I learnt this little trick today which seems quite alarming. Unfortunately I learnt it the hard way by having to refund a $200 purchase for a customer in the Middle East. A bit of coin to lose but fortunately I only sell items on eBay from my junk bin which incur no cost to me.
eBay Australia offer buyer/seller protection called PayPal Buyer Protection under the PayPal Resolution Centre. However if a seller decides to offer their item worldwide, they’re not just subjected to the Australian rules but the rules of whichever eBay website the buyer chooses to use.
eBay USA offer dispute resolution not just through PayPal but under the eBay branding as well with a Money Back Guarantee, so if you view and purchase an item on ebay.com with your Australian eBay account – the eBay Resolution Center will be made available to you.
The difference in the terms is significant for one small fact – PayPal require a seller to prove only that an item has been shipped. eBay require a seller to prove not only an item was shipped, but it was also delivered. If you buy an item which is shipped without a tracking service, through the eBay Resolution Center the buyer can obtain a full refund by claiming the item never arrived – even if it did, because the seller has no way to prove the item arrived at the buyers address. The US rules can apply even if both the buyer and seller are located in Australia, or the buyer is outside of the USA.
The eBay Money Back Guarantee specifically states:
“We guarantee that you will get the item you ordered or get your money back.
The eBay Money Back Guarantee applies to virtually every item on www.ebay.com.”
The PayPal User Agreement for Australia states:
”S9.9 If the seller presents Proof of Shipment to your address, we may find in their favour even if you did not receive the item.”
Refund also seem to be a common problem for Chinese sellers who typically will refund and ban you from future purchases from their account if you claim an item did not arrive. Alternatively a seller can limit the countries they will ship to, and potentially list the same item in different countries with variations on price and shipping services which unfortunately is a complicated process.
The most alarming detail about all this – if you’re an Australian seller the eBay Seller Centre only refers to PayPal Buyer Protection and make no mention of eBay Buyer Protection or the eBay Money Back Guarantee.
When I spoke to Customer Service about this problem, I was advised I must search their Customer Service portal for “eBay Buyer Protection” and not the “PayPal Buyer Protection” that eBay refers to on their Australian website?! The customer service representative also agreed that this is a significant loophole, and advised that sellers should only ship via services that provide tracking, which eBay fail to mention on their Seller Centre and many sellers do not do.