Seller Gets Scammed On eBay Despite Doing Everything Right

Read the tragic tale of this screwed eBay seller over on Metafilter. He did everything Paypal told him to do to avoid being scammed when he sold a cellphone, including, when the buyer returned the item, opening it in front of a police officer. Problem was, the buyer/scammer sent back a smashed gold cellphone instead of nice $500+ cellphone that was sold. Seller protection policy should apply, right? Nope, it doesn’t cover “items not as described.” Failure.

So, as a follow up, here is what happened. Spoiler alert: I was scammed in the end and learned that PayPal has absolutely no protection for sellers against the kind of scam that was used against me.

The buyer initially filed a claim that the very nice new cellphone I sent him as different in that it was black, not purple, and was significantly damaged, which it wasn’t. I responded in brief immediately, telling PayPal that I knew he was lying, and that I would dispute it. I called and spoke to a PayPal resolutions specialist twice, and then sent a long email describing every reason why I thought that the buyer’s claim was invalid. At the suggestion of the PayPal representatives, I included links to many different things, including high-res pictures of the cell phone that I took to show color and lack of damage, and web pages that indicated I had a much better reputation than the buyer and that I would have more to lose by trying a scam then I would by getting the money. After one month from the date of sale, exactly, I received an email saying that the buyer was allowed to return the item for a refund, and that he would receive the money as soon as he provided a tracking number. Which was clearly outrageous.

So I spent a very sleepless night, and the next day I called PayPal. They informed me that they would not release the money until I had a chance to see the item. I asked how to prove he sent me back something bogus, and they told me to only receive the item in the presence of a neutral police officer. I also checked my web server logs and saw that they had not even looked at any of the links I provided. I suspect that the case was not even reviewed by a human at this point.

A few days later, they forwarded me the tracking number, and I managed to get UPS to hold the package for me to pick up. Once I did that, they scamming buyer changed tactics (maybe he saw from the tracking that I was having the box held instead of delivered) and he filed a charge back with his credit card company. I checked with PayPal again, and they told me to go ahead with picking the box up in front of a police officer, and that provided with a police report, they would dispute the charge back. They also told me that about 70% of the time they were successful. Fortified with the idea I was doing the right thing and that I had a good chance of winning, off I went.

I spent an afternoon off work, and went to the UPS station. I told them what was going on, and the manager tried to get me to take the box and leave. I refused, and called the police non-emergency line. An officer came pretty quickly, and I received and opened the box in front of him. Sure enough, there was a smashed gold cellphone inside, and almost all the accessories were missing. The police office filed a report of theft that described what he had seen. A week later, I had to take another afternoon off to go to the Police records department to pick up copy of the report, which was a pain in the butt because they charged $5 and only took money orders. I faxed the report off to PayPal and waited to hear about getting my money back that they had held.

Today, they refused to contest the credit charge back. Yes, after sending me out twice to get the supporting evidence they asked for, they didn’t even do anything with it. Even though I had police evidence to show that what he sent back wasn’t what he claimed to have received, they chose to not do anything.

So I called PayPal again. I eventually talked to an escalation supervisor, and was informed that they only disputed charge backs that fell under their seller protection policy, which doesn’t in any way cover claims that the item was not as described. In fact, the 70% statistic that I heard earlier was in reference to things covered under the seller protection policy, and not any not as described scam. So in essence, everything I did a their direction to get the police report was a wasted effort, and I won’t get any of the time or money I spent doing it back.

The real lesson here is that, as a seller, you can absolutely positively get screwed selling something. All a scammer has to do is set up an account, buy some cheap things to rack up some positive feedback (if they want), and then claim you sent him a rock. At that point, unless you used an escrow service, you are screwed. And it takes a long time. For me it was seven weeks of stressing about it until today.

Sure, I complained and PayPal is forwarding my case to some special investigative unit, and they were kind enough to refund my fees, but all they will do is block the buyer in the future. The kicker – my only recourse is to sue, PayPal won’t release any documentation unless I have a supoena.

So there you have it. It used to be buyer beware, but for PayPal it is seller beware. Anyone can run this scam at least once and get away with it.

Can I trust PayPal’s seller protection? If not, what can go wrong? [Metafilter]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Geekybiker says:

    Paypal has very little protection for a seller, and lots for the buyer. I’ve had similar experiences and they are very unmotivated to do anything to help you.

  2. qrius says:

    while I empathize w/ the seller here, I am more grieved that there are so many out there who are dishonest and look for loopholes to take advantage of others. It’s too bad that so many wicked people are out there to mess up the system for others.

  3. howie_in_az says:

    There’s a whole website devoted to PayPal’s shortcomings. Ironically it’s called

    There’s also and the rather humorous, complete with cartoons.

  4. mopar_man says:

    Wow. I’ve heard a lot of PayPal stories but that’s gotta be the worst one. Everything was done by the book and they still fucked him over. No wonder I try my damnedest to not use PayPal.

  5. Underpants Gnome says:

    You can at least get a little revenge. Since the buyer claimed they returned the phone you sent them, you can call up your cell phone provider and report it as stolen, and blacklist it’s ESN so it can never be activated or used again.

  6. bohemian says:

    We had basically the same scam happen to us twice, both on higher ticket items (around $100 ea).

    Paypal has to know this scam is going on and just don’t care. We quit accepting Paypal over this crap. We eventually quit bothering with Ebay, too much fraud and the fees were getting to be too much.

  7. AnonUser1 says:

    What the seller should’ve done is this.

    Assuming that the seller shipped it out via UPS or FedEx, as soon as the buyer said the item was damaged the buyer should’ve filed a claim and let UPS investigate.

  8. MercuryPDX says:

    @Geekybiker: I beg to differ. I paid $12.95 + $5.00 S+H for a lesson on “How eBay and PayPal will dance around instead of assisting you in getting a refund”. Here’s the free version:

    1. Buy item.
    2. Have item arrive broken, but very well packed in the box.
    3. Seller blames Post Office (My packing was impeccaable!). Cash in on the insurance.
    4. Post Office blames seller (Item clearly packed broken!). Ask seller for refund.
    5. Watch as eBay and PayPal sit back laughing, counting their money, and saying “Don’t look at us… take it up with them.”

  9. coan_net says:

    wow – that sucks. I use to sell on eBay all the time – but haven’t for the last 2 years (lack of time) – now days, I don’t know if I even want to.

  10. Darkwish says:

    Sounds to me like you more than proved the item was as described, especially if they claim the phone you sent was black but the returned item was gold.

    Try an EECB and recommend that the reps actually LOOK at the pics, including the eBay auction and the police report.

    Take the buyer to small claims court if that doesn’t work, you should have all the info you need (name, address, etc.) from shipping the item to them as well as the return package.

  11. Parting says:

    I dream the day we get a better alternative for Paypal. (And eBay is raising rates AGAIN in February, so if anyone knows an international bidding site, please come forward)

  12. SabrinaFaire says:

    Yep, my husband and I have had similar experiences. Getting scammed via eBay/Paypal is a cost of doing business. I hate them.

  13. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    That “items not as described” is total BS. I’ve heard multiple stories where buyers use that to return items after experiencing buyer’s remorse.

  14. Parting says:

    @coan_net: Try Craiglist, it’s more hassle answering phone calls and often dealing with idiots, but at least you get your hands on CASH :)

  15. timmus says:

    Oh ha ha ha ha ha…. Paypal. A buyer filed a dispute against me once, and I resolved it with him on friendly terms and he admitted he was in the wrong, and wanted to continue the order and thanked me for the great service. I mentioned this to Paypal as my response to the dispute, and they went ahead and sodomized me for the disputed amount anyway. Paypal is a bunch of retards.

  16. Cerb says:

    I used to sell refurbished phones through ebay and thankfully never had this scam run on me. The majority of scams were people trying to get me to accept fake escrow services.

  17. Black Bellamy says:

    this is why i would never use ebay to SELL anything

    once i read their terms i was like oooookaayyyy

  18. Copper says:

    @chouchou: Craigslist is only helpful if you want to sell locally. You can’t post a listing in more than one city at a time so you’re losing out on other buyers.

    Paypal’s “protection” is bogus. I can’t wait for the day when we have an alternative.

    OP, are the police going to follow up with anything? Have you tried contacting the police in the buyer’s area?

  19. Parting says:

    @Copper: I know, eBay raised ”final value” fees again. Now, it’s not worth selling anything, unless you have 50% markup. I wish Google would create an alternative to eBay!

  20. jeadie5 says:

    I had something similar happen to me, but I was the buyer. Last summer I bought an Ipod and paid instantly. Despite numerous emails to the seller, I only received one reply saying “it has shipped” about two weeks after I paid. The ipod was going to be a gift for my wife and I wanted it to be a surprise, so I repeatedly asked for the tracking number (which I paid for). Three weeks later after threatening a claim, I get a tracking number that says the item was delivered the previous week. I of course hadnt seen anything. I check with my wife, and nothing has been delivered.

    I follow up with the post office and they confirm nothing is waiting to be picked up and that it has been delivered. I live in an appartment, so it is very likely it went to a different appartment or was misdelivered entirely. Based on the sellers unwillingness to provide the tracking number until after delivery would lead me to believe that something else shady may have happened.

    I figured that since I had paid for insurance, I was in the clear. The post offcie informed me that the shipper had to make the insurance claim and that I should contact the shipper to get them to file so I could get a refund. I contacted the seller repeatedly stating I hadnt received it. They refused to respond.

    After several days of dealing with the Paypal claims policy, my claim was denied. Why? The seller had a tracking number. I informed the Paypal claims department that I most certainly had not received the iPod and had paid for insurance and that the seller had to submit the claim. They said that with a tracking number, there was nothing they could do.

    I then submitted a chargeback to with my credit card, which Paypal quickly fought and had reversed on the grounds that there was a tracking number.

    What really gets me is not only did I never receive the ipod, but the seller would have had ample evidence to make the insurance claim I paid for, based on my emails.

  21. jaydez says:

    This is exactly why I have a ton of shit to sell that has been sitting in my closet and basement for over 3 years and I refuse to put on ebay.

    I’ll deal with people and forums I trust. It may take me 2 years to unload something but at least I will get cash… or a postal money order.

  22. Snarkysnake says:


    “I dream the day we get a better alternative for Paypal.”

    Just keep on dreamin’, pal… When that happens,Ebay won’t let you use it or solicit it’s acceptance. They own PayPal and aren’t about to give a competitor a piece of the action. I’m one of the lucky ones : I got screwed for a small amount early on by them good ‘ol boys at PayPal and closed my account and never looked back. I have well over 450 successful transactions and PP has only been a part of a handful of them long ago.Let me address this to sellers out there : If you take PayPal, you’re putting out the welcome mat for scammers. You have no protection and you will find that the battle lines look like this- You against the scammer AND PayPal , with Ebay the deaf ,dumb and blind referee who gets a big cut no matter what happens.In short, the odds are stacked against sellers in a big way.

    Buyers – PayPal can act as kind of a crude escrow service that guarantees that if you get buyers remorse or just aren’t happy with your purchase,you can chargeback and mess up the seller in a big way at little or no cost to yourself. Heads I win ,tails ,you lose.

    This is what happens when a good idea is left to Wall Street.

  23. Buran says:

    If Paypal starts demanding money, don’t pay. talk to a lawyer.

  24. juri squared says:

    Perhaps the seller should file a police report in the town the buyer lives? After all, it’s a clear case of theft and he has a major paper trail.

  25. LAGirl says:

    i’ve been buying + selling on ebay for about 6 years. i’ve been scammed only a few times, by sellers who sent me dirty, broken or used items that were listed as ‘new with tag’. each time this happened, i filed a claim with PayPal, and was able to return the item for a refund.

    i haven’t been scammed by a buyer. YET. guess i’d be SOL if i was.

  26. shadow735 says:

    I have been scammed by two sellers, the first one sent me a VHS set of Blue Planet documentary when the auction was for dvd, I got reimbursed for that thru paypal protection the second was someone selling New rock boots for $20 bucks new plus $50 bucks shipping, I was protected by that as well. I havent yet been scammed by buyers. The again most of my stuff is hand made leather products, I will be dropping ebay soon once I redo my web site and set up a store, the ebay fees are getting out of hand.

  27. Go4EVA says:

    I sold on eBay for a few years, and have since stopped for various reasons, including this one. Bottom line is that eBay is 90% buyers, so eBay will do everything possible to protect that 90%. The rest get screwed.

  28. crazypants says:

    I’ve been using Ebay for awhile now and never really run across any problems except for once.

    I sold a rather expensive fax/printer/scanner through Ebay and was paid via Paypal. All was well at first, but after roughly 30 days after the buyer received their merchandise, they filed a dispute through Paypal.

    I wasn’t left with very much recourse, as the address that I shipped the item to, even though it was a Paypal Confirmed Address, turned out to be a mail drop somewhere in Iowa.

    I did however have the buyer’s telephone number, as he had included it in (what I’m guessing) was his e-mail signature file.

    Welp, days go by and he won’t pick up his phone, and e-mails all go unaswered; meanwhile Paypal is requesting more and more information from me – all of which I gladly provided.

    Finally when Paypal was just making me run in circles, I looked into this fellows phone number. Turns out it was his cell phone number, and I ended up paying $39.99 to figure out who it belonged to.

    I used [], and within about 2 days I had the guy’s name and actual home address. I called up the local police department, and I’m guessing because it was a rather small town, the police were VERY helpful, they asked me to fax them my documentation and then they offered to drive out to this guy’s house and ask him about it.

    Well, long story short, having the cops show up at this guy’s house did absolute wonders for my situation, as I quickly got an e-mail from him apologizing for the ‘misunderstanding’ and offering to re-submit payment via Paypal, as well as a few extra dollars to cover my time and Paypal’s fees for the chargeback.

    Moral of all this? People are way more willing to scam you when they regard you as some faceless entity on the internet. As soon as them trying to scam you manifests itself into real world reprocussions,(sp?) it’s not so fun anymore.

  29. SaraAB87 says:

    This is just even more proof that paypal most always rules in favor of the buyer and why you shouldn’t use it even though most sellers accept it. People WILL screw you over buyers remorse and just to scam you in general, and paypal makes it way too easy to do. I sell on ebay WITHOUT paypal and I do not have a problem getting the same prices that paypal users do, plus sometimes I get even more. I have over 400 feedback and sold about 60-70 items this christmas and didn’t even get a single negative.

    There are way too many bad buyers out there, you really cannot take chances, and with my situation when I am selling on ebay I simply cannot afford to lose the money that I gain from it so paypal is a big no no.

  30. RAREBREED says:

    I got scammed as a buyer! I ordered a Spurs jersey – #50 – Robinson. I was actually REALLY excited to have won it since one of my ex gf’s kept my original, stitched one. When it arrived, the size 40 fit like a childs large and the screen printing wasn’t even straight! The champion logo was distorted as well. I was soooo mad! I emailed the seller to let them know they just sent me a really bad fake. They said to resend it and they’d refund me. I sent it, no refund. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a tracking number, so I was out $50 and had nothing to show for it. I haven’t used Ebay since…

  31. ChrisGriswold says:

    Ebay just raised the fees for sellers and removed the ability to give a buyer negative feedback.

    It seems to be becoming less friendly to sellers all the time. This sort of thing might be what eventually ends Ebay’s hold on online auctions.

  32. forgottenpassword says:

    Check out this ebay auction [] (its closed so it cant be bid on) that I saw yesterday. Its HILARIOUS! Scroll down to the section that starts “differnt ways you can steal this laptop off me:”

    Basically explains how sellers get ripped off on ebay/paypal

  33. homerjay says:

    This same scenario happened to me two years ago. I can relate. “Item not as described” is pretty much the only viable choice for just about any disputed transaction and its how paypal and feebay avoid paying out any of their claims.

    There ARE alternatives to paypal, like BidPay. I tried switching to them after this happened and nobody bid on my auctions because I didn’t take paypal! You’re fucked with Ebay. There are also alternatives to Ebay! NOBODY uses them so there’s no chance any seller will sell an item.

    @Buran: The problem with that is if you use your account (Meaning you have money in it) and you’re blindsided by a dispute, they immediate hold that money hostage. Paypal seldom waits around for you to pay them.

  34. Chongo says:

    holy cow! with all that evidence clearly stacked in your favor you should try to sue paypal itself!

  35. forgottenpassword says:


    in addition…. they say that as a seller, to protect yourself you are supposed to withdraw/transfer the money out of your paypal account as soon as it was paid into by the buyer. To keep him from using fraudulant claims to get his money refunded. Of course… paypal/ebay may close your account.

  36. BigBoat says:

    Paypal is by far the worst organization I have ever dealt with. There’s no other way around it, they are greedy and insincere beyond belief. People who have never used them have no idea. You can expect to be successfully scammed at least once per year.

  37. KogeLiz says:

    @homerjay: You can no longer use BidPay with Ebay auctions.

  38. Milstar says:

    even taking the money out results in a negative balance that paypal charges you interest on and will send to collections if you don’t pay. Screwed in so many ways.

  39. dissolution says:

    So funny to hear people say Ebay/Paypal protects the buyer at all cost. I’ve never sold but I have been ripped off by a seller (item never sent) and my impression was the opposite. In fact it even made more sense to me that they were refusing to help me — after all, the seller is where they get their money, right?

    Anyway, I’ll eventually accept getting scammed, but I’ll never use Ebay again.

  40. azntg says:

    Hmm, I really shouldn’t advocate this… but how about taking a line from the sleazy collection agency and giving a 1099-C to the buyer, if possible.

    Then they can deal their gain with the IRS and you can get a tax break?

  41. cashmerewhore says:

    Mail fraud or small claims court.

    He had to use some sort of personal information on his eBay account.

    @KogeLiz: Bidpay is gone. It was far worse than paypal for customer support.

  42. ClankBoomSteam says:

    PayPal will screw you as a buyer, too. Several years ago, I paid someone $70.00 for an item on eBay that they just plain never sent out. The seller never even contested my claims; they simply ignored any and all contact from me, including phone calls, and kept my money.

    PayPal’s solution to my claim? To assume, as the buyer, that I was scamming the seller (even though they never contested a thing, or even responded to my claims at all), freeze my account, keep the (luckily) tiny amount of money still in it (something on the order of $5.00 or so), and ignore all my attempts to rectify the situation.

    Their “system” for reinstating my account to an active status was so byzantine and self-contradictory that I eventually gave up, swearing off the company for good.

    Against my better judgment, I opened a new account with PayPal after switching banks (bizarrely, they’ll trust you again if you’re with a different financial institution — clearly they’re not using Social Security Numbers to identify their customers), but only after eBay bought out PayPal. I don’t trust either company, but it can be almost impossible to get by these days without them, it seems. I’m still waiting for some incredibly egregious thing to come my way again through one or the other…

  43. homerjay says:

    @KogeLiz: I didn’t realize that but I’m not surprised. Feebay is like the mob. This was a couple years ago, though.

  44. cashmerewhore says:


    I had purchased a GC from paypal before the holidays, I didn’t realize the seller had listed hundreds of dollars worth of various GCs (a red flag for fraud to me). My GC cost me $22.50. He never sent it. He kept winning the paypal complaint because he claimed it was intangible goods so no tracking number was required.

    After calling paypal for a week, a CSR refunded the payment out of a PP courtesy account. I guess that goes along with being a paypal member since 2000 and having a seller rating of 1226.

    I also have a feedback rating of over 2700 on eBay. I receive maybe one money order per month for items I sell. The rest is all paypal.

  45. Buran says:

    @MercuryPDX: If you paid it with a credit card (I always do when buying things on paypal), dispute directly with your bank, which will forcefully yank the money from PayPal, and charge them a fee for their failure to make things right when you got a brken item.

  46. says:

    I completely agree with Jurijuri.

    You have evidence of what you sent. You have a police report showing the extremely different item that was returned. File a complaint with the police wherever the buyer is and have him prosecuted for theft. You may not get your money back, but the scamming asshole does not deserve to get away with this.

  47. JustaConsumer says:

    How does Ebay continue to exist?

  48. MercuryPDX says:

    @Buran: Good advice for people moving forwards, however I’d have to actually check my cob-webbed account to tell you how long it’s been since I’ve gone back there since. :/

  49. vastrightwing says:

    Buyers get scammed too by the seller not shipping the item and the seller pays your money back (as opposed to refunding it). You think you’re all done except the seller then claims to PayPal YOU never sent him his item. Of course you didn’t send him anything because he scammed you!

    The details are, his “refund” is not the same amount as the original purchase so PayPal’s fraud detection won’t pick up the suspicious transaction. Also, you get charged by PayPal for the transaction.

    Be aware!

  50. ExtraCelestial says:

    I freakin hate Paypal. Don’t even get me started on stories. It infuriates me that there isn’t any other option when using eBay.

  51. Zimorodok says:

    @JustaConsumer: I’d guess the formula goes something like this:

    1. Buyer or Seller files a complaint (doesn’t matter who).
    2. Inform the Buyer that you found in favor of the Seller.
    3. Inform the Seller that you found in favor of the Buyer.
    4. Keep all the money.

  52. lastingsmilledge says:

    i’ve had this happen to me before (buyer scratched the phone and said it arrived like that), so now i clearly state that i videotape the entire process of packaging the item and dropping it off at the PO (although i don’t). this is also why i don’t leave feedback for anybody until they leave it for me, although soon sellers won’t even be able to leave negative FB for buyers like this!

  53. barty says:

    You have a police report and the guy’s address, correct?

    The way I see it, you have two (maybe three) options:
    1) Swear out a warrant for theft against the guy.
    2) File a claim in court.
    3) Do 1 or 2, and add PayPal as a party to the crime/suit.

    Their explination that you’re not covered because the item “wasn’t as described” then the buyer sent you back the wrong item in bad faith AND the fact PayPal refused to do anything about it makes them a party to the fraud, IMHO. I’m sure they probably have some CYA provision in there, but I’d sure of hell be calling up the PD where that guy lives at a bare minimum. He won’t think its that funny when he gets to spend the night in the lockup.

    As a seller, here is a tip. When you get paid, withdraw the money. If they file a claim for some BS reason, call your bank and tell them not to accept any drafts from PayPal. This way, YOU have some control over the situation, not PayPal. I did this after getting the run-around from some jerk about 9-10 months ago who claimed he never got something, even though the tracking number said he had received it a number of days before. After having a hold on my money for nearly a week, that taught me right there to NEVER leave a balance in your PayPal account.

  54. SuperJdynamite says:

    I always put on my auctions that I don’t accept credit cards, not even through PayPal. Once the money is in my bank account I don’t think there’s too much a scammer can do to get a bogus refund.

  55. cashmerewhore says:


    Paypal will lock your account and can recover the funds from payments received. It’s a huge PITA.

    I had one “missing” international package. Now all international packages are sent registered. Sure, I’ve lost many customers from it, but I rarely had international buyers anyway, and if they really want it they’ll suck up the postage charge. (Registered mail is tracked and insured, but starts at $9.50 plus the cost of postage)

  56. DMDDallas says:

    @SuperJdynamite: You can’t do that anymore. eBay will consider you in violation of TOS if you refuse to take CC’s via PayPal.

    That is the precise reason I closed my eBay seller’s account. Too much greed and anti-seller attitude.

  57. SuperJdynamite says:

    The original reason I never accepted credit cards was because I had to “upgrade” my paypal account which required monthly fees and a percentage cut of the payment.

    Is it in the eBay TOS that I must have the type of PayPal account that can accept credit cards?

    I could still opt to only accept checks and money orders, right?

  58. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    In this world, there are only a small handful of companies that are worse for the consumer than Best Buy.

    Paypal is, without any doubt, one of the top three.

  59. LionelEHutz says:

    Ebay/PayPal only cares about one thing — taking your money. As much of it as they possibly can.

    They know scams occur in their ‘system’ and they do nothing about it (on the eBay end it’s the shill bidding).

  60. DMDDallas says:

    @SuperJdynamite: Not sure exactly, but at one point, when I started putting on my listings that I do not take credit cards, eBay removed those listings and read me the riot act.

    I was infuriated and told them to shove it. Better using CraigsList for stuff now days.

    This was about 1-2 years ago.

  61. DMDDallas says:

    *credit cards via PayPal

  62. StevieD says:

    And this is factual ?

    I bet the buyer has a different opinion.

  63. Ailu says:

    I got soo disgusted by the way eBay was treating it’s sellers, I decided to no longer shop there. If enough buyers shop elsewhere, they will no longer be the biggest game in town, and sellers will not feel forced to do business with them.

  64. Copper says:

    @forgottenpassword: What I do is not link my bank account, only a credit card (not debit card) that is very helpful if I need to file a chargeback or dispute. I also have the PayPal debit card, so whenever I have a large amount of money, I withdraw it while at a grocery store. There are no funds for PayPal to hold hostage or to take back in the event of a dispute gone wrong in my favor. This makes me feel much better in the event that I ever get scammed.

  65. amnyny says:

    Maybe this is a bit obvious but don’t you have the serial or ESN number of the phone? If its activated by the buyer then you got instant proof that they did not return the phone that you had sold them.

    Am I missing something here?

  66. thalia says:

    I honestly don’t know how much longer I’ll be using eBay. They and Paypal offer ridiculous amounts of protection for buyers, but literally nothing for the sellers, as with the new seller-screwing policies going into effect later this month it wouldn’t surprise me to see a majortiy of business lost because honest sellers can’t afford to get f*cked.

  67. Hambriq says:

    Chalk another one up in the “I got screwed by PayPal, too!” column.

    What I learned there is if the buyer does a chargeback on their credit card, you are absolutely screwed.

  68. humbleish says:

    While everyone is knocking PayPal (and pretty much convincing me never to use them again), I should point out I had a positive experience with Amazon when a buyer tried to use their seller protection plan after I sold and shipped an item to him.

    I received an e-mail from Amazon saying a buyer was claiming not to have received the item and issued a chargeback with their credit card company. They asked me for a tracking number and documentation that I shipped the item. I sent the item with the post office, so I didn’t have a tracking number, or a receipt (it was a video game, so it was light enough that I could use stamps). I responded to the e-mail saying as much, and pasted the shipment notification I sent the buyer when I sent the game; since all of the communication happens through Amazon (you’re not able to e-mail the buyer directly), I told them they were free to look at their records. That seemed to be good enough for them, and I never heard back or had any money withheld. I have a 5-star seller rating, which might have made things easier, and it wasn’t a very expensive item (~$20), but I’m pretty sure I’m going to start using Amazon instead of eBay for any high priced items considering how they treated me.

    It’s possible it was an honest mistake by the buyer (I never heard from them or got any negative feedback) when they saw a charge on their credit card statement they didn’t remember making, but whatever the case, the process was simple and Amazon was fair.

  69. deadlizard says:

    I was scammed by a buyer who never paid for a $250 cell phone I sold him. I’m also sick of all the fees from eBay and PayPal essentially taking all the profits I make. Google has an alternative to eBay, called Google Base and an alternative to PayPal called Google Checkout. Right now it’s a bit disorganized, but I think it can work if you use a combination of Craigslist and Google Checkout. I’ve heard good things about Amazon, but I don’t know how it works.

  70. D3R3K says:

    The Paypal business account allows you to withdraw up to $500 per month. If you want more… there’s a catch… you need to enter in you SSN!! Now if anybody hacks your account, they have your credit card number, SSN, bank acc info, address and even phone number… you will be seriously screwed.

    On another note, 4 yrs ago I was scammed by a seller who didn’t ship out the cellphone. That bastard closed his account… even though Paypal ruled in my favor, they couldn’t recover my $. And my credit union refused a chargeback saying the paypal payment was an “instant transfer”, therefore not qualifying as a credit card payment. Funny though, it was still billed to my card.

  71. D3R3K says:

    O also forgot to mention, the bastard put someone elses phone number on Paypal. And he used an .org email address. I contacted the email administrator and they checked his account and found out he scammed 80+ ppl on ebay, and that they couldn’t find out his IP address.

  72. Employees Must Wash Hands says:


    For what it’s worth, as best as I can tell from my research, USPS insurance won’t pay off when the item shows as being delivered.

    And, as someone who’s been on the other side of it, it’s somewhat tough to tell how legit someone is when they claim to have not received something that shows up as having been delivered.

    I sold a textbook on (eBay’s fixed-price sister site) and had a buyer come back 4 weeks later saying they didn’t receive it. The first step in filing a dispute is that the buyer must contact the seller.

    I reminded him of his delivery confirmation number and pasted in the tracking history that showed it was delivered a few days after I sent it. I also mentioned that if he wanted to file a complaint with the postal inspector for mail being stolen from his mailbox, I’d be happy to provide documentation of having mailed it. But, I’m not going to refund the money since it’s been delivered.

    Strangely, he never replied. I’m glad he didn’t take it further, as’s site seems to suggest that not receiving an item is cause to get a full refund no questions asked. It seems like way too easy of a way to scam your way to a free book or two.

  73. Tallanvor says:

    I’ve used Ebay once since they bought PayPal, and luckily everything arrived fine. That said, these days I tell people to avoid Ebay. It’s not nearly as good a site as it was over 10 years ago when I first signed up.

    PayPal is an evil company. If the BBB wasn’t completely useless, I’d recommend making a complaint with them, but to be honest, it’s a complete waste of time.

  74. jamar0303 says:

    This is why I use Yahoo Auctions.

  75. Jesse in Japan says:

    I’ll bet Paypal also told the buyer “We have ruled in favor the seller and are letting him keep the money” and then just took the 500 dollars for themselves. That’s exactly the kind of scam those assholes would do.

  76. BugMeNot2 says:

    The problem is that eBay and PayPal are jointly owned, which is probably the real reason eBay strictly forbids the use of Google Checkout as a means of payment.

    Given PayPal’s abuses, I am surprised that federal and state officials have not gone after PayPal. Surely PayPal is in violation of financial or other laws in some of the 50 states and I would imagine there are some complaints that could be resolved in small claims court, regardless of what PayPal’s Terms of Service state.

  77. giblet says:

    @jeadie5: This has happened to me as a buyer twice. Delivery confirmation from the USPS only shows the city it was delivered to, so the seller can just mail an empty envelope to some random address and have “proof of shipping.” PayPal refused to refund, but I filed a BBB complaint and they gave me a “courtesy credit.” That’s probably the way for the OP to go.

    The second time this happened to me was with DHL. It was a signature required package, but they left it on my doorstep in Oakland. Not the place to leave computer equipment, I’d say. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to file a claim with DHL, only the shipper was, and he refused because it “wasn’t his problem.” All I ended up getting out of that was a retaliatory negative on Ebay and a diminished faith in humanity.

  78. shufflemoomin says:

    @forgottenpassword: This is exactly what I did. I sold an item and the buyer said they didn’t want it anymore. I said that wasn’t my problem that they regretted buying it. They wanted a refund and the shipping charges I’d paid out refunded. I refused and they agreed to a refund minus shipping and it was sent back smashed. I refused the refund and they filed a dispute. Paypal weren’t interested that it was smashed on return as the buyer decided to file an ‘item not as described’ dispute. Despite me having an email where the buyer admitted they just didn’t want it, Paypal wanted me to refund the money. I’d already withdrawn the money and the paypal account was empty. They did close the account but it was the principal of the thing. I never heard another word about it.

  79. elf6c says:

    100+ transactions w/o issue. Still, with all the forums out there it pays to look at non-Ebay sales avenues first. Especially with the new hikes.

    But, if you have to sell it Ebay always works.

  80. ralphie99 says:

    Maybe this is a dumb observation, but I buy and sell on ebay/paypal pretty frequently, and I’ve never been scammed, but maybe that’s because I always clearly state in big, bold letters that none of my items are returnable, they are being sold as-is, and you just have to trust my seller ratings. So far, no scams, lots of happy buyers. Am I missing something?

  81. @Geekybiker: Ha. Here’s Paypal’s dispute resolution process for a buyer.

    “I bought this $80 item from this vendor, and he never shipped it, and gave me the run around when I called. I’d like to dispute.”

    Dispute, dispute, dispute. Paypal gets back to me.

    “Well, the seller claims he sent it and you signed for it.”

    “I most certainly did not.”

    “There’s nothing we can do, he says he send it and you signed.”

    “Did you ask for proof? I didn’t sign anything.”

    “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do. He claims he sent it.”

    “Well I claim he didn’t!”

    “There’s nothing we can do.”

  82. Another one falls victim to PayPal and eBay. You know, why doesn’t Consumerist do a story about how PayPal operates like a bank and runs out of the United States primarily (as well as holds offices in Germany and other locations), yet is not governed nor regulated by the FDIC or any other overseeing agency that would govern a bank such as Bank of America or WaMu? I find that to be a severe problem.

  83. LorneReams says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    And then the buyer files a dispute with the CC company which Paypal then says “Oh, my money!!!!!” PAapal then turns around and takes the money from the seller because Paypal always gets theirs first.

  84. deadlizard says:

    @D3R3K: Not mentioning they’re really slow when you authorize a withdrawal. Usually takes 4-5 days. Slower than any online service that handles your money.

  85. crabbyman6 says:

    well then. I knew PayPal sucked but I didn’t know how much. I just started selling on eBay and this discussion motivated me enough to transfer the funds out of my PayPal account in case someone tries to scam me. Now I just need to hope the funds get transferred before I get scammed (3-5 days, what the crap???)

  86. axiomatic says:

    Two words… Garage Sale.

    It takes a little longer to sell your item, but its far less hassle.

  87. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Here is my short story.

    I sold an mp3 player, with a buy it now, and someone bought it within hours of the listing. They had ZERO feedback, but I needed the cash. I also have a pretty decent ammount of feeback from selling items, in the 99%+ possitve range.

    I was stupid, and sent it w/o delivery confirmation. A few weeks later, paypal lets me know that a chargeback was being placed on my account as the seller claims the didn’t authorize the charge. It appears someone stole their credit card, set up a paypal account, and bought a bunch of buy it now items. I did a google map search and the address I had sent my mp3 player to was a strip mall in Texas…right outside the Mexican border.

    I wrote a long email to paypal, yet knowing I didn’t meet their seller protection guidelines for having delivery confirmation. My arguement was that it doesn’t matter if it was delivered or not, both the credit card holder and myself were victims of a scam.

    The charge back went through. :(

    Then, for some strange reason, my appeal to the charge back went through several months later and I found all my money back in my paypal account :)

  88. rmgustaf says:

    Can you take Paypal to small claims court? Or the buyer?

  89. Crymson_77 says:

    This guy should involve the FBI. Since it was over state lines, and over the internet, the charge is pretty bad for the guy on the other end. Especially since he has an address that this was delivered to.

  90. amcfarla says:

    I dealt with the same issue from Paypal, except I was the buyer. I purchased a product, first the company sent me the wrong product and then when they sent me the right product it was defective. Paypal though defended the seller so I was pretty much SOL. Yet the only problem at the moment nobody offers a product like paypal unless you want to pay a monthly fee. So they will pretty much be able to get away with what they are doing, til a product that can compete with them comes around.

  91. skwigger says:

    I’m always afraid of selling stuff on eBay. I feel like I’m going to get scammed on every item. I had a scare over Christmas ’06. I sold an item, had the delivery confirmation. The buyer said they never received it numerous times. I had the tracking number that said it was delivered, emailed them on multiple occasions if they had received it yet, and never heard anything on the situation ever again. I still don’t know what actually happened, but I thought I was out $100.

  92. guspaz says:

    What about filing in small claims court? Does the business in question (PayPal/eBay) need to have any operations within the plaintiff’s city? And if so, do any of eBay’s many child companies have any office in this guy’s city?

  93. mzs says:

    Actually my wife got scammed as a buyer. Before the World Cup she bought a Brazil jersey. It did not arrive until the world cup was over and was nothing like in the picture. It was one of those unlicensed replicas you can find in any small shop in big cities like NY and Chicago or flea markets. It also had not tags like the seller’s page claimed and looked worn.

    I don’t think paypal even read anything I wrote. And Discover was completely uninterested in doing a chargeback because first they said I needed to go through ebay first and then when the resolution process there ended Discover told me it was too long after the fact to do a chargeback.

    The seller knew what he was doing. He just waited until the last moment at every step of the dispute process. My wife left negative feedback saying that we were inteh dispute process so to be wary and the seller attacked left negative feedback for my wife.

    I contacted other buyers of the seller’s jerseys and everyone that got back to me had the same or worse experiences.

  94. sgodun says:

    Is ANYONE actually surprised over this? Neither ebay nor PayPal give a rat’s a$$ about buyers OR sellers. After nine years on ebay I can honestly say that every single transaction I make, either as a buyer or seller, puts me on pins and needles. I hate ’em both but until there’s a viable alternative that’s all I can do.

  95. garykung says:

    My Own Survival Guide to eBay/Paypal:
    1. Always Confirmed Address only. (Addresses can’t be confirmed unless valid bank/credit card information has been input. Yes…Paypal does try to authorize your card for the valid address.) Scammers will not stupid enough to use own identity to screw buyers, as you have their addresses.

    2. Cash out as soon as you receive the money. (I have a friend who experienced similiar situation before. Forunately he cashed out before Paypal charged back. Then later, Paypal sent the balance for collection. I asked him to write back for an detailed explaination. Then, the whole thing just got ignored – no more collection and credit reporting.)

    3. Never try EECB as it is not working. As I tried (with different issues) to Meg Whitman. Her “so-called” assistant asked me not to write to them again. So they just don’t care.

    4. Remember, eBay and Paypal are both California companies, which CA has one of the most aggressive consumer protection law. Therefore, whatever happens to you (buyers and sellers), you are binding to their user agreement which is following CA law. Therefore, regardless of your residence, you are automatically protected by CA law, as they consider all activities are taking place in California)

    5. It is time for class actions. If you think you have enough with eBay/Paypal, find a lawyer and people have similar experiences, and sue them.

    Hope it helps.

  96. garykung says:

    For this case, see if it is confirmed address. If so, call postal inspector.

  97. amilcarsanchez says:

    I use paypal a lot and cant say ive ever had a big problem or a small one that wasnt solved in my favor but some of their policies i hate, this case is a clear indication that at least one needs revising. Again i love payapl but they do have their problems i don like that i get charged for bank transfers the same as credit cards and specially i dont like the fact that paypal and ebay run a monolopy that some of us should class action sue about, tried posting an add once with google check out as an option due to a no fee promo they had and got it cancelled by ebay, i would love to try ebillme or something with less fees but cant. If someone plans to do something to open up ebay let me know

  98. rdm says:

    I just got screwed around Christmas by a buyer who bought a gift card from me, emailed me and asked for the number (duh! stupid) and then disputed the charge. Said it wasn’t them, but obviously it was – they used their paypal reg’ed address. This is my fault – I shouldn’t have emailed it to them, this voids PP’s protection policy. But, they don’t give a shit whether you get your money or not. They got their fees either way, ebay got their fees, who cares if the seller gets paid?

  99. rikkus256 says:

    This isn’t news at all. PayPal is the worst (ebay is second) company on earth and they don’t care. PayPal can screw you all they want. PayPal is not a bank so none of the government regulation applies to them.

  100. wesrubix says:

    @Cerb: yeah I do the same, isn’t it kinda freaky when this happens to people?

    I guess I kind of help protect myself more by requiring immediate payment for buy it now. I almost never sell at auction. And forcing buyers to have verified paypal accounts helps too.

    One time, I did have the misfortune of selling to someone who was an idiot and didn’t read the auction (it was for a preproduction phone that worked, but had some funny bugs). He sent it back because it “didn’t meet description” but I got it back intact, and just sold it to someone else.

    I guess you really need to be a class A asshole to fraud someone using paypal against that someone.

  101. onthegojo says:

    As a eBay buyer, I’m in the midst of trying to get resolution on a PayPal dispute and their site is awful! If you’re logged in and you see the case, you should be able to respond right there. Instead, you have to figure out their maze by clicking on help, and a few more clicks until you can respond to a request. I followed the instructions I received via email (which said to send a response to, but they obviously didn’t read the email I sent. The second time I responded (via the hard-to-find online link, they again said that they needed more info – but it was info that had already been provided DEC 12! TWO months ago!

    The other annoying thing about disputes is that you can’t see what the other party had to say in response. If I could see that, I would have an idea of what I was up against. When I spoke to the seller on the phone she told me then that she would issue a credit, but never did, which is why I ultimately filed a dispute. This has been going on since I “won” the auction on Dec 1. I will no longer buy anything via PayPal worth more than $10 unless I use my American Express card. As it was, it was purely an error that I used my checking account because you can’t change the default. I HATE PAYPAL!

  102. arachnophilia says:

    i guess the problem is that for “not as described” it’s your word against his. maybe you sent the person the wrong item — there’s no way to tell.

    the ebay store i work for actually had a similar thing happen, though the buyer claimed damage not “not as described.” with that one, high-res pictures saved the day. we not only kept the money, but the person got a visit from the police. not sure about what happened after that (just the photog).

  103. cuda says:

    Craigslist is still better, takes a while and you might not get as much but you know what you are getting and if you are selling you simply demand cash. I have bought and sold many things through Craigslist with no problem.

    Been ripped off twice on Ebay, so I am done with them.

  104. Anonymous says:

    Everyone needs to be aware of something else that is going on. Buyers win something on Ebay and pay for it on PayPal and all the buyer has to do is say they never received the item in the mail. The buyer automatically receives a refund and the seller is totally screwed. Tracking numbers mean nothing and there is absolutely nothing that can be done by the seller. This has happened with 10% of my Ebay sales. I’m closing both my Ebay and PayPal accounts and will never use either one again. They are facilitating fraud and a class action lawsuit is the only thing that will ge their attention.