I am going through a similar situation myself, which I was contemplating making a post about.
Ebay is a mixed bag. Long story short, if you send an item without tracking and the buyer says it wasn't received, the seller will eat the loss. There are exceptions but they are few and far between. Having a "disclaimer" in your listing is basically useless. I have one in all my non-tracked mail listings, but most buyers know that Paypal/Ebay will fully cover their purchase and they will open a claim and win despite any disclaimer.
I may end up removing my disclaimer since it really doesn't help, and may be hurting me. The dishonest scammers know ebay/paypal will rule in their favour, so they disregard any disclaimers like that. Disclaimers like that may potentially scare away honest buyers.
Try this before refunding them through Paypal. Look at the buyer's feedback and also the feedback he has left for others. If there is anything fishy such as an above average amount of negs/neutral feedback left by the buyer, or other transactions feedback which leads you to believe he has claimed non-receipt before, you might have a chance. Use the new "report buyer" feature in Ebay (should be on the leave feedback page) and let them know about what you've experienced yourself and seen in this buyer's feedback history.
I actually shot myself in the foot.. My story went like this: The buyer (within Canada, I am also in Canada) claimed non-receipt on a 40 dollar item which I sent without tracking. He asked for a refund, I told him I'd be contacting Canadapost to find out where the package could be. He negs me then opens a claim. I decided to accept the loss and refund him, then sent a request to him to revise his feedback. He declined. I looked through his feedback and saw that 5 of his 11 feedbacks he gave were negs for non-receipt. Also one revised feedback which probably was a neg initially.
The Ebay rep I had on the phone looked at this also and said while he can't remove the neg, they would open an investigation on this guy's account. Said the chances are high that he will be suspended or even NARU'd for his recent activity (unusually high number of non-receipt claims and negs left). If his account is suspended/NARU'd, all the negs he has left for various sellers will disappear.
I then contacted Paypal to bring this to their attention. They said they may place sanctions on his account if his Ebay account gets suspended, but that they cannot reverse the refund I gave him no matter what happens in the investigation.
Long story short, I forgot the number one Ferengi (Star Trek) Rule of Acquisition: Once you have their money, never give it back!
Anyway I digress.. If you'd like to continue to sell on Ebay and are (rightfully) worried about claims there are a few options:
- Only ship items using tracked shipping. Stop selling low value items, or group them into lots which will be shipped with tracking.
- Ship anything over a certain dollar threshold (eg $100, though I have seen sellers with a $25 threshold) using tracked shipping. Continue to sell low value items by untracked lettermail with the intention of eating any losses.
- If out of country shipping is the biggest problem, simply lay out a blanket statement requiring a tracking number for any purchase being shipped out of the country. There are US sellers who sell Canadian coins and will ONLY ship fully tracked/signed for, regardless of how low of value the items are.
Some more tips:
- private insurance may be an option if you do a lot of volume
- "pad" the lettermail shipping cost by a dollar or so on all your listings, this will act as private insurance and make the losses you have to eat more manageable. I have been using this method. Nut now I am on the bring of losing my 20% final value fee discount due to a couple people saying my shipping costs are too high. You'll lose the discount if both 2 or more and 0.4% (I believe) or more of your DSR feedback in any single category (shipping cost) receives a 1 or 2-star rating. Very easy to lose if you aren't offering free shipping on everything.