New problem – see Story Updates (August 2020)
I have recently had problems over an item I sold on eBay and I am left with a feeling of having been scammed. The surprising thing is that eBay have not just allowed it to happen but have actively assisted the scam.
Although this is my story, it could happen to anyone selling items on eBay.
On the 20th October 2018 I sold a copy of a very rare Blondie ‘Private Stock’ poster on eBay to a buyer in the USA for £510.00. The buyer paid for the poster the same day using Paypal and I posted the item out to him using Royal Mail International Tracked and Signed For service on Monday 22nd October.
The poster was sent out to the buyer using the same strong mailing tube that had been used to send the poster to me from the USA when I purchased it via eBay in 2002.
Through no fault of my own, the poster was delayed in New York customs for around 20 days.
In that time the buyer made allegations via eBay that I had duped him and even accused me of selling the item to another eBayer in the USA – both unfounded.
On the 3rd November the buyer asked to cancel the order, even though the poster was already in the USA and impossible for me to retrieve.
The poster was delivered on the 20th November.
Six days later, on the 26th November, I was notified that the buyer had requested a refund as it was ‘damaged’. I asked the buyer why he had signed for it if it was damaged, he said that the poster tube was not damaged and therefore he had no reason to reject it.
The buyer has NEVER provided any evidence to back up his claim of damage, even though he has made several promises to send photos (he claims not to have a camera or cellphone with camera).
On the 4th December eBay then asked me to send him money so that he could return the poster to me and told me that if I did not send him the money to send the poster back, then the case would be closed in his favour as I would have defaulted. Reluctantly, I tried to send money to his email account via Paypal but could not. I tried to send a USPS shipping label but could not as I am not resident in the USA. The only option left to me was to send the money to him using the original Paypal transaction, which I then did.
On the 6th December, following eBay’s instructions, I then sent a screenshot of the Paypal transaction and got a response from Rafique T at eBay on the 7th December which said:
‘I would like to thank you for sharing us the screenshot of the PayPal transaction. I confirm the receipt of the two images, we have validated the screenshots and your case is currently under investigation.
Regarding the case, we have informed the buyer to purchase shipping label with the cost provided by you and send the item back within the timeline. I understand that you have done everything right and you do not need to worry. Rest assured; if the buyer fails to return the item within the timeline then we will close the case in your favor’.
However, on the 10th December they closed the case in the buyer’s favour but eBay did not tell me.
Their reason for closing the case in the buyer’s favour was that I had not sent the funds to the buyer in the correct way. I was later told (on the 23rd December) that I should have sent the funds in a separate transaction (which I tried but failed). I contacted the buyer for other payment options but he failed to respond to requests.
I put in an appeal about the judgement but it was turned down.
eBay then gave the buyer a full refund and allowed him to keep the £510 poster!
To date this eBay sale has cost me a total of £91.81 (£15.45 postage; £23.48 Paypal fee and £52.88 eBay fee).
The buyer still has the poster and Paypal are chasing me for £529 and are now threatening to pass the claim over to debt collectors – but strangely, no mention of court proceedings.
I have been buying and selling on eBay since 2001 and this is by far the most expensive item I have ever sold...and the most problematic.
The original eBay item can be seen at:
My feedback can be seen at:
I have an excellent paper trail of messages and a few audio recordings of conversations including one where ‘Peter’ in the eBay Appeals Dept admits that a ‘buyer is entitled to a full refund without showing any evidence’ – which I find appalling. Perhaps not surprising, Paypal have said that they would require proof and, due to the cost of the item, that would have to be from a third party ie not just the word of the buyer. As both the buyer and eBay have not provided me with ANY PROOF WHATSOEVER, it is not even possible for me to claim on the Royal Mail insurance.
You can see a short summary of the timeline under ‘The Short Story' and a much more comprehensive version going into greater detail about ‘who said what’ along with various screenshots under ‘The Full Story’.
eBay is being abused by a minority of buyers who seem to be able to play the eBay system without any consequence.
To date, I have had 20 messages from 18 different people in eBay Customer Support.
Today, Paypal contacted me about settling the outstanding balance on my Paypal account and once I had told the person the story behind the disputed amount I was told ‘You do have a valid case and I can see that they are 100% wrong’. The same person at Paypal then advised me to go to social media and the Ombudsman. However, the person at Paypal also said I should have one last attempt to contact someone higher up at eBay to try and get them to look at the facts and evidence. I phoned eBay and after explaining the story to yet another customer support person she said she would put me through to the Appeals Dept. I was put on hold for a while and then the line was cut off. I phone eBay again and spoke to ‘John’. After 18 mins he said he would put me through to a ‘higher department’ and then transferred me to Paypal!
I can no longer sell any items on eBay because any money that I have paid into my Paypal account automatically goes to eBay to clear the balance. I sold a low value item on the 28th December and the £16.75 went straight to eBay, which means eBay take the money from the sale and also charge me a fee for selling the item and then Paypal takes their fee for receiving money (though obviously I don’t receive the money!). I can no longer purchase from eBay as, in effect, my account is frozen.
As it stands, the buyer has a £510 poster and a full refund. Ebay have taken their fees and Paypal have taken their fees and I had the cost of sending the poster to the buyer (though technically he’s not a ‘buyer’ as he has not actualy paid anything for his ‘free’ poster). The buyer could not have got away with this scam without the help of eBay.
And now for a bit of irony. Yesterday I got a standard message from eBay with the heading ‘Help us protect your account’ which then went on to say ‘Keeping your personal information up to date can help better protect your account’. Strange to think that my only problem with using eBay has been with eBay itself!