Can You Cancel a Bid on eBay? An In-Depth Guide for Buyers and Sellers

As an avid eBay user, you‘ve likely faced the situation where you need to retract a bid on an item. Perhaps you entered the wrong amount or had a change of heart. According to eBay‘s 2021 transparency report, over 1.5 million bids are retracted by buyers each year on their platform.

As a small business consultant who assists eBay entrepreneurs, I‘ve helped many clients navigate the tricky waters of bid cancellations. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share insider tips and strategies to minimize headaches for both buyers and sellers.

eBay‘s Official Bid Retraction Policy

According to the eBay User Agreement, buyers can only retract a bid under specific circumstances:

  • If you accidentally entered the wrong bid amount and the auction has 12+ hours remaining.
  • If the item description changed significantly after you placed your bid.

In these cases, you must retract your bid within 1 hour of placement. Outside of these reasons, eBay does not permit retracting bids.

As a seller, you can cancel bids if:

  • The buyer requests cancellation.
  • You need to revise the listing.
  • The item becomes unavailable.

Sellers must have a valid, ethical reason for cancelling bids. Doing so frivolously risks account suspension per eBay‘s bid cancellation policy.

Key Situations Where Bids Get Cancelled

Over my years consulting eBay sellers, I’ve seen these common situations leading to bid cancellations:

The Buyer

  • Entered the wrong maximum bid amount (e.g. $1,000 instead of $100)
  • Found a better deal on another listing or site
  • Realized they cannot afford the item after placing the bid
  • Made an accidental bid on their mobile device

The Seller

  • Inaccurately described the item‘s condition or features
  • Ended the listing early because the item was lost or damaged
  • Needed to revise the listing such as updating the photos
  • Received shipping damage and had to cancel winning bidder’s order

Pros and Cons of Bid Cancellation

Retracting bids has some advantages but also downsides to consider:


  • Allows correcting accidental or erroneous bids
  • Provides an “out” if you change your mind
  • Can improve the buyer experience if description issues are found


  • Can undermine trust between buyers and sellers
  • Reduces bidder commitment to follow through on purchases
  • Risks account penalties if policy is violated

Strategies to Avoid Needing Bid Cancellations

As a consultant, I always coach my clients to take steps to minimize the need for bid cancellations:

  • Vet your listings thoroughly – Double check item conditions, features, and photos to provide the most accurate representation.
  • Proofread your listings – Typographical errors in descriptions often prompt bid retractions. Always proofread!
  • Set bid limits – Use automatic bid tools to avoid getting carried away in the heat of the moment.
  • Ask questions before bidding – If anything seems unclear, ask the seller for clarification beforehand.
  • Bid your maximum budget – Enter the highest amount you’re willing/able to pay to avoid buyer’s remorse.

Minimizing Impacts of Bid Cancellation

If a bid retraction cannot be avoided, follow these tips to reduce negative impacts as a seller:

  • Remain calm and professional in response to the buyer’s request.
  • Add the buyer to your blocked bidder list if warranted to prevent future retractions.
  • Leave objective feedback regarding the cancellation.
  • Relist swiftly if the winning bidder retracts so your listing momentum isn’t lost.

In Closing

On a marketplace like eBay with millions of transactions, bid retractions will inevitably happen. As both buyers and sellers, we should aim to minimize cancellations, but handle them properly when they do occur. With sound strategies, diligent listing practices, clear communication, and a bit of understanding on both sides, bid cancellations don‘t need to be detrimental to one‘s eBay experience.