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Answering buyers' questions

Communicating with buyers

Buyers often have questions before, during, and after a sale. By providing detailed information in your listing, using auto answers, communicating shipping information as soon as possible, and responding right away to any questions buyers send you directly, you can help buyers get the answers they need quickly.

What are auto answers?

Auto answers are questions and answers 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 customized auto answers to address additional questions. When you use eBay or PayPal shipping labels, the tracking information also appears in auto answers after a sale. Using auto 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 auto 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 auto 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 March 7, 2011.

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

A: This seller doesn't accept returns.

Before the transaction

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

Todd thinks the train set would be perfect for his little cousin in Paris, and wonders if he can have it shipped there. He clicks the Ask a question link in the listing. He clicks Shipping and selects: Do you offer international shipping? The auto answer is generated from the information Eric provided: "This seller doesn't offer international shipping."

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 shipping information, and when she shipped the item, she used an eBay shipping label which automatically generated a tracking number.

Hayley buys the belt and pays online. After a couple days, she wonders when she'll receive the belt. She clicks the Ask a question link in the listing and then selects Shipping, and Where is my item? This auto answer is generated from the information Sally provided: "The seller received your payment on April 5, 2011 and your tracking number is <1234567890>. Your delivery estimate is April 14, 2011."

After the transaction

Audrey finds the perfect pair of black pinstripe pants. Excited, she clicks the Buy It Now button in the listing. But then she realizes that the pants are the wrong size and wonders if she can cancel the purchase. She clicks the Ask a question link in the listing and selects Payments, and 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 obligated to pay the seller."

Managing auto answers

All sellers are automatically opted in to auto answers. You can manage your auto answers in My eBay. Your auto answers apply to all your listings.

To manage your auto answers:
  1. Click My eBay at the top of most eBay pages. You may be asked to sign in.

  2. Place your pointer over the Account tab, and then click Manage your communications with buyers.

  3. Click the Edit link next to the Manage questions and answers heading.

  4. Select a topic to see the auto answers. Click the question to see an explanation of what will appear in the answer.

    Note: Auto answers are generated for each of your specific listings, so you won't see the actual answers on this page. After you create a listing you can see your auto answers by clicking the Ask a question link. You'll see your questions with the answers corresponding to that listing.

  5. If you don't have information for a certain question, remove it from your questions and answers or it will state that you didn't provide an answer. To remove the question, click the Don't show to buyers link below the question.

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

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

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

  8. To save your auto answers, click the Submit button.

Converting your older Q&A

If you created questions and answers before we launched the new auto answer system, we'll convert them to the new system. You'll need to go in and organize them into the appropriate topics.

Responding personally to buyers' questions

When a buyer clicks the Ask a question link in your listing, and they can't find an auto 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. Enabling this feature makes sense for sellers who often require instructions from their buyers (i.e., 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 shipped out. Your preferences will be applied to all of your listings.

This feature is automatically enabled, which means you may receive special instructions from your buyers.

To disable special instructions at checkout:
  1. Click My eBay at the top of most eBay pages. You may be asked to sign in.

  2. Place your pointer over the Account tab, and then click Manage your communications with buyers.

  3. Click the Edit link next to the Manage questions and answers heading.

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

  5. Click the Submit button.

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