I’ve had buyers purchase multiple items that were not the same – yet could be combined at a significant savings. Then I find myself issuing a partial refund on shipping. Of course eBay still collects fees on the original shipping amount that was charged. 

    While I prefer immediate payment, eBay needs to address the multiple package transaction and work around combined shipping for those of us who try to be fair to the buyer. 

    • Diane M.

      As an eBay seller for over 12 years, I’ve always required payment within 7 days and I RARELY have a buyer not pay. I believe in my 7-day “grace period”. I think it actually HELPS my sales and buyers appreciate it, because they can bid now, and pay me when their money reaches Paypal. BTW, I have almost 16,000 feedback and use both selling formats, as I have an eBay store. And when I buy? Whenever I’ve seen that “instant payment required”, I run! I don’t like it at all.

      • Cooterpond

        As much as I would like to make people pay immediately I think this requirement discourages sales for several reasons.  I know when I see it required on my purchases I react negatively even though I always pay when I purchase a Buy It Now and as soon as I’m notified of an auction win (at least as soon as I see the notice).

      • Mygemvilla

        I agree, Diane – I am also a seller on eBay (with a store) and don’t have a problem waiting a few days for payment and believe required instant payment would hurt my sales.  I think eBay is confusing two separate issues here and should just crack down on buyers with track records of not paying.

  • ex-eBay power seller

    it is a scam in my opinion. eBay requires immediate payment, and you must use PayPal. eBay owns PayPal. eBay gets a fee, PayPal gets a fee. eBay has a lock on the market, when people want to go online to buy something, they go to eBay. Most people never heard about the alternative auction sites.  Non-pay is an issue with me, I have had many non-paying persons, when I complain to eBay, they just say that it is the right of the buyer to decide not to buy. WOW! news to me. I always understood that a bid was a binding contract.

    • Webcave99

       If Ebay charged the non paying bidder for all the seller fees, that would stop pronto.

  • Maggie

    If sellers have problems with non-payers then they already have the option to request immediate payment so I don’t understand why it needs to be imposed by eBay. However in my case I feel it would deter people from buying mulltiple items, as for immediate payment you are presented with a message effectively – although not literally – saying pay for this item now  before returning to the seller’s shop. How many then do return?

    • Laurie

      That was my first reaction also…As a buyer, I often return to check out the Sellers other items before paying for the one I committed to purchase, whether in a BIN or an auction. If the Seller has a lot of other items, I know it may take a while to peruse them, so I always inform the Seller and ask permission to delay payment until I’ve had a chance to “shop.” The Sellers are always appreciative of my informing them and they are happy that I’ve shown interest.

  • Erndogggg

    Well I have been a seller on EBAY since the beginning..99% of buyers are fine..its that 1% that burn you…but like in life in general..that will always be the case…

  • Powerpop18

    So a buyer gets a ‘blemish’ on their record if they fail to complete or pay for a transaction, while the seller waits and waits to get paid or go through the process of re-listing the item again. Big deal! Yes, instant payment should be initiated for buy-it-now items. What resolve does a seller have with a deadbeat bidder? Put them on their blocked buyer list for one. Personally I’d like to wring their neck, but then again I’m a peaceful person/

  • Anonymous

    I think the reason for non-payers has nothing to do with immediate payment or allowing a few days grace period to the buyer.  I think it has more to do with not allowing the seller to leave negative feedback on non-payers.  The buyer knows if they don’t pay you can’t say a thing about it…so “big deal”, right?

    My daughter recently sold an item and the high bidder did not pay.  So she reported non-pay to Ebay and then relisted the item.  The same person bid and was the high bidder AGAIN…and again the buyer did not pay.  My daughter didn’t notice it was the same bidder until the auction ended.  By not allowing negative feedback there is no way future sellers to this person can know they are habitual non-payers.  This bidder was non-pay on the same item twice, yet because of feedback rules, nobody is allowed to know about that bidder. 

    • policeacademygirl2005

      block them immediately~~~

    • Webcave99

       When ever you get a nonpaying bidder, enter them in your banned bidders list. You will never have them as a problem again under that bidder name. Ebay should ban bidders from the site if they get 3 banned none payer strikes. But Ebay won’t, it forgets that sellers make Ebay not buyers, so it bends over for buyers.

    • Cooterpond

      If I have a non-paying bidder I immediately add them to my blocked bidders list.  This prevents the situation your daughter incountered.  It also gives me a sense of satisfaction!

  • Vdamcarpenter

    How in the blazes is instant payment goingto stop a nonpayer ? a non payer is a nonpayer and makes little difference if its 3 days 7 days or a year, There is no way i will stay glued to a computer waiting to see if i am high bidder.then be penalized if I am occupied elsewhere.

  • policeacademygirl2005

    I totally agree.  If an auction is won, it shouldn’t take a few days to get payment to the seller.  I think Pay Immediate should be the way to go for all ebay listings. 

    I have lost about 5 sales within a 2-3 week period–with International buyers who bought from my store but never paid for the merchandise.  I lost the sales because of these dead beats (there may have been someone else looking for the same item that I could have sold the products to!

    Buyers should fully be responsible for paying immediate (whether thru auction/fixed or store listings) and not wait until a few days later and email and say “I never made a  purchase from you.”  which I had one of the dead beats email me.  I informed take if up with ebay.  They purchases/invoices don’t just decide to  pop into any sellers account just out of the blue, without the buyer making the purchases.  How stupid do they think sellers are?  Come on, it’s about time you give sellers the benefit of the doubt and stop giving everything to buyers.  Enough is enough.  I am looking for other online places to sell and moving away from ebay completely!

    • ex-eBay power seller

      spme of us have real jobs and I can be away from the home computer for days at a time.

      • sandy

        if that is the case then dont bid. weve all got real jobs so there is no need for you to waste anyones time

        • james

          Agreed, you had the time to press buy it now/or bid, now pay for it!

  • Clfahey

    Every payment that paypal processes carries a $.30 transaction fee. If a buyer purchases six (6) items from me and and makes one payment then I pay one fee.  Institute the immediate payment policy and now I am charged six (6) paypal transaction fees rather than one (1).  That is more harmful to my bottom line than a non-paying buyer and just makes paypal richer!!!

  • William20042

    Why do eBay and paypal take a % of the overall price, they should not include the postage and packaging in there % ,
    They are seeing the sellars off as normal and increasing there % every time there wont be any money left for the seller soon,
    They are getting now to be named as a RIP OFF LOT

  • Mygemvilla

    I actually wonder if this is more of an issue with attaining greater profitability at PayPal (which is a BIG part of eBay’s profitability).  You see, many of your best buyers on eBay are actually also sellers…if you require immediate payment, it is much harder to constantly clean out your PayPal account into your bank before paying for an item with a credit card. PayPal would much rather avoid credit card fees and have you just pay for the item from your cash in its account. Many of us don’t do this as we pay for each month’s purchases from PREVIOUS month’s sales (and get credit card points to boot). I think this is less about non-paying buyers than it is about PayPal’s costs.

  • Mikejelliott1

    I do not see any need for immediate payment and agree with those who comment on P&P discounts for multiple purchases. As said before the real problem is that ebay does not allow sellers to leave negative feedback for non-payers. It should not be beyond the ability of ebay systems people to allow that to be the only circumstance that sellers could leave negative feedback ( though I think negative feedback should be just as available to sellers as buyers, as it used to be – did ebay ever give valid reasons for this change?).
    I always block such bidders from my future auctions.

  • Brendakgac

    WAIT WAIT WAIT….EVERYONE….Did we forget that  emmediate payment would then make combined shipping impossible…you know if your buyer pays seperate ebay takes a fee of that shipping cost. Since most buyer expects a combined rate even if they pay seperate…in that case as a seller you’d better give them your stated combined shipping rate or it is a ” negative rating for you”…so now when you combine after seperate payments ebay keeps the final value fee of the original shipping amount that the buyer paid…you would think if you gave a partial refund on shipping then ebay would give you a partial refund on fees…but noooooooooo way will they do that…its policy they sayt that they do not. Also the other downside is; YES…we all know ebay owns paypal and we know that paypal charges $0.30 per each transaction no matter the amount…. us sellers would get hit again $0.30 extra in fees… I am sure it would cut down on non payesr but we would loose money on the other ends…Ebay needs to take the reigns on this and penalize the buyer… I had a buyer tell me just last week after I warned them about a non payment strike on ther ebay account response was “I am not going to pay for this item so go ahead and open a unpaid item case…I have had many of these cases and my account has been fine”…how can sellers compete with non payers when there are no consequenses of not payng from ebay…Ebay stop trying to figure out ways to make more money buy wording it as a new tool to help sellers we know the GAME EBAY…They do it every fall and spring update pretending they have the sellers in mind when they just are trying to make more money…just tell us  the truth and enhance the site for both buyers and sellers…we need you and you need us…..

  • Sandy

    If a buyer doesnt pay after 3 days, i block the bidder. i also block bidders for dodgy returns without proper explanation, sending any messages with inane questions, rude or not very polite emails, etc.
    immediate payment is only for buy it now not for auctions. You cant avoid deadbeat bidders, i believe some people just get a kick out of it. i dont send more than one invoice, i dont chase them up. if they dont want to pay there isnt much you can do. By day 3 i have already relisted the item for a higher price and usually get it so im not so worried. it is what it is. i love ebay though!

  • Truthbear

    As a buyer, if I see immediate paymenet required, I go to a differet seller.  The same with those that refuse to ship multiple purchases together but ship each seperately. (I’m a jewelry designer and often buy 25 items from a single seller)
    As a seller, I don’t need instant payment.  Got stiffed once or twice but on the whole everybody pays in a few days.

  • Dianne0480

    I would just like to ask one question. Would ANY of you mail a buyers package to them without receiving their  payment first ?

  • Vintagedizziness

    Immediate payment does not solve the non-payer problem and can create more potential stress on future payment issues for good payers. I have a 4 day payment time, if the buyer needs it. I am usually paid either immediately or within a 12 to 24 hour period. As an eBayer for 5 years (both seller and buyer), I have rarely waited past a 2 to 3 day period to be paid. Some buyers are working with small bidding budgets and may need a day or two to pay. Manual payment gives buyers control over their credit card payments for Buy It Now auctions, which I believe is a smarter way to shop. The automatic payment choice can create more problems for buyers in the long run; ie: spending out of control. 
    It is my understanding that within the last few years non payers are usually those that have bid
    on several items (either similar or different items) and then choose which ones to pay after they won the auctions. They don’t seem to care about any published negative feedback and ignore the eBay rules for non-payment bidders. I feel that non-payers after 2 or 3 non-payments should be banned from bidding forever. It is obvious to me that this kind of non-payer that I’m describing has no respect for the sellers, or for the eBay auction game in general and has absolutely no rights at all to be able to play the auctions with a scam idea in mind of picking and choosing “who does or does not” get paid after winning. 

  • topscout07

    I thought carefully before recently changing my Buy It Nows to immediate payment. However, because I already sell pairs and sets of items (mainly due to Royal Mail small packet fees) I can’t remember the last time a buyer bought more than one lot at a time, so I don’t think it will make any difference to my sales. The change was prompted by a buyer who bagged a newly-listed item at the start of a weekend, then didn’t pay until mid-week. That lot could have been sold to a quick payer (the majority) over the weekend. Although I agree that, when buying, immediate payment is a bit abrupt and I don’t always remember to check the sellers’ other items.

  • Immediate payment will affect my purchases as a stamp buyer. Some stamps have a low value relative to postage cost, and purchase is not viable if they cannot be combined for shipping. Some sellers have a minimum shipping cost of $3 or $4, and more if located overseas. Purchase of items worth as little as $1 or $2 are not worthwhile at these rates. Recently I was charged $35 International Air Express on a small envelope worth $105.

    The solution is to combine several items to reduce average shipping cost. When I buy something, I always look through the seller’s other items list to see what else I can bid on to combine with the order. Even then there is still a risk that you can bid on a number of items, but be outbid on all but a $2 lot and be stuck with $5 postage on it. In the case of buy it now items, I place them in a shopping cart first, add items from the seller’s buy it now list, and then decide if I have enough value to make purchase with combined shipping worthwhile. If not, I will delete the cart. Some sellers specifically ask that you wait for a combined invoice before paying. The seller prefers having to prepare just one invoice and shipment rather than multiple invoices for small amounts.

    I tend to agree that eBay is trying to maximise its own profits rather than help either the seller or the buyer.

  • Ward_geoff

    Ebay alway’s seem’s to favour the buyer/bidder over the seller,and as we all know that in many cases it is the buyer/bidder who is at fault and not the seller.What is unfair in situation’s like this is, that the seller is denied the right to leave negative feedback for the defaulting buyer/bidder who win’s the auction lot.where as the defaulting ebay buyer is only to willing to turn the tables onto the seller and leave them negative feedback without any valid reason to do so ? Here in the U.K. it appear’s that there seem’s to be an un-written code amongst ebay buyer’s & seller’s that it is okay for the winning buyer/ bidder of auction item’s to take upto 7 day’s in time to pay for an item that they bid on in an auction and won. This is totally unacceptable in my eye’s as a seller ?

    I work on the principal that they only default to pay once,and they then immediately go in my blocked bidder list,so that they can never ever do this to me again ?

  • zeroturnzed

    the only option that you have when buying multiple items is the shopping cart  but the shopping cart doesn’t lock the item for you until it is paid for so someone can buy it out from under you while you are making your other selections.

  • Sal

    I sell Edible Images and due to the fact it’s edible I have to pay for special sealed envelopes and special cardboard envelopes to ensure they get to the  buyer successfully, and mot bent or damaged bu USPS.  Lately I have had 3-4 Buyers leave me 1’s & 2’s because they think my shipping/handling is too much. As a seller ebay will do NOTHING to remove these, even if the buyer is wrong. When I called ebay they tell me to incorporate the cost into my listing price, yea sure, that doesn’t work. Plus loose my discount. Am I upset – YES, logical solution???? Incorporating my cost into the price of an edible image is not the solution, as then the image is too costly. It’s a lose lose situation.

  • Bettyand13

    Where is everybody getting this $0.30 from? Paypal transactions are more than that. My paypal transaction fees are like $0.51, $0.91, and $2.08 to give a few examples. I do have none payers and since I have inkfrogs smart counter, I can see when a buyer win an auction and come back to view it. I’ve encountered a problem like [user’s name removed] a few days ago. I don’t know why this person came back and won the same auction again. If eBay knock off bad sellers they should knock off bad buyers. That bidder will be blocked like I had to block a buyer because they said the dress wasn’t yellow and you can clearly see the dress is green and black with white flowers. Then they said they paid to much. I didn’t charge them that $15 because the auction started at $0.99 so they charged themselves. They left positive feedback but a low dsr in item as described. So I wrote them a long bad message about they were blind and if they felt the bidding didn’t fit their finances why did they bid because there were other bidders. Also, they haven’t responded and I’m still waiting because I will have the last word since a count was placed on my performance. They are so blocked!! 

  • buggoffmaf

    I think Ebay should leave it between the seller and the buyer…too many rules have made selling so complicated I have canceled in the middle of a post and put the item on Craigslist where I can decribe the item as is…not as Ebay wants it described

  • James

    you have to pay upfront when you shop in a bricks and mortar store, no 3-5-10 delays. You either pay before you leave, or leave the item on the shelf. Why can’t some buyers understand the same rules apply online. You want it, you have to pay upfront, it really isn’t that hard.

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