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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 automated answers, communicating postage 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 without having to send a question.

Consider these three ways to answer buyers' questions:

  • Show Q&A – Your buyer sees Q&A generated automatically from your listing and any Q&A you create

  • Set up a third-party Q&A application – You subscribe to a certified third-party application and provide your Q&A to the application. You can subscribe from the Applications tab in My eBay

  • Allow buyers to contact you from your active listings – Your buyers enter their questions into a form, which are then emailed to your Messages inbox in My eBay and to your personal email account. Your personal email address is hidden from view.

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 March 7, 2009.


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 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 posted there. He clicks the Ask a question 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."

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 Q&A

All sellers are automatically opted in to Q&A. 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 My eBay. You may be asked to sign in

  2. Place your pointer over the Account tab, and then click the Site Preferences link

  3. Under Selling Preferences, click the Show link next to the Manage your communications with buyers section

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

  5. Select the Show Q&A check box. 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

  6. Select a topic to see the automated 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 the Ask a question link. You'll see your Q&A with the answers corresponding to that listing

  7. 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 the Don't show to buyers link below the question

  8. 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 Postage page and save it in the Payments topic.)

  9. To edit or remove questions and answers you've created, click the question, and then click the Edit or Remove link

  10. To save your Q&A, click the Submit button.

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 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 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.

Manage communications with buyers

The ‘Manage communications with buyers’ page gives you greater control over and access to your communications with buyers. From this one location you can:

  • View emails that eBay sends to buyers after a transaction

  • Access your buyer-facing Automated Answers and Store newsletters

  • Business sellers and/or Selling Manager Pro users: ability to edit several of the eBay emails.

To access the ‘Manage communications with buyers’ page:

  1. Go to My eBay. You may be asked to sign in

  2. Click the Accounts tab

  3. Select Manage communications with buyers.

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 posted 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:

  • Click My eBay at the top of most eBay pages. You may be asked to sign in

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

  • Click the Edit link next to the Manage questions and answers heading

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

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