eBay UK Seller forced to refund Global Seller Programme sale

GSP globalLet’s start with this: eBay UK’s Global Selling Programme (GSP) is a good thing. It should be, and most usually is, a stress free and effective way for British eBay sellers to ship to buyers overseas.

If you opt in your items are presented to buyers in other countries but your liabilities are minimised. The buyer pays an additional shipping fee and all you need to do is send the item to the GSP warehouse in the Midlands. eBay takes care of the rest. I’ve used it myself and it was successful.

The particular joy is that you as a seller are protected. Read the terms here. You’re supposed to be protected from refunds and defects as long as you item makes it to the warehouse. Specifically, eBay says: “You aren’t responsible for item loss or damage that occurs after the item is forwarded by the UK Shipping Centre.”

But that wasn’t the experience of EW Blakeney who wrote to the Observer to report that she had a buyer from Germany via the GSP and then, contrary to the eBay terms, also had to refund in the event of a dispute. The cash was directly taken from her PayPal account.

You can read the full debacle here in a piece called: eBay flouted its own refund policy when parcel didn’t arrive.

This story is frustrating on several levels. Firstly, it’s never good for eBay to be criticised in the press. That hurts sellers. Secondly, it took press intervention to make good in the dispute. Thirdly, it’s another example of how eBay as an organisation just isn’t working effectively as an entity. It’s a classic: “not my counter” situation.

My views on this are reflected in a post I made a few weeks ago called: Is eBay making progress on buyer fraud?

In this GSP case, it’s clear that the seller did fulfil their commitments and was subsequently sent around the houses to get it sorted out. All monies were correctly returned, only after press intervention. eBay called it a “straightforward ­process mistake”. I prefer the crude military term: SNAFU.

Sort it out, eBay.