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Reducing the Risk of Non-Paying Bidders on eBay

Although most buyers on eBay are genuine, there will always be the odd few who do not honour their commitment to pay for the item they won. Unfortunately, there is no way of ensuring that non-paying bidders don’t bid on your auctions, but setting up Buyer Requirements within your Seller Account can help minimise the risk.

Setting Up Buyer Requirements

To set up Buyer Requirements, sign into your eBay account and go to My eBay > Account > Site Preferences. Scroll down to Buyer Requirements, click ‘Show’ and then ‘Edit’. You will then be presented with a list of options, as in the screenshots below.

eBay Buyer Requirement Settings Pt.1

Screenshot of eBay Buyer Requirements Page Pt. 2

Which buyers you choose to block is, of course, entirely your decision but below, we take a look at the choices we made when recently updating our Buyer Requirements settings, and the thoughts behind our decisions.

At the top of the Buyer Requirements page is a link to a ‘buyer requirements exemption list‘ where we can block specific buyers, and any bidder who wins one of our auctions but doesn’t honour their commitment to purchase the item is immediately added to this list. We review the list a couple of times a year and upon doing so we usually find that the buyers we blocked are no longer registered users so we delete them from the list. As the majority of buyers are genuine we seldom have more than four or five blocked buyers on our list at any given time.

Now we move on to the options to block specific groups of buyers. Although we want to do all we can to avoid troublesome buyers, we don’t want to reduce the number of potential bidders on our items any more than necessary so we try to maintain a sensible balance when deciding which groups of buyers to block.

The first option is to block buyers without a Paypal account. Although we prefer our buyers to use Paypal, we don’t want to exclude the few who prefer to pay by cheque or postal order so we don’t select this option.

Next is buyers who have unpaid items recorded on their accounts, and we select the default option, which is those who have had 2 unpaid items against their account within 1 month. Given the choice, we would prefer to block bidders who have 2 unpaid items within 3 months but unfortunately the only available options are for 1, 6 or 12 months.

“Buyers in locations to which I don’t ship”. We ship worldwide and as we have never encountered a disproportionate number of troublesome buyers from any particular location, we do not not select this option. However, some countries are considered to be higher risk than others and some sellers prefer not to accept bids from buyers in those locations.

Next is to block buyers with policy breach reports. We select the default option of 4 policy breaches which we think is quite a high number but that was the lowest available, so we changed the time option to 6 months rather than going with the default option of 1 month.

We chose to block buyers with a negative feedback score and stayed with the default option of -1.

“Buyers who may bid on several of my auctions and not pay for them.” eBay have included this option for sellers of high ticket items and since the majority of the products that we sell are priced below £30 we chose not to select it.

We were undecided what to do about the option to block buyers with no credit card on file as we are unsure of how this might reflect a buyer’s integrity. In the end, we decided not to select this option but if we see any significant increase in non-paying bidders we may reconsider.

Finally, we checked the boxes to apply the settings to active and future listings and “don’t allow blocked buyers to contact me” (we don’t see the point of allowing them to contact us if we are not going to let them bid on our auctions)

We then clicked on the ‘Submit’ button and were taken to a page which confirmed that our requirements have been updated and we have blocked buyers who:

Have received 2 unpaid items recorded within 1 month

Have 4 breach of policy reports within 6 months and

Have a feedback score of -1 or lower.

As we said at the start, it is impossible to completely block troublesome buyers from our auctions but hopefully, the buyer requirements that we’ve set will reduce non-paying bidders to a minimum without having any detrimental effect on the number of genuine bids we receive. Only time will tell.


One Comment

  1. Chad says:

    Very interesting topic. Another way to block troublesome buyers is by IP address, but this only applies to certain auctino platforms. While there are countless fraudulent users on eBay, there are many new startup shopping sites that are still small enough to address the individual situations and disallow individuals from using the website. One such website is It’s based on a Dutch Auction model where prices fall instead of getting higher. It’s definitely worth looking into, and and sellers can rest assured that buyers on the site are genuine; likewise, sellers are handpicked and approved by hand.

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