Six Seller-Antagonizing Behaviors to Avoid

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As an eBay shopper, you want your seller(s) to be in your court, to be on your side. After all, if anything goes wrong and you need to return your item, your seller will be the partner that you'll need to work with through the regrettable return/exchange process. Similarly, if you have questions about your item or need technical support after the fact, you'll probably want your seller to be accessible and open to communicating with you. In short, it's bad to alienate your seller before your purchase has even arrived.

Most sellers feel and act positively toward their buyers naturally, desiring to offer good customer service and to maintain strong feedback profiles and detailed seller ratings in the interest of the future health of their businesses.

There are things, however, that some shoppers do that can easily antagonize otherwise conscientious sellers, and that makes them dread hearing from you—a position you don't want to be in, even if your seller remains professional throughout the buying process. Ask yourself if any of the following behaviors sound like you—and if they do, consider changing them.

Making Lots of Demands at Shipment Time

Sellers generally spell out the guaranteed details about order fulfillment in their listings—things like shipment method and handling times, and so on. It's understandable that buyers sometimes would like to have particular things happen during fulfillment—the use of a particular packaging material or shipment method, for example, or the inclusion of certain accessories. The right time to add such things to your order, however, is before you make your purchase—by asking questions of your seller and getting them to agree beforehand.

Nothing antagonizes a seller more than a message received after payment that spells out dozens of "please make sure that you" items that they didn't offer in their listing and don't normally provide. For example, don't do this once you've already paid or as you make payment on the PayPal form:​

Please make sure that you ship USPS rather than UPS as you've specified, as UPS is unreliable at our address, and make sure that you use the slim flat rate box rather than the square one because the square one doesn't fit in our bin, and make sure that you include all of the original labels, still attached by their plastic connectors, not floating separately in the box, and make sure that you email me about the expected delivery date once the tracking information is in the system. And finally, please make sure that you use rice-based peanuts and not the styrofoam ones, as we are an ecologically conscious household and cannot accept packaging materials that aren't environmentally sound. Thanks!

Most sellers will be somewhat willing to work with you on these kinds of details if you inquire beforehand, but sending them along only once you've already paid via PayPal is a sure way to end up with a seller that wants nothing more than to see the back of you, and that talks about you (and not in a good way) to their seller friends.

Asking About the Status of Your Shipment

Most sellers specify handling times in their item listings and stick to them rather well, and most sellers these days also use shipment methods for which tracking information is regularly available. There are few things as irritating to a seller as the adult equivalent of the "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" question, coming from impatient shoppers that either haven't read or are ignoring listing details.

If the seller has specified a 2-day handling time, don't bother to email them after the first day and ask whether they've shipped yet (or worse, why they haven't shipped yet), and if your purchase shows a tracking number if your My eBay area, don't email the seller and ask them to look up tracking details for you. This shows a lack of courtesy and respect for sellers' time and lives that will put them distinctly on edge.

Whatever you do, don't email a seller immediately after you've paid and asked when they expect to ship, without even giving them time to find out that you have, indeed, completed your purchase. They expect to ship in the time frames they've spelled out in their listing—and asking them to take the time to remind you of this takes time away from their ability to get your purchase out the door.

Communicating in Ungrammatical or Unintelligible Ways

Not everyone is a born writer. Sellers get that. But when you contact a seller, the seller assumes that you have a concern and that in the interest of a smooth and positive transaction for all, they need to address that concern. This becomes a difficult and time-consuming task, and one can be almost impossible to complete if your seller can't make heads or tails of your message and can't begin to fathom what your problem is or precisely what you're asking after reading your message.

If you have the tendency to ramble in messages or to skimp on the punctuation, use social media spellings, and so on, consciously put these tendencies away when you contact your seller. Treat your message like homework and work hard to begin with a thesis statement that clearly outlines your problem in the fewest number of words possible, and to use complete sentences and correct capitalization and punctuation—even if it's difficult for you to do. Avoid at all costs sending messages like this:

bruh dont see it been days u got the number pls o wait mailman here now got it hey no accs what gives need to charge what now pls advise asap

When a seller sees something like this in their messages, or alternatively when they're faced with a long narrative history of your life and your grandma's love of their products, they're as likely as not to simply throw their hands up and ignore whatever it is you're trying to say.

Asking for Unreasonable Amounts of Support

Sellers are generally happy to answer basic questions about their items if they have the time to do so—they want you to be a satisfied customer, after all—but there's a difference between basic questions that help to smooth a purchase and detailed questions that are really about a shopper's lack of knowledge or expertise. Sellers are in the business of selling things; generally speaking, they're not manufacturers or trainers or technical support specialists, and they may or may not be able to answer your advanced questions about an item. More to the point, while they're happy to answer simple questions that follow logically from your purchase they're far less happy to answer questions that they have no business being asked in the first place:

I want to use this tool to remodel my den, can you give me a quick step-by-step tutorial how to replace carpets with it? I've never done it before.


Got the phone, now can you please tell me how to input my carrier settings? I'm on MetroPCS in Salt Lake City. Also, can you advise about how to move installed apps to the SD card, and how to set Google Hangouts as my default SMS app?

Answer questions like these by visiting a library, calling the manufacturer, or visiting online forums where others like you are sharing their experience and expertise.

Not Taking Delivery of Your Purchase

Sure, it's a busy world, many people work, many people live in apartments where delivery isn't easy and so on. Sellers get that. But you did, in fact, make a purchase and the seller did, in fact, fulfill it.

For sellers, few things are as frustrating as quickly fulfilling a purchase only to watch the tracking information and see that the item reached your neighborhood, survived multiple delivery attempts, languished at the local office for days, and then was returned to them. Just about the only thing more frustrating than this is the message from the shopper that invariably follows, asking for reshipment on the seller's time—presumably to do it all over again.

If you're in a situation that makes delivery difficult or that requires special plans or considerations, as your seller before you make your purchase if they can make the special accommodations that you need, then supply these clearly so that the seller can get your item to you. Or make arrangements with a friend, a neighbor, or your local delivery office or carrier to ensure that the package gets to you despite complications. The seller's job is to get the item sent, in good condition and well-packaged, to your address. Contrary to what some shoppers think, the seller's job is not to actually go the extra mile (or four) to ensure that the purchase makes its way into your hands despite multiple obstacles and complications.

Asking for delivery to unverified addresses

Sellers get that life is complicated and over the course of a buyer's life, they're likely to be at more than one address from time to time. There's a reason why verified addresses are just that—verified. It helps to reduce fraud, which makes it possible for sellers to be in business in the first place.

When you're going to be at your mom's house for a week, or on vacation in Maine, or out of town with your neighbor receiving your mail, it's not that sellers don't understand these things—it's that they still need to ship to your verified address in order to protect themselves and their businesses.

Most sellers that you should consider doing business with are precisely the kinds of sellers that won't be willing to ship to an unverified address. So if you're going to be at mom's house, send mom the money and have her make the purchase and take delivery for you. If you're going to be at your vacation home in Maine, add it to your list of verified addresses. If you're going to be out of town, provide your neighbor with the tracking information for your package and have them come and collect the box once it arrives at your doorstep, or if no other solutions are possible, wait and make your purchase when it can simply be shipped properly—to your existing verified address.

Your seller is your first point of contact for your purchase, so it's understandable that you'd want to save time by getting as much help and information from your seller as possible, but realize that there's a difference between asking for good customer service on the one hand and simply being lazy or entitled as a shopper on the other. Respect your seller's time and think carefully about the extra demands that you place on them—because if anything goes wrong in the transaction, you want your seller to be on your side, going the extra mile to make things right, not rolling their eyes at having to hear from you again.