A Few Common Ebay Scams by Buyers Against Sellers

New sellers on Ebay may not be aware that some customers are crooks.  We generally think that it’s the businesses that rip off the customer, but it can go the other way around. Beware, and be prepared.

Item Not Received

New sellers might send a small item through the mail, in an envelope, with regular First Class postage (the Forever stamp).  The buyer receives the items, but claims the items was never received.  You are forced to make a refund.

The fix: buy postage through Ebay, using First Class Package, which includes delivery confirmation. Ebay will accept delivery confirmation as an indication that the item was received, and side with you.

If you really don’t want to charge the $2.66+ for shipping on a small item, just be aware that some categories are riskier. Basically, anything like computer parts or “techie”, that young men do, is risky. Anything that young people buy is risky, because they have less money, and also don’t think that a small profit margin is important.

Less risky are things sold to people who need the item, or really want the seller to stay in business because the item is rare.

No Signature Confirmation on $250+ Item

The buyer of an expensive item claims to PayPal that they never got the item.  PayPal issues a refund, and you lose your money. PayPal’s policy is to side with the buyer, unless the seller can prove delivery.

The fix: items that cost over $250 should use signature confirmation.  This costs extra, and requires that the recipient sign off to receive a package.

Returning a Broken Item

Buyer purchases an item, claims it is not working/DOA, and starts a return. They return a different, broken item.  Ebay sides with the buyer.

They may even open up the item, replace the insides, and return it.

This scam is particularly common with electronics.

The fix: take a photo of the serial number, and put it in the listing. If you forget to put it in the listing send the photo of the number by message, after the sale, so the Ebay staff will have access to that info.

If you’re at risk of the “replaced guts” scam, buy some “warranty voided” security stickers and put it over a screw or a seam. These are stickers that cannot be removed, because they break apart, leaving bits behind.

Returning an Item Outside of Ebay

You sent a functioning product, and they claim it isn’t working, and want to get a refund. They do this communication outside of Ebay.

The thing works, and they don’t want to return it.  If they went through the Ebay system, the seller can choose how to resolve the problem. These options are: pay for a return; give a partial refund; give a total refund and let the buyer keep the item.

However, they don’t want that. They just want you to agree to issue a refund.

The “fix” is to remind them that refunds must be done through the Ebay system, and offer to forward the emails to Ebay, and start a return.

The buyer will go silent.

My Life Sucks, Can I Get A Discount / Free

This isn’t really a scam, but after making a purchase, they will ask for a discount, and use a sob story to try and get it.

The fix: tell them they can cancel the sale.  Allow the cancellation, and then block the buyer.

Item Not As Described

This is not really a “scam”, but a problem resulting from incomplete listings.  Some buyers are looking for flaws in listings, and will purchase the item, then point out the flaw, and request a refund or a partial refund.

The fix: you just need to be accurate in your listings, and list all flaws.  Photograph the flaws and point them out. If they catch your error, then offer a partial refund. Otherwise, apologize and take a return and give a full refund, including refunding the postage price.

Sending to a Different Address

Buyer requests that the item be sent to a different address. Then they claim they never got the item.  Delivery confirmation shows delivery to this other address, but Ebay’s policy requires delivery to one of the addresses on file with PayPal and Ebay.

The fix: if they ask to send to a different address, explain the Ebay and PayPal policies that require delivery only to addresses in their profiles. Cancel the sale and ask the buyer to change their addresses. They can then re-purchase.

Fake Buyer to Force a Delisting

This is really a scam by one seller against another. They get someone to buy an item that doesn’t have the “must pay immediately” box set.  The listing is pulled from the marketplace, but they never pay.

The buyer is just trying to eliminate the competition.

This happens sometimes, when your item is priced significantly lower than the others.

The fix is to cancel the sale, but Ebay may ding you for this. There’s also a process to cancel for nonpayment that won’t ding you, but it’s complicated.

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