Monday, July 28, 2008

The Non Paying Buyer

Well, I'm still doing a pretty good job of staying out of the forums, but as I lurked over the weekend, I ran across a very familiar topic. A term that I imagine makes sense only to those who frequent the etsy forum, the non buying buyer. Although I'm fairly certain that the term qualifies as an oxymoron, it is thrown around consistently. It refers to a customer that completes the buying process for an item, but then fails to click through to paypal to send payment for it. While I have had a few slow paying buyers, I've only experienced this phenomenon once. It seems that many other sellers attract these events like tuna attracts cats, because they seem to always be complaining about them. What, I wonder, makes some people marks for these uncertain shoppers?

I wish I had an answer to that question, but what I do have is a little perspective. When I worked in retail, we would hold items for customers. The items were taken off the shelf, labeled for the customer and held for three days. Most customers came back within the time frame and purchased the items, but many would not only not come back within the time frame, but would actually return weeks later and ask if it was still on hold for them. If the buyer came back, waiting a couple of days for a certain sale was no big deal and we generally did not lose any sales from those who did not buy their item either. The process of holding an item only hurt us when it was the last in stock of a hot selling item. This is the only way a non paying buyer can hurt you. If the item they purchased is the only one of your best selling item or a one of a kind item that someone inquires about right after the false sale. Be honest, how often are either of those the case.

A lot of people blame the non paying buyer problem on a confusing checkout process, but I think it's much more likely that they are the same kind of people who like to put things on hold and never come back to buy them. They don't see the seller as a person inconvenienced by their inaction. They see you as a shopping cart that still has something sitting in it, that they may return to or not. Instead of letting these events bother you, I suggest treating these unpaid purchases as held items. When a time limit you're comfortable with has expired, simply cancel the sale and put the item back on the shelf. Sure it's disappointing, but it's not the end of the world. I've been lucky that my slow paying buyers all made their payment before I felt the need to cancel the sale. I certainly hope I don't start smelling like tuna anytime soon, but if I do, I shall try to take it in stride.


Cherries Rock My Socks said...

I have had prob about 15 non-payers in the 6 months i have been on etsy. I have no idea why it happens so frequently, but it just gets old. Actually, I have one right now. But thankfully I have lots that do pay :)

Gina said...

It happens everywhere. A posted policy may or may not help.

On the other hand, I've had sellers so eager to have made a sale that they mailed the item out before my payment got to them. That practice will encourage some people to hold off on payment...just to see if they can get by with non-payment.

Another thought - and I have no idea if this is discussed on the forums since I don't go there - I've noticed lately that my payments with Paypal now take forever. They used to be instant - and since it's from my checking account, I expected it to be instant, but now they have to wait for the "check to clear". What happened to electronic instant payment? This is annoying to me as a buyer and I'm sure it has caused problems for sellers too. Not to mention the added fees. Added fees has become a "con" by some sellers in ebay, an excuse to charge double or triple in shipping so they don't have to pay the fee on the purchase price. Oh, I better stop right here. LOL!

Anonymous said...

Nice way to look at the issue. I have only had one unpaid transaction on etsy. I think you are right about some mediums attracting more than others.

Anonymous said...

Very well put. I won't let my cat read about the tuna part...

Kersti said...

There are a number of reasons that are quite legitimate for a person to become an unpaying buyer.

a) person is unsure of what the total costs would be (I do this myself if a site does not include the postage charges upfront)

b) person gets interrupted while in the process of buying

c) person decides at this stage that they nolonger want the product

d) person believe that they have completed the transaction

e) person does not want to use the transaction method available

An interesting approach is to get someone totally internet clueless to look through your website and buy something. Have a camera there to record what they do and where they click (if you're with them you'll take the mouse off them) - it'll show you an awful lot about how good/bad your site is and how good/bad the process is.

Laura said...

I haven't had many non-payers and I sort of get that if the Etsy check out process seems complicated.

But, I really have a problem with non-paying customers who are in contact with you, promising to pay, but in the end they just stop responding. Lying isn't cool, I wish people would just be honest about changing their minds.

hy said...

i had that twice... it didnt really bother me so much.. its not like i had mailed them the item already... i just canceled the orders and moved on!

mary jane

Anonymous said...

I've been on Etsy a year and I've never had a non-paying I just lucky?

kim* said...

ya i usually let the seller know i want it but dont buy it they put it on hold. i also have slow paying to think they'd pay when my items are so cheap ha ha ha