On 23rd February 2018, I sold an iPhone through eBay to a buyer in Portugal. The ordeal that I have been through is almost unbelievable and I feel I should share the story. I have lost the phone and the money as well as postage costs and return postage costs. To add insult to injury, I am also left with a bill for eBay fees for selling it.

 My 17 year old son was hoping to make a bit of honest money to help pay for the insurance on his car. He just passed his driving test and thought it would be a good idea to raise some funds to help pay some of the costs. He went with a friend to an auction where he bid for and won two iPhones using all of the money that he had saved over a period of several months. Because of his age, he cannot sell through eBay so asked me if I would list the phones for him on my account. My account, incidentally had 100% positive feedback which I had maintained for many years.

 One of the phones was bought by a buyer in Portugal. The selling price was £90 plus £10 for insured, tracked postage. The buyer, manuecana-0, paid very quickly by PayPal, the phone was packaged securely and sent in the post the following day. The phone was placed inside a 'Jiffy bag', wrapped in a bundle of bubble-wrap and placed in a rigid cardboard postage box. This phone was well protected.

 On 28th February, I received a notification from eBay that manuecana-0 had asked to return the phone because it had a broken screen. I was highly suspicious of this because I knew how well it had been packaged but nevertheless, I requested a photo of the damage from the buyer so that I could claim from the insurance. The postage had cost £10 and I had made sure it was fully insured. Unfortunately, the buyer failed to send me photo's meaning that I was unable to make a claim. Despite numerous requests for the buyer to send me photo's, he never did. He tried to tell me that he had sent photo's to 'the case' and that I should be able to see them but I could not. I further explained that I could see no photo's and asked him to just send them direct to me. He refused.

 Around this time, I started to read some of the feedback comments left for manuecana-0. Whilst he had a good feedback record, I did note a number of comments from other sellers such as "AVOID awful ebayer. Doesn’t read description. Sends items back incomplete" - user vain_wc and "DO NOT TRUST THIS BUYER AT ALL. It’s fraud, opens a claim then keeps the item" - user 1236298347@deleted. Another feedback comment was "Buyer pulled a refund scam, got £219 back on phone & hasn't returned. Beware!" - user sian_under_fire and one which said "Lied about delivery said hadn't arrived when was signed for" - user amsat_0. Well, as you would imagine, alarm bells were ringing and I felt sure I would never see the phone again.

 On 11th March, I opened a case myself against the buyer, my message read as follows:

"Hi, the buyer tells me the phone arrived with a broken screen. To be clear, it was sent in perfect order. It was packaged in many layers of bubble wrap in a rigid postage box. The buyer has refused to send me photos of the alleged damage so I cannot claim through insurance. This buyer has had feedback from previous sellers that he took refunds and failed to return items. Thank you."

 The response from eBay went like this:

" Before I proceed James, I’d like you to know that I admire your patience and effort in this situation and for keeping an open communication with your buyer about the condition of the item when you sent it. I reviewed your case and found that the best next resolution is to have the item returned."

It was clear that if I did not pay the buyer to return the phone, I would lose everything so I contacted him and asked him for a price to return the phone to me. He told me he wanted £25.

Now, I had sent the phone to him using a fully insured and tracked service for £10 so I felt that a demand for £25 was unreasonable. I then researched some of this buyer's previous sales where he was selling the same type of phone. He clearly stated in his adverts that postage to 'Europe' is £15. As a result, I transferred £15 to his PayPal account and explained that I thought this was a reasonable amount. After PayPal took their fee, he says he ended up with £14 but I still feel this would be plenty to cover the return postage. I even offered that if it cost more than that to post, he could let me know and I would pay the difference. He refused to send it.

On 18th March, I received a message from eBay which reads as follows:

"After reviewing the case, we are now making our final decision. Due to the valid claim, we have decided to reverse your transaction.  Meaning the item will be returned back to you and you will be returning the payment of the buyer.  Due to the valid claim, we are requiring you to please settle the return of the item. This is in accordance to our UK law. Sale of Goods Act 1979 a seller is responsible for paying return postage costs when an item is being returned by a buyer because it is not as described or faulty.  You may respond to the buyer to either offer one of these options: -send your own postage label -pay for the postage cost directly to the buyer -arrange a carrier to collect the item  Please comply with this request within 5 days for you to get your item back. This is also to close the dispute between yourselves. If in case you won’t respond on this within 5 days then we will be force to close the case in favour of the buyer."

So, now eBay are telling me that they have reviewed this case and consider it to be a valid claim. I  must also pay again for the phone to be returned. They are also telling me that the Sale of Goods Act applies to a private seller.

In simple terms, my son has lost £90 from the sale of the phone, £10 from the postage and £15 for return postage. There is no realistic prospect of the phone being returned and to rub salt into the wound, eBay have just sent the invoice for seller fees for having sold it!

Ebay, not surprisingly, have taken the side of the buyer in this case. They would not want to cause their buyers to lose confidence in spending money through their site. The questions I ask though is what does eBay do to protect their sellers and why can they not identify a fraud when it seems quite clear.

 I have included copies of all communications in relation to this case below for information.

If you have any points to make, please feel free to email me at james@thejoebox.com


**Update** I replied to the latest communication from eBay directing them to the link for this page. I advised that I am prepared to contact news agencies with this issue, On 19th March, I received a request from eBay to upload proof that I had sent the buyer the funds to return the phone. I duly sent a screen-grab from my PayPal page. I now await any further response from eBay.


**Further update...**  I have been in touch with other eBay users who have had similar issues with the same buyer. There is a picture building of this situation and it is not a nice one. I will update with their experiences if they give me permission to do so... watch this space!


Respond to return request

 Hi James,

 manuecana-0 let us know that something is wrong with Apple iPhone 6 - 64GB - Silver (Unlocked) Smartphone. As a result, they requested to return the item for a refund.

See request details and be sure to reply to the buyer by 08 Mar, 2018. Note that if you accept a return, you'll be charged for return shipping. Starting on that day, the buyer could ask us to step in and help by opening a case - this can affect your seller level.

The funds for this transaction will be unavailable until this return has been closed. You can also use these funds to issue a refund. You must issue a refund within 6 days of the item being delivered.

You can ask us to step in and help if there's a problem with the buyer's request.

 

28 Feb

The buyer (manuecana-0) created a return (5077993059)

Reason for return

Arrived damaged

Comments

The screen is broken and I buy this iPhone with a good screen

Address

James Farley
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, xxxxxx

 

01 Mar

You sent a message

Message

Please send a photo of the phone. It was perfect when sent and well wrapped.

 

01 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

Ok

 

02 Mar

You sent a message

Message

If you send me some photos of the damage, I will claim from the insurance. Thanks.

 

02 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

I already post the fotos from the demanded phone you have send me ok

 

02 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

In this time you need to accept the return and pay me back and pay for return this item you have time to do this

 

02 Mar

You sent a message

Message

I have not received photos of the damaged phone. Please send again. I cannot send a return or claim insurance if I do not have the photos. Thanks.

 

02 Mar

You sent a message

Message

To be clear, I sent the phone in good condition in good packaging. I have asked for photos of the damage because I do not believe it was damaged in the post. You have Still not sent any evidence of the damage so I cannot accept a return. Please send photos and I will then arrange a return for you.

 

03 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

Hey you are a bad seller and I will give you negative feedback for this, in the day you have ask me for phones in this same day I have post or attach it ear in the case, eBay can see the phones I can see it, why you can’t, think about it and never came with this false words I received a demanded iPhone ok resolve this thanks

 

03 Mar

You sent a message

Message

If you have sent photos, I can NOT see them. I do not understand why I would not be able to see them. All I am asking is that you add them to a message and reply to me with them. When I see the photos, I will arrange a return. Why will you not just send the photos to me?

 

03 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

You have the fotos on the case thanks

 

03 Mar

You sent a message

Message

How many times must I tell you, I can not see any photos.please just send them to me.

 

03 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

Sow if you don’t see call eBay and talk to than

 

03 Mar

You sent a message

Message

You clearly do not want my help or you would just send me the photos so that I can claim on the insurance. I have no access to any photos that you have posted. If you do not send them to me, then wait until 8th March and let eBay resolve the issue. I can do no more. Your reluctance to send me the photos is suspicious.

 

03 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

i have bean talk to ebay for this, and I talk to you ear in this open case olfatos are there

 

03 Mar

You sent a message

Message

Listen, listen, listen. I CANNOT ACCESS ANY PHOTOS. YOU NEED TO SEND THEM TO ME.

 

03 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

Sorry but I only talk to you in na open case for resolution, and post photos only on the case

 

03 Mar

You sent a message

Message

I cannot communicate with you. I have tried as hard as I can to explain that I can see no photos. I ask only for you to simply send them to me and yet you will not do it. In this case there is no point in further communication, eBay will have to make the decision. If you send the photos, I can help. If you don't then I can't. I am being perfectly reasonable and you are being quite stubborn about this. I can only conclude that you are trying to defraud me.

 

03 Mar

The buyer sent you a message

Message

If you don’t see the phones on the open case contact eBay thabks

 

11 Mar

You opened a case

Comments

Hi, the buyer tells me the phone arrived with a broken screen. To be clear, it was sent in perfect order. It was packaged in many layers of bubble wrap in a rigid postage box. The buyer has refused to send me photos of the alleged damage so I cannot claim through insurance. This buyer has had feedback from previous sellers that he took refunds and failed to return items. Thank you.

Reason for escalation

I can't sort things out with the buyer

 

You asked eBay to step in and help on 11 Mar, 2018. Customer service will review the information you provided and provide details on their decision within 48 hours. Please view the case detail for additional information.

 

Mar. 12 :

The case was put on hold

 

RE: GS=CU1193 | Escalating claim to Customer Support, I received an item that is not as described [#US SR# 1-150949956356

 

Hello James,

 

Thank you for contacting eBay Customer Service about the smartphone (item 162904954036) you sold to "manuecana-0".  I certainly know how it feels if your buyer opened a case claiming that the item you posted is not as described. Please be assured that I will thoroughly give you an update about this claim.

 

Before I proceed James, I’d like you to know that I admire your patience and effort in this situation and for keeping an open communication with your buyer about the condition of the item when you sent it. I reviewed your case and found that the best next resolution is to have the item returned. This is because the item is listed as used and then, the buyer received it as damaged . To ensure the resolution of this case, please note that I’ve placed the case on hold for 5 days to give you time to facilitate the return process.

 

There are a lot of ways on how you can do so. Here’s how:

 

  1. Issue a pre-paid shipping label

 

If you have a preferred courier, you may wish to send your own return shipping label. In order to do this, you may simply contact the courier of your choice for the instructions on how to avail of their shipping labels. Please note that you may consider the size and weight of the item in line with the label that you'll be issuing to prevent any future problems with the buyer. You may also contact your buyer to confirm what couriers are available near their location. Please note that you may also get your buyer's contact details by clicking the link below so that you can phone them directly and have a clearer conversation with them:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/ebayadvsearch?_sofindtype=9

We'll send you an automatic email with the seller's contact details. Please be aware that we'll send them your contact details at the same time. We feel it maintains trust and fairness on eBay if members are made aware when other members request their contact information.

 Send funds to cover the return postage

 You can find out the return cost by using the shipping calculators available in your buyer’s local courier website. Once you managed to get the quotation of prices, you can issue your buyer with funds through PayPal. We are aware that the funds for the buyer’s payment are on hold due to an open case. Therefore, it’s necessary to add funds first with an amount enough to cover the return shipping cost. Please be reminded that the return cost should be on top of the buyer’s payment.

 Here's how you can send funds to your buyer:

 - Log in to your PayPal account and click ‘Send Money’ at the top of the page

- Enter who you want to pay and the amount

- Select 'Goods,' and then click the 'Continue' button (Note: Please don't select the 'eBay Items' option as this won't work because this is a repayment)

- In the space to provide a message, please enter something like the case ID or the item number which will indicate what this payment is for

- Click the 'Send Money' button

 If we haven’t received any form of resolution mentioned above within the given timeframe, please note that the case will be closed with a full refund and without a requirement to return the item. With this, I positively recommend that after you've resolved their concern with one of the options given above, you can also inform us with the necessary details such as the tracking number for the issued label or the PayPal transaction ID screenshot for any funds given, so we can proceed with what to do next for this transaction.

 Thank you for choosing eBay, James. Have a great day!

 Kind regards,

 Noelle R.

eBay Customer Service

  

New message to: manuecana-0

HI,
Please let me know the cost of return post so that you can send the phone back to me.
I will send the money by PayPal and you can return it to me. Please ensure it is tracked delivery and please advise me of the tracking number and the company used for postage.
Thank you.

 

New message from: manuecana-0 (981)

good evening

I have been waiting for this situation since a long time, you have time to send the money to me to make the return of the item and by now you just refused to pay for the return, and did not send me the amount so I return it for you, the value for me to return the item is 25 £ this value must be available in my PayPal account can not be pending, because you have a deadline to resolve this situation, thank you

Manuel Canas

 

New message to: manuecana-0

I have sent you £15 to return the phone. I notice that in your previous eBay pages you say "Price to send the item to Europe 15£" That seems slightly more reasonable than £25. It cost me £10 to send to you by insured, tracked delivery.

 

New message from: manuecana-0 (986)

Sorry but I receive 14£ and for send it the item back the price is 25£ not 14£ I am waiting for rest of money to return the item to you thanks

 

New message to: manuecana-0

You charge £15 for postage to Europe for your phones. I assume this is usually paid to you by PayPal. I have sent you £15 by PayPal and that must be enough to return the phone.
I charged you £10 and paid £10 to post it to you.
It is unreasonable to ask £25.
I will be reasonable about it though. If the postage costs you more, send me the receipt and I will transfer the balance to you.

 

New message from: manuecana-0 (988)

The price and package the item is 25£ you have time to send this money I only received 14£

 

New message to: manuecana-0

Again, you prove to be unreasonable.

**eBay please note, I can be no more reasonable about this. He clearly never intends to send the phone back anyway because there is quite apparently nothing wrong with it.**

 

New message from: manuecana-0 (992)

waiting for money to return this item

 

New message to: manuecana-0

I have no patience left with this matter, I will leave to eBay to make a decision.

 

GS=CU0676Message from eBay Money Back Guarantee SR# 1-151829154869

From:eBay

To:jfrly

Sent:18-Mar-18 06:11

 GS=CU0676Message from eBay Money Back Guarantee SR# 1-151829154869

 Hello James,

 We eBay Customer Service is keeping in touch with you about the case: < 5164531671> for the iphone (162904954036). Before we go on, a copy of this email has been sent to both your eBay messages and the registered email address on your eBay account.

 After reviewing the case, we are now making our final decision. Due to the valid claim, we have decided to reverse your transaction.  Meaning the item will be returned back to you and you will be returning the payment of the buyer.

 Due to the valid claim, we are requiring you to please settle the return of the item. This is in accordance to our UK law. Sale of Goods Act 1979 a seller is responsible for paying return postage costs when an item is being returned by a buyer because it is not as described or faulty.

 You may respond to the buyer to either offer one of these options:

-send your own postage label

-pay for the postage cost directly to the buyer

-arrange a carrier to collect the item

 Please comply with this request within 5 days for you to get your item back. This is also to close the dispute between yourselves.

If in case you won’t respond on this within 5 days then we will be force to close the case in favour of the buyer.

 If there is anything further we can do to assist you on this matter or anything we can do to help improve your experience here at eBay please let us know.

 Kind regards,

Rachel E.

eBay Customer Service

 [THREAD ID: 1-151829154869]

 

Mar. 18 :

The case was put on hold

 

To: eBay Customer Service

From: jfrly

Subject: GS=CU0676Message from eBay Money Back Guarantee SR# 1-151829154869

Top of Form

Enter your response here


eBay Customer Service,

 I appreciate you are wishing to ensure the buyers experience on eBay is a good and safe one, but I must ask, what protection is there for your sellers from fraudulent buyers?

 I invite you to read the conversation thread I have had with this buyer and ask you to note that I have made honest and reasonable requests of the buyer. I am more than happy to refund the seller but if he refuse to send me any evidence of the damage, I cannot claim on the insurance.

 I sent a phone in good condition which sold for, and is reasonably valued at £90. The buyer paid this as well as £10 for postage to Portugal.

 The buyer claimed that it was damaged on arrival but refused to send me photographs or any evidence of the damage. I therefore cannot claim from the postal insurance.

 I agreed to pay for the return postage and the buyer demanded £25 for this. I cannot accept that the cost is so high, especially considering it cost me only £10 to send it to him. I note that this buyer also sells phones on eBay and quotes a cost of £15 to post to Europe. As such, I sent him £15 by PayPal. He refused to return even after I paid this and demanded the full £25. I even offered to pay the balance if it actually cost him more than £15.

 I am now told that the case has been decided in the buyer's favour. This means that I now do not have the phone and I do not have the money. Not only that, I have lost the postage money for sending it originally and a further £15 which I sent for the return.

 I have lost £115 through what is clearly a scam and I feel that eBay has not even considered my position.

 To top it all, I have just received an invoice for my seller fees!

 This has left a very bad taste in my mouth about the whole eBay experience and will be avoiding eBay for selling or buying in the future. Whilst this is about the money, it is also about the principle.

 If anyone would like to discuss this further with me, please make contact as soon as possible.

 Kind regards,

 James Farley.