How to Manage Alternative Shipping Requests on eBay

Nothing is fishier than someone asking to ship an item to a different address post-sale. I recently received such a request.  I’m happy to report that my experience was indeed a legitimate one, but I learned a lot about what to do and how to communicate a solution with the customer.  This is what I learned…

eBay recommends that a seller avoid shipping to addresses not registered with the account. You will also lose PayPal Seller Protection if you ship to a non-verified address or one not on the packing slip. If the buyer has not yet paid, they can change their address at checkout and your problem is solved. However, if they’ve already paid, the best solution I found was to cancel the transaction, refund the money and relist the item for the customer to re-purchase with the new designated shipping address. Of course, this only works if you have an agreeable buyer.

  • Step 1. Communicate your position with the buyer and offer a solution. This is the email I sent:

  • Step 2. If the buyer agrees, communicate your next steps (e.g. I’ll set this in motion immediately. Expect to receive a confirmation of cancellation and refund from eBay). Login to eBay and Cancel the order. Be sure to choose “Buyer request or problem with address” as your reason for cancellation. Doing so avoids any defects for the seller and buyer. If you just refund the money without first canceling, it could be counted against you. Read more on how to Cancel here.
  • Step 3. Once the transaction has been cancelled, you can relist. My listing was an auction, so I set it up the same way and added a “Buy It Now” price that matched the final winning bid. Be sure to email the buyer with the link to the new listing.
  • Step 4. Buyer clicks Buy It Now, pays and upon checkout, selects CHANGE when the default SHIP TO address is displayed.

Voila! The solution accommodates the buyer while still protecting the seller in case the request is indeed fraudulent. My buyer was super happy and repurchased right away as agreed. Her response:

This was definitely an exercise in customer service. If, instead, I had just told them it was against my policy to ship to a different address, I may not have lost the sale, but I could have lost any good will and risked negative feedback.  By all means, protect yourself, but don’t assume the request is fraudulent and do your best to accommodate the customer.

Jodi Gaines Pereira

Jodi Gaines Pereira is the co-founder of ReplyManager, a web-based tool designed to help online sellers manage their incoming customer communications. She served as CEO and blog editor until it's sale to XSellco. She is also a founding partner of iguanafarmGroup, a product development and engineering company. Jodi is a frequent contributor to online publications such as Tamebay and WebRetailer and often speaks about customer experience and marketing within the eCommerce community and is an accomplished singer / songwriter.

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2 Responses

  1. Hey Jodi,

    Another great article, I agree that service is major part in standing out from the crowd with other online sellers. (combined with great prices and delivery options).

    I think eBay and Amazon sellers who are trying to build a brand away from the marketplaces need to focus on the whole customer journey and this is one major part of it.

    Can’t wait to read more!

    All the best,
    Charlie McBroom
    Fitted Commerce

    • Agreed Charlie (and thanks). Today, we as consumers, have so many choices when it comes to where to buy. When sellers combine good service with quality, competitive pricing and prompt shipping, they build a reputation that extends beyond just simple customer service. I’ve always believed that customer service and marketing strategies should be created and implemented in conjunction with each other.

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