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Waiting for an eBay order can be anywhere from annoying to nerve-wracking.
There has been more than one instance where I have ordered something I need to have by a certain time (usually by the time I leave on a trip) and eBay fails to get it to me.
Such experiences are frustrating because it usually means that I have to go out and buy something more expensive for the trip and then come home to have an “extra” one waiting in my mailbox.
Knowing how long eBay takes to ship remedies many of these problems but, unfortunately, it’s not quite a straightforward answer.
eBay is a platform made up of individual sellers who are free to choose a handling time from 1-30 days for their items. Most sellers ship within 2 business days and items are typically delivered within a week of the order date. eBay provides an individualized estimated delivery date on the item page.
How Shipping Works On eBay
eBay is not a shipping entity. In fact, beyond their Global Shipping Program (basically a package forwarding system) they don’t ship any orders that are sold on their platform.
eBay is simply a platform that is made up of individual businesses and sellers that list items for sale.
When a seller lists an item they get to choose the handling time (meaning how many days they have to ship).
Sellers can guarantee a shipment time within the same day all the way out to 30 business days. eBay encourages sellers to ship within 3 days and will show a warning on the listings of items that have extended handling or delivery dates.
If you are ordering a handmade or customized item on eBay be sure to check the shipping time before ordering to avoid any surprises.
When you purchase an item eBay notifies the sellers and the “handling time clock” is started. However, there is nothing that happens automatically if the seller doesn’t ship within their allotted time. It simply shows up on their dashboard as “overdue.”
So what if they don’t ship ever?
Factors That Affect How Long It Takes to Get Your Order
If you’re hoping to get your eBay order quickly (I’ve been in that boat many times) then there are a few things that you can look at that will tell you how fast (or slow) you’ll be grabbing your package off of the porch.
1. Handling Time
We’ve already mentioned above that the biggest factor in how long it takes to get your package is the time elapsed between your order your package and the eBay seller actually dropping it off at the post office.
This is the time that most eBay sellers get items out of their inventory (or closets), package them up, print shipping labels, etc. While most people try to do this within a day or two, remember that most eBay sellers are just regular people with jobs so it may take them a couple of days to get your item sent.
Once the seller ships your item you should have a tracking number (provided it wasn’t shipped with the most economy service available…) which will often give you an estimated delivery date once it’s scanned in.
2. Shipping Service
After handling time, the actual shipping services that the eBay seller uses will dictate how long your item is in transit.
Since eBay shipping (and shipping in general) tends to be quite expensive, sellers often opt to save money on shipping costs and go for the cheapest option (such as USPS Ground Select) which tends to be slower than other options.
If you’re in a hurry to get your item you can typically ask the seller to charge you for upgraded shipping such as Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.
There are similar services if the seller uses UPS or FedEx but you’ll want to check the average delivery times for each service as it varies based on location.
3. Proximity To Seller
Although most shipping services try to provide a standard time for their services (eg. Priority Mail is 2-3 days in the U.S.) the distance that a package needs to move really affects your delivery date.
If you need an item quickly, look for a seller within a short distance of you (eBay lets you filter by distance) as it’s likely that you could get your package in a single day. That is, assuming it’s shipped on time.
International Shipping: An extreme example of this would be if the seller uses the Global Shipping Program to send an item worldwide. If you order an eBay item internationally you can expect it to take slightly longer to ship and significantly longer to be delivered.
In addition to these three factors, things things weather, the time of year, etc. can play into how long it takes an eBay package to ship and be delivered to you.
What If An eBay Seller Doesn’t Ship Your Item?
When you buy something on eBay you are, in essence, forming a contract. You agree to pay for the item (obviously) and the seller agrees to deliver you the item in the condition and time stated in the listing.
But what if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain?
Well, luckily, eBay is well acquainted with the problems caused by poor-performing sellers and you have several avenues of recourse.
What to do when your eBay item doesn’t ship:
- Message them. If you still want the item, contacting the seller might be enough to get it moving. Sometimes the item has shipped and tracking isn’t updating or the seller might not have logged in and noticed that they have a sale. Touching base will at least give you an idea of what’s going on.
- Get eBay involved. Contacting eBay does a couple of things for you. It starts a paper trail so that, if things need to be escalated further, eBay will know that you were on top of things. Secondly, eBay can open a case and send the seller a reminder. If the seller fails to respond adequately within the time frame (typically 72 hours) the case will be closed in your favor and you’ll be refunded.
The most common scenario when your item hasn’t shipped is that the seller simply hasn’t gotten around to it yet. On my eBay store, I have had my handling time set as high as 5 business days when my life is hectic.
This gave me up to a week to ship items (since weekends and holidays don’t count) before I had a defect. Many buyers failed to notice this and sent me concerned messages wondering why their items hadn’t shipped after 2-3 days.
So be sure to check the handling time (preferably before buying) and send the seller a polite question or reminder after that time has passed.
How To Get Your Items Faster
If you need your eBay shipping time to be a bit faster, most sellers are able to accommodate you. This is also true if you need the shipping to be delayed for a day or two.
I have received many messages asking if I’ll be able to ship an item by a certain time because the buyer needs it by the time they leave for a trip. If the cost of making a sale is that I have to prioritize shipping I’m almost always willing to acquiesce.
If you contact a buyer beforehand and ask for quicker shipping, however, don’t just take their word for it. Ask them to update the handling time on the listing to reflect how quickly you need the item shipped.
This will prevent them from promising to ship quickly and then not bothering to follow through. Or at least will mean that you can easily cancel and get a refund if it happens.
How To Find eBay Items That Ship Fast
When you’re shopping on eBay you probably are interested in finding things that will ship as quickly as possible. Or, at least, you’d like to have a good idea of when it will ship.
When you visit a listing eBay provides an estimated delivery date based on the shipping service provided and the seller’s handling time.
If you click on the “See details” option you’ll be able to see what shipping method the seller will be using, giving you a better idea of how long they’ll take to ship.
It used to be that you could filter search results by delivery time but with tumultuous circumstances (and shipping delays) being what they are eBay has done away with the option.
Your only sort options when it comes to shipping are to find items that ship free, are available for local pickup, or are within a certain radius.
If you’re really pressed for time, items that are closer to you may arrive a day sooner than items across the country. The seller’s handling time, however, is the more important factor by far.
Figuring out how long eBay takes to ship an order can be figured out on a case-by-case basis. So while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for every eBay shipping situation, I wouldn’t start being worried about not receiving your package until a week or so has passed.