eBay Has A Zero-Tolerance Policy For Scammy Sellers (Who Haven’t Figured Out How To Game The System)

Image courtesy of (hvoltmer)

Recently we warned eBay buyers that they needed to make sure to complain about possible scams within 45 days or not only are they unable to get their money back, they can’t even leave negative feedback for the seller. We tried to get an explanation from eBay for this seemingly biased policy. Not surprisingly, eBay hasn’t been terribly forthcoming.

We asked eBay two basic questions: What is the rationale behind the policy? Is there any sort of remedy for buyers who are misled into waiting longer than 45 days?

eBay’s response:

The rationale for the 45 days is two-fold. For buyers, we wanted to give them sufficient time to review the item they received from the seller; if for any reason the item does not work out, 45-days allows the buyer to file an eBay Buyer Protection Case. For sellers, we wanted to give sufficient time to ship the item to the buyer.

Well, aside from the fact that this does nothing to explain why the 45 days is such a hard limit, it also completely ignores the second question.

So we tried again.

In addition to repeating our question about what remedies, if any, are available to buyers who are beyond the 45-day limit, we wanted to know if the strict 45-day limit allow for deceptive sellers to string along buyers until the date has passed?

After all, as we pointed out in the original story, it was very easy for an overseas seller to mislead a buyer into believing her package had been lost in transit. And by the time seller began ignoring the buyer’s e-mails — and no replacement shipment was en route — the 45 days had passed, leaving the buyer with nothing to show for the money (on which PayPal received a commission).

We also pointed out the numerous complaints in the eBay forums from buyers who claimed to have been snookered into waiting too long.

eBay’s response:

After the payment is made, buyers can open a claim during the 45-day window. If a buyer wants to be cautious, they can open a claim and close it if they end up receiving their items.

eBay strives to maintain a safe and secure online shopping experience to millions of people globally; and, we have zero tolerance for sellers that abuse our system.

Let’s boil down what this all means.

-eBay buyers look at a seller’s feedback ratings to decide whether to trust that their purchase will arrive on time and in good condition.

-A buyer whose purchase is delayed may look at a seller’s rating and see no negative comments or stories about disappearing shipments, and so the buyer decides to wait it out, trusting that there must be some accountability since eBay has a “zero tolerance” policy.

-The buyer doesn’t know that there may be one or more sellers who were scammed out of money by this seller because they were tricked into waiting longer than 45 days and now can not leave negative feedback.

-The seller keeps their money and continues selling on eBay without even earning a negative rating.

That doesn’t exactly sound like zero tolerance.

We have pointed this out to eBay, but have not heard back and don’t expect to.

By the way, you still have until Nov. 9 to opt out of eBay’s new anti-consumer forced arbitration clause.