Today eBay reversed a payment I received for selling a phone. I had sent the phone on the way to the airport and kept the receipt in my backpack in case I needed to verify that I sent it. A couple weeks later I saw the receipt, figured everything was done, and threw it away.
And then this guy files a claim that he didn't get the phone. I write him back asking for more information and giving him the dates and times I shipped. He doesn't respond. Ten days later I write him again to make sure he got the phone and everything was okay. No response.
Paypal had taken the money out of my account, making it negative, but after a while they reversed the money back into my account. Seemed like everything worked out.
And then this morning I wake up to see that the seller, without contacting me, escalated to eBay and eBay sided with them. So the guy got a free Nexus 5 on me.
My first reaction was to be angry, at the guy for pretending he didn't get the phone, but mostly at eBay for taking the money and not even asking me for my side of the story. I've had an eBay account for fifteen years now with perfect feedback! What are the chances I really decided to scam a guy for a $300 phone?
What do I know about eBay? Well, their customer service is horrendous. What do I know about buyers on eBay? They're mostly good, but there are some scammers out there. I'm familiar with the claims process and know that it has only a fleeting relationship with actual justice.
And what did I do with that information? Basically ignored it. Oh, this is my fault.
How hard would it have been for me to take a cameraphone picture of the receipt? Super easy. What's my excuse for not doing it? Well... umm...
Could eBay and the buyer have been more fair? Sure. But that doesn't excuse me from doing everything I can to secure myself in a situation I know is sketchy.
The point of blaming myself isn't to make myself feel bad. In fact, I feel a lot better. The point is to accept responsibility, figure out mistakes, and learn from them. That process feels good, even if it stings a little bit to have a phone stolen.
Photo is my friend Brian and I at the salt flats in Atacama, Chile. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.
Check out this awesome article about me on the official Winnebago blog, WinnebaGoLife.
If you think the Chilean side is beautiful, then try the Bolivian side. Cheaper and even more beautiful.
Dude I sell super cheap stuff (like $4) and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use Delivery Confirmation. ALWAYS. That would have done it. Sorry the lesson was so expensive:-(
Tynan, could this be a muse's way of hinting that YOU should be the one who creates the world's better, next-generation auction site? After all, you do have some experience at this sort of thing...
As someone who's also lost hundreds of dollars due to PayPal chargebacks, I hope we see a future where irreversible payments like Bitcoin prevail. Our backward system of consumer protection rather than merchant protection makes no sense; merchants have reputational incentives to be honest, while consumers face no real consequences if they cheat.
Recently an eBay buyer attempted to scam me, over the sale of £200 of used car parts. I'm paranoid about scammers since a buyer tried to scam me over an iPhone 3s I sold him years ago. (He complained it wasn't as described, asking for discount; but he'd knowingly paid too high a price, intent on demanding a part refund. I refused, he escalated it, I provided photos as proof, he provided blurred photos as proof of damage, then he went silent and eBay sided with me)
The recent eBay buyer who bought the car parts negotiated and made offers, we eventually agreed on a discounted price. He paid, I posted within 12 hours. Because of my paranoia, I took every step I could. I engraved the parts, took macro photos of the engravings (so he couldn't return me alternative parts) photographed the packaging process, posted via a tracked delivery service with a signature required on delivery, and paid for insurance.
Twelve days later I get an email through eBay's resolution centre. He claimed he was out of the country, eventually providing a flight boarding pass. He claimed it was not his signature, and he was not the person who signed for the parcel. I told him I would not be issuing any refund as I had upheld my side of the bargain and done what was required of me.
He maintained his story - I've no idea if it's true or not.
eBay eventually sided with HIM - although I was NOT required to refund his money. eBay evidently DID give him his money back. So he got the car parts for free, courtesy of eBay.
Now some might say I should be happy as I got my money, and that's all that matters. But it's not. To begin with, it's rattling. But far more significantly, it makes eBay too risky a place to do regular business (in my opinion).
The necessary steps, time scale, and thick-skin that are required to operate safely as a seller on eBay are too much to bear on a regular basis. The knowledge that, even though every step to protect one's self has been taken to a paranoid level, an unscrupulous buyer can reverse charges, claim disputes or otherwise try to scam you, at any time, even months after a sale, make the whole thing just a bit too much stress to deal with!
So don't be so hard on yourself. And next time, embrace the paranoia.
My question is - even with the receipt, or a picture of the receipt... would this change anything, as far as eBay? I've heard they ALWAYS side with the buyer, regardless. The buyer says he didn't receive it, even if you have proof of sending it, eBay is still going to do the same thing they did to you.
That's what I've heard, at least.
I guess, at the very least, you could go to the shipper and (if you had any insurance on the package at all), you could claim that insurance. A few shippers have a default minimum insurance, I believe. So maybe you could recoup some of the money?
Yes, that's what I heard as well. The buyer can always claim they received an empty box, or a box filled with worthless stuff to approximate the weight of the item.
That's why I stopped selling valuable things on eBay. It sucks that there's no safe alternative, because selling on craigslist is a major pain if you value your time.
The solution to this problem is to sell things on Craigslist, and only accept bitcoins (not credit cards). Give them a 12% discount over the prices on eBay.
Even though it doesn't provide protection to the buyer, many people will buy because it's cheaper than on eBay. The discount allows you to break even with eBay because fees are 10% and a 2% loss from fraud is common. And, you don't have to worry about eBay's red tape.
Another possibility: the buyer actually didn't receive the phone, and is telling himself, "That guy tried to scam me, but I won in the end!" Unfortunately without the tracking number, it's hard to say. Things sometimes do get lost. Not to mention, they sometimes disappear/get stolen from the doorstep/porch after they are delivered. Sometimes the shipping company says delivered, but they delivered by mistake to a wrong address, usually a neighbor. In this case the shipping company has to investigate once it has been verified that it was delivered, but the buyer claims not to have received it.
If you ship on your own, a tip is to always enter the tracking number into the ebay transaction (there's a place for it) on the same day you mail something, it tells the buyer and ebay, that the item has been mailed and everyone can check the progress of the package.
Better yet, use ebay's shipping label. It's almost always cheaper as well. When you use ebay's shipping label, the status is automatically updated on your shipment and ebay has full access to what's happening with the shipment. In case of a dispute, it's easier for ebay to investigate, as they deal directly with the shipping company to initiate an investigation. Easier for the seller too, as otherwise the seller has to waste time dealing with the shipping company to initiate an investigation, and report findings to ebay.
Sorry if the details are sketchy, I sell/buy on ebay maybe once in two years, last time was more than a year ago, so the exact details of these processes aren't clear in my head to spell out well. But they are all possible, and I've done them. Hope this is useful for future transactions.
EDIT 9/7/2011: The owner of Florida Auto Brokers has paid the amount owed in full. In return, I am removing his name and his salesman's last name.
Hey guys. I don't think this post will interest too many frequent readers, but I'm sharing it because I'm ranked very highly in search engines and I'd like to warn future prospective clients of Florida Auto Brokers so that they don't get scammed.
On July 7 of 2008 I saw an online auction by Florida Auto Brokers for a 1996 Rialta Motorhome. I was looking for an RV to bring back to Austin, so I sent them an e-mail. Nick, the salesman, replied.
Great email from a reader here, republished with permission -
This is just a quick "off the head" reply.
I haven't spoken, emailed to you in awhile, but I had to tell you that this is the most important thing:
In my most humble opinion, the SINGLE most important difference between those who are SUCCESSFUL and those who are not (and you can define success in ANY way you want, doesn't matter) is this: