Seller Beware! EBay Policies Facilitate THEFT of Your Property

I found out the hard way that EBay is facilitating the theft of items people post for sale on their site.

I just had an experience with EBay that I find extremely discouraging, and the result is that I will no longer be posting any items for sale on EBay. EBay’s “Money Back Guarantee program” protects unscrupulous, scam “buyers” by returning their money even if they falsely claim that they received a damaged item, or even that they didn’t receive the item. The seller is left holding the bag, or in my own case, holding a bogus piece of junk.  Something must be done to address this outrageous situation, before many, many more occasional EBay sellers are scammed. In the meantime, my recommendation is that you do not post anything for sale on EBay that you are not willing to give away!


Here is my story:

I have been an occasional EBay user for years, and have both bought and sold items on the site. I would estimate that I buy something on the site fewer than 5 times a year, and probably sell items with the same frequency. My seller rating has always been 100%.

Recently, I posted my used iPhone 6 for sale on the site. The EBay item number was 112178396264. Per the advice of EBay support, I required that the buyer have a PayPal account, to avoid the possibility of fraudulent bidders. I listed the item on October 21, 2016, and the auction ended on October 28.  The winning bid was $328.00, including shipping.  As soon as the auction ended, I requested payment from the buyer, and the buyer paid via PayPal. That same day, after notification that the buyer’s funds had reached my PayPal account, I carefully placed the iPhone in its original box, wrapped that box in green bubble wrap, and placed it in a USPS Medium Flat Rate Box for shipment. I also insured the shipment in the amount of $328.00.  My phone was in like-new condition. I even included the original USB charger and unused earbuds in the box with the phone. I delivered the carefully packed phone to my local USPS location, anticipating that I would have a flawless transaction.  In reality, it turned out to be hugely disappointing.

This is the iPhone 6 I sent to the buyer. Note, mint condition.

On Monday, October 31, I received a message from the buyer via EBay claiming that the phone was damaged. The buyer opened a return claim with EBay, and EBay immediately froze the payment funds in my PayPal account.  The buyer e-mail address was from a Russian provider:  This should have been a red flag, because the buyer’s mailing address was listed as being in Delaware.  At any rate, I was convinced that my phone could not have been damaged in shipment, and that even if it was, the USPS insurance I purchased would cover the cost of the phone.   On October 31, I sent the buyer a message requesting a picture of the back of the phone (so that I could verify that the ID number did correspond to the phone I sent), and a picture of the shipping package that would verify that the phone was damaged in transit. I would need this information to pursue a claim with USPS.

Two days later, on November 2, the buyer sent a message saying they would “try to post pictures as soon as possible.”  On Thursday, Nov. 3, they finally sent two pictures: a photo of an iPhone with a badly cracked screen, and a photo of the side view of an iPhone box. They did NOT send a picture of the back of the phone, as I had requested, or of the shipping container. I had no way of verifying that the phone in the picture was the phone I sent – I am convinced  that it was not.

broken phone
This is the picture the buyer sent. Note that it does not show that back of the phone where the ID number (IMEI #) is. Also note that the gold ring around the button is missing – this is obviously not the phone I sent.
This is the other picture that the buyer sent. Notice that it does not show the bottom of the box where the ID number is. Also, the buyer did not send a picture of the supposedly damaged shipping box.
This is the other picture that the buyer sent. Notice that it does not show the bottom of the box where the ID number is. Also, the buyer did not send a picture of the shipping box.

On Friday, November 4, the buyer requested that EBay decide the case, and EBay immediately (13 minutes later) decided in the buyer’s favor. EBay authorized the buyer to return the phone to me, and indicated that when tracking information showed the package was delivered to me, their payment of $328.00 would be refunded from my PayPal account. This is despite the fact that the buyer never sent the picture of the back of the phone or of the shipping container, as I had requested.

On Thursday, November 10, I received notification that EBay had issued a full refund to the buyer from my PayPal account, per their “Money Back Guarantee program.” I was out of town, but was anxious to check the ID and condition of the phone the buyer returned to me. When I reached home on November 14, I immediately retrieved from my front porch the package returned by the buyer.  I verified that the tracking number matched the one EBay assigned. I noted that the item was not in a USPS Flat Rate Box as I had sent it, but was in a USPS Priority Mail envelope. Upon opening the envelope, I was amazed to see not my iPhone 6, or indeed any kind of phone! The package contained what looked like an old Verifone credit card scanner.  It was at this point that I was certain I had been scammed.  Further evidence was that, even though I had shipped the phone to an address in Delaware, the package that was returned came from a “Box 191” in Texas! 

This is the package I received from the “buyer.” Obviously not the iPhone 6 I sent. Looks like an old, probably broken, credit card scanner.

The result of this iPhone 6 “sale” is that 1) I no longer have my phone, 2) I don’t have the $328.00 sale proceeds, 3) I am not able to process an insurance claim with USPS because I have nothing I can present to them as evidence.

I appealed to EBay via several phone calls to resolve this matter.  I reminded them that the buyer did not send the pictures I requested.  I informed them that the buyer did not send my phone back to me.  I pointed out that the buyer sent me an item from Texas, rather than from their ship-to address in Delaware.  All to no avail.  The bottom line is that, since they cannot be present to witness what is sent and what is received, EBay’s default is to decide in favor of the buyer.  This is despite the fact that there was ample evidence available to EBay in the record of the sales transaction to decide differently:

  1. The buyer did not send the picture of the back of the phone, despite my explicit request.
  2. The buyer did not send the picture of the shipping box, despite my request.
  3. The buyer has a 0 rating on EBay – no transactions in the past year.
  4. I have a 100% rating on EBay based upon years of transactions and no record of complaints from buyers.
  5. The buyer’s ship-to address is in Delaware, but their e-mail address is with a Russian provider (
  6. The return address on the item the buyer sent to me was a “Box 191” in Texas, not the buyer’s address in Delaware. This is verifiable from the tracking information in EBay’s possession.

The bottom line is that EBay’s policies facilitated the theft of my iPhone 6.  I’m guessing that the scammer probably got my phone AND the USPS insurance money as well!  Upon investigating further (by Googling “iphone ebay scams,” I  confirmed that my experience was not uncommon.  Here are but a few articles that attest to this:

It’s seller beware as eBay’s buyer guarantee is exploited by scammers

Common eBay Scams Against Sellers (see #2)

5 Ebay Scams to Be Aware Of

My plan is to take the following actions:

  • Post this story to my e-mail distribution list, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – probably about 3000 people in all. I don’t want to see others scammed. Heaven forbid that you get scammed selling a $6000.00 Rolex!
  • Report this possible mail fraud, facilitated by EBay, to the USPS – I have already received the relevant forms.
  • Send this information to the office of my congressman Dave Trott and my senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.
  • Send this information to as many news outlets as possible.

It seems impossible to me that EBay does not know their service is being used on a widespread basis to steal items from unsuspecting sellers. They facilitate this theft by holding and then removing funds from the seller’s PayPal account and sending those funds to the scam buyer. Their “investigation” of buyer claims is totally one-sided in favor of the buyer. In speaking to EBay representatives, I was repeatedly told that the only way I could win an EBay appeal would be if the buyer admitted to the things I was alleging – in effect, the thief would have to admit that they were a thief!  This is truly crazy stuff.

The bottom line is, as I said above, don’t post anything on EBay that you are not prepared to lose. There is a chance that you will lose the the item itself and the shipping costs, and still be charged the EBay seller fees!

Seller beware!



82 thoughts on “Seller Beware! EBay Policies Facilitate THEFT of Your Property

  1. I’m going through this right now. I actually contacted eBay fraud prior to shipping the item wanting to cancel the sale and they talked me into shipping it against my judgement. So I actually made a video at the post office showing the device in working order and me sealing it and dropping it off. They buyer disputed it within an hour of it arriving at the freight forwarding provider on East Ayre in Wilmington, proving that there is no way that they would have actually received it yet to know whether or not it was defective. Will continue to follow up on the case with eBay, but based on what I’m reading, I think I know how this will work out. I’ll post again when I have an update

    1. Keep on pushing and complaining to the eBay staff. After doing so for weeks, I finally got my money back from eBay. The fraudulent buyer suffered no consequences that I could see. I learned not to sell to any shady looking buyers, e.g. folks with new accounts that have no feedback score. Good luck.

  2. ebay is a playground for fraud/crime/scamming and the best part is that ebay themselves are complicit with their deliberately incompetent policies and poor customer sevice that fail to address any inappropriate behaviour , even when they are presented with clear evidence, they more often than not take no action whatsoever.The issue is they have a preference and skewed relationship with their buyers who line their pockets successfully, so will happily turn a blind eye to them as long as they are making profits.Dont take it lying down…name and shame them:

    1. Agree totally with this and eBay’s underhand skullduggery to facilitate the the end I realised the only way to stop my business from financial ruin was to leave eBay and start my own online shop to sell items.of course it takes time to get traffic but it also reduces the scam rate HUGELY ! Have to admit I left a couple of reports on shamebay for 2 disputable scammers and felt better for it 🙂 try it , it’s cathartic to know you have publicly shamed them even if they themselves don’t do shame .

        1. I am going through very similar situation although with lower sum of money but I am prepared to quit eBay as soon as they pay out my remaining funds because the platform is doing nothing to stop me from getting robbed

  3. Similar situation happened to me, 6 years after this article. Ebay assured me if I followed the process and worked with the buyer, it would essentially work out. In my case, the buyer never returned the item at all, despite being sent a pre-paid shipping label. Ebay closed the case, and then 2 weeks later, the buyer filed a payment dispute. The bank, shockingly and despite being sent evidence of the buyer never returning the item, sided with them. Ebay acted as though it was out of their hands (i.e. like the bank’s policies trump Ebay’s). The fact I never got the item back is just crazy. To add insult to injury, I also lost the shipping costs (provided free shipping), and I was charged a dispute fee, because, somehow, despite doing everything I was supposed to do, Ebay didn’t kick in the seller protection. They refused to accept an appeal. Now, I’ll likely have to report this item stolen. Not sure that will make any difference either.

  4. I see this article is years old, but the scams are still happening. I sold a bundle of items to a customer and as soon as they got it, they claimed the items were not as described. eBay immediately sided with the seller and gave them back the money.
    The buyer blocked my account so I could not leave feedback. And they are now selling all of the items on eBay for a much higher profit.
    eBay is helping and perpetuating fraud.

    1. eBay is evilbay so many crimes they commit yet never are brought to justice it’s as if a seller of some sort had kidnapped and molested the person who made this platform this way and this is there way of getting revenge on them. Except there too foolish to realize we are innocent and we are half of what is needed to make eBay work the funny thing is the buyer is the other half the only thing not needed is eBay itself! Funny funny hopefully everyone can see that then real justice will come to evilbay in the form of watching what they thought was so slick go down the drain because in reality it is not needed to perform buying and selling of goods.

    2. Ebay is the scammer. How can Ebay hold funds when the buyer has picked up the item and left positive remarks? They hold funds for a month after the buyer has indicated they are happy by leaving positive reviews. They make interest on your money for a month while you go without. This is not a safe market place.

  5. I think what we should all do is find everything we can on all these amazing criminal situations from buyers and Ebay’s involvement, anyone who can help me pay for the best lawyers, several of them. We may not be able to match them in funds or attorneys but we can put them in such a bad position they will have to spend millions trying to save themselves from corruptness. I just recently had a similar situation and if a buyer buys something and commits and scam or fraud and ebay always backs the buyers in there crooked quest, I think we have a lot we can use to make it hurt them financially. Even if we lose. We can make so much noise the world would know that ebay isn’t here to be an auction. They are promoting criminals because they want the sale so they can all own there yachts and Maseratis. Once the government is convinced that something is definitely wrong. They will start a federal investigation they cannot pay off. The sellers pay there bills, we also need news reports, journalists and anyone who will blast this all over the world. I will never give up on this. Anyone who wants to go all the way, we will prevail. That I have no doubt.

    1. I understand the depth of your feeling – this is a maddening situation. I was finally able to get to a manager at eBay and get them to restore the funds to my account, however the time and effort spent far exceeded the value of the “sale.” More must be done to root out these scam buyers. I have simply not used eBay for sales of popular electronics items since this happened.

  6. I know the feeling. It happened to me in other ways.
    But one time I bought something and a person has not sent me the item, but took my money.
    Ebay was of NO assistance either.
    However, you CAN proceed with legal actions! Ebay is not the law and in fact very often in many countries they have “rules” that are against current laws in many countries!
    In this way I was able to get my money back by threatening legal actions.

  7. Hello,
    I am writing to beg for your help.
    We sold a piece of pre-owned VCA jewelry worth 3070 US$ through our Ebay auctions to an Ebay customer on March 25,2017. Our handling and shipping shipped merchandise via DHL promptly with proof of delivery.

    Classico Antiques, Ltd (Jelena Marksa)
    100 West 58th Street
    Apt 5F
    New York, NY 10019
    After the customer is informed that item is being delivered the following day,they took refund from Ebay +merchandise.
    We have DHL formal proof of Delivery.
    The tracking is no longer displayed online but its DHL AWB 7304239585

    We spent the days and months contacting customer and Ebay to do the right thing.The customer to pay for the merchandise and Ebay to review the case.
    Ebay’s customer service staff changes names every time so we had to explain the details from the start .The whole case took a significant loss of cash flow,time and emotional distress .

    Ebay case 5158851209, Van Cleef & Arpels 18K Gold Diamond Coral Ring (322468605662)

    Please help us.
    Thank you very much for your time.

  8. Last month I sold a high end computer to a guy. He claimed damage in shipping, and I contacted UPS to investigate. Before I was even contacted by UPS about this, the buyer claimed I had been given a check by UPS and would not give him any of the money. This being the same guy who tried to blackmail me into giving him $100 to go away. Ebay not only gave him his money back, they didn’t have him return ANYTHING! I called and said what the @#$$. The guy said wow this is really messed up an gave me back my money. Now all this time y Dad’s in hospice for cancer. Friday I bury my Dad. Sunday I look at my Ebay account and they had put $593.00 on my invoice. Paypal took all the money out of my bank, which I did not have IN the bank. So now I have overdraft fee’s and a $7 per day fee until I put money in that I don’t have. Now the bottom line is I have NO computer…the buyer has it…Ebay refunded the same guy…And I am $600 negative. This is theft pure and simple. I call Ebay and am on the phone with them for 3 hours. They tell me the sale is over 30 days and I’m shit out of luck. I tell them I DID contact them and got the first refund. They tell me tough, they are not changing the decision. I contacted 3 other people this guy scammed the same way, all high end computers and all the same month. He’s still on Ebay, and I’m still out $600. How can they steal your product and make YOU the seller pay for it. This has got to be illegal. So this scammer has my computer…$600…and will keep doing it because of the companies Buyers always right attitude. But how can they legally steal your money and say we’re to big and rich to sue? Is anyone suing these idiots in a class action suit? Which by the way we supposedly sign away our right to participate in by agreeing to the user agreement. I’m a little guy, trying to pay for a funeral and now $600 poorer through no fault of my own. Anyone with any feedback would be appreciated. I can’t lose $600, I am considering small claims court.

  9. That happened to me too. Sold a 3d printer to someone and they used it for a bit, decided they don’t want it anymore and opened up a claim. Ebay required me to issue a refund or they would issue a refund anyways and if ebay does the refund, the buyer doesn’t need to ship the item back. Not only did i have to pay for international shipping there, but also pay to have it shipped back. Out $400 in shipping fees, a used printer that looks like its been opened up internally, and missing printer spool. Paypal was no help either, they froze the account and i was between paypal and ebay making calls. Paypal is another scam of ebay. Paypal doesn’t offer protection of your money from fake accounts so payments can be charged back and money taken out of your paypal account. Do not leave money in your paypal, it is not a bank nor is it insured.

  10. Definitely agree on this. Had numerous buyers do this to me and lost a lot of money and even got my account permanently suspended in the process.

    eBay does nothing to help the sellers when it comes to that.

    I had to resort to going the stealth route using Auction Essistance to help me set up.

    The fraud still continues and hopefully eBay will do something to prevent this from happening again.

  11. Ebay figured out that it was more profitable for them to allow “friendly fraud.”
    Don’t offer anything there , you aren’t prepared to lose…..
    It’s not that hard to come up with a fair dispute routine.
    Ebay is just a crappy company which is why they allow this nonsense to go on and on.

  12. Mr. Tarver;

    I wish you success and hope that this will result in both criminal charges and huge civil fines for this mail and internet fraud.

    Perhaps you can try to get Dateline or 60 minutes involved; that could be a huge benefit to the victims, past, present and future!

    Hopefully if they investigate they can make comparisons to other online venues like Ebid, E-Crater, Etsy, that have risen in response to sellers who left Ebay due to unfair business practices like what happened to you.

    Have you filed a complaint with the Internet Crimes Complaint Center in addition to his local Police Department and the Postal Inspectors. And with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well.

    Maybe your former business and University of Michigan contacts to can help spread the word, too.

    Again, I wish you success!

  13. Another thought, have you reported this phone as stolen? Since you have the serial number, can you do this? I’ve never had to go through the process, so I’m not aware of how it works. Just a thought.

  14. Let’s help Mr. Tarver get his message out. I’ve posed the link to his blog on my Facebook account.
    As a 20 year seller on ebay I no longer recommend anyone sell any item on ebay you can’t afford to lose or give away.

  15. Mr. Tarver –

    I am so very sorry this was your experience. It is completely unacceptable. As of 8 weeks ago, I now lead customer service at eBay. My team will reach out to you and make this right and I assure you we will use your feedback to get better. Please feel free to contact me if there is anything at all I can ever do to help you.

    Wendy Jones

    1. Wendy:

      Thanks so much for reaching out. I spoke with Danny Faust this morning, and he addressed the immediate issue, and confirmed that I was scammed. I hope that you are successful in innovating a solution to this problem – I know it is not easy, with the volume of transactions that eBay handles. If I can help in any way, please let me know. For example, you could put a challenge out to my students at University of Michigan to propose workable solutions.

      Please see the article I posted today for the update I produced after speaking to Mr. Faust.

      Thanks again.


      1. Told you they only mobilize when bad press is germinating….now they are all too helpful. Who is this person? How are you supposed to contact her? The rest of us are stuck with Philippines idiots to deal with… Do we all have to create a blog to get what should have been done in the first place? This should have been their FIRST response….not after all the uproar.

    2. Wendy:

      Thanks so much for reaching out. I spoke with Danny Faust this morning, and he addressed the immediate issue, and confirmed that I was scammed. I hope that you are successful in innovating a solution to this problem – I know it is not easy, with the volume of transactions that eBay handles. If I can help in any way, please let me know. For example, you could put a challenge out to my students at University of Michigan to propose workable solutions.

      Please see the article I posted today for the update I produced after speaking to Mr. Faust.

      Thanks again.


  16. I am sorry to hear about your incident on EBAY. I can tell you from my personal experience that this is the exception not the norm. I have run a full time EBAY business now for 11 years. My feedback is over 9300. And I do sell used cell phones (along with a variety of other items).

    Bad buyers do exist, but they are few and far between. In my 11 years and $1,500,000 in sales I have had perhaps a dozen scammers (or flat out liars) try and scam us. Because we sell $25K per month, if the rare deal goes bad, we just write it off and move on. In the big picture it is not a big deal for us. But for someone like yourself, it leaves a big impact.

    I am disappointed that EBAY did not take action against this buyer. I might suggest you share your experience with Griff at EBAY. ( He might be able to look into the incident and see if he can help. He was the first customer support rep to be hired by eBAY and is co-host of an online radio program about EBAY (Ebay Radio).

    But I would discourage you from driving customers away from EBAY. Tens of thousands of small sellers like myself make our living on EBAY (We do not sell on any other platforms like Amazon). The vast majority of us believe in the adage of “under promise and over deliver”.

    Also let me know if you need assistance contacting Congressman David Trott. He and I are friends and run in the same political circles…

  17. I’m certainly glad that someone with credibility and an internet soapbox made this incident public. Apparently ‘Devil Wingnut’ who runs feeBay, and The Hoe over at PayPig [formerly he ran both rackets] don’t much care about the adverse publicity. They operate by the old adage, ‘there’s a sucker born every minute.’ NEVER sell high-end electronics on feeBay. Gee, at least you got back something that was vaguely ‘electronic.’ A box of rocks would have been just as effective in pulling off this scam.

    1. Most of the web hits on eBay scams have kept me from selling on eBay. Not to mention they force you to open up a PayPal account which I absolutely do not want to do. I’ve worked in banking and transactions on a credit card are easier to dispute than on a checking account. Once someone has money from your checking account, you only can go after PayPal. I had a PayPal account before and it took months to close it. They kept playing games with credits/debits and “wait 8 weeks” blah blah. They try to keep you on the hook as long as they can. And getting it disconnected from my checking account was a pain.

      But to the “don’t sell high-end electronics”, I had a similar issue on selling on Amazon. Some dude bought a high-end projector from me. I noted the neighborhood it was going to and it was a high-crime area. So I loaded the package up with insurance and signature with USPS. The guy immediately filed a complaint with Amazon saying the package was not left on his porch. Amazon let me know what was going on. Ironically USPS kept leaving comments on the tracking that “we can’t find a safe place to leave it”. I was aghast. It required a signature and they were prepared to leave it?? The guy obviously wanted to pull the “it was stolen from my porch” or “I never got it” scam. He kept saying he couldn’t be there or visit the post office. Lucky for me the guy was dumb and didn’t pull the “it was damaged” instead. I got the box back from USPS and Amazon even let me charge the guy for the USPS charges plus a restocking fee! So I made money despite having my projector flown around the country.

  18. Could you get a lawyer? I know it would be pricey, but justice hasn’t been served here. This is the reason we have seller issues with EVERY selling venue on the internet. The hosting service doesn’t want to get involved in any legal disputes and just claims “customer is always right”. I sell on Ebay and hate every minute but no other selling venue has the traffic they have. I also don’t have the following that other sellers on other venues have to have a successful businesses, so I’m stuck between a rock and hard place.

    Yeah, this sucks! I hope you get some compensation for your efforts. Nice to know you have a community backing you up here and great suggestions that I also plan on keeping in store for myself. Good luck! Oh, and I tweeted your story. This kind of shit has to be made aware of!

  19. Yup unfortunately this happens far too often to everyone who sells on Ebay or takes Paypal……… Some categories are worse than others. Electronics are real bad. High performance auto parts are close second. On certain large ticket items we require payment in cash or by direct wire transfer to our bank because this cuts out a lot garbage. I’ve been selling on Ebay for a long time and have a 6th sense for this type of crap. If buyers start asking weird questions or I get a hint that something is fishy they go on my banned buyer list immediately. There is also a published known Ebay fraud buyer list you can import into your banned buyer list. Since this is an Apple product on Verizon report the phone as Stolen to Apple and Verizon. The first time someone tries to use it will be locked.

  20. It is blatant laziness. They do not make money from investigating & clearly their reputation is not their greatest concern. Shareholders are most important to Mr Wenig. eBay has always forced business sellers to jump through hoops while they move the goalposts at the same time. Listings are sometimes invisible & their Top Rated Support has vanished only to be replaced with basic support agents based in the Philipenes who are so clueless they terminated a call on me because I used the word “Hell”. eBay is cutting corners like every other corporate company. I’m afraid this is the future. Big business does not have to care anymore. Especially when there is no competition. eBay eats small bisinesses for after dinner mints.

  21. The writer didn’t know it was a Russian address. Probably some type of drop ship to Russia. But as an Ebayer, I never ever sell to internationals — unless they provide their DHL and FEDEX accounts to ship. I believe EB still has “escrow” accounts. That’s where the money is held until the buyer receives the item and verifies it’s in good shape. The money is not released from escrow until that time.

    1. The mailing address was in Delaware, not Russia. You should try to read a little bit better.

      I ship all over the world. It is not foreign buyers, foreign postal administrations nor foreign nations who commit the fraud, it is eBay and PayPal who commit the fraud by enabling, encouraging, aiding and abetting it. Without that, almost none of the fraud could even occur.


      But once PayPal strongarmed itself into everyone’s business and bank accounts, ‘mail losses’ have soared to all time highs.

  22. Something that occurred to me–Did the “buyer” ask that you post the ITEM NUMBER on the OUTSIDE of the package? That is a “tip off” that you are actually shipping to an OFFSHORE DROP SHIP OPERATION. Now–if you DO NOT SHIP TO RUSSIA–you might–=MIGHT–be able to argue that you were deceived BY the buyer who actually did NOT receive the item; the item YOU SENT went to “XYZ Main Street USA” but then was trans-shipped to the alleged buyer. This is something to think about. See if you actually DO have any countries listed as COUNTRIES I DO NOT SELL TO–in your SETTINGS area. (If you are not familiar I would recommend that you contact @MARIE as she Knows All and See’s All as far as eBay rules and ins-and-outs goes. At Ina’s site we rely on Marie for lots of info!

  23. As per @MARIE—her advice is very sound. I would also find out who your local REGIONAL POST MASTER is–most likely the largest town near you or at one of your cities Main Post Offices–and alert THEM to the Mail Fraud aspect. Th smaller PO’s generally could care less; they will give yiou the Forms but not much help.
    You also might get better attention paid to this if you call PAYPAL vs eBay. (800.854.1366) Sometimes they have a better grasp of the situation (and English!) and are more willing to help a CUSTOMER of their out–this might also take a few phone calls.

    Another thing you can do is–KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Don’t STOP calling eBay. You might just get that ONE Customer Service Person who speaks English and actually grasps that you have been stolen from. It’s worth a try. I have had cases where I have had to call 6 or more times—of course for a $5 item it’s not worth it but for $300+—it IS.
    You can also try any local “consumer” type shows–either on radio or TV–that deal with these sorts of problems –these get the word out to the public AND embarrass the company. The HAGGLER at The New York Times does this-on an international scale. You might have a local paper that does this; the more outlets you send this to the better.

    Good luck and please–if you could update Ina —we would all appreciate it!

    1. I can tell that you have not called PayPal in a while. PayPal now has the same ineffectual call centers in the Philippines that eBay does. Probably in the same building or even in the same room ….

      Same people???

  24. The link to the auction does not show the user id of the thief. eBay hides that information. It would be helpful to expose both the buyer’s ebay ID AS WELL AS HIS NAME AND ADDRESS.

  25. When eBay was just a few years old, 20/20 or another similar show was labeled by a California police detective as “the biggest fence in the world.” A fence is a dealer in stolen goods. Even if you had picked up the return at the post office, with a police officer holding a newspaper with the date, and you had filmed yourself opening the return package, it would not have helped because eBay does not accept evidence. Proof does not matter. Ebay is a thug company. Most people are honest and that is the only reason eBay continues to operate. eBay itself is crooked.

  26. You have my sympathies in this matter, but I have to say that had you spent half as much time taking direct action as you have in creating this blog and responding to the comments of others, you may see some daylight. The eBay’s of the world only understand one thing, power and money coming out of their pocket. First, sit down with your complaint at set it to writing. Detail everything including eBay’s knowing participation in and facilitation of fraud. Make sure that it flows and do not ramble. Next, post it to eBay’s BBB account in California. At the same time, obtain the necessary forms to file a small claims court complaint and use the writing you prepared to prepare your pleadings. The cost for a small claims court filing are minimal. Your pleadings must include at least one count that eBay knowingly participated and facilitated a fraud and when alerted, they did nothing. eBay will try and defend by stating that you agreed to arbitration, however they have already lost cases such as this with that defense given that the knowlingly participated in a fraud.

    1. Patriot:

      I have been taking direct action, and this blog post is part of that. I will not waste time going to small claims court in California, because the $328.00 I lost is not the most important thing here. The issue is the unfair business practices that eBay engages in, which stands to cost sellers millions and millions over time. My aim is to disseminate this information as widely as possible so that eBay will take notice and change their policies.

  27. Mr Tarver – So sorry this happened to you. But you should know that this is “business as usual” on eBay. There is no seller protection of any kind. Buyers are treated like angels, while sellers are treated like the devil incarnate. Ask anyone who has sold on eBay for any length of time and they will have horror stories about how “liar buyers” operate. People who buy fashions and jewelry, wear them for a few weeks, and then claim SNAD (Significantly Not As Described) to get free return postage and all their money back. Or, like in your case, the seller gets back an item they never even had (or their actual item with a part missing). This is how eBay has operated for years. For eBay, it’s all about the fees they can get from transactions. If you complain to eBay, they tell you “it’s the cost of doing business.” Sellers learn quickly that they shouldn’t list anything they can’t afford to have stolen.

    1. I know now. Still, it is sad that this situation is allowed to persist. eBay is facilitating mail fraud and theft on a large scale. I understand that their model won’t work if they have to adjudicate every dispute between buyers and sellers, but in this case they had clear evidence in the message and shipment records that this was a scam, and still they made no attempt to do anything except freeze my PayPal funds and return payment to the “buyer.”

    2. Amen to your post, from a TRS+ seller since 1999 with over 9,000 unique feedbacks.

      I see your comments posted a lot on ecommercebytes and you have been a long suffering speaker for me and for many others along with yourself. Thank you for the long running effort!

  28. Please make the buyer’s ebay ID public. This is a criminal scam artist that other sellers need to be aware of to prevent more fraud.

  29. As a long time seller….experience has shown the only thing, and I mean the only thing, ebay responds to is bad press or the potential thereof. In instances such as this, once the heat is turned up and hits the proper persons radar at ebay corporate, they will reach out to you with an offer conditional on your silence on the matter. That is how they get away with these issues. This happens to all sellers, large and small every single day. Customer service is an absolute joke as it is outsourced to Vietnam and the Philippines from which their reps are beyond clueless. There is absolutely no way to contact anyone in the USA and/or ebay corporate with issues.
    I can with confidence request on behalf of all longtime and occasional sellers that have experienced ebays one-sided policies with a negative result…..PLEASE pursue this for maximum public and press exposure. If you can absorb the loss, the greater good you will accomplish by exposing this….will far out-weight the cost of the phone. Good Luck!

    1. Scotty J.:
      That is exactly what I am doing. I can afford to lose $328.00, but I fully intend to pursue this matter to the nth degree, because these eBay policies are facilitating crime on a large scale, and have the potential to hurt lots of people. What will happen when someone puts a family heirloom Rolex on eBay, thinking that they will get fair value, only to get scammed? You know what will happen – the buyer will walk away scot-free (no pun intended!). These policies are just wrong.

      1. I am so sorry you were ripped off to the nth degree! I thank you, thank you, thank you for stating that you will pursue this incident no matter what eBay tries to do in the way of a cover, i.e., ‘an offer’ to keep you quiet! Spreading the word in this manner, please know that you will be doing this in the name of so many sellers who, for whatever reason, personal, financial, or? could not stand up to Ebay. I just posted your blog to my FB and I pray that everybody who reads your story is doing the same. Bless you!

  30. Please post the ebay ID of the buyer or a screenshot of the name on the sale. It will help other sellers, because we can block this individual to prevent them from bidding on our items.

  31. What is the buyer’s ebay ID? I’d like to permanently block them.

    It is too easy for buyers to scam sellers.

    I had two buyers open fraudulent return cases on items I sold recently. One had buyer’s remorse for a pair of vintage jeans that sold for several hundreds of dollars. He opened a SNAD case after deciding he paid too much (he was also a jeans reseller) which caused Paypal to place a hold on my account for over $560, essentially making it go negative. He didn’t close the case until almost a week later when he realized that he’d lose 20% due to my restocking fee. The other day another idiot opened a return case because he claimed I sent him the wrong photo. He closed the case when he realized he mixed up my envelope with another purchase he made.

    However, now ebay is docking me because both are considered “return cases” and will permanently affect my selling status.

  32. It is very unfortunate, but this is what Ebay does on many types of products. But none so obvious as those that are selling one form or another of electronics. That is a hot button category on Ebay. There are some much safer categories to sell in, but there is still risk of this kind of thing happening.

    This seller did do all they could to protect themselves on Ebay. I would add that there is nothing wrong with any member having something shipped to an address that is not their primary address. I ship to my daughter and my mother on occasions and other people will have reasons too. Some international members will have items shipped to a US address to a friend, family member or re-shipper. Nothing wrong with that either. The seller responsibility ends at the address in which you shipped to.

    Now for this seller, about the only argument that may work for them is that the item came back from an address he did NOT ship to. That exception is in the Money Back Guarantee rules. So I strongly suggest the seller calls Ebay again, armed with this information.

    The section is as follows:
    Not covered
    Buyer remorse or any reason other than not receiving an item or receiving an item that isn’t as described in the listing (see the seller’s return policy for return options).
    Items damaged during pick-up or shipping or not delivered when the buyer arranges pick-up or shipping of the item (for instance, the buyer arranges freight).
    Duplicate claims through other resolution methods.

    Items shipped to another address after original delivery. [THIS IS THE EXCEPTION THAT MATTERS, to be returned to the seller from Texas, it had to get there by some method, which is in direct conflict of this clause]


    As a further suggestion, I would suggest contacting your local post office and give them all this information. This is called Mail Fraud and is a Federal Crime. Your local postmaster will be able to help you with the steps you need to take.

    I hope this helps!

    1. Marie:

      Thank you for these suggestions, especially the one about the item coming back from a different address from what I shipped to. This is clearly verifiable by eBay. I will definitely follow up on this.


      1. Do let us know how it turns out. They are really going to have a tough time explaining how they are allowing that to happen. If you need to chat with me further about this, just contact me, I would be more than happy to help.

  33. Sadly, you’ve just paid the entry price to the eBay returns Fraud Club. THOUSANDS of sellers – myself included go through this all the item – as eBay claims “its the cost of doing business on eBay” BS.

    eBay in and of itself – for most sellers – is a con game. eBay has rules that they write and update at will – their TOS/UA (its basically an illegal shrinkwrap license) and even those rules (as bad as they are) are NOT enforced.

    eBay is quite aware of these types of issues but doesnt care. The buyer is always right, even when they arent and eBay could care less about the seller, as they are “there to be used, abused and stolen from” and then discarded. People remain on eBay because 1) most times their items arent suitable or sold on Amazon and 2) Amazon gates (blocks) many categories – so the only other place to sell i son eBay.

    eBay knows you wont sure them – and they take advantage of that fact. They know it so well, that they make you agree to NOT sue them via class action – where it would be remotely affordable to do so. Besides, the cost of the item is far less then the cost of any suit – so they feel safe in contributing and protecting the theft.

    eBay has returns rules – ones they ignore. The rules CLEARLY state that they item MUST be returned in the same condition it was sold – it the same item in the same condition – but its something eBay NEVER enforces. They simply call Sellers liars and cheaters (sellers are believed less to be then drug dealers, rapists, murderers and Mid East dictators).

    Sellers “will come back” (they believe that there are MILLIONS of them just salivating to get on eBay ans sell their items) so if you, me , any seller leaves … “so what”. if a BUYER leaves – well thats revenue out of eBays pocket – thats something that cant EVER happen.

    eBay is RIFE with returns fraud – just reading eBays community boards will but you in shock. eBay uses its Money Back program to run rough shod over sellers with impunity.

    eBay makes money on the return, it makes money on the shipping (both ways), it gets to keep a buyer and you get … nothing …. not even good will – that also goes to the buyer.

    eBay also makes LARGE donations (political) and so therefore NO attorney general dares step to look into them. eBays boards are mostly ex lawyers – NONE Of them have retail/etail/wholesale/mail order/internet sales experience … and it shows.

    Sellers are scum of humanity on eBay and unless as they told you – you can “trick” the buyer into admitting the fraud – nothing will even happen – and even then … they can and still do find for the buyer.

    BTW, your case … “closed without seller intervention” and you got a defect (strike) against your account PLUS (as a bonus gift from the jerks in San Jose) you can get a negative feedback on your account for all to see – since you are “in the wrong”.

    eBay is a scammer and theft paradise – and the ONLY difference between Devin Wenig and Tony Soprano is the state they are in and the weapons used to steal.

    LMAO just remember what eBay told everyone (in the Vitton trial) “we are JUST A VENUE we have NOTHING to do with sales or anything else …. liars!

    1. Sam:

      I wouldn’t have believed all of this had I not experienced it firsthand. I certainly do believe it now. I’m going to keep campaigning in every venue I can for something to be done about this. As you suggested, they don’t even follow their own TOS, and they obviously do NO investigation in deciding a case. I received the eBay’s decision in favor of the buyer exactly 13 minutes after the buyer opened the case, despite calling for days in advance to point out the buyer’s aberrant behavior.

      Thank you for sharing this information. The least we can do is make as many potential sellers as possible aware of this information.


  34. You might post on the ‘ebay for business’ facebook page for review as they may be able to take this to the top and get it resolved in your favor as this sounds like a criminal ring and not an isolated incident. Post a link to the article too, and you will see if they help or if they delete it (which would further show their collusion!)! Good luck and good article!

  35. David,

    This is horrible!! I can’t believe EBay!! Thought them to be much more reputable.
    I will definitely spread the word. Sorry that this happened to you.

    1. My goodness, this story is horrific! Can’t say I’m not surprised as I subscribe to Ecommerce Bytes and hear horror stories like this on a regular basis. Thank you for publishing it.
      I had a thought. Have you thought of calling your local news station and asking them to do a story on this?
      Also, where I live, one local news station has a segment where they ask people to call in and report consumer complaints. Then a person on the news team investigates the whole issue. They call the company and get involved on your behalf, and report the results daily on their news segment. I’ve never seen a story where the consumer didn’t get all of their money back. I hope there’s a news outlet that can help you. Your story is absolutely horrific! Good luck to you.

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