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eBay sellers scammed – where’s the protection, PayPal?

Man in computer holding buy and sell signs

We talk a lot about your consumer rights when you buy goods online, but what if you sell online? We’ve heard reports from eBay sellers who’ve been ripped off by dodgy buyers – have you been a victim?

If you buy items on eBay regularly, it’s likely that you’ve ended up with the occasional dud. I’ve fallen for items like foul-smelling perfume and a ‘new’ dress that was clearly a shoddy factory second.

Regrettably, I kept the perfume, but I returned the tatty dress and was given a full refund. But what happens when you have a bad experience as a seller? Lately, we’ve been hearing more and more tales of dodgy buyers, with eBay sellers reporting some real horror stories.

How you can fall through the net

If a buyer files a claim or chargeback against an eBay seller, unless they said the item was not as described, it’s PayPal’s Seller Protection that kicks in to resolve the issue. However, some fraudulent buyers appear to explain clauses in the small print, meaning the seller receives payment for the items they’ve sold.

Take the Which? member Colin, who auctioned his laptop on eBay. The buyer paid up, and our seller posted the item using recorded delivery, keeping the proof of postage. The buyer then decided to reverse the transaction, using chargeback to reclaim the money from Colin’s PayPal account.

Despite Colin having evidence that the item had been signed for, PayPal accepted the chargeback because the buyer claimed that the credit card associated with their account had been stolen or compromised.

A chargeback claim can be made via a credit or debit card provider, generally to claw back the cash if goods haven’t arrived, aren’t as described, or when the merchant has ceased trading. It’s not enshrined in law, but many banks subscribe to it.

Both PayPal and eBay have comprehensive measures in place to protect buyers and sellers, but it seems Colin fell foul of the terms and conditions. PayPal explained that his listing had not been ‘marked as eligible’ for protection. The buyer was able to keep the money, and Colin was left out of pocket – and minus a laptop.

Stay alert to sneaky loopholes

He was not alone. Another seller, Jane, lost out when she sold an item of jewellery for almost £1,000.

The buyer disputed the transaction through PayPal, claiming that their account had been hacked. Unwittingly, Jane’s sale was not protected because the buyer provided an address for postage that didn’t match one of the PayPal ‘transaction details’ page.

Jane eventually managed to claw back her money. Still, she felt that the terms and conditions of PayPal’s policies were unclear, and found the process of trying to reclaim the money complicated and confusing.

Are you covered when selling with PayPal?

Sellers need to satisfy seven different criteria in order to be protected by PayPal Seller Protection. While some of these are fairly obvious – such as keeping proof of postage – others are a bit more surprising. For example, did you know that if you allow a buyer to pick up an item in person, you won’t be protected if they decide to raise a false claim?

These sellers felt they’d taken sufficient care to protect their sale, so they were surprised to find themselves outside of PayPal’s Seller Protection criteria. While buyers clearly need decent protection when they’re parting with their cash, sellers have just as much at stake.

Our examples show that if you’re selling items on eBay it’s vital to be aware of these criteria. But there should also be clearer instructions for sellers so they know whether or not they’re protected.

Have you lost money to a dodgy eBay buyer and were you surprised to find yourself unprotected by PayPal’s Seller Protection?

Comments
Guest
michelle barritt says:
1 month 4 days ago

i have 100% feedback and pride myself in good selling and decent goods offered. I now have a buyer claiming a top i sent was iron damaged and wants a refund.
i contacted ebay as i know for certain this isnt the case. the top has never been ironed !!!
the buyer is opening a case against me and it seems highly likely when it is the buyers word against mine.
this is so unfair as there are many scammers out there… beginning to think sellin on ebay is soon going to be come a thing of the past for me out of pure principle that the buyer isnt always right…..maddened and sad :-( ;-(

Profile photo of alfa
Guest

Will ebay tell you if the buyer or anyone else at that address has a record of claiming against sellers?

It is wrong that ebay seem to be always on the side of buyer scammers.