Creating Terms of Sale

In addition to your description, you will want to take some time to create specific terms of sale for your auctions. While the vast majority of the buyers are reliable, there will come a time when you run across someone who isn’t. Although it seems that certain auction items attract more deadbeat bidders than others (for some reason, I have the most trouble when selling music CDs), clearly spelling out the terms of sale in your auction listing will go a long way to reducing the number problems no matter what you sell.

Your basic terms should list the types of payments that you accept and which types you don’t if appropriate. It is also important to make clear the number of days the person has to pay for the item once the auction ends. 10 days seems to be a reasonable amount of time and the time many sellers use, although you should choose what you feel is best for you. Your terms of sale should also state if insurance is required for the package, or if it is optional. It is also a good idea to let the buyer know whether you will contact them after the auction ends or if you expect them to contact you. The clearer you make your expectations, the less likely that you will run into problems.

Be sure to mention somewhere in your terms of sale that you follow the eBay non-paying bidder rules and will file a non-bidding payer report if payment is not received within the designated time you have written. Also, note that you will leave appropriate feedback to those who do not pay in a timely manner. If you make clear that you will leave negative feedback, it will make a person think twice before placing a bid.

One general area that some sellers have problems with are “newbies” to eBay. While most of the new people do not cause any problems, there seems to be a disproportionate amount of trouble with users who are not yet familiar with the way online auctions work. If you find that you are having problems with new bidders, you may want to mention that bidders with less than 5 reputation points or with more than a certain number of negative feedback comments must contact you before placing a bid. If they don’t, you can state that you will cancel their bid.

If you are willing to combine items to save the buyer money in shipping charges, make a cut off date of 7 days or so after the first item is purchased on the future bids. If the buyer wants to buy more items beyond that date, request a payment for the items they have already purchased without including shipping while you hold their items. The longer you hold items without receiving payment, the less likely you will receive payment for them at all.

While you are creating these terms to make your auctions run smoothly, don’t forget to be flexible. Unexpected events and unintentional mistakes do happen and take those into consideration. As you begin selling more items, you will probably want to take a look at your terms again and update them to reflect new issues that have come to light that need to be spelled out. Reviewing your terms every few months will go a long way in keeping buyer problems to a minimum and will save you a lot of grief in the long run.