Another Seller Swears Off eBay Forever

There was a time, around approximately 2001, when eBay was a global marketplace where you could easily and efficiently unload items with any market value that you wanted to get rid of. Now, it’s more of a global flea market full of scams and villainy. eBay and its old accomplice, the U.S. Postal Service, worked together to make Keith’s old iPhone disappear into the ether.

I thought that after I upgraded my iPhone to the 4s, I’d throw my old 3gs up on eBay and maybe make a few bucks back. It got purchased pretty quickly and the buyer asked me to send it to Indonesia, despite the auction clearly saying US buyers only. When I refused, he asked me to give him good feedback and he would do the same – clearly this scam works better if people think you’re a good buyer.

I refused and reported the scammer to eBay which meant that he gave me negative feedback, not a good thing for a seller.

I re-listed the item and eventually got the fees from the first auction reversed and it sold again, albeit for a few bucks less. I asked the new buyer what method of payment and shipping he wanted. First class it was and he declined insurance. Just to be on the safe side, I sent it with “delivery confirmation” so I couldn’t be in a position where he claims he never got it.

Well, he claims he never got it. Politely at first and then, as the days passed, a bit more aggressively. I know I sent it, so I’m reassuring him and waiting.

All the while, the tracking system says they have my billing info received, but never received my package into the system. After a week, I call the USPS and they inform me that many times, it doesn’t show up until the delivery scan is done – and my personal experience has shown that to be correct. I’ve anxiously checked each day for items with my USPS tracking number, only to have them show up in my mailbox before they ever show up on the screen.

Then, the buyer did what any aggrieved person would and should do – they complained to eBay and they sent me “the email”.

I provided them the tracking number, but since it didn’t show they ever received it, I didn’t have much of a case. They ruled against me.

Then I had a thought, I sent it from the mail room in my building and they have cameras all over the place. I spoke with security and they had the shot – a video of the USPS employee picking up my box. I grabbed my laptop and fired off an email to eBay — I have the proof I sent it now, surely the eBay gods wouldn’t hold me accountable when I followed their every instruction and the buyer chose the method of shipping.

Then they explained the rules – had the item been stolen after it was scanned as delivered, I’d be off the hook, but if it’s stolen en route, that’s still your fault and you should have purchased insurance. Of course, the irony is that insurance wouldn’t apply here either because the USPS claims they never got the package.

eBay forwarded my case to a collection attorney and we are currently chatting.

But suffice it to say, I’m not using eBay anymore. And if you’re a buyer, I suggest you quit them also. There’s simply no protection for you.

If you don’t want to quit eBay because you like finding cheap used iPhones, perhaps try rolling the cost of insurance into a “shipping and handling” fee and refuse to remove it.


Edit Your Comment

  1. CoachTabe says:

    I’m not sure what the problem is here – he’s mad at Ebay because he shipped a package that never arrived? And his proof that he sent it is of a mail carrier picking up a box, whose contents are unknown? C’mon. Ebay has a lot of flaws but I don’t see where they’ve done anything wrong here.

  2. Marlin says:

    How is that eBays fault? You shipped it and it never got there. Its between you and the USPS, not eBay or the buyer.

    If you were the buyer would you be happy with “I sent it and I’m not giving you your money back even though the tracking does nto show it getting there”?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      You mean it *should* be between you and the buyer.

      The problem is that when any buyer tells eBay that they didn’t get something they bought from you (even when they did), eBay will just take the money out of your PayPal account and give it to the buyer.

      eBay exists primarily as a means to support fraud and theft. As a buyer, you can do whatever the f%ck you want – fraud it up big time, and eBay/PayPal will support and endorse your thievery.

      …the seller can’t even do so much as leave negative feedback for you to warn your next victim.

      • El_Red says:

        There’s only one problem in this case.

        It is in eBay’s terms and conditions that the seller is responsible to provide a proof of delivery on request. That’s why insurance should not be optional, ever. (Most sellers include it in the shipping cost).

        For the rest, it’s a sad story.

  3. thomwithanh says:

    I quit ebay… never looked back

  4. Costner says:

    A videocamera showing a package being picked up is worthless, because there is no proof of what is in that package.

    He should have went to an actual post office location rather than the mail room of his company. That way the receipt shows the tracking number and there is proof of acceptance. On top of that, he should have popped for insurance to protect himself – this isn’t eBay’s fault one bit… this is the OPs and/or the USPS… but mostly the OP.

    What does he expect eBay to do – take his word for it that the package was actually sent? Either way the buyer didn’t get what he paid for, and aside from a video showing a package leaving his mailroom, there is zero evidence to prove he actually sent the phone.

    Sorry OP – I have to side with eBay on this one. Maybe the phone will show up in a few days and you can recoup your loses, but I don’t see why eBay should be liable for a package you admit has not been delivered.

  5. fantomesq says:

    Insurance isn’t there to protect the buyer… its there to protect the seller. The buyer can’t even file a claim on it. Live and learn

    • nautox says:

      I totally agree. Whenever a buyer pays what I think is too much for an item AND declines insurance, I gladly pay the $5.00 for the insurance to try to cover my bases.

  6. RoadRageCat says:

    SELLERS FAULT for not:
    1) Limiting buyers to N. America or US only. 2) Not actively watching his auction and cancelling bids of suspicious bidders 3) Trusting eScam

    • MrEvil says:

      RTFA, the seller DID state US buyers only and declined the transaction with the first buyer for that very reason.

      • Herbz says:

        You can actually limit who can purchase it ON ebay.

        If they list their address/whatever as something you don’t accept, it won’t let them bid on it.

        • Coleoptera Girl says:

          More than likely, Mr. Indonesia has a US account with e-bay and only after the purchase requested that the package be sent to Indonesia. It’s pretty easy to pretend you’re someone you’re not, on the internet…

          • ExtraCelestial says:

            YES! It happens alllll the time.

            What I’ve found- you can block non-US buyers on Paypal and set it up to accept US-confirmed addresses only and that should be 100% effective if you are doing Buy It Now transactions that require immediate payment. Auction listings can be a bit more tricky. I haven’t had it happen to me yet, but with eBay’s new rules, if the buyer doesn’t pay any negative feedback will be removed. So in theory they will not be able to complete the payment and this policy should hold if they neg you. OR you could avoid eBay altogether.

    • GMFish says:

      What are you talking about?! First, the seller did limiting buyers to the US only. Second, the problem was not caused by suspicious bidders. And lastly, the problem was not caused by “Trusting eScam.”

      Can you read? The problem was caused by the USPS’ failure to deliver his package.

      • Jawaka says:

        If the seller limited the auction to US buyers only then an Indonesian buyer wouldn’t have been able to have bid on it originally.

        Rule of thumb for anyone selling on eBay.

        1) Only ship expensive items to the US
        2) Pay for insurance if the item costs more than you’re willing to lose.
        3) You NEED signature confirmation for all items for more than $250. Delivery confirmation alone isn’t good enough.

    • RedOryx says:

      According to the OP, the first buyer asked it to be shipped to Indonesia only after the sale. So, as a scammer, it would make sense to fake a US address to bid on US-only auctions then try and get them to ship it out of country later (I don’t know if faking the address like that is possible)

    • Difdi says:

      Reading is apparently too hard for you. That, or you didn’t actually read the article, and just took the opportunity to spew your own opinion, whether it was relevant or not.

  7. fantomesq says:

    If the seller had taken his package to the post office, he would have had proof of shipment… a receipt.

    • mschmidt says:

      Which wouldn’t have meant anything in this case. Ebay requires delivery confirmation for anything below $250 and signature confirmation for anything above that – whether the seller can prove that his item was shipped off or not is irrelevant if he can’t show that it actually ended up in the buyer’s hands.

    • Jawaka says:

      eBay doesn’t care if you shipped it or not. They only care that the buyer received the item therefore they require proof of receipt by the customer, not proof of delivery by the seller.

      Because lets be honest, if you were the buyer and didn’t receive an item you purchased you wouldn’t care if the seller really shipped and it was lost in transit. You’d either want another item shipped or a refund.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Except in every case in the world besides eBay, you as the buyer don’t get a refund for something lost in shipping unless you insured it. Not the seller’s problem – it’s your problem.

        Only on eBay can you claim, truthfully or not, that you didn’t get an item in the mail, and have eBay steal the money from the seller’s PayPal account and give it to you.

        • Kate says:

          Um, every catalog site I know of doesn’t make me eat it if the package doesn’t show up, nor ask me to buy insurance.

        • Jawaka says:

          Of course you do. Almost every legitimate company will either send a replacement or a refund once they track the package and see that it wasn’t delivered. If for some strange reason they won’t then I’m sure that everyone on this site would simply contact their credit card company and request a charge back (a favorite word on this site)

  8. aboxoflogic says:

    I think his frustration, as is mine, with almost the exact same story that revolved around a Blackberry Torch, is that you want to sell something easy for a few bucks but then the first time you list some scammer messes us your sale, gives you bad feedback and you gotta relist it again and then someone actually buys it but then it seems they might be scamming you too or the UPSP is completely incompetent (true story: I have in my desk a signature form from the USPS that is NOT my signature that they faxed me to prove they delivered the return of above mentioned Blackberry Torch to me and that I signed for it. I’m sure the signature is the mail carriers and no matter what I’ve done I can’t prove it and have lost a $300 sale).

  9. Guppy06 says:

    Filing an insurance claim requires the participation of the buyer, generally a signed statement (under penalty of insurance fraud) that they never received the item.

    To my knowledge, eBay’s refund policies do not require buyers participate in the insurance claims process before issuing a refund.

  10. homehome says:

    I always do insurance, because I don’t wanna be left holding that bag.

    • shthar says:

      Have you ever got the USPS to pay off on insurance?

      I never did.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Yes. A few times. And FedEx and UPS.

        None is better than the others.

      • icerabbit says:

        We never did from USPS.
        Fedex was a nightmare over $2k item, sent by us signature required fully insured. Supposedly never arrived … Yada yada. 6 month nightmare were fedex just lied, denied and said sue us.
        Never had an issue with UPS dammage claim.

  11. yossi says:

    I used to sell on ebay, but had to stop. I specialized in older laptops, with minimal specs. Once laptop I sold was advertised as Pentium 1, 75mhz, 16mb of ram, 500 mb hard drive, 12″ screen. Fully working with windows 95 and 28.8 dial up modem. I included plenty of pictures and a detailed description of exactly what the laptop contained. Bidding started at 1 penny and went up to $180 dollars. I shipped the laptop and a few days after it arrived, paypal froze my payment. The buyer had filed a dispute saying “i expected this laptop to have a CD burner, DVD Drive, ethernet card and larger screen” even though none of those items were listed as part of the laptop.

    Paypal sided with him saying the “item did not meet buyers expectations” and he was instructed to send it back to me. It arrived, no longer functioning, and paypal took the money out of my account and sent it back to him. So, i no longer had the money, and had a broken laptop.

    I complained to paypal who said there was no level 2 dispute. SInce the buyer initiated a dispute, that was the one and only. Case closed.

    I stoppepd selling on ebay from that point. Will NEVER sell on ebay or use paypal account.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Been there, done that. I had over 2,000 transactions on eBay then they started a policy of “the buyer is ALWAYS right.” Got screwed several times and quit. And never mind they’ve jacked up their fees beyond belief. Haven’t been back in several years.

      • El_Red says:

        Buyer, always right. Riiiiiggghht.

        I got screwed up as a buyer few times on eBay; had to use Consumerist post to get contacts and escalate the issue.

        In eBay’s world, Paypal (owned by eBay) is the only winning party.

  12. RedOryx says:

    I fail to see how this is eBay’s fault. The OP sold something. The buyer never received it and the OP acknowledges the delivery confirmation shows it was never received. Of course the buyer is pissed: the OP has their money but they don’t have their item. The OP should take the issue up with USPS, not eBay.

  13. Blueskylaw says:

    eBay has turned into a trash heap with big sellers hawking cheap, mass produced merchandise. I have been a member for over a decade and remember how good the old days used to be and how I would actually be excited to see what I could find, nowadays I just sign on every now and then and of course nothing has changed except for terms of service with new fees of some sort.

  14. Akuma Matata says:

    not for nothing, but UPS or FedEx FTW… USPS sucks by comparison

    • shthar says:

      Aren’t those the guys always throwing the packages into the grand canyon?

      On this sites stories, anyway…

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      The USPS branch where I do all my shipping rocks. UPS doesn’t even slow down while they pitch your package into the yard – and that’s when they bother to deliver.

  15. John says:

    eBay is FAR too seller hostile to use. You can not even leave negative feedback for a buyer these days. I guess they figured all buyers are perfect in every way.

  16. zandar says:

    >First class it was and he declined insurance.

    Firstly: what kind of idiot declines insurance? It’s a pittance.

    Secondly: my first rule of selling on eBay is NEVER, EVER, ship something uninsured. Even if I have to eat the cost. I don’t care. I want some kind of assurance that, if they screw something up, I have a leg to stand on later.

    As far as the USPS never getting it- USPS can be unreliable. UPS is not perfect, but at least there are guarantees against losing the package if you choose air delivery. Not sure about ground.

  17. bdgbill says:

    Ebay does have it’s problems but I have found that selling certain products just brings the scammers out of the woodwork regardless of where you list it. The iPhone is second only to the iPad for being irresistible to these parasites. Laptops and video game consoles are problematic as well. If you think Ebay is bad, try selling an iPhone on Craigslist.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      THIS. You can’t sell any electronics on Craigslist anymore without scammers absolutely POUNCING on you. I don’t even bother with CL anymore, it’s gotten so bad that maybe only 1 out of 10 offers are actually legit & it’s just not even worth trying to sift through all the emails.

  18. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    How did the OP buy “delivery confirmation” if he didn’t go to the post office but dropped it off at his company’s mailroom?

    • Marlin says:

      You can buy and print that at your computer.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        Or since his company has a mailroom, they probably also have a postage machine.

    • RedOryx says:

      You can use or PayPal to ship from home (or work). You print out the packing slip and drop the package in the mailbox.

      • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

        So I can buy a ‘delivery notification’ online, not mail anything, and claim that I did?

        • RedOryx says:

          I suppose in theory you can go through the hassle of paying and printing out a packing slip and then not mailing the item and just claim it got lost. But, as pointed out in this example, if there is no tracking or delivery information attached to the DC number, it’s unlikely you’d get away with it.

        • RueLaLaLa says:

          No, because until USPS has scanned it at the PO or upon pick up from you house, the item is not actually considered sent. The tracking reads along the lines of “the shipper has notified us that a package is to be mailed but tracking is not available until the package is scanned upon pick up” – so the system knows that an item actually hasn’t been sent yet.
          Which happened in the posters case… the package was picked up but never scanned in.

  19. TyNavarre says:

    I ended up losing my perfect feedback record on eBay over something similar to this. In my case the buyer ended up demanding a refund while the package was still well within the delivery window (complaint filed on day 5 of a 7-10 business day stated delivery). With that being the case, I declined the refund stating the package might still arrive. The buyer immediately put in a complaint with eBay (again while the package was still in the delivery time frame) who then issued her a refund.

    We would have refunded her had the package not arrived after a few weeks but the buyer took advantage of the system to get a refund when it was not ‘yet’ appropriate to ask. You would think that eBay might have looked at the delivery method and seen that the buyer had not allowed adequate time for the item to be delivered and at least allowed us the chance to refund the client before they tanked our record. The whole process was very unfair to us as a seller and it really impacted my desire to ever sell on eBay again.

    Unfortunately, like the OP here, our package was shipped with the lowest rate USPS available with no tracking or delivery confirmation so we were basically screwed. Obviously its not eBay’s fault that this happened, but they could have at least allowed the chance to make it right. I hate the USPS now too, we have seen more undelivered mail in the past few years than I remember in my whole life. For all we know some postal worker stole it or the buyer eventually got the package and is enjoying their order…I hope they choke on it.

  20. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    I stopped selling on ebay for two reasons:


    2) I listed a high-dollar item that immediately sold to someone who had just opened an account (huge red flag); bogus seller never sent payment, never responded to my inquiries. A few weeks later, same bogus seller contacted ebay claiming he/she/it had paid, never received the item and wanted his/her/its money back.

    The bogus seller didn’t get away with it (even after attempting this a SECOND TIME after the first claim was denied — he/she/it opened another account and tried again, even though I never re-listed the item), but I spent a lot of time on the phone trying to make sure I wouldn’t get ripped off.

    Now I use Craig’s List. No fees, no shipping charges, most people show up when they say they will, I get paid in cash (cutting PayPal from the loop), and I haven’t been murdered yet. So it’s all good.

    • Snapdragon says:

      OK, ‘haven’t been murdered yet’–that made me chuckle out loud. (I’m with you re: Craigslist, though I’m sure it has its faults, too.)

  21. jimbo831 says:

    Has the OP ever heard of Craigslist? Way less hassle. Get cash, give item.

    • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

      THANK YOU! ;-D

    • who? says:

      Craigslist all the way. No seller fees, no paypal, no disputes, and I can usually sell the item faster and for more money than I’d get on ebay.

      The only time I use ebay (as a seller) anymore is for something that few people will be interested in, and I need more eyeballs than just the local area. An iPhone doesn’t fit in that category.

  22. Thresher says:

    I seldom use it anymore because of the costs. Between eBay, PayPal, and shipping, it can easily be 15% of the value of the item. I just sell locally through Craigslist now. Of course, CL can be dangerous as well, but if you take steps to make sure that the exchange is done in a public place, you can keep yourself from harm.

  23. sirwired says:

    I would have ruled against him too… he has some grainy security video of the USPS picking up a package from somewhere. That’s not proof of shipment of a specific item in any universe.

    If you want real proof of shipment, you need to take the package to the USPS counter, and hand it to an actual person who will scan it right then and there. Or at least spring for a “Certificate of Mailing” (also available from the counter.)

  24. colpuck says:

    It is the seller’s responsability to see that the goods are delivered, period.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      Actually, according to the Uniform Commercial Code the risk of loss transfers to the buyer as soon as the seller delivers the item to a reputable delivery company.

  25. Labratt21 says:

    I’ve sold a few things on ebay and whenever something goes for $100 or more I always add insurance and go with signature confirmation instead of just delivery confirmation. Sure, it costs me an extra $5, but it’s my confidence blanket that if something goes awry I’ve covered myself as best as possible. Stating in the auction that you will only sell to confirmed addresses helps too.

  26. Portlandia says:’re mad at eBay because USPS lost your package? Oh that’s perfectly logical.

    I got mad at the a car manufacturer last week when the Dominos delivered my pizza late. I also routinely get mad at gmail when my friends don’t respond to my emails.

  27. GrandizerGo says:

    This is strange to me. We have pickups from almost all of the carriers every week. One of the first things they do is pull out their electronic scanner and scan the package in.
    Once they have done that, it is now there responsibility, they own that package.
    If your video shows them taking YOUR package and not just some random package you say is yours, why was it not scanned?
    Once scanned it is in the system….
    If your shipping department is letting them take packages without leaving a receipt or a scan of said packages, you have a problem there.

    • SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

      more than half of the scanners the usps have purchased have vanished. so it may be some other random scanner in use.

  28. GoldVRod says:

    As with other posts I agree this was 100% the seller’s fault.

    1) ebay allows you to set preferences so international buyers cannot bid. This is not the same as putting ‘will only sell to US buyers’ in the text of your ad. It will physically prevent them from bidding. Seller did not do this.

    2) Insurance protects the seller not the buyer. Seller should have purchased insurance and the onus is on the SELLER to do so.

    3) If delivery confirmation doesn’t show it was delivered then 2) would have covered him and delivery confirmation is absolutely mandatory for seller protection and free with priority mail. So claiming that ‘to be on the safe side’ means we’re dealing with a newbie seller.

    4) Having a video of something means nothing. Nothing. There’s no ‘proof’, as the seller claims – it’s just a video of someone packing something. There’s no way for ebay to establish that this IS the item that was shipped at all and they will not look at it. Why should they?

    5) ebay has very specific seller options that would have protected the seller had he followed them. As far as the new buyer is concerned his item simply did not arrive – so why should the buyer be punished because the seller is naive? The suggestion is the buyer stole it – but how would they know that Delivery Confirmation would not be updated? They wouldn’t and it’s more likely that the item was simply lost – and that’s what insurance is for.

    6) ebay offers safeguards to both sellers and buyers which for the most part offers a fiarly safe trading environment and the rules are fairly straight forward. The seller talking to ‘his attorney’ is laughable and clearly posturing.

    • Snape says:

      I came here to see someone say your point #2 and was not disappointed. That is correct.

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      1) How do you know? Maybe the scammer had a US address, and then after the fact requested it be sent to Indonesia?

      2) Agree

      3) Agree

      4) If the video is an uninterrupted video showing the seller dropping off a package (where the package is clearly visible the entire time), and then subsequently shows a USPS employee picking up the same package, I would think that it’s sufficient to show that USPS did truly pick up the package.

      5) Agree

      6) Vehemently disagree. eBay has become very anti-seller. Read some of the comments above. eBay has moved to a policy of “the buyer is always right”, and has repeatedly sided with the buyer, against all proof. For example, there was one user above who stated he listed an old laptop (Pentium 1, 75mhz, 16mb of ram, 500 mb hard drive, 12″ screen, working modem, etc…) , with all specs very clearly listed, and the buyer complained that “i expected this laptop to have a CD burner, DVD Drive, ethernet card and larger screen” even though none of those items were listed as part of the laptop. The buyer had all his money refunded, and returned a broken laptop back to the seller. Seller was out laptop and $180 he was supposed to be paid for the laptop.

      That is 1 anecdotal story, but there are hundreds of other similar stories, and has become a very noticeable trend. For example, you as a seller cannot even leave negative feedback for a buyer any more. You can only leave positive feedback.

      • GoldVRod says:

        In answer to your 1) rebuttal. Then the seller made a mistake. It’s simple – you lose seller protection if you ship to an unconfirmed address.

        If the buyer wanted it shipped to a different address (in your hypothetical example Indonesia) than they have listed on paypal then it’s possible for them to add the new address as a secondary to their paypal account. Scammers won’t do this. Plus – this would fall under an ‘unwelcome bidder’ had the seller set up international blocks and thus the seller could cancel the sale.

        6) I agree ebay sides with the buyer very often but not when the very basic rules of SPP are followed – most of which I covered and most of which the OP did not.

  29. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    If I order from any retail site they are on the hook until I receive the package. Purchasing insurance shouldn’t be on the buyer even though many sellers do it this way.

    I don’t think this is eBay’s fault. USPS lost the package and the customer didn’t even have proof you actually sent it until you came up with video that probably proves nothing.

  30. MrSnarkyPants says:

    I have only sold a few items over the years, but I never have given the buyer an option of choosing shipping terms. I ship insured to the US only.

    That being said, eBay has become such a royal pain in the ass that anymore I just give stuff to Goodwill and take the tax deduction.

  31. evilpete says:

    I’m still wondering if the eBay case with the destroyed violin was ever resolved

  32. Mike says:

    I once purchased something on ebay with USPS proof of delivery. USPS showed it delivered and I never received it. I have a PO box at a post office. They told me at the post office that the items are scanned as delivered at the central office in town before being shipped to the satellite office. So as a buyer, I would take no comfort in knowing that an item was delivered USPS with proof of delivery.

    The seller had proof of delivery but never sent it until after I filed with eBay that the item wasn’t received. To me this is a dick move. If I had the tracking number I could have gone on the day it was misdelivered and had a good chance of retrieving it. But after several days with no input on when it was expected, the post office couldn’t find it, and I can only assume it went to someone else’s PO box on they kept it. Clearly the only reason they had it was to protect themselves and not to facilitate its delivery to me.

    eBay ruled against me and I lost my money. I must be the unluckiest buyer in the world, because to read the Consumerist you would think the buyer never loses these arguments.

  33. Geekybiker says:

    If you sell on ebay you really need to read all the rules. #1 Always get a shipment receipt and require some sort of confirmation. #2 Only ship to verified addresses. Most likely you’re getting paid via paypal and that’s the only way you will ever have protection. #3 Always require insurance unless you’re willing to write off the cost of the item.

    Honestly ebay is just too much trouble for most things any more. I just use craigslist most of the time or sell on forums that cater to the item.

  34. DerangedKitsune says:

    I don’t even know why people list auctions without insurance. Build it into the cost of shipping. Buyer thinks it’s too high? Sucks for them, don’t bid.

  35. kobresia says:

    Not eBay’s fault, maybe slightly USPS’ fault, but primarily OP’s fault for being clueless & not buying insurance and configuring his auction properly (so as to exclude buyers outside of the US, just saying you’re doing that generally doesn’t work).

    eBay has its rough edges, but it remains a relatively easy way to offload stuff for halfway decent money. Oh, sure, you can sell on CL, but that takes more of your time, you meet the occasional creep, and you won’t get anywhere near top dollar on most things. Be aware of all the fees and risks, follow the policies, insure what needs to be insured, and put some effort into creating your listings, and eBay selling is generally completely uneventful, and also can be lucrative.

  36. JetShine says:

    Insurance is most definitely for the seller’s protection, not the buyer’s. I’ve never shipped something without insurance unless I was prepared to eat the cost of it (or at least the difference)…. that’s why I always thought it was silly to give the buyer the option to pay for insurance; no e-tailer I can think of gives you this option!

    I’m also pretty paranoid about having positive proof that the shipper has received my item, so I always insist on a receipt. eBay makes it too easy these days to print off a pre-paid USPS label. Especially for first-class mail, they just want you to drop it in a box or a pile somewhere at the post office, even more so if it’s towards end of the day with a busy line at the service counter.

  37. Starfury says:

    If it’s a higher value item like a phone why use USPS? Their tracking sucks and using FedEx or UPS would give you better tracking.

    It won’t necessarily protect you from theft after delivery or the driver just throwing the package from the truck to the doorstep.

  38. lastingsmilledge says:

    i’m going through a similar experience right now…. except that i dropped off my priority mail international package with USPS and have postmarked acceptance. it was lost en route (tracking says it’s in newark); USPS acknowledges this.

    buyer declined insurance and opened a case with ebay; ebay instantly banned me from selling and withdrew $675 from my paypal account. i’ve been a member since 2000, sold $80k+ of items and have 400+ positive feedback (100%, of course)…. but i’m pretty sure there’s no way i can win this since it is an international shipment and ebay requires that express mail international is used for goods $250+ because it provides signature service (which is cost-prohibitive and would basically end international buying/selling on ebay if the policy was adhered to by sellers).

    my tactic right now (and i feel bad doing this, but it’s essentially a zero-sum game) is stalling the not-so-intelligent buyer so that he doesn’t escalate the claim, because it will expire after 30 days.

    terrible for all involved, except for ebay – of course they get to keep their fees!

    • Sweet Revenge says:

      Has it been a few years since you’ve sold anything on ebay (prior to this item?) “buyer declined insurance…” a buyer cannot “decline” something that seller’s aren’t even allowed to offer as an option for buyers.

      This may sound harsh, but why on earth did you ship something internationally worth several hundred dollars without buying insurance to protect yourself??? I insure all my international shipments that I cannot afford to “self-insure” (which is anything over $50 in my book.) You’ve been on ebay for a long time, so you should know ebay policies. I know ebay isn’t always fair and screws sellers more now than ever, but there were things you could’ve done. Sorry.

    • beardancing says:

      Hey! What’s your Seller’s name on E-bay? I want to buy stuff from Sellers like you!!!!
      Nice troll…not!
      As for original OP, yeah, customers are entitled to a refund from the seller when they don’t receive the item they paid the seller to deliver to them. Doesn’t matter whose fault it was. It is the sellers responsibility.
      The problem with ebay, on the other hand, is that they ceased giving a flying fork long ago about the well being of the small to mid-size sellers.

    • kobresia says:

      “Insurance is for the seller, not the buyer”. This should be something that is clearly stated by eBay in their selling advice. One of the most important lessons for any seller to learn is to protect themselves, and that means that one never ships on the cheap at one’s own risk to save the cheapskate buyer a buck. Never. The buyer will not hesitate to screw you over and leave you with nothing if even the slightest thing goes wrong.

      It’s also not the end of the world to not ship internationally– as someone who’s sold thousands of things via eBay, I’d say about 1% of them were international sales. That 1% accounted for easily 20% of transaction-related hassles such as: making trips to the post office, dealing with Paypal DNR claims while hoping the package would just arrive, and answering dumb questions from people who don’t speak English.

      Before I stopped shipping internationally, period, I generally used EMS– I required it because of the better quality tracking and how it’s hustled through customs, unlike slow-and-cheap mail. I didn’t even know eBay started requiring it. If a potential buyer complained, I told them it wasn’t negotiable.

      Good luck on the stall tactics. A few years ago, I did ship Priority Mail International more often for really cheap things. I did have several items which buyers got antsy about and thought were lost, but they did eventually show-up after several weeks. I would not count on your shipment being lost, especially if Newark is an international departure point for the USPS. It’s quite possible it’s sitting in foreign customs.

      Oh, and be sure to claim your final value credit. Since the payment is frozen pending claim, unmark it as received and file for a unpaid item dispute if the buyer doesn’t let the claim expire. It’s just adding insult to injury to pay eBay’s commission on something they’re complicit in screwing you over on.

  39. merc669 says:

    Another good reason to lose the USPS. I have sent and received several items, letters, packages trying to use their tracking system. Never has worked for me. Most make it and others not. Check the tracking and as the OP said billing received but not in system. Next time stick to UPS or Fed-Ex and let the USPS die and pass the cost to the buyer.

  40. The_IT_Crone says:

    Tracking doesn’t work until after it’s been processed. Which means for things you don’t want stolen, you should probably truck one’s lazy butt to the actual post office to send it. Then it’s in the tracking system from the get-go.

  41. JGB says:

    People still use Ebay? Wow.

    Every time I have tried to sell anything there, most of the responses have been obvious attempts to steal the item. Not worth the effort. I tried to sell an old blackberry there last year and got multiple responses with the same story..a woman in one foreign country who forgot her brother/boyfriend/husband’s birthday who is working with lepers/aids patients/orphans somewhere in Africa and could I ship it there? “she” would gladly pay extra for my trouble. Just for the hell of it, I responded to one and asked if this ever actually worked. The answer was “you would be surprised”. Seems like a lot of effort to steal a phone not worth 50 bucks.

  42. jelloisyummy says:

    My anecdote about a bad buyer was luckily a cheap lesson. I sold a freebie at auction for 99cents, wrapped it up into a priority mail box. It was received in the proper amount of time. Then, I got an email that said, “box empty, give me money back.” I knew I was looking at a negative feedback situation and I was a brand new seller so I politely asked for more description, was the box damaged? did the usps leave a note? did you ask your carrier if they found the item? But in return I got, “box empty, give me money back.” So to avoid the bad feedback over 99cents, I returned the money and learned a lesson.

  43. shthar says:

    Well at least this guy was smart enuff to get his money out of paypal and disconnect his bank account.

    Otherwise ebay wouldn’t have to resort to a collection agency.

  44. Outrun1986 says:

    This is the sellers fault, he sold a high profile item that he is likely to get scammed on. He did not limit his auction to US buyers only by using the proper means, I don’t see how that is ebay’s fault. The seller is responsible for listing items in a proper manner, just saying US buyers isn’t enough. He is also responsible since he allowed the buyer to decline insurance. If he had sent this with signature confirmation which includes delivery confirmation, package insured (costs a couple bucks at most), limited buyers to US only and put it on a Buy it now with immediate payment required then he probably would have been fine.

  45. hsui says:

    i never ship with first class mail – only priority mail and express mail for some countries i’m not as comfortable with. if the buyer doesn’t like my policy, then they can take their money elsewhere. these weeds out some shady buyers!

    also, with a higher ticket item, i will fork over a few dollars for signature confirmation and/or insurance for my own peace of mind if i didn’t already build it into their shipping costs.

    always make sure you’re up to date on seller protection rules and post office policies (e.g. flat rate int’l priority has no tracking!). despite my draconian/risk adverse policies, i still get int’l business!

    it’s unfortunate that scammers love electronics.

  46. cheviot says:

    As with any seller, ebay sellers are responsible for the item up to the moment the customer receives the item. This being the case, it behooves the seller to buy insurance on the shipment and require signature confirmation on delivery, regardless of whether the buyer wants the insurance, since the insurance only protects the seller, not the buyer.

  47. malimal99 says:

    i had this same issue where I handed an ebay package to the post office and it never updated and was never delivered.

    Ever since then I make sure they give me a receipt or scan the package then and there to verify USPS has received.

  48. technoreaper says:

    I think the USPS is crooked here, not the buyer. I’ve never had a problem with Ebay or Take up your issue with them. Someone clearly stole your package there.

  49. toodarnloud says:

    I always buy and sell stuff on Craigslist for cash. I do sell a few used books/CDs on Amazon, though. I stay the hell away from eBay unless I have to. The seller should have listed a flat shipping rate with UPS/FedEx that included insurance.

  50. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    BTW…for those of you who think that Craigslist is somehow magically better than eBay/PayPal – there’s a reason why CL’s BBB rating is an F.

    Yup. An F. Go look if you don’t believe me.

    Neither eBay/PayPal nor CL are ethically run organizations. They’re both horrifically bad, just in different ways.

  51. Shine-runner says:

    I was at the post office a couple weeks ago, someone had shoved a box into the slot and it went about 9 inches in and stuck. There was at least 6 packages stuck behind it, when I went to put my letter in it wouldn’t slide down. I reached in and pulled the box and the other 6 packages out. I put them all back in making sure the box that got stuck went in right. I could of taken everything and no one would of been the wiser. I have no idea what was in the packages, but people need to realize you have to take the time and hand the package to a clerk. I would never just drop a package into a hope it gets shipped box. I never ship anything without insurance and delivery conformation.

  52. Bruce W says:

    when selling items on eBay I ALWAYS insist on insurance to cover my backside if there are any issues… unless it is something that is cheap.

    That way I have no issues such as this!

  53. gman863 says:

    As an eBay seller, I’ve noticed eBay is now pushing their own shipping insurance when it’s time to ship a package.

    Although it appears less expensive, it has loopholes big enough to fly a FedEx jet through – not the least of which is the seller must wait 30 days to file a claim, even if the item was shipped with a faster method (Priority Mail, First Class, UPS 3-day Ground, etc.).

    Translation: Buy eBay’s insurance and the buyer can still slam you with negative feedback, file claims with both eBay and PayPal and screw you out of your money a full three weeks before you stand any chance in Hell of receiving your insurance claim.

    Maybe I’ll start listing my computer parts in a more ethical selling environment, such as the underage whores section of

  54. El_Red says:


  55. madanthony says:

    If you are an infrequent seller, this fatwallet thread is a good resource of what to do/not do:

    Also, if it sold for over $250 seller should have gotten signature confirmation per PayPal’s policy.

  56. Paulson says:

    Just sounds like some bad luck and a screwup with USPS, not eBay.

    EBay isn’t like it used to be, that you can blame scammers and spammers as much as you can blame eBay.

    Anyway, as far as buying/saving on eBay goes:

    If you see an item that you want listed in auction format, send the seller a message asking if they will accept $x to end the auction early and sell the item to you. If that doesn’t work, use a sniping service such as to bid for you. It’ll bid in the last few seconds, helping to save $ and avoid shill bidding.

    If there is a particular item that you want that is relatively rare on eBay or goes fast when one is listed, use to set up a saved eBay search for it. You’d get an e-mail whenever a match is listed. You can use the price, category, exclude word, etc. filters to narrow down the results that you get in the e-mails. Excellent for “Buy It Now”s priced right.

    If the item that you’re looking for is difficult to spell, try a misspelling search site like to find some deals with items that have main keywords misspelled in the title. Other interested buyers may never see them.

  57. AntiNeutral says:

    Just my .02 . . .

    a) with so many claims of items lost at or by the Post Office, I think they should come under some scrutiny here also. It would not be any surprise to find that many USPS employees have developed sticky fingers. Ironically, the percentage of iPhones and other expensive electronic items disappear at a greater frequency. Any half-intelligent postal employee can deduce that a package with Delivery Confirmation, but with NO insurance is a candidate for theft. If they can x-ray or scan the package citing security concerns, then they may have an added advantage of “seeing” what is inside. Just by reading this series of posts, an idiot postal worker can learn that all suspicion, blame and consequences will always fall onto the seller an no one ever even thinks to look into Postal security.

    b) Delivery Confirmation is basically worthless. Even under the best of circumstances, it’s just a tiny piece of evidence, not a guarantee of anything. It might make you feel like you’ve take a precaution, but it has no legal significance particularly when it involves smart scammers. It makes the Post Office a little extra money but you’re better off just buying the “Signature Required” or better yet, the insurance.

    c) Visa & MasterCard will always side with the buyer also, unless the seller can produce the signature of the cardholder ; not his child or neighbor, but the actual card holder signature. Along with eBay, these policies attract the criminal element, or just the unscrupulous, because they know the system will likely dump all blame back on the seller, and that there is little chance of a criminal investigation. Selling any item online, ebay, CL, e-commerce or otherwise, is a risk and the laws, procedures and policies will always put the burden back on the seller. Seller beware.

    d) Just take note that in ANY disputed transaction, regardless of responsibility, cause or reason, eBay never loses a dime. Just like Visa and MasterCard, they always walk away with money in their pockets. In this guys case, eBay still got their fees and they made money on the PayPal end of the deal also. They ALWAYS do. Sellers are easier to find than buyers & they know this and seem to have a misplaced incentive to favor buyers over sellers.

    e) just like with card abuse/fraud, identity theft and other more modern, financial crime, the bad guys are much more intelligent than the banks, stores or delivery people. They know the laws, the procedures and the loop holes. They are much more motivated also. The online world we live in now brings criminals from all over the world into your living room via your computer. They have little to lose and much to gain. Avoid any transactions outside the USA and document everything because if you want to protect yourself, it is YOU that will have to do the protecting.

    f) the law has not kept up with modern technology, the huge growth in international transactions and the protection of the American consumer and their personal information. The bad guys know all of this also.

    Again, seller beware.

  58. Raj says:

    Not sure that this is Ebay’s fault. I have had a disputed sale before; sold a beautiful little lens about 18 months ago, which the buyer disputed complaining about the quality. He actually had a grievance, the focus ring on my pre-1980 lens was a bit tight (didn’t affect picture quality and did not bother me, but I can see why he had an issue), but didn’t indicate the problem to me until 5 weeks later, well beyond my return period of two weeks. We tried to resolve (unsuccessful), he complained to ebay, I presented my side of the story, and I won as I was in the right.

    I have my issues with ebay, and have been ripped off before, but blame where blame is due; if you cover all your bases (mandatory insurance, restricted buying region, clear description and return policy, etc) ebay is still a viable option for selling goods.

  59. Vandil says:

    Craigslist. Meet people in meatspace, it’s healthy. I sold my 32GB iPhone 3GS meeting the buyer at a local Dairy Queen. Easy cash transaction. Done and done.