eBay seller protection nightmare (not their fault!)

By Chris Dawson October 6, 2014 - 3:30 pm

Dan and I both like eBay. Dan can’t help it, he once worked for them although he left many years ago. I have used eBay for over a decade and still think it’s the best destination site out there for buying anything and everything from quirky one off collectables to goods from general retailers.

We’re both pretty quick to moan and complain about eBay when we feel they’ve let buyers and sellers down, however there’s nothing that gets my hackles raised more than when a bad news story hits the press which really isn’t eBay’s fault. Today is one of those days.

eBay Seller Protection NightmareThe Telegraph has run a “My eBay ‘buyer protection’ nightmare” story, but actually it’s a nightmare for eBay caused by a seller who has only themselves to blame. The seller did the wrong thing when they buyer asked him to ship to an alternative delivery address and he chose to do so.

It’s really not that hard, if you want seller protection ship to the address that eBay and PayPal give you, ship tracked and if it’s a high ticket item ship tracked with signature required. Then you’re covered if anything goes wrong. Don’t do these things if you want to be ripped off, which is exactly what appears to have happened in this case.

The seller appears bright enough to realise that the only reason for an automatic refund is that the item isn’t in the promised condition or wasn’t delivered to the address specified by eBay. He’s bright enough to realise that having changed the delivery address he didn’t qualify for seller protection. However he seems to assert that “eBay didn’t investigate the issue as it claims to do so”. It really wouldn’t take eBay long to check if the tracking showed the correct delivery address!

I also don’t like The Telegraphs phrasing that the seller “seems to have been left out of the seller protection scheme”. More correctly it should state “the seller ruled himself out of the seller protection scheme when he changed the delivery address”.

We’re always quick to complain about eBay. This time though eBay is getting the rough end of the stick. Apparently they’ve also given up and for the sake of good will waived the chargeback. I’m not so sure that if I was eBay I’d have been quite so magnanimous. The seller was the one who did the wrong thing, admittedly they were scammed and showed how ignorant casual eBay users can be, but it’s a cruel world and you should at least be man enough to live with your mistakes instead of going crying to the press.

  • 3 years ago

    I disagree with you Chris. I think eBay haven’t acted well here. They have recently encouraged people to sell their phones. Not everyone knows all the ins and outs of the site rules. What this guy did was well meant. eBay make a big song and dance of protecting people.

    And yes, the CS contact routes are not easy.

    I also dislike it when any company finally does the right thing because there is negative press coverage. If it was right all along, why wasn’t it given in the first place?

    • Chris Bartonj
      3 years ago

      Would ebay have removed the low dsr’s ratings and the negative feed back, when the buyer complained in feedback. seller refused to ship to my address ?

  • Tim
    3 years ago

    There’s no winners when it comes to changing customers delivery addresses on their request. As mentioned in this article you lose your seller protection for doing so.

    Sellers that change the address upon request do it on good faith. A lot of the time this is because the items are for friends or family. Some times its because the customer haven’t updated their address and have since moved. If we insist on only sending to the address they provided this will usually result in an unhappy customer who doesn’t care about the sellers need to work around the system, they just want an item sent to a particular address. They’re paying for it, so in their eyes why can’t they determine where it goes?

    So you have to refund the item and hope your customer doesn’t leave a negative feedback. If they do, that leaves you in support chat wait time for hours, if they have paid support wont remove the defect. Even if they haven’t paid you have to copy and paste eBays terms to the person you’re chatting with which explains you’re not allowed to leave feedback for unpaid items before they change it. After all that you have to hope that the customer purchases the item again and have updated their address.

    For low cost items its really not worth all the hassle for both the seller and buyer to cancel the item, and better to just change the address on the sellers end.

    I would be interested to see others opinions.

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    This is an example of a seller who is a consumer not a business. ebay encourage consumers to sell on their site yet apply business rules which is wrong. Seller/buyer protection as it stands should not apply to amateur sellers who are not a business. (ebay should force “private business” sellers off the site but that is another story). Why do companies only do the right thing when investigative journos get involved?

  • Dave from Trumpton
    3 years ago

    As I’ve said many times before. Ebay promotes Buyer protection at the expense of the Seller. It’s always the Seller that loses out, nearly regardless of reason.
    It costs Ebay nothing, They make the Buyer feel totally protected, and the Seller pays.

    It’s a total scam, using Sellers to promote their business. Almost Mafia like.

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    If any publicity is good publicity then this ebay nightmare story is now the 8th most popular story in todays online telegraph. Telegraph today Sun tomorrow!

  • john
    3 years ago

    Seller protection – Any seller worth there salt knows you need to ship to paypal/ebay address.

    We have had cases were we have refunded and got the buyer to change address in ebay/paypal.(usually they have moved house etc)

    You can’t run a business on ebay continuously being scared of defects/negs. You won’t make any money lol

  • Kathie
    3 years ago

    eBay should not have backed down.

    The seller did not ship to the address that eBay and PayPal provided. When I say both, I mean because on both eBay and PayPal in the summary sections AND the detail sections of the payments/orders there are various links, colored icons, wording that indicates what you should do. Ten years and not once did he click around? C’mon now. Sellers simply do not take the time to read the rules. eBay/PayPal have simplified it over the years with easy tutorials.

    Now, where I will defend this guy is in regards to eBay constantly adding or “suggesting” that sellers ship internationally without warning the sellers. I did a seller demonstration for PayPal at an eBay event and the amount of sellers that bombarded me with complaints was unbelievable. Most of them were about international shipping. One guy yelled for 15m about something to Italy, called eBay, PayPal, and his buyer thieves. I asked him what he sold and he said leather boots. He owed his buyer an apology because you can’t ship leather to Italy. It was in customs. International shipping is not easy.

    I think that new sellers with under 50 feedbacks (which is probably not this seller but we can’t fix stupid) should not have international shipping automatically checked off in the SYI form or the banners suggesting international shipping. It may be extreme, but once a seller wants to sell internationally I think they should have to do a tutorial AND quiz about protections first. I was told (by upper level eBay/PayPal staff) it would work but discouraging sellers by giving them obstacles to selling needs to be avoided so no on that idea. LOL


    • Robert C
      3 years ago

      I often read seller’s case studies where they’ve been penalized by ebay due to the seller not abiding by a particular rule and have felt no sympathy because: “Rules are rules”.

      In my experience, Ebay is unique as it is very difficult (impossible?) to change your address once you’ve placed an order – but it seems very simple on other marketplaces and online retailer’s websites.

      In this instance, the seller has responded to a reasonable request from a buyer. If the seller rejected the request he/she would be deemed as not offering a customer friendly service. I feel that this is an issue that ebay needs to resolve.

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    Reject a reasonable request from a buyer because it is not ebay compliant and receive a defect. Highly likely outcome.

    It is imperative when rejecting a buyer request that the seller explains why the request is being rejected and the benefit of maintaining the status quo. This reduces defect risk however this risk should not be there at all.

    ebay is a gamblers paradise inducing similar stress levels on many people to those witnessed in a casino. ebay completely fail to understand this.

    Or maybe they do and choose to run with it?

    Amazon on the other hand do appear to understand this and seem to offer a lower stress experience for both buyers and sellers.

  • grovetown
    3 years ago

    I read this story, and agree that the seller failed himself, if only by showing a naive goodwill towards his fellow man.

    I have an iPhone to sell soon, and it won’t be marketed internationally…

    Then again, I won’t ship to Italy, yet allow certain buyers the latitude of providing a UK address for delivery instead. I have one very good and high-paying customer with whom I work like this. And yet, of course, in the event of problems, I have excluded myself from protection…

    A curious case arises though when the eBay and PayPal addresses are different. Which do you rely on? This happened to me recently and, being confused, I checked with CS. The eBay address is the preferred one, not the PayPal.

    As a seller, I do wonder if the site is increasingly stacked against me – and I have only escaped real issues through luck rather than judgement (mine or eBay’s).

    Time will tell.

    • Simon M
      3 years ago

      >> The eBay address is the preferred one, not the PayPal.

      Unless I’ve missed something, I think you’ve been given the wrong information.

      According to the PayPal info displayed above every PayPal payment you’ll receive ==>

      “Protection for unauthorised payments

      When you send to the address on this page and provide proof that the item was sent you can be protected against claims for unauthorised payments. See terms.”

      If you don’t use the PayPal address, you are not covered under Seller Protection.


  • Gary
    3 years ago

    “Rip Off Britain” on the BBC today had 3 similar tales of ebay sellers who lost money on ebay sales as a result of not following seller protection rules . In all cases Paypal made goodwill refunds. Really disturbed by Paypal constantly making these goodwill refunds on the back of TV or press exposure. They should make a stand and not refund. At the end of the day it is you and I who pay as these goodwill refunds are being made with our money! Would prefer Paypal to reduce fees rather than give money away.

  • Simon M
    3 years ago

    >> They should make a stand and not refund.

    Personally, I disagree. Cheap way to show tens of thousands of viewers that eBay is a safe place to do business. As someone who relies on their marketplace for business, I’d much rather them shown in a (semi) positive light than all negative, and driving away potential business.


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