Sending to an Alternate Address for Buyers and Sellers

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Many times, buyers (understandably) want to save on shipping costs by sending items directly to the recipient of a gift.  Or, perhaps they have moved, and their confirmed address is no longer correct. 

That isn't necessarily a problem.  The problem comes when the address on the Paypal payment doesn't match the address to which they want the item sent.

You don't need to sell for very long before you run into a frustrating situation in which you want to please your buyer, but Paypal's policy makes it very clear that you will do so at your own risk.

The first thing that buyers need to know is that Paypal *requires* sellers to ship to the listed address on the Paypal transaction in order to be protected by Paypal's  Seller Protection Policy

Unfortunately, a note to the seller requesting shipment to a different address is not sufficient to satisfy Paypal's requirements.

It's not being mean or hard to get along with to require buyers to send payments correctly.  It's smart and most buyers will understand the reason, if politely explained.  Although the vast majority of buyers are honest, you never know when you'll meet up with one who purposely asks you to ship an item to an alternate address, only to reverse the payment or file a dispute after it has been shipped. 

Of course, the easiest way to avoid this problem is for the buyer to send the payment correctly the first time.  Buyers can  add the address to their Paypal account before they make their payment, or they can click on the Change or Edit link as they're checking out and type in the address to which they wish the item to be shipped.

Just a note for buyers, this will not change the primary address listed in your Paypal account.  It is for shipping purposes only.  If it is a one-time shipment, you can remove the address from your Paypal account later.

You also need to remember that a change in the zip code may result in a change in the shipping charges.  The shipping calculator is based on USPS zone rating, which places zip codes into zones and rates accordingly.

One other thing... if you're sending it as a gift, the seller can only see the shipping name and address listed on the payment.  Unless you tell them, they do not know if a payment is for a gift or not.  If you do not wish the price to be sent with the package, you may want to send a note to the seller.

Okay, so what happens if a buyer accidentally sends the payment with the incorrect address?

With some of the recent changes in Ebay's security, it is no longer possible to refund the payment and resend the invoice for the same item.  The refund can be issued, but the buyer will not be able to resubmit the payment and will receive a message such as "This item is expired".

So, there are two options: the preferred and non-preferred:

1. The Preferred.... Although it does take a little more time for both the buyer and the seller, the best and safest way to handle the problem is to cancel the current transaction and ask the buyer to re-purchase the item and go through the Ebay checkout again, making sure that they use the correct confirmed address.  Before you cancel anything, make sure that you contact the buyer and notify them of the conflict due to Paypal's policy.  Let them know that you *must* ship to the address listed on the transaction according to Paypal policy, and see if they wish the payment to be refunded so that they can repurchase it with the correct address.  Make sure that the buyer knows that cancellations do not harm their Ebay status and will benefit them by getting the incorrectly addressed transaction off their Ebay record.  
You might want to include a link to Paypal's seller protection policy or even this guide so that they know you're not trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
Note to Sellers:  Due to the new defect system, you need to be aware that all full refunds from Paypal that do not have a corresponding cancellation in Ebay will incur a defect for the seller.    Cancellations also allow the seller to recoup the fees that Ebay charges when a buyer agrees to purchase an item. 
(Note: For auction-style listings, you'll probably want to relist it as Buy It Now, with the price being the ending price of the auction.  If you're concerned that the wrong buyer will purchase it, you can use the buyer's name in the listing title, and then just send a message to the buyer with the item number and link.)

2. The Non-preferred... Once a sale has been paid for through Ebay checkout, it is no longer possible to re-submit a payment using Ebay.  However, it is possible to use the "back door" method and send a Paypal invoice directly to the buyer's email address and then mark the item as paid in the Ebay console.
Again, remember that all full refunds from Paypal that do not have a corresponding cancellation in Ebay will incur a defect. 
Sending a Paypal invoice directly is not ideal because Ebay and Paypal are no longer linked, so there is risk to both the buyer and seller.  The buyer must trust the seller to mark the item as paid in Ebay and send the correct item.  I strongly recommend asking the seller to include the Ebay Item Number in the invoice so that there is no mistake that it is payment for a specific transaction, which will help to protect both the buyer and the seller.  The seller must also be diligent and politely make the buyer aware that he will ship ONLY to a confirmed address in order to be covered by Paypal's seller protection policy.  Let the buyer know that he must CONFIRM the address prior to making the payment so that it shows as confirmed on the payment.  This will protect the seller in the event that a dispute is filed.  Whatever you choose, it's ALWAYS better to communicate first, and then act, so that the buyer understands what's happening.

For help in using the Paypal Invoice/Request Money features, please see this guide.

From my experience, once buyers understand the Paypal policies, most are fine with doing what it takes to fix the problem, although every once in a while, a customer will become frustrated and choose to just cancel the transaction. 

Things go most smoothly when both parties are considerate of the other.  Buyers need to understand that sellers have a right to be protected and sellers need to keep their buyers informed.  Ebay selling and buying can be very rewarding when buyers and sellers work together!
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