If someone purchases something from me, i'll always state something to the effect of "product shipped within 48 - 72 hours of receipt of payment" or something to that effect. Obviously, Holidays and week-ends can screw things up a bit. While i always try to get it out by the next day ( within 24 hours ), that does not always work out. Either way, i'll typically keep the person up to date and forward the tracking info once it is on the way.
As to what i expect out of others will depend on the item being purchased. Unfortunately, not everyone is prepared to package or ship an item even though they know that they've listed it for sale. Some items end up being delayed because the seller can't find the original box that they thought they had, they though finding a box would be easier, they don't have the proper amount of packing material, etc... On top of this, i am VERY picky about how i want things shipped. I will typically give specific instructions to those that don't have a lot of experience shipping items so as to protect my investment. Since many of these folks have little to no experience with Fed - UPS and their destruction policy, they have no idea as to what it really takes to get a valuable piece of cargo from Point A to Point B. As such, it takes longer for them to pack it than they had planned i.e. throwing it in a box takes no time at all. On the other hand, properly packing an item may take an hour, etc... On top of that, some things in life just can't be planned for and we do run into delays.
If you've run into a situation where the seller is not keeping you posted and / or there has been a delay, i would send them an email stating the following:
"I forwarded payment to you on 05/01/03 for a Super-Duper Gadgetron. I have not heard back from you since that point nor has the unit shown up here. If the unit has shipped, please forward me the tracking information as soon as possible. If it has not shipped, please let me know a specific date that it will ship by or when you can refund payment to me. I would appreciate email confirmation once the unit or refund payment is sent out with any of the pertinent shipping information included."
This reminds those that are prone to putting things off that they've had your money for XX amount of days, that you are getting pissed and that their communication skills need work. Most people will get on the ball at this point in time after seeing the specific date of transaction and realizing that they've dropped the ball. After all, what gets put off for one day sometimes turns into a few days and it becomes longer than we think.
If you get nothing as a response to this, give them a call ( if you have the phone number ) and touch base with them. After all, it is possible that their computer went down, etc... Hopefully, you'll be able to resolve this over the phone very quickly.
If you get nothing out of them as a response from the first email and / or a phone call, I would suggest letting them know that you will be contacting the local police department in their area and speaking to their detectives regarding internet fraud. Include an itemized list of the items that you will be forwarding to the cops as evidence to support your side of the story. While this is primarily a scare tactic, it shows that you are organized, dilligent and not about to let this go. At the same time, you might want to think about actually doing this or at least getting all of the info together to do so.
While i've not had to use the latter part of my suggestion, i would have to think it would scare everyone but an honest citizen. Having said that, i would also like to point out that "bad things" do happen at times and people have family / medical / business emergencies at times. While it really sucks being the buyer that is left out in the dark, something far worse could be happening to you than suffering through a delay in shipment, etc... I think we have all been put into scenarios where everything else in life takes a back seat to one or two specific situations that arose unexpectedly. Sean