If You Get Screwed By eBay Seller, Complain Within 45 Days Or Forever Hold Your Peace

When you pay for something on eBay but it never arrives, you’d expect that eBay would be on your side and work to get your money back. That might be true, if you plead your case within 45 days of making the purchase.

Back in August, Consumerist reader M. placed an order from an eBay seller located in China, knowing that it would take 4-5 weeks for the item to be delivered.

When the package didn’t arrive by that time, M. contacted the seller, who responded by saying he would send out a replacement package right away.

As you can probably guess, that second package has also vanished into thin air, and the previously responsive seller is not answering e-mails, even though he’s still selling items on eBay.

So M. reached out to eBay.

“I tried to open an eBay resolution case, but the deadline has passed,” writes M. “They claim they are unable to refund my money. They are also unable to enable my ability to leave negative feedback. They tell me to call my bank, Bank of America, to get my money back.”

Except Bank of America tells her they can’t do anything because M. paid from her BofA checking account through PayPal and PayPal is actually responsible for investigating her claim.

It’s likely that the eBay staffer suggested M. contact BofA because they don’t understand that there is huge difference between consumer protections with credit card purchases and purchases made by direct debit from a linked checking account. Even then, PayPal’s presence as the middle man often confuses the matter.

At the root of M.’s problem is eBay’s policy limiting your time to make a claim to 45 days from the date of purchase.

From what it sounds like in the eBay forums, this is a hard-line policy that has left numerous customers with nothing to show for their money — and an inability to even leave negative feedback for the seller.

We’ve asked eBay to explain this policy but have yet to hear back from the company. If it responds, we’ll let you know.

But for anyone whose purchase hasn’t arrived within the first 2-3 weeks, you should mark that 45th day on your calendar so you won’t be left with nothing but a receipt and bad feelings.

On the silver-lining side for M., her purchase wasn’t a bank-breaker and she’ll survive having learned this eBay lesson the hard way.

“I am more angered at the fact that sellers like this can continue to conduct business on eBay,” she writes, “using eBay’s own policies against customers.”

PS: You still have until Nov. 9 to opt out of eBay’s new, highly restrictive, anti-consumer mandatory arbitration clause.