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Use Disclaimers for Smooth Transactions

Be clear and honest about what buyers are and aren't getting

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The word “disclaimer” often seems like a negative one to us. When used by major corporations or government agencies, disclaimers can feel like a way for powerful people or organizations to avoid responsibility.

On eBay, however, where buyers and sellers meet as equals to conduct business together, disclaimers are a far more useful and benevolent tool. In fact, disclaimers are one of the best ways to make sure that both buyer and seller are happy with the transaction, since they explain what steps or services a seller prefers not to offer while at the same time helping buyers to quickly and easily see whether an item and its matching seller meet their own criteria.

Common Disclaimers

There are a number of standard disclaimers often used by sellers in one or another form that buyers tend to look for when deciding whether or not to do business with a seller. Though some of this information is also submitted as a part of the auction listing process and thus appears elsewhere in an item listing as well, it is a good idea to have the plain English form of the disclaimer in your listing as well. Examples of common disclaimers (most of them should have self-evident meanings) include:

  • Item is sold AS-IS, no refunds or exchanges, please bid carefully!

  • This item is untested and/or incomplete, no refunds or exchanges, please bid carefully!

  • This item appears to work/to be complete, but no guarantees are made, no refunds or exchanges, please bid carefully!

  • This item is not complete/does not include all original accessories, please bid accordingly!

  • This item appears to be authentic, but comes with no certification or verification of this fact, please bid carefully!

  • This item is a reproduction, not an original, please bid accordingly!

  • Shipping offered to United States bidders only, no other bids will be honored!

  • No guarantees are made for international shipments; seller takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen in transit!

  • Item is easily damaged in shipment, no guarantees about condition upon arrival!

  • Photo is for reference purposes only, actual condition/color/style may vary!

  • Accessories in photo not included!

  • Not suitable for pets or young children; seller takes no responsibility for harm resulting from misuse!

  • No shipment or shipping arrangements provided; arrangement of shipment and delivery are entirely the responsibility of the winning bidder!

  • No payment methods other than PayPal/check/money order accepted!

While this list is by no means exhaustive and each of these disclaimers is useful in the context of a different auction listing from the others, it should give you an idea of the broad range of information that can be conveyed clearly and concisely to bidders through disclaimers.

Using Disclaimers in Listings

As a seller it is good practice to include one or several standard disclaimers in every listing you post, usually near the end of the listing in a section called “Terms and Conditions,” “Important Terms,” “Disclaimers,” “Warranty and Exchange Information,” or something similar. Several disclaimers are often used together to assemble a complete set of terms and conditions for the auction:

Terms and Conditions:
  • Item is sold AS-IS, no refunds or exchanges! Please bid accordingly!
  • Shipment to Canadian bidders only!
  • Not suitable for pets or young children; seller takes no responsibility for harm resulting from misuse!
  • No payment methods other than PayPal accepted!
While inexperienced sellers may wonder whether or not a list of disclaimers like this one will reduce the number of bids for an item, veteran sellers realize from the outset that a strong set of disclaimers make buyers more comfortable—they know exactly what they're getting and what they're not getting—and also keep the seller from having to deal with big headaches or liability later on in the transaction.

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