How to maintain your SPS

Learning how to maintain your Seller Performance Standards is crucial to your eBay business.

Three Defect Rates that affect your SPS

Items Not Received (INR)

When a buyer opens INR and INAD cases, you have 3 days to fully resolve the issue with the buyer. After that period, if the buyer escalates the case to eBay, you will not be given any additional time to resolve the case. If the case is ruled in buyer’s favour (this is known as Case Closed Without Seller Resolution), you may incur a loss and your rating will go down.

Do not let cases escalate.

A case closed without seller resolution is any case where the seller is unable to resolve the issue with the buyer prior to the buyer asking us or PayPal to step in and help with a request. When this happens, eBay and PayPal will determine that the buyer is in the right and you are responsible. ie; you are in the wrong.

Summary of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Sellers to protect SPS

Here’s a simple way to understand how to resolve issues so you can maintain your SPS.

Out of Stock (OOS) points to issues with inventory management

Mid-term solution

Long-term solution

Prevent recurrence of OOS by setting aside a separate inventory for eBay

Eliminate the issue by investing in Inventory Management Software

Types of Defects

Short-term solution: Managing each occurence

Item Not Received (INR)

If the estimated delivery period is not over yet - provide tracking number & link of tracking portal. Tell the buyer the period is not yet over and they must wait until it is over to raise an INR request.

If the estimated delivery period is already over and the tracking shows the item was delivered or rejected, provide tracking number & link to tracking portal. Tell the buyer the tracking shows delivery was successful or attempted and an INR request is false.

If the estimated delivery period is already over and the tracking shows “Processing” and other non-delivery statuses, offer the buyer a partial refund as compensation for late delivery and assure that if the item does not arrive in another 1-2 weeks you will offer a full refund.

Trend of repeated INR cases?


Due to


No tracked shipping + upload tracking on time?


Use a trackpad shipping solution & ensure first scan within handling time

Item missing or Item late?

Destination country issue?

Do not ship to that country. Bulk edit “Shipping exclusions” in your listings.

Carrier issue?

Change shipping carrier

Issue with choice of shipping time?

Explore choosing a longer shipping time. 

Types of Defects

Short-term solution: Managing each occurence

Item Not as Described (INAD)

Choose from:

  • Apologise, offer partial refund + buyer keeps item

  • Apologise, offer replacement

  • Apologise, accept return + you pay return shipping. After receipt of the item, refund the buyer. 

  • If you suspect foul, you can scare them off by saying that you have lodged a report with local police and they are investigating. 

After the case is settled, block the buyer. 

Trend of repeated INAD cases?


Due to


Issue with item?

Supplier problem?

Change supplier

Item problem?

Remove item from listings

Issue with description?


Improve title, photos, item specifics. 

No trend of repeated cases Learn how to appeal unfair case

Best practices to maintain your SPS

Do adhere to these Best Practices to avoid a low ranking SPS. Prevention is less hassle than having to provide a solution to an irate buyer.

How to ensure a low INR rate

Use shipping services with A-Scan feature and end-to-end tracking. Ship and upload valid tracking numbers within your specified handling time. Ensure tracking numbers and carrier names are uploaded correctly.

Summary of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for sellers to protect SPS

I’m below standard. What should I do?

Recover from Below Standard

  1. Appeal all unfair cases from the past 3 months.

  2. Calculate the following:

  • How long is your evaluation cycle in the particular region where you fall Below Standard (BSTD)? It could be either 3 or 12 months.

  • When did the OOS, INR & INAD cases happen?

  • How long will it take for the OOS, INR & INAD to “pass” out of your evaluation cycle organically?

  • How many new positive transactions do you need to fall Above Standard (ASTD) in that region again? You may use this formula: New transactions = (Current defects /Defect rate) − Current transactions.

3. Offer discounts to boost your number of positive transactions.


When cases are brought up to eBay

1. Never voluntarily escalate a case with a buyer to eBay.

2. Once a buyer opens a case against you, you have 3 days to “make things right” and appease the buyer through your actions.

3. After the 3 days, if the buyer opens the case with eBay, the Customer Service (CS) can make a decision at any time. You will not be given additional time to make things right.

Cases are evaluated by US Customer Service agents. The CS agents would need obvious and concrete proof to rule in the sellers’ favour.

Examples of concrete proof:


  • For an INR: Your tracking needs to show the item was delivered or rejected by the buyer at the time that the CS agent looks into the case. It is not enough to show that you had shipped the item.

  • For an INAD: If the buyer claims a part is missing, but your Item Title, Gallery Photos, Item Specifics or eBay Messages with the buyer clearly state that the part will not be included in the purchase.


You can and should appeal against:

  • Cases unfairly ruled in buyer’s favour (appeals go to US CS)

  • Unfair negative feedback (appeals go to local CS)

The emphasis is on “unfair”:

  • Example: When tracking at the time of case evaluation shows that the item has already been delivered or attempted to be delivered, but INR case was still ruled in favour of the buyer or buyer left a feedback that he never received the item.

Write to xxx in this format:


  • Buyer ID:

  • Transaction ID:

  • Reason for appeal: (Clearly explain how the buyer’s feedback/ case is unjustified because he claims XYZ but you did XYZ to rectify the situation)