I Sent eBay Buyer A Pair Of Sunglasses, They Sent Me Back A Brick

Someone bought a pair of sunglasses from Nataly on eBay. That happens. Usually it’s a good thing. The problem for Nataly was that the buyer claimed to be unhappy and wanted to return the sunglasses, even though she had a strict “no returns” policy. Thanks to eBay’s strict pro-buyer stance, she was ordered to send the customer a refund. In return, they sent her a package back. That package did not contain the sunglasses.

I sold a pair of sunglasses on Ebay and the buyer wanted to return them even though I listed no returns. We exchanged a few heated emails and Ebay ruled that I needed to refund the buyer.

I get a package today and instead of sunglasses there was a brick in the package! I am now out about $100 and Paypal states that I need to refund the buyer within 3 days! The only proof I have is that the original weight of the package was 1lb and the returned package had a weight of [5 lbs] written on it. I know that Ebay is notorious for not caring about sellers but is there anything I can do?

Other than sending proof of that discrepancy and a photo of the brick in to eBay…not really. It’s the company’s marketplace, and their policies, originally designed to protect buyers and instill confidence, have instead been exploited by savvy, scammy customers.

How I Lost $470 To A Vindictive, Abusive, Extortionist eBay Buyer
PayPal Tells Buyer To Destroy Purchased Violin Instead Of Return For Refund


Edit Your Comment

  1. Marlin says:

    Pull all money out of paypal and tell them to pound sand after sending them proof.

    • jadedgirl says:

      Easier said than done. If you pull the money from your Paypal account, they can still pull money from your account, sending it into the negative. I have heard of cases where Paypal went after you for those funds and I believe that they have sent accounts to collections in the past.

      I would recommend that the OP file a police report and provide Paypal and the buyer a copy of the case ID. I believe this is the only real chance that they have at getting their money back. Even then, I can’t imagine the police would put their time into a $100 item :/

    • ancientone567 says:

      In a dispute PayPal freezes the account right away.

  2. Coffee says:

    The only proof I have is that the original weight of the package was 1lb and the returned package had a weight of albs written on it.

    There is a typo in this sentence that’s really kind of important to the story, Laura.

    • chefboyardee says:

      You’re a regular here, you should know by now that they a) don’t proofread and b) don’t go back and edit, no matter how many people make fun of them in the comments [grin]

      • Coffee says:

        I like Laura, and of all the editors, she’s the most likely to read the comments. Also, I’m not sure whether it’s her typo, as it was likely copied and pasted from the OP. I just don’t know what “albs” is…I assume it’s a value more than one pound, but I would like to be certain.

        • Bagels says:

          Well I think you could reasonably estimate the weight of a brick, probably 6-7lbs…point being there’s a considerable difference between that and 1lb

        • chefboyardee says:

          I also like Laura the most of everyone still here, and I have no problem with the editors specifically :) I mean I’m here every day, refreshing every half hour. I just think it’s a little nuts that they have 5 people with “Editor” in their title on the About page, and there’s at least one mistake every 3 or 4 articles – when they’re not really that long, and they only post a couple an hour at most.

          But mostly I just like messing with them in the comments because history has shown they don’t really read them, or at least if they do, they don’t let it on (except Chris has commented in the past).

        • Laura Northrup says:

          Yup, I actually wrote back to the OP to clarify that sentence. I put the post together twice and didn’t put the number in the second time, apparently.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      I think albs is supposed to be short for “All pounds.” So, its weight was equivalent to every pound in the universe. That is one heavy brick, and most certainly heavier than a pair of sunglasses.

      So she should show this to ebay as proof and also threaten that if she doesn’t get her money back she’ll use the box to disrupt the earth’s rotation.

  3. You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

    I don’t know the pounds to albs conversion rate.

  4. Jane_Gage says:

    I’ll bet it was expensive to ship that brick. Dog feces weighs about 8.5 lbs. less.

  5. clevershark says:

    Isn’t mail fraud a felony? I hear the USPS is pretty strict about those things. Consider making an official complaint.

    • sorta savvy consumer says:

      I like this one. Since the buyer used the USPS you absolutely could file a complaint of mail fraud with them. Tell ebay the same. Tell them no refund, nothing until the mail fraud case is resolved. Make sure to tell the USPS that ebay is in on the fraud and paypal too.

      If all that fails. Small claims court against ebay/paypal, forget the buyer, they are losers and won’t pay even with a court settlement.

      • kpsi355 says:

        I like this one too. One more reason to always do business via USPS- if they screw you they get charged with a felony.

  6. MonkeyMonk says:

    Looks like it took an expensive lesson for the TC to learn what most of us already learned a good 2-3 years ago.

    Don’t sell on eBay.

  7. stevenpdx says:

    Thank you, Patriot Act.


  8. polishhillbilly says:

    so is that where my prepaid brick to wells fargo ended up.. huh weird…

  9. crispyduck13 says:

    Isn’t this the oldest trick in the book? I’d be shocked if Ebay didn’t have some policy in place to address this very scam.

    It’s also not clear whether she has actually sent the refund through Paypal, in fact it seems maybe she hasn’t yet. If I were her I’d stand my ground and not send a dime. Let Paypal/Ebay work it out with photos of the brick.

    • Almighty Peanut says:

      Unfortunately, eBay/Paypal can just pull money direct from the bank account on file. They kind of force you add a bank account to sell so that you can’t do a chargeback on a CC WHEN you get ripped off.

      • Republicrat says:

        There is an easy solution. Get two checking accounts at the same bank. Only link one account to PayPal. When you transfer money away from PayPal to your linked account, make another transfer on your bank’s website to the account PayPal does not have access to.

        Also make sure that your checking account does not have overdraft protection so that any attempts at withdrawing are denied.

  10. Emily says:

    Albs are an old unit of measure that originated when the king would measure things by piling albinos on the scale.

  11. Red Cat Linux says:

    You can say you are a green penguin on your auction page; that will not make it so. There is no such thing as “no returns” on eBay. PayPal will educate you right quick. I wish people would get that out of their heads so they don’t get sideswiped like this.

    Now, on to the response. She needs to prove she got a brick. I wonder if the weight of the package is anywhere on it, or the tracking information for the brick is on the carrier’s site anywhere. The carrier can show the weight of the package. I recommend the Community forums on the eBay website: Packaging/Shipping or Returns

    They are old hats at navigating these kinds of transaction shenannigans. Post this issue there for responses that will be more specific to eBay sellers.

    Evil Cat Solution
    If there is no tracking information, no electronic proof of delivery, well then – Nataly didn’t get a package back at all. Burden on the scammer to prove it. No return proof, no refund. This is evil in return for evil, but I’m just like that.

    • somedaysomehow says:

      Exactly what I was going to suggest. Check these forums out, OP. This is a common scam – they have answers here.

  12. cyberpenguin says:


    But, beware using USPS complaint forms. I used one on USPS.com to voice a concern over our neighborhood box, and now our carrier won’t deliver packages to the house. Ugh.

  13. cactus jack says:

    1. Contact eBay.
    2. Call the police.
    3. Wait.
    4. Hope someone does something.

    That’s about all you can do.

  14. and_another_thing says:

    I’ve missed some important bills and I also suspect that complaining about my postal delivery service may have had something to do with it.

  15. NorthAlabama says:

    when will people learn about ebay and paypal? i have heard horror story after horror story about both, and would never use either service, even if it meant going without something i wanted.

    oh, going without is the problem here. too many cannot seem to do this, and the crooks know where they do their business. it all makes sense now…

    • cactus jack says:

      I’ve used Paypal and eBay for quite a while. I’ve had my gripes about both, but honestly there is no other game around when selling things such as collectibles and music.

      I sell a bit on eBay to supplement my hobbies and I haven’t run into too much these last 5 years beyond a non-paying bidder here and there which gets taken care of quickly. I’ve heard of this scam a few times, and there is not much you can do beyond getting the appropriate people involved (eBay, Paypal, and the police).

      Honestly, these few horror stories do not represent the vast number of positive experiences most have on eBay. And with these horror stories, there are safe guards you can use to try to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

      1. Only sell in your own country.
      2. Read feedback. Even if it’s all positive. If some scumbag ripped you off you still can only leave positive feedback. Many sellers will leave negative remarks marked as positive feedback to help other sellers.
      3. If they demand a refund without actual reason, Google the username and real name and address of the buyer. Most of the time this isn’t their first attempt at scamming a seller.

      You can still get screwed, but honestly, you can get screwed using Craigslist and other online forums as well. It’s a risk you take to sell anything anywhere and yes, it can suck.
      I sell about 100 items a month and *knock on wood* things are overwhelmingly positive with my buyers.

      • jebarringer says:

        “Many sellers will leave negative remarks marked as positive feedback to help other sellers.”
        Which is against eBay policy, so if the buyer complains, eBay is quick to remove the “false positives”, and sometimes will reprimand the seller.

  16. Machine Gun Tommy says:

    I used to think the changes to the eBay buyer policies were awesome until my wife started selling things. Out of the 6 things she sold she got scammed or non-paid by 3 of them and she lost every single claim. eBay really is somewhat anti-seller now. My wife stopped selling after dealing with the last person who tried to sell the item my wife sold to her (using the same exact description and pictures) while requesting a refund from my wife at the same exact time.

  17. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “their policies originally designed to protect buyers and instill confidence”

    Said policies never did anything to “protect” buyers – they always have, and always will, exist to allow fraudulent buyers to wantonly abuse honest sellers without any threat of being held accountable for their criminal actions.

    eBay/PayPal fabricated the excuses to create them in the first place, realizing that in order to reap the maximum amount of fees from sellers, they just have to make the maximum number of transactions happen – whether or not the seller was getting scammed. Also, in order to keep said fees after a fraudulent transaction occurs, eBay/PayPal has to pretend that there was nothing wrong with the buyer’s actions and that the seller must be at fault for having gotten scammed.

    eBay/PayPal is a de facto monopoly for online auctions. That is irrefutable. Their business practices are horrific…the most egregious example being that, for years now, sellers are not allowed to leave negative feedback for any buyer. That’s right – the OP above is barred from even leaving negative feedback for this fraudulent buyer to attempt to warn the next seller.

    That would be bad for eBay/PayPal’s business. Because then maybe the next seller would spot the criminal buyer and refuse to sell to them – and then eBay/PayPal wouldn’t get their fees.

    There is no den of evil more densely concentrated than eBay/PayPal. At least, other than the ones actively squishing kittens and puppies. Although if eBay/PayPal could figure out a way to levy fees on that, they’d probably be down with it.

    • ancientone567 says:

      PayPal is evil I give you that but eBay? The way I win as a seller in PayPal disputes is have eBay call papal for me on the other line and make it clear to both parties that it is being recorded. PayPal not wanting to show its evilness in front of eBay sides with the buyer and seller and both get paid out. It is the only quick way to be done with the mess.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Oh, Dog yes eBay is evil. Especially in how they won’t let sellers leave negative feedback, how they require PayPal as your one and only payment option (more fees, and more opportunity to be evil), and in how I have never once heard of them siding with the seller. Not once.

  18. richard_toronto says:

    I had this happen once – and knowing how eBay/PayPal 99% of the time sides with buyers, I was ready and prepared:

    Received the returned item.
    Turned on my video camera.
    Inspected the package on camera, showing all sides, all angles, to show the item had not been opened.
    Opened the package, and it was clear he didn’t return the item.

    I then posted the video to YouTube and Vimeo, with a commentary.
    Filed a PayPal appeal, linked them to the video, and PayPal denied him his refund.

    I also then filed a complaint with the USPS Postal Inspectors, as he had committed mail fraud… his name is now in their database.

    So, let that be a lesson to Mr. R Lynn Horner of trainingdivision.net – he’s now in their database.

    Be a smart buyer – AND seller. Always protect yourselves.

    • Geekybiker says:

      I’m shocked that worked. Ebay seems to care very little about what evidence you have as long as they can prove you shipped it.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        You hear it once in a while. I recall another who actually received the package at the post office, and before leaving the counter, asked the clerk to witness them opening the box.

        It was a scam, the post office wrote a letter indicating that nothing of value was in the box and eBay accepted it as proof of fraud.

        Don’t know how accurate these anecdotes are, but even if it works you find yourself rising almost to paranoid levels just to play on eBay.

        That’s why I don’t shop there anymore and abandoned ship for Amazon. But scumminess is starting to stain the edges of Amazon now, too.

  19. law-n-disorder says:

    A common scam. I’m battling Payfoul right now trying to get them to unlink an account that has been linked to my acount by Payfoul since the other account owes them money. They are threatening to steal the money out of my account to pay a negative balance on someone else’s account. A bunch of crooked P O S’s. When I get my money I will also tell them to pound sand and spread the word.

  20. ancientone567 says:

    All you can do is bring the $sshole to small claims court. You have to go to court in the state they live in. You will win if you have the proof. The weight of the package should be proof unless they were smart and sent it flat rate lol. They can only force you to take a return for two reasons according to eBay buyer protection, Item not as described or did not receive the item. Other reasons are not valid if you have a no return policy but eBay and PayPal usually just screw you anyway.

    • ancientone567 says:

      Oh ya I forgot to mention this. Send the people to a collection agency lol. They will call them at all times of the day and night hehe. They will eventually pay you to make it stop. They will find those phone numbers because they get a % of the take but it is sooo worth it. Have the last laugh. :)

  21. mpugliese says:

    I once sold an iphone on ebay. I stupidly sent it without tracking information, and the buyer (without ever contacting me) opened up an item not received case immediately. Paypal of course ruled in his favor, he received a full refund and got to keep the iphone as well. I know he recieved it because I read his feedback and saw tons of comments from people who had sold him iphones & had cases opened as well. It was blatantly fradulent and a scam. When I called ebay and explained his track record to them, they said there was still no proof. All of those feedback btw from the people who were scammed, were listed as + feedback. Ebay doesnt allow sellers to leave negative feedback for buyers. Its really an unfair system completely.

  22. Dirk Daring says:

    I don’t see what the problem is here. Tell ebay you will gladly refund the money within 3 days once you receive the sunglasses.

    • ancientone567 says:

      lol that is not how it works silly Dirk. Your dealing with crazy land.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Except that eBay and PayPal are one in the same…and eBay requires that you use PayPal as your only payment type. And then eBay will simply take the money from your PayPal account and give it to the crook who defrauded you.

      • ancientone567 says:

        PAysuxass err paypal is or was the first evil. Ebay made a deal with the devil that is PayPal. It is unregulated that is why they get away with whatever they want.

  23. sendbillmoney says:

    eBay is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. You must be cautious.

  24. Press1forDialTone says:

    It will be a pain, but she has access to all the info she needs to prove this
    buyer is a world-class a-hole to eBay. I am an infrequent 100% positive
    feedback (about 100 things sold) seller and buyer (about 500 things bought)
    and my listings are clear as glass. I use a template that I asked eBay to approve
    for my listings. They approved in writing and that is the template I use.
    As far as returns, etc. I asked my attorney to look over the text I used and
    he was satisfied. Soooo, I had one jack*ss do the same thing to me on an item
    that was perfectly packed and the buyer said it arrived undamaged and working
    fine. Two weeks later that wanted to return the non-returnable item. I had kept
    every last scrape of email between us and both had left positive feedback.
    I explained that I had sent all the relevant documentation on the
    sale to eBay (who owns PayPal) and they were going to call me in 48 hours.
    They did, sided with me, told the buyer there was going to be no return and
    nothing happened to my PayPal account. Interestingly, the buyer did not monkey
    around with my feedback. So the moral is, document, document, document and
    keep eBay in the loop as far as your selling practices go.

    In response, eBay should ban the buyer from eBay for life.

  25. wwwandererer says:

    I ran into an issue with an international client who claimed the items I sold were fraud. Long story short, eBay sided with her and told her to ‘destroy’ the items. when I refused to clear the debit on the paypal account. the resorted to getting a collection agency involved. In the end I had no choice but to pay the ‘refund’ back…. several HUNDRED dollars. eBay didn’t care. *shrug* best of luck?

  26. Cream Of Meat says:

    You have their address go over and SHOOT THEM IN THE FUCKING FACE!

  27. Rick Sphinx says:

    Ebay/Paypal sucks. Sold a $16 item. Buyer filed a claim, saying unauthorized charge. OK. We provided proof of delivery(delivery confirmation), customer never returend item. We were charged back the $16, and another $25 for disputing the chargeback.
    Also, if you must use paypal, as soon as money is available, take it out in case they decide to just freeze it for no reason. I hope they go out of business.

  28. crazybeaver says:

    I have an ebay business. I do high volume and high sales and encounter many con artists.

    Here is what happens when we get ripped off like this:

    Left us bad feedback and you were a jerk about it? Our 5 ghost account just bought 5 things from you and filed not as described claims. Your account goes poof. Feedback goes away. We then smash the stuff and send it back.
    We look to see if you have a business yourself. We trash it on yelp.
    Accounting professional? We talk to your state’s board.
    Car dealer? My brother took a test drive last year at a car dealer that ripped us off. Pulled around the corner on a test drive, cur the transmission cooler line and drove it until it blew up.
    We look to see if your wife has a business. We trash it on yelp.
    We look to see where you work. We call you boss and tell him what happened.
    In the military? We call your CO.
    We call your work, ask for HR and ask for a job reference. We say we are from a competing business across town.
    On parole? Yep – we have called them.
    Warrant out for your arrest? Let’s call the local police and let them know.
    We post on yelp about where you work and specifically reference your name in out complaint.

    Why do we do this? We have our own ebay account manger, sell over 20k a month have great feedback and they (ebay) treat us like criminals. I pay ebay over 2k a month in fees and they instantly assume that I am trying to rip a person off who just registered a week ago and has 0 feedback based on a single complaint. So yes, some people try to rip us off, and some succeed but in the end it’s what comes around goes around. If you take a dollar out of my pocket I will go to great lengths to take a 1000 out of yours.

    • MMD says:

      You realize that if what you describe is true, you’re just making things worse for yourself, right?

      The thing about things coming around and going around is that you’re going in circles. It will come back to you again and again.

      If you do such a high volume and hate eBay so much, start your own business.

      • crazybeaver says:

        I do have my own business. It’s on ebay. This is not a normal thing, 1 in 300 transactions or less.

        • MMD says:

          If eBay is where you conduct business and you deliberate conduct fraudulent business on eBay (and if you really do the things you say you do and this isn’t just revenge fanfiction), I fail to see how shitting where you eat gets you anywhere in the grand scheme of things.

          You don’t truly own your business if you subject yourself to eBay’s policies. You’re really more like a franchisee who has to play by the franchiser’s rules.

    • ancientone567 says:

      Revenge is such a beautiful thing. :)

  29. seth1066 says:

    I use the video recording method with a twist. I require all returns sent to my P.O. Box. This means that the return package has to be picked up at the counter. When they bring the package out it is opened in front of the US Postal Service person and the whole thing is videotaped. This entire method is outlined in each listings return policy. When scammers read this they don’t buy from me and move on to seek out other victims.

    • ancientone567 says:

      That won’t work. All the scammer has to do is send it to your other address and give PayPal the tracking number and your screwed.

  30. mramos says:

    You need to call either Ebay or Paypal depending on who they opened the claim with, they now have departments which will discuss disputes with you over the phone. I’ve had multiple buyers open cases against me and have never lost a single one when I’ve called and talked to an actual representative. This is the best course of action, explaining the situation to a live human being as opposed to some random person reading over thousands of cases a day can only be beneficial.

  31. pamelad says:

    I’ve been an eBay member since 2001 with 100% positive feedback as buyer and seller. I regret the day eBay made it impossible for sellers to leave neutral or negative feedback for buyers. That was in 2004. As I recall, it was supposedly to prevent retaliatory exchanges. Made no sense to me then, and doesn’t now. I never understood the reasoning, but from what I saw, they made the feedback system inequitable and not upfront in one fell swoop.

    I got burned on a deal as a seller and had no recourse or help from eBay, Paypal or the USPS. I haven’t been back to eBay very often. Wonder how many sellers (and consequently buyers) they’ve lost?

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

      I have been a member since 1997 (just before they became eBay – if I remember they were Bay Auctions). I dealt in communications gear. After they changed their policy and their rates skyrocketed and I got screwed about a dozen times by dishonest buyers and eBay didn’t care, I threw in the towel.

  32. shepd says:

    Hopefully the buyer is in your country, you will need to sue them. Also contact their local police department, this is mail fraud.

  33. pgr says:

    That’s why I will never sell anything on eBay again. I was quicker than they, however,and got all my money out of pay pal before they could snatch it for themselves.

  34. OldSchool says:

    WIthdraw every penny from your account, close any bank accounts or credit cards associated with it and get new ones then tell ebay to pound sand and refuse to issue a refund.

  35. shufflemoomin says:

    You have the buyers name and address, report it to the police as fraud or theft. However you want to categorise it, a crime HAS been committed here. However, going on the opinions I’ve heard of the police in the US, good luck getting them to care.

  36. sebastian tombs says:

    As far as I remember from a complaint I had last month as a seller on an Ebay transaction – when I called ebay to ask what happens to my refund if the buyer sends back the wrong item or no item, they said the buyer would not get the refund of the seller wasn’t satisfied with the condition of the returned item. I would check with Ebay or Paypal about this. The reason I returned the money is that the buyer can leave negative feedback which in this cas would be worse then the money loss. But the buyer returned the item in worse condition than I sent it out in but because of the potential of negative feedback with no repudiation, I though it better just to eat he loss. I believe this seller can successfully keep the refund because the original item was not sent back. But check with ebay to be sure.

  37. PandoraCamel says:

    1. You have to send the brick to PayPal to prove you didn’t get the item.
    2. Keep the dispute open.
    See also: “How do I report a buyer who is misusing returns?” in the help search.

    The buyer did this so they’d have a tracking number to feed paypal to say they sent it. You may have to take the seller to small claims court since they’re committing fraud. But it’s important that PayPal knows.

    PS. eBay and Paypal staff can read the dispute as long as it’s open. Once it’s closed it can’t be reopened, and becomes an extreme hassle. You can fax eBay/Paypal a scanned copy of what you received. Make sure to mark the fax with all the contact data you had with the buyer, because the agent who receives the fax certainly will not be the same people who work the case. It’s also technically possible to email small jpegs (80KB) to eBay/Paypal, though there is no guarantee that the email system will let the agent open it. If you want to send PayPal/eBay an email, find the email notification in your email and hit reply there instead in the eBay interface.

    re: other comments and feedback
    Negative feedback was being used as an extortion mechanism and distorting the marketplace. Trust me when I say eBay is better off without it. You’d see people selling hundreds of virtual items (eBooks, free software, etc) just to inflate their positive feedback to sink any negative comments.

    Bad Advice:
    Removing money from your account/closing it. This will just flag your account as the fraudulent account, and good luck ever being able to use PayPal ever again. If you’re doing business with PayPal you should never have your personal account attached to it.

    Many US banks have no-fee checking accounts, and you should use one of these accounts only for PayPal. If your account is ever compromised, the most you lose is the amount in this account.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      They aren’t simply committing fraud, they’re committing mail fraud, which is a felony punishable by years of jail time in Federal PMITA Prison.

  38. Kristoffer says:

    From past experience you won’t get very far with ebay or Paypal and will have to do most of the leg work yourself. I would file the mail fraud form with the post office. I would scan a copy and email it to the buyer letting them know you are filing it with the post office. I would also look up this person feedback and email anyone (other buyers) that have left him feedback to question if they have also had a problem with this person. If they have then you guys can ‘gang’ up on paypal/ebay. I had an issue with paypal and once I was able to find several other buyers that had issues and we all started calling them they gave us our money back.

    And last I would look this person up every day just waiting for them to list something for sale. Once they did I would buy it, dispute the item, and ship them back their brick.