eBay Changes Item Not Received Claim Process

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


It appears eBay has made an unannounced change to how Item Not Received cases are being handled.

Previously, if a buyer filed an item not received case and the seller provided tracking with a valid delivery scan, the case would be automatically closed in the sellers favor.

Now it appears eBay puts the seller's funds on hold and provides a 3 day timeframe before the case can be closed.

A seller in the eBay community brought this issue to light with a post about a recent INR case experience.

I had a buyer open a INR case yesterday. This buyer purchased the same item twice, one one day another the following day. Both items were sent via USPS Priority Mail and shows as delivered (first package on 12th, 2nd package on the 14th). Buyer also left feedback for the item opened INR case on as "A+ Seller"....

On the case, buyer says they received one but not the other, they were away, further, say they "don't think they got the other" - again, tracking shows as delivered. I enter the tracking into the case, and explain tracking shows delivered for the item case opened + the 2nd item with tracking # in the comments. These kind of claims were always an open and shut case, tracking shows delivered, case closed in seller favor.

I call ebay and they tell me case can't close, even though they agree ebay will hold my money for 4-5 biz days for the case to close. Kinda absurd for INR case where the tracking is proof buyer received the item(s).

tyler@ebay velvet@ebay why exactly can ebay not close this case and they hold my money for 4-5 days + another day to re-process those funds + another day to be paid out = A week - for a INR case where the tracking clearly shows as delivered + buyer feedback.

This topic clearly hit a nerve in the seller community and it's worth reading the entire 120+ post thread.

Most troubling to me is the fact that apparently there was a change to how these cases are handled "sometime in the last few months" and even eBay staff were unaware of it.

The first answer from velvet@ebay indicated the timeframe for closing these claims was 24 hours.

While we can't necessarily speak to the why behind this process, we can help to clarify how it works. When you ship with tracking and it updates as delivered on our end, we allow the buyer 24 hours to contact us about any shipping issues. After that point, the case will close automatically and any funds that were on hold will release to you. We’ll also remove negative or neutral feedback if you met your handle-by date or the item was delivered on or before Estimated Delivery Date.

There is no option to escalate for an early closure though, as we do need to wait those 24 hours to ensure there are no immediate concerns with the delivery. As for the payout timeframe, that process follows the normal payments procedure which can be reviewed here. Thanks!

The original poster responded

...velvet@ebay however saying that the case would close in 24 hrs and the funds released. This instantly tells me that there is some kind of miscommunication happening within ebay currently due to either a policy change that was made to have the "system" handle the claim and that is set to a waiting time of 4-5 business days... reps told me that on Sep 2nd I could ask ebay to step in and then likely take another 24-78 hrs for ebay to "review" and close a case.

This is the problem. Because the time between case opened to case closed for a INR case where tracking verifies delivery is being handled in a way as INR where a package never arrived to buyer... allowing time for both seller and buyer to work out a resolve, if none is found then after the 4-5 business day seller can ask ebay to step in for resolve. These two INR case types are completely different and should be handled completely different, but someone within ebay decided to have them treated and handled the exact same way

In the mist of this, ebay seems to have made this change out of the blue very recently and seems purposely kept the information of the change away from sellers. No where, not anywhere is this policy change mentioned and no announcement was made to inform anyone. And seems, even ebay community employees don't even know what is going on, according to velvet@ebay answer today.

Another seller also gave an example of an INR case they had which stayed open for 21 days. Velvet@ebay did a little more digging and came back with a different answer. (emphasis mine)

At the longest you should only have to wait the regular three business days to escalate. If this happens again and you don't see the option after three business days then I'd encourage you to contact Customer Support for assistance in getting the claim closed. While it can't be escalated and closed early, after that three business day timeframe a teammate can go in and get it closed for you.

I did a deep dive though and I believe you are right in that it's just the three day timeframe now and not typically the case that a claim will close within 24-hours of delivery. It's looking like this changed within the last few months. I'll have this looked into further as we don't want to give out info that is no longer accurate. We also don't want you waiting upwards of 21-days to have a claim close and your funds release though, so be sure you're contacting Customer Support after that three business day timeframe to get a claim escalated and closed when the option to do so isn't there on day four for some reason.

There was also some discussion about how accurate the "3 day timeframe" is.  For one thing, it is business days which do not include weekends or holidays.  But a further explanation from velvet@ebay revealed the case isn't actually eligible to be closed until the 4th business day.

It looks like the 27th was Friday, so we wouldn't count the weekend given it goes off business days, not calendar days. That means three full business days from August 27th (August 30th, 31st, and September 1st) is September 2nd.

That means if the timeframe includes a weekend, it could potentially mean a 5-7 calendar day hold on the seller's funds.

Many sellers expressed concerns that it seems eBay is using a "one size fits all" policy here and could be catering too much to side of buyers or forcing sellers to go above and beyond the requirements of stated policies.

velvet@ebay thanks for reply (again) but can I suggest bring to attention of ebay that while the timeframe they are trying to make "universal" for all cases, all cases are not the same and should not be handled the same. INR case where the tracking shows delivered should not be taking 3-4-5 whatever business days for case to close, 24 hrs tops is all ebay should need to verify tracking and then close the case and return funds to MP processing. There is a BIG DIFFERENCE in INR where tracking confirms package delivery and INR where package never arrived, why ebay decided to treat the two differences the same is beyond everyone here.

This process for INR cases where tracking confirms item was delivered should be closed IMMEDIATELY, not 24 hrs, not 4-5 biz days, but immediately. Tracking is the confirmation, that is the policy, it is still the policy, and taking the ability for reps to close these type of cases away is absurd.

No reason for Ebay to hold sellers money in hostage by holding cases open that have no grounds for any holds or any argument what so ever by ebay or buyer. Again, the item was delivered, the tracking confirms it, the buyers feedback on the item confirms it. Ebay taking any stance against a carriers tracking confirmation needs to cease, the policy needs to change and the "system" needs to be updated to auto check and auto close these cases when tracking confirms delivery. This is already in use by ebay on the orders page, system checks and marks deliveries, it states next to each order "Shipped xx/xx" or "Delivered xx/xx" that same coding can be applied to INR cases and they can be programed to auto close and return funds to sellers MP if tracking stats "Delivered".

As additional side notes for ebay to think about... Anything beyond tracking confirmation for IRN case is not the sellers responsibility nor is it ebays, or right to say other wise.

Tbh, I don’t see the need for buyer/seller to communicate within the INR case messages after tracking shows delivered. By policy sellers are 100% covered. Automatically close the case in sellers favor and allow the seller/buyer to communicate thru EBAY MESSAGES. That’s how I’ve always tried to do it. Close the INR, talk thru messages to take care of buyer. It’s worked fine. Also ebay messages get copied to my email, so I have a long term record of communication. Not so if it’s inside the case detail messages.

And I realize I’m going beyond my obligation by talking to the buyer at all. Tbh “allowing time for communication between seller/buyer” is also beyond seller obligation… it’s the sellers choice and eBay is trying to force it upon us? There is no reason to drag it on. Close the INR, let sellers handle it our own way (since it’s not a policy violation), and have eBay deal with the customer if it comes to that. Sounds a bit like eBay wants sellers to do part of eBay’s job here. eBay is holding seller’s money for ransom.

There was also speculation this change was being rolled out early in advance of a possibly soon to be announced Fall Seller Update.

The extended funds holds are inconvenient, however that's not my biggest concern here. I know my opinion will differ from others, but my biggest concerns are-

  • INRs have to be manually escalated even when tracking confirms delivery. This should be automated.

  • eBay keeps changing the timelines without communicating this information to sellers or updating the policy pages. This causes issues when running our business day to day.

I'm pretty sure others' speculation about an announcement in the Fall Seller Update is accurate. eBay tends to roll out these changes weeks or months in advance of the Seller Updates- leaving us in the dark during that time as to what's going on. It's frustrating. It's time consuming. It's disrespectful.

The frustration in this thread is palpable and mostly centered around the lack of communication and sellers feeling like eBay causes them to waste too much time just trying to figure out how to run their businesses on a day to day basis.

Time is absolutely the whole of the problem with all of this - I genuinely don't give a flyin flip what the policy is at this point. It's the amount of time I spend just trying to figure it out to avoid a defect. One of the 2 INR issues I had was trying to just refund the buyer (when I didn't have to) and the system wouldn't even let me do that!

I really do think it is time that someone(s) at e-bay really "hears" how hard this job is some days and that there are Sellers out there, REALLY trying hard to color within the lines and make this work.

But, dang......at some point, you gotta ask yourself why is this still something as a Seller I am willing to do, put up with, etc. And Time really is money. (sayeth Benjamin Franklin!!)

CEO Jamie Iannone - if you're listening, this goes straight to the heart of that seller trust problem. Is it really too much to ask to simply have these kinds of business impacting policy changes communicated in a clear, direct and timely manner?

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of experience in online sales & marketplaces, providing expert commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Amazon, Etsy & more at Value Added Resource!