Automatic Unpaid Item Strike on eBay – a True Story

You may not be aware but eBay’s new Unpaid Item Assistant is up and running.

If you’ve got the Unpaid Item Assistant turned on, are you sure you’re using the correct settings? With the options of 4, 8, 16, 24 or 32 days before cases are automatically opened, is it more important for you to get cases opened and closed as quickly as possible, or would you rather give buyers longer to pay?

I had a real life example of this in action recently. A member of our staff bought an item on eBay but didn’t notice that they weren’t signed into eBay under their own eBay ID. In fact they bought the item when signed in under our company eBay ID. As far as the seller was concerned, the buyer was our company eBay ID.

The member of staff then logged in under their own eBay ID and bought the item (again). They emailed the seller and explained the situation. The seller said they would sort it.

We (the company) then received an Unpaid Item email from eBay about this item. We (the company) contacted the seller by phone and email and explained to them (again) what had happened asking them to cancel the transaction.

Then we received another automated email from eBay saying this was an unpaid item and we had 3 days to pay!

We spoke to eBay Customer Service and explained the situation. They said that only the seller could resolve this by cancelling the transaction. We said we knew that, but the seller didn’t appear to be co-operating.

We contacted the seller yet again, told them what eBay had said and the seller said they knew they had to get this sorted (i.e. cancel the transaction) and that they would do so.

Today, we received an Unpaid Item Hit! Our eBay company ID (which is a Gold PowerSeller and Top Rated Seller account) will now be penalised in eBay searches.

The moral here is that if you are a seller, it is recommended that you check whether you have the automated Unpaid Item Assistant set to “on”. If you have, there is zero flexibility in how your customers are being handled by eBay’s rather harsh emails. For example, the default is that this process is begun four days after your buyer’s purchase. If they happen to go on holiday for a few days or a week – tough!

You can find the unpaid the status of your unpaid item assistant under My eBay/Account/Site Preferences/Unpaid Item Assistant.


We again spoke to eBay Customer Service. This time the person on the other end of the phone was a little more sympathetic. They reviewed what had happened and, because this was our first Unpaid Item and we could prove we had tried on numerous occasions to get the seller to resolve this, she would remove the strike. Hurrah!!

She said that they had some discretion when the first Unpaid Item Hit occurred on an account, but she warned that they couldn’t do anything about second and subsequent Hits.



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