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Answering buyers' questions

Communicating with buyers

Buyers often have questions before, during and after a sale. You can help buyers get the answers they need quickly by providing detailed information in your listing, using automated answers and communicating postage information as soon as possible. It's also important to respond quickly to any questions buyers send you directly.

What are automated answers?

Automated answers are Q&A that eBay generates automatically from the details you provide when you create your listing. These answers give your buyers key information they may have missed in your listing. You can also include your own customised Q&A to address additional questions. When you use eBay or PayPal postage labels, the tracking information also appears in Q&A after a sale. Using automated answers saves you and your buyers time and helps buyers know sooner whether they want to bid or buy by providing them with answers for the most common questions.

The text you use in the Describe your item section of the Sell Your Item form isn't included in the automated answers, so it's important to fill in as many fields as possible when creating your listing.

Sometimes the answer to a question has to do with an eBay policy, and eBay provides the answer.

Examples of automated answers

Here are some examples of answers generated automatically from your listing:

Q: What is the condition of this item?

A: This seller has listed this item as used.


Q: Have you received my payment?

A: Yes, according to our records, the seller received your payment on 7 May 2010.


Q: How do I return an item and get a refund?

A: This seller doesn't accept returns.

More examples

Before the transaction

Eric is selling a train set and only wants to post within the United Kingdom, so he specifies that in his listing.

Tony thinks the train set would be perfect for his cousin in Paris, and wonders if he can have it sent there. He clicks the Contact seller link in the listing. He clicks Postage and selects: Do you offer international postage? The automated answer is generated from the information Eric provided: "This seller doesn't offer international postage."

During the transaction

Sally understands that buyers want to know when they'll receive an item. When she listed her belt for sale, she made sure to provide complete P&P details, and when she posted the item, she used an eBay postage label which automatically generated a tracking number.

Hayley buys the belt and pays online. After a couple of days, she wonders when she'll receive the belt. She clicks the Contact seller link in the listing and selects Postage, and then Where is my item? This automated answer is generated from the information Sally provided: "The seller received your payment on 5 July 2010 and your tracking number is <1234567890>. Your delivery estimate is 14 July 2010."

After the transaction

Annabel finds the perfect pair of black pinstripe trousers. Excited, she clicks Buy It Now. But then she realises that the trousers are the wrong size and wonders if she can cancel the purchase. She clicks the Contact seller link in the listing and selects Payments, and then How do I cancel my purchase?

Since eBay policy defines whether a buyer can cancel a purchase, the answer is provided by eBay: "You can’t retract a purchase made through a Buy It Now listing. Once you confirm your purchase, you are obliged to pay the seller."

Managing Q&A

All sellers are automatically opted in to Q&A, so your listings will have automated answers unless you switch them off. You can manage your Q&A in My eBay. Your Q&A applies to all your listings.

To manage your Q&A:
  1. Go to the Account tab in My eBay and select Site Preferences.

  2. Under Selling Preferences, click Show next to Manage your communications with buyers.

  3. Next to Manage your questions and answers (Q&A) Page, click Edit. The Manage your Q&A for buyers page appears.

  4. If you want the automated Q&A to appear on your listings, make sure the box next to Show Q&A is ticked. When you select Show Q&A, the buyer sees automated answers and any Q&A you create yourself.

    If you use a third-party application to manage your Q&A, you'll have two additional options:

    • Use Q&A that you manage on eBay

    • Use Q&A that you manage from a third-party site

  5. Select a topic to see the questions and answers.

    Automated answers are generated for each of your specific listings, so you won't see the answers on this page. After you create a listing you can see your automated answers by clicking Contact seller. You'll see your Q&A with the answers corresponding to that listing.

  6. If you don't have information for a certain question, remove it from your Q&A or it will state that you didn't provide an answer. To remove the question, click Don't show to buyers below the question.

  7. To create your own questions and answers, click Add a question. Enter the question, select the topic from the drop-down menu, enter your answer and click Save.

    Note: You can also save your question in a different topic. (For example, you can start a question on the Postage page and save it in the Payments topic.)

  8. To edit or remove a question and answer you've created, click the question and then Edit or Remove.

  9. To save your Q&A, click Submit.

Converting your older Q&A

If you created questions and answers before we launched the new Q&A system, we'll convert them to the new system. You'll need to go in and organise them into the appropriate topics.

Responding personally to buyers' questions

When a buyer clicks the Contact seller link in your listing, and they can't find an automated answer that addresses their question, they can send an email to you through your eBay account. You'll receive the message in your Messages inbox and your personal email account. When you respond, you can choose to post the question and answer to your listing so all buyers can see it. Once you post the answer, you can't change or remove it.

Specifying whether you accept special instructions at checkout

You can choose whether to allow buyers to include special instructions for you on the checkout page. This feature is automatically enabled, which means you may receive special instructions from your buyers.

  • Enabling this feature makes sense for sellers who often require instructions from their buyers (eg measurements or colour requests), or for sellers who have the time to read and respond to each individual order.

  • Disabling this feature makes sense for large sellers who have automated operations, and who can’t make adjustments to orders before they’re dispatched.

To disable special instructions at checkout:
  1. Go to My eBay. You may need to sign in.

  2. From the Account tab, select Manage your communications with buyers.

  3. Next to Manage questions and answers, click Edit.

  4. Clear the Allow buyers to provide special instructions on their order during checkout option.

  5. Click Submit. Your preferences will be applied to all of your listings.

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