Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ebay and Paypal Are Astonishingly Unfair to Sellers

I've been selling some things on Ebay. If you ever plan on selling on Ebay, here are some things to watch for. Yes, they are good for getting rid of stuff you may otherwise never sell. But Ebay seems hellbent on emasculating sellers. For instance, buyers can leave negative feedback for sellers for any reason whatsoever, and sellers CANNOT leave negative feedback for buyers!

This is a less visible, but far more serious problem. Ebay and Paypal will force any seller, at any time a buyer complains, to accept the return of an item and eat the shipping cost to that buyer. Anytime, for any reason, EVEN IF YOUR LISTING STATES "NO RETURNS ACCEPTED"!!!

Let me state this again: Even if you list an item on Ebay and choose the option "no returns accepted", Ebay or Paypal will still override you and force you to accept returns. You will be forced to accept the return and will LOSE the cost of shipping to the buyer. The buyer will have to pay the cost of shipping the item back to you. All the buyer has to do to get his money back is ship something with a tracking number; it could be a rock. Once Ebay/Paypal sees that a package has been delivered, they will refund the buyer.

Why do they even bother giving sellers the option of not accepting returns!? Giving sellers the option "no returns accepted" when listing an item for sale is an illusion. It seems downright fraudulent.

Here are some communications from Paypal and Ebay as an example. I listed a Net10 phone on Ebay which clearly stated that the phone was a manufacturer-refurbished item, and no returns would be accepted. The phone was still covered by a limited one-year warranty by Net10. The buyer still had and has the option to return the phone to Net10, but he instead chose to force me to accept his return of the phone. Paypal is forcing me to accept the return AND pay for my cost of shipping to him.

Subject: Status Update - Case #PP-001-xxx
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 07:27:28 -0700

Hello Norbert Wu,  As you know, we've been investigating a recent
transaction involving items that were damaged or significantly not as
Transaction Details
Buyer's name: paul xx
Transaction ID: xx
Transaction date: Jun 10, 2011
Transaction amount: $35.00 USD
Your transaction ID: xx Case number: PP-001-xx
Refund amount: $35.00

We've determined that the buyer should receive a $35.00 USD refund
if they ship the merchandise back to you. The merchandise will be in the
same condition as when the buyer received it and the buyer is
responsible for all shipping and handling costs.

6/17/2011 10:54 PDT - PayPal: Seller escalated this dispute to a Claim.
6/17/2011 10:54 PDT - Seller: The buyer is unhappy because he purchased a manufacturer-refurbished item from me, and he claims that the item does not work. The item was purchased on Ebay (item 190540788767) and the listing option states that no returns will be accepted, as well as the following text in the listing: "No returns accepted; contact Net10 for any issues. " The buyer's claim that the item is not as described is incorrect.

The item is definitely as described; the listing clearly states that it is a refurbished phone from Net10 and that the seller should contact Net10 for any issues.

The seller filed a dispute on this transaction with Ebay, who refused to allow the claim. He is now filing the dispute with Paypal.

I wrote the seller after he contacted me for a refund as follows: "Hi -- Sorry that you are having trouble with your phone. Unfortunately, my listing stated the following: No returns accepted; contact Net10 for any issues. The item is definitely as described; the listing clearly states that it is a refurbished phone from Net10 and that you should contact Net10 for any issues. This phone comes with a 1-year limited warranty from Net10. There should have been a card in the box showing the warranty and how to obtain a return authorization number. I am happy to email you a scan of that card (but I will need your direct email address) along with my receipt for the purchase of the phone from Net10, which was made last month or so. The warranty states: To obtain a RA# and shipping address, please contact Net10 Direct sales customer service at 1-877-836-2368. If your problem cannot be remedied over the phone, our Net10 technicians will provide you with a Return Authorization Number, which you will use to send your phone or accessories to the designated Net10 service center for repair or replacement at Net10's option.

6/17/2011 09:10 PDT - Buyer: This item does not work and I am very unhappy. I bought this item thinking it would work but net 10 said there is something wrong with the phone. I want a full refund since they sold me a non working correctly phone!


Anonymous said...

Could you as the seller not send the phone back to Net10, and claim any issues with the phone, perhaps recouping some of the cost or fees? (You mentioned, the buyer tried to contact Net10, but Net10 said there is something wrong with the phone.)

Please remember, if you bought a phone, despite it being listed as manufacturer-refurbished item, wouldn't you want your money back, if it doesn't work?

No question, eBay should remove the 'no returns policy' - its very misleading for sellers.

Norbert Wu said...

I agree with Anonymous' points (who are you, by the way, who has the time to read and respond to this?!) -- but here are my problems with his "solutions." The buyer can always send the phone back to Net10 for warranty service -- it has a one-year warranty. By insisting that the seller take the phone back, the seller, the buyer both pay for shipping. If the buyer had gone to Net10 as I suggested, then Net10 would have resolved the problem and paid for his shipping.

Ebay gives sellers the option of choosing "no returns accepted." But this is meaningless. The buyer escalates the case, punishes the seller for his no-return policy, and leaves a negative rating for the seller. The seller is hosed every which way, all because he believes that if he checks the box that Ebay provides stating "no returns accepted" that he can adopt the policy.

Yes, Ebay should remove the "no returns policy." It is not only misleading for sellers, it is very harmful for sellers. This is a small case, but I am left with a 67% feedback rating (no one is going to buy from me) because I don't sell much (check out my rating at photoagent101 on Ebay, I have 267 feedbacks, 1 negative in the past 12 months, and I have a 67% rating). I am out the cost of shipping the item. What if this was an overseas shipment and the buyer had buyer's remorse, and I had paid $300 to ship a video camera to him that I had described as NTSC but the buyer was an amateur who needed a PAL camera instead? He could simply claim "item not as described" and return a rock to me (Ebay only checks if the buyer returning an items ships a box and has a tracking number) and I'd be out the $300 shipping, because the buyer was not careful about reading an item description.

Ebay: If a seller says "no returns" then it should be just that. It should not mean instead "if the buyer complains, he can return it for a full refund including shipping costs, and the buyer can leave you a negative feedback while you, the seller, can't do a damn thing."

Anonymous said...

You need to be as crafty as the ebay and paypal to sell online these days!

I have had several people try to return items to me, and all but one (which was a genuine mistake on my behalf) have withdrawn their claim, after my first email response.

I security tag all my items that I sell on ebay, using UV pens and marking items. I even go as far as to remove casing and taking pictures of serial numbers and etching PCB's to avoid scammers. I take pictures of all the significant markings as evidence.

If a dispute arises, upon first email contact I inform the buyer that I will offer a refund in full for a legitimately faulty item, this include all shipping costs.

If the item is not faulty then they will lose their return shipping costs and I will deduct 15% off the final auction value to cover initial auction and re-listing fees.

And if the item returned is not the same item I sent, which can be identified by my security markings they will not get a penny back and will be reported to Ebay and Paypal.

Fortunately I have only ever had to use this tactic three times in the last five years, but it's worked every time.

And the last buyer who tried this, I was able to leave bad feedback for (although not a negative). Ebay allow you to enter follow up feedback. I used that option to inform others that he tried to scam me.

Also, use a site called goofbay to check the buyers history. You'll be amazed sometimes!

Anonymous said...

The way this works on ebay is that the "no returns accepted" option is valid only in two cases: First, when the item is sold "as-is", in which case there are no returns at all. But, if you also mention something else about the condition of the item in the description, such as "it works", or "no scratches", this invalidates/overrides your statement that the item was sold "as-is".

The other case when "no returns accepted" is valid is when the item was received by the buyer in the same condition described in the auction, in which case ebay will not force a return. However, if the item is not as described, then you must accept a return, no matter what.

Anonymous said...

Ebay is a monopoly is the problem there not regulated so the sellers suffer .You call them and they try to pacify you and only back the Buyers? There the only game in town It a very unfair situation !

Anonymous said...

especially since I sell on ebay, I'd really like to find a way to get them to be fair to sellers.cause what we really need are policies that are fair to sellers, because ebay would not be ebay without sellers, yet they routinely create policies that make it very difficult to sell there. their should be a way for sellers to bring a class action lawsuit against ebay

Anonymous said...

i have just been left heavily scammed. i refused a refund to a scammer with no ebay history who was suggesting he was going to ask for a refund as soon as he knew it was in the post, he said he had taken it to the designer shop where he was told it was a fake. he could produce no letter of verification , he couldnt prove it was my item he had taken, so i naturally refused a refund. he froze my Paypal payment i escalated to a claim because i thought he was going to send back a fake item and not my own. Paypal said i need not do anything until they said so, and the first i heard was on the last day when they closed the case that they had given the buyer a refund because the item was deemed to be fake. I was not allowed to see his documentation without a court order! . There was a hint the buyer had used a website verification but no one had suggested that to me and i have no proof he used my item to get his documentation. the worst was to come when i asked how i should get my item back. Paypal had made my buyer sign an affidavit to say he would destroy the item then he would get his refund. AS IF HE WOULD!!!! MORAL: get authentication before you sell or give a refund you might have a small chance you get your stuff back. my buyer deliberately set out to put me off giving him a refund with his story about going to the store and sounding like a dumb buyer who was trying to fool me. it worked- but not in the way i was expecting!

Anonymous said...

We should open a court about this -
on your own we can't do to much, but in group we are stronger!
Everybody knows that ebay and paypal is unfair, we should fight for our rights

Anonymous said...

I went to and added my bad buyers names. I then copied their list, (although full list doesn't appear to copy, it does - only took 1 time), and added them to my bidder block list. It made me feel a little better.

Anonymous said...

I just went to and added my bad buyers. I then copied their list to my blocked bidders list. It made me feel better!!!