Handling Item Not As Described Disputes

On occasion, you may be faced with INAD disputes. This could be caused by negligence or a simple misunderstanding. Learn how to protect yourself from being hit with a potential defect and the best way to deal with it amicably.

INAD – Item Not As Described

This means that the item does not meet the buyers expectations or match the listing in terms of:

  • Title
  • Specifics
  • Description
  • Photos
  • Condition
  • Authenticity


Defective/Does not work – This can include any type of defect like a scratched surface, dented body, does not turn on, misaligned zipper and more. TIP: Avoid selling products with high rates of manufacturing flaws.

Does not match listing/photo – Every detail listed must be accurate. If your photo shows ‘white pants’, don’t ship ‘off white pants’. Or if the dress is described as ‘size L’, don’t send a size S.

Missing pieces/parts – Examples of this are: Listed as ‘Comes with 10 hooks’ but only received 9, shirt missing a button or laptop without a charger.

Damaged – Well packaged items can avoid being received in broken, cracked or smashed condition. 

Different item/Empty box – If the listing states ‘iPhone 11’ and the buyer receives a stuffed toy, a bunch of rocks or even nothing in the box.

Inauthentic item – Always sell genuine items. No fakes allowed on eBay!

Here are the recommended ways to protect yourself from an INAD dispute. Following this list will set the buyer’s expectations and could save yourself from a possible defect and black mark on your account.

Meticulous titles, descriptions & specifics – Your listing title, item description and specifics must match. List out the item’s description in an easy to read format. Item specifics should be well researched. Be as detailed as possible so that nothing is misunderstood. Be transparent about the condition of the item too. If there is a dent, state it clearly. 

Clear photos – Capture as many angles of the item as possible. Take your pictures against a white background with good lighting. Wrong colours are a common reason for an INAD dispute to be filed. If the bag is aquamarine, don’t just call it blue. If there are any flaws or defects, photograph those as well. Avoid heavy editing as this could also paint an inaccurate picture. 

Pack it right – Prepare yourself a QC checklist. Include steps like product testing and a full inspection to ensure nothing is missed out, not even the tiniest screw. Once that is done, pack the item securely and carefully to reduce the chance of it being damaged in transit. Invest in good quality bubble wrap and well insulated packing materials. An item can be in perfect condition when you ship it, but if it arrives damaged, the buyer is entitled to send it back to you. 

Authenticity certificates – Provide the buyer with any appropriate proofs of authenticity, but keep a copy for yourself in case we need to ask you to prove that the item is genuine. Any item that infringes someone’s copyright or trademark is considered unauthorised in our listing guidelines and will be removed promptly.

State your return policy – This must be clearly stated in your listing. If you’re happy to accept returns, you can automatically accept them, issue refunds, and even provide return shipping. Consider including a return label in the package. This can make the process easier for the buyer and less effort for you. Be crystal clear and transparent to prevent things from becoming unpleasant.

Once a buyer files an INAD dispute, you will be given a few ways to resolve the issue. Remember, you must reply within 3 working days (this is known as the ‘Seller Make it Right’ period) before eBay is asked to step in and help.

The 3 business days refers to the calendar of the site you listed on, i.e. the US/UK/AU calendar. So you should be available to your buyers even if it’s a public holiday in your country. 

No seller response could result in no item returned and a full refund to the buyer.

NOTE: If a buyer asks to return an item they no longer want, this would count as buyer’s remorse and the request would not be categorised as an INAD request.

Accept the return

For non buyer remorse reasons, the return costs are your responsibility. You can send either your own or an eBay shipping label. Once you have received the returned item, the buyer will be issued a refund.

Offer a replacement

You can respond to the buyer with an offer to send a replacement or similar item. If the buyer accepts, you will need to submit the new tracking information. Buyers can also choose not to accept the offer.

Issue a refund

If the item has only a minor scratch and the buyer is agreeable to keep the item, you may offer a partial refund as a goodwill gesture. You can also offer a full refund and the buyer keeps the item. This is recommended for low value items. Either way, your buyer will be happy and you establish a stellar reputation for yourself. 

Ultimately, eBay always recommends communicating with the buyer first via the Resolution Centre. Respond promptly, remain polite and try to find the best way to an amicable resolution. Once eBay is asked to step in and the case is ruled in the buyer’s favour, this will result in a defect on your account.

In the rare instance that the item is returned to you damaged or different (e.g. empty box or completely different item), you can ask us to help.

  1. Take a picture of the item.
  2. Upload it to eBay and state that you cannot offer a refund as you are investigating a fraud.
  3. Make an online report to the police in the buyer’s country.
  4. Attach the police report on eBay.
  5. Report the buyer internally on eBay at http://spd.ebay.com/RBASellerHub.

You can also add in the warning that you have lodged a report with local police and that they are investigating the issue. Once the case is closed, block the buyer.

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