There are millions of sales on eBay every year, and the vast majority of these take place without any problems whatsoever. However, there are occasions where things don’t go quite as planned.

For the thousands of successful transactions, there is the odd one where the buyer doesn’t receive their package.

If you get an e-mail from your buyer saying the item they bought hasn’t arrived yet, here are some tips on how to deal with the situation.

When you add a listing to eBay, you tell them how long it will take you to get the item ready to ship, as well as the service you are using. From this, eBay has a good idea of when the buyer should receive their package.

Once your listing has ended and the buyer has paid for the item, the confirmation e-mail that comes from eBay gives them details of their expected delivery date.

Some buyers may have missed this information, in the e-mail and the listing, so you might just need to reply and politely point this out to them if they start chasing you too soon.

If the customer still hasn’t received their package after the estimated delivery date, you are going to need to look into this for them. 3 days after the expected delivery date, or 7 days after they paid (if no expected delivery date was given), the customer can open an Item Not Received claim with eBay, who will then step in to try and sort things out.

Whilst not necessarily a bad thing, if you can sort out the buyer’s missing item before they involve eBay, it’s always better.

When an item doesn’t arrive, there are a number of things that might have happened.

First of all, check the basics – you should have sent the package to the address that eBay provided, so make sure this is where the customer is expecting to receive it.

If all the delivery information was correct, it’s likely that the package has either been delayed or has gone missing, or the buyer has in fact received the item and is either mistaken, or possibly trying to con you.

When a package has been delayed, or gone missing, and you are selling on eBay as a business, it is generally your responsibility to sort the problem out.

If you got a tracking number when you sent the item, check it with the shipping company, and see what they say.

If the item has been delayed, but you dispatched it within the turnaround time you specified, it’s acceptable to ask the buyer to wait a little longer – giving them any delivery information you were able to get from the shipping company.

If the item has been lost, you will need to try and resolve the issue with the shipping company, but you will have to make everything right with the buyer in the meantime.

Your two options are; to send the buyer another item free of charge, or to give them a full refund of the money they paid. Ask the buyer which they would prefer and make sure you deal with it promptly.

Buyers will be disappointed, but if you resolve the situation quickly, and keep them informed of what’s going on, you are less likely to lose a future customer.

If the item was insured with the shipping company, you can then deal with them to get back the cost of the item that was lost – you might also be able to get your shipping costs back, or a credit to use in the future.

If the tracking information says that the item has been delivered, it could be that there has been or mix up at the buyers end, or worse still, that they are trying to get you to give them another item or refund, when they already have the original.

Whilst this is rare, in cases where the buyer and seller are in dispute over the delivery, eBay is likely to get involved – either by the buyer opening a case with them, or you asking for help from Customer Support.

If you have followed eBay’s guidelines, you shouldn’t have to refund or replace the item. You’ll need to be able to provide eBay with tracking information that shows the package as delivered, with the delivery date.

It should have been sent to the address that eBay provide in the order confirmation, and if it was worth more than $250, it needs to have the recipient’s signature.

If eBay is handling the issue, and you can’t provide the delivery information, they are going to require you to refund or replace the item, and will follow up to make sure this happens (even taking the refund out of your PayPal account if necessary).

However, if you can prove delivery as above, you shouldn’t have a problem, and should also be covered under the eBay Seller Protection scheme.

With this in mind, prevention is often better than the cure, so always make sure you follow eBay’s guidelines for shipping and track, and insure if necessary, all of your customers packages.