How eBay scammers exploit return labels to get products for free

By Sasha Fedorenko January 28, 2019 - 4:09 pm

eBay scammers are still taking advantage of returns policies to get free goods by tricking sellers that the products they sell are faulty. We have heard of this for many years, and it seems not to go away.

The way it works is a fake shopper request a refund because of defectiveness of a product and then returns an empty parcel with an incorrect address but stating the sellers’ postal area code. eBay automatically issues a refund as they assume that the package has been delivered to the postal area. As a result, the scammer is left with a product and a merchant with the consequences of product and margin loss as well as the fear of potential scammer-attack.

While this highlights eBay’s extreme trust in shoppers’ behaviour as well as the lack of clear communication between the marketplace and sellers, their suppliers’ tracking limitations also add to the equation.

eBay seller from Middlesbrough gave his witness account to The Guardian about falling victim to an eBay scammer. When talking about his recent experience of being ‘caught’ by a scammer, when selling his iPhone 7 Plus (£345), he points to “the problem” of Royal Mail‘s tracking. There’s a loophole being exploited by scammers, he says, as the supplier tracking only includes the postal town but not the full address.

Citing confidentiality, Royal Mail said that they couldn’t disclose the location of the parcel.  Possibly to the small-scale of the product value or negligence towards the sellers from the marketplace, eBay have closed the dispute the seller opened, stating that the merchant has already “received the item.”

I find it unbelievable that a company as big as eBay can’t put changes in place to stop these practices.”
-NB, Middlesbrough

Following the release of the story, eBay have decided to refund the seller £345. eBay say that they’re on an “on a lookout 24/7 for bad buyer behaviour,” but are these just empty promises to keep sellers hush?

We are constantly improving our systems …our team is on the lookout 24/7 for bad buyer behaviour backed by large-scale, automated detection systems that examine millions of transactions every day.”

  • Simon E
    7 months ago

    Royal Mail must be aware of this as they log the LAT LONG Coordinates with the delivery scan.
    They seem to use this only with further investigations but it would be nice if when the postie scans the barcode that it came up with the address that it’s supposed to be delivered at.
    I asked my postie if they deliver by the package address even if doctored and he said it will be delivered to the doctored address.
    BUT, if you have a decent postie, like ours, he is more aware of who has what and would take it back to the delivery office.
    A temp though could be a different story.

    The only time ebay will start to listen is if the seller reports to Action Fraud and has a crime number.
    Many sellers on the ebay forums report that when they phone the police, the police say it’s a civil matter.
    The last time I checked, obtaining money or goods by deception, was still a crime.
    I know the police haven’t got the time but at least point the seller to action fraud.

  • 7 months ago

    Bit of a damning indictment on eBay by the Guardian… “We wouldn’t sell high-value items on eBay unless we were prepared to meet the buyer and demand cash. Be aware of the risks you take. considering their eBay promotion… obviously they didn’t take the advice on their own site too seriously.

  • Jonah
    7 months ago

    We have sadly just started to get empty box returns from our high value collectible items in America. eBay US always side with the buyer, no questions. Nothing we can provide in evidence like discrepancy in weight of parcel, customs X-ray scans etc will change their mind.

    Talking amongst our network of eBay sellers, none, yes not one , has ever heard of a buying account being suspended for theft or scamming. Food for thought.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      Be reassured Jonah that ebay are on the case. I have personally seen scammers removed from the platform. The true and Safety Team are on the case – although I do admit that I think they should be more “strict”.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      sorry that was meant to read “Trust and Safety Team” above.

  • Joe B
    7 months ago

    Irresponsible ‘journalism’ at its best. Highlight a scam that works and tell lots of others how to do it.


    • jim
      7 months ago

      we agree with joe b
      ok warn sellers
      why go into the how its done specifics and detail
      sellers cant combat this even knowing how its done

    • Mark
      7 months ago

      The good thing is it’s in The Guardian which has one of the lowest circulations. I suppose the problem will occur when the more popular papers will run with it.

  • jim
    7 months ago

    whats new?
    scams and
    theft are a cost of doing business on ebay,
    unless it hurts ebay, nothing will be done
    individual sellers are cannon fodder

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Jim, I dont agree with your statement “unless it hurts ebay”.

      we have experienced what Chris has described above – a bogus return but when we have asked ebay to intervene they have often refunded buyer and seller.

      This practice from scammers hurts ebay too – not only financially but it effects their reputation.

      Although Royal Mail are not allowed to disclose the delivery address – they have often been able to say “yes” or “no” to the delivery address that it was MEANT to go to. It depends on the operator at Royal Mail and I know ebay have – in the past – been proactive and taken the time to phone Royal Mail.

    • jim
      7 months ago

      @ mr paterson
      ebay are anything but proactive
      they could stop this scam quite easily by insisting on proof of delivery
      with a signature,
      would they accept an item was delivered if a seller sent an empty box with a false address and a correct post code?
      refunding both buyer and seller after a bogus return fails to solve anything ,the scam still succeeds

  • alan paterson
    7 months ago

    Royal Mail have always given verification of delivery for the town only – and often adjacent postcodes. Its a flaw but not bays flaw. Its all they have to go on.

    Interestingly Hermes – a few months ago – are now offering full postcode verification on their UK track and trace web site. More often than not this also provides a “map” showing the GPS location of the delivery along with signatures and photos if left safe – but only if the FULL correct postcode is entered.

    Its not full proof but its an improvement over the tracked or 2d barcode system of Royal Mail. We have had good experiences with it. The full postcode is verified – not just the town.

  • Brice
    7 months ago

    Total waste of time complaining to ebay. They insist on sellers giving good customer service but ebay dont give sellers good customer service. One star only for ebay

  • Jonah
    7 months ago

    @Alan P.
    That’s great to hear Alan but I’m somewhat sceptical- there are so many threads on seller boards and on a wider context throughout other internet pages suggesting the opposite. Perhaps the problem is so rife that eBay want to keep it quiet and not publish the full facts resulting in many folks believing they simply turn a blind eye to it ?

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      I think. lot of sellers expect buyers to be “kicked off” after only one offence. ebay are a bit more tolerant than that.

      Back in 2014 ebay disclosed how many accounts had been terminated that year. It was a large number and showed proof (to me) that the True and Safety team was proactive.

    • mw
      7 months ago

      Check you blocked list.
      If you see any on there that are numbers at deleted, that would suggest ID’s kicked off by ebay or at least no longer active.
      They were on your blocked list for a reason and perhaps ebay agreed.

  • Paul
    7 months ago

    I run a used car parts business on eBay. In the last 3 months we have seen this type of behaviour 4 fold.
    Strange however, that ebay are now introducing 4% more fees for sellers who have high return rates for this reason.
    Let’s get the sellers to pay 4% extra and they’ll just blame the buyers.
    That leaves ebay and PayPal fees at almost 20% of every sale Inc postage costs.

  • Mark
    7 months ago

    The easiest and most simple way to stop this practice is for eBay to provide the returns label or provide one yourself. That way the address is completed correctly.
    Also when eBay provide the label they are actually entering into a contract with the carrier themselves. That according to the terms and conditions associated with all UK carriers mean they have agreed that they have ensured the parcel is packed correctly and safely for the journey through their network etc. That means that if an empty box were to arrive or a totally different item eBay are responsible.
    We put that to the test when receiving a £189 item back which was not ours ebay wriggled and refunded the buyer but not us and we fought back and lo and behold they settled with us as i messaged a “notice of intent” to take them to the small claims court.

    But there are so many scammers on eBay now they will just keep moving onto new things. 2 weeks ago i bought an Amazon Firestick advertised as brand new.
    Next day a message from eBay said it had been removed as the sellers account had been compromised.
    Yesterday i bought another from a different seller and again exactly the same.
    It seems they don’t care their sellers are all having accounts compromised or that is their camouflaged way of saying its a bogus listing. Our bank said the biggest cause of charge backs is down to eBay buyers linking their account to Paypal for one click buying.
    They browse on their laptop or phone then answer their door and the 3 year old sat their purchase a few items while they are out of the room.
    The banks have said don’t link ever then the person needs to have your eBay password and then your Paypal password its called security.

    • 7 months ago

      @Mark I thought in the article that I read the buyer did use the return label provided by Ebay. Prior to printing the label out it is easy to change the address.

  • J
    7 months ago

    On Amazon the customer doesn’t even need to return the parcel back, this has happened several times to me. One occasion the customer returned the parcel to the wrong seller, totally different address and still got a refund.

  • Andy B
    7 months ago

    Most times as we all experience, I unquestionably refund buyers unless there is evidence worth pursuing. I’ve recently presented a case to eBay. First time eBay buyer from china whom tried to cancel days after ordering the INR case 20 days later came as no surprise. Although I can prove sent via standard airmail eBay have stuck rigidly to no tracking, they found in favour of customer.
    Its time eBay simplify their terms and conditions too (you buy and sell on our platform at own risk!)
    Royal Mail are definitely not squeaky clean but I suspect they would very much welcome that change.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Andy B

      its no surprise that ebay require tracking to cover you.

      I have not lost any money in past few years. Occasional problems but ebay have covered me every time as NOTHING leaves here without tracking.

      They have been banging on about it for long enough. It should come as no surprise that this is the condition.

  • SAM
    7 months ago

    Following the release of the story, eBay have decided to refund the seller £345, only because it hit the wider media….standard practice…

    eBay say that they’re on an “on a lookout 24/7 for bad buyer behaviour,”this is a lie as they have never done anything about bad buyer behaviour and keep repeating the same old mistakes…why they are in such decline.

    INR are pretty much gone now with delivery confirmation (funny that), so it is the bad buyers abuse of the unmanaged returns system, we went from pretty much zero returns to a regular occurance on ebay, funny also how many items DO not actually come back after you authorise that overpriced label, as the buyer cannot have their cake and eat it…

  • 7 months ago

    Ebay selects the “partners” it uses to handle the returns element of a buyer dispute, therefore if this service ebay offer to “fully cover” the return, is fit for purpose – it IS within their control and as such the its THEIR problem if the scammer finds the loophole and exploits it.. If ebay chose a more secure return method with signed proof of delivery, then this would go away – they could also claim against the courier!.
    Had a couple of returns on Saturday, Royal Mail, post arrived we were closed! So taken to local depot for collection and card left for us to collect. Ebay tracking says “return delivered and I must refund” on Saturday evening from the time of the message… So this is flawed too, never mind the scammer system highlighted in the news.. The Guardian (not my choice of rag) does well to highlight ebay on this p*ss poor service provision. It is set up to minimise impact on ebay bottom line, never hamper the scammer buyers.
    A business account with Royal Mail means you get cheaper postal costs BUT, you also get reduce compensation for the loss of goods, i.e. soak it up yourself! SO ebay sell the return label (auto approved return label), get it cheap – mark it up to the seller, but get limited compensation on the return if its “lost”… Answer, get the seller to pay… Why do they push switch on “auto returns”… its another revenue stream, a good one for them..
    Never let ebay handle anything for you, it half baked, poorly thought out and based around their own ruddy interests… They cant even ensure a buyer inputs their name and address correctly… Says it all..

    7 months ago

    Surely ebay must begin to realise they are losing potential sales with their attitude to sellers. We have a regular shop selling personalised items and not too many issues there as not high value BUT for example, my husband has a camera to sell. He knows on the one hand that ebay has a great audience but will not sell it on there because of the worry about scammers.

  • Martin
    7 months ago

    Why publish these scams in the press and on this site? The article is of great use for the scammer and of no use for the seller. Sitting, waiting and ‘looking out for’ an empty box to arrive…

  • Toby
    7 months ago

    I could sit here and type a huge lists of ebay scams and ebays pathetic responses… but im done even trying anymore… Ebay simply DO NOT CARE. They still consider themself too big to fail. that may be true in the short term, but the tides are turning and their figures are showing that. the days of the sellers being an endless source of extra funds to cover poor growth are gone…. along with an increasing stream of sellers.
    We sold a large pool pump last year, 24kg worth. Customer complained it wasn’t as described ( yet even in the ebay message they sent they admited they purchased the wrong one!)… So after the high cost of sending that we had to swallow, we were landed with an even higher cost to get it back. The box arrived back… empty.
    We checked the courier details and it was marked as weight discrepancy upon collection ( we stated 24kg they measured it as just over a kill and so went on volumetriic weigh). We took pictures of the box unopened, got proof from the courier that it was only a kilo on collection, got proof from manufacturers that is was 24kg…. Ebays reply? ‘As we are unable to see the parcel at the buyers or sellers location we can not act and so feel it best that us the seller fully refund them in line with ebay policies. We stated that we would take legal action… same ebay blah. We had to refund but messaged them to say we were aware of the scam and would be pursuing via scc. We heard nothing. So we sent a letter to the buyer via recorded delivery to inform again that they had 10 days to send us the unit or the money or else we would start legal proceedings at our local court ( over 200miles from them!)
    On the 9th day they got in contact and said that a friend had sent it for them as they were on holiday and have no idea why the box was empty… they then sent the money to us.
    Funny that….. on holiday, friend trying it on, nobody noticinga huge pump unit, not seeing any of the messages on ebay…. and of course the inital lie over description.
    This is ebay for you…. they know that there is little you can do to them.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @Toby, ebay is only the platform we advertise and sell on.

      if you were advertising your items in a newspaper you wouldn’t expect the newspaper to reimburse you if you got scammed.

      this happens on all platforms. its not just ebay.

    • Rob
      7 months ago

      @Alan If you advertise in a newspaper, Gumtree or Facebook none of them get involved in any disputes as the sale is between buyer and seller. If either side is not happy about something there is the option of going to court. Yet eBay seem to decide on cases and if you don’t bend over backwards, pay all return shipping fees, refund with in two days of item coming back. They will refund the amount for you and for the privilege of fraud will stick defects on your account and keep any final value fees.
      It’s just a constant battle with eBay, buyer opens a return for not as described as they have not read the listing to see something thing is missing. Then sellers have to keep jumping through hoops to avoid defects and get postage fees back.

    • 7 months ago

      @alan paterson Your comparison is unrealistic, for a start you as the seller would hold the money if you advertised in a newspaper so you would not refund the scammer.

      I recently sent two items to a customer and they only returned one, eBay refunded them for both items once it was delivered and said I should take the customer to court.

      On the opposite side, if you send an item and the buyer claims you sent an empty box or sent the items short, I think eBay side with the buyer.

  • 7 months ago

    I am a full time eBay trader and have been for 15 years. I am an ex fraud investigator. I am afraid I have not taken the time to read all the replies to this, but this ‘same zipcode’ scam also happens with items bought, and not returned, i.e. the seller sends something, usually an empty box, to an address in the same postal area. The tracking is uploaded and the item is deemed to have been delivered to the consignee.

    Surely a simple solution would be this; when the consignee denies receipt, in any circumstances, the sender should be expected to upload a proof of postage (i.e. the ticket issued by the post office when the package is taken in, or similar), then everyone can see where the item was actually sent. I have suggested this to both eBay and PayPal to no avail. Wouldn’t that be the simplest solution in the world.

    What am I missing ?

    • jim
      7 months ago

      your missing ebays tunnel vision that can only see a buyers statement as truth

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Adam, a terrible idea.

      in the past we were asked to produce “proof of postage” from Post Office – WE DONT USE THE POST OFFICE.

      When you are dealing with Royal Mail direct and get a collection there is no “proof of postage” for each individual item. There is only an acceptance scan of the collection. No paperwork that would provide evidence that the item was posted. so lets not go back down that route. We do however often send screen shots when requested.

      Also blank books of “certificate of posting” can be ordered and filled in by anyone. Completely open to abuse.

  • alan paterson
    7 months ago

    The best solution to this is for ebay to use a courier for returns that require the FULL postcode for verification – not just half of it.

  • Mark
    7 months ago

    Hi Alan i fully understand the fact that we would not expect a newspaper to reimburse us if we were scammed while advertising in their paper. But guess what they don’t reimburse the buyer either.
    The only thing sellers want is a level playing field and equal treatment. If eBay want to play judge jury and executioner they ave to do it properly at all ends not just one.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      I hear what you are saying Mark but ebay are in an incredibly difficult situation when trying to decide a “side” to take.

      sellers like some above are their own worse enemies by sending items using an untrackable service.

      if a buyer does a return scam – report it to ebay. If they are repeat offenders they will be removed from the platform.

      Meanwhile we need to build these things into our costs and regard it as “shrinkage”. It IS tax deductible.

      we sell shoes. we often get the old pair back and they keep the pair we have just sent.

    • Rob
      7 months ago

      @Alan the trouble with that is if sellers don’t fight it and just expect the fraud then it becomes the norm and eBay don’t think it is a problem. It’s like car insurance where a certain percentage of everyone car insurance is paid to cover the cash for crash scams.

      Why should sellers have to make a choice between accepting fraud or as ebay suggest just offer them free returns to cut down on the item not as described requests.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Rob,

      I agree. thats why we need to encourage sellers to report when an incident occurs.

      And by the way, offering free returns doesnt cut down “item not described” claims.

      As a test we are offering free returns – return for any reason on one of our ebay shops. we will accept returns and give a label even if its buyer remorse or the item doesnt fit.

      however, we actually have HIGHER metrics for item not as described than our other shops. Go figure ………

    • mw
      7 months ago

      Ebay are not in an “incredibly difficult position”. It’s nonsense to say they are. They are exactly where they chose to be. They put themselves there to make money.

      If they side with the buyer each time, then that is relatively low cost to them as all the cost is simply passed to the seller. If they had a call centre to investigate these things, that would be a higher cost to them. The only things they are left to deal with are those sellers who know their legal rights and are not afraid to push them, plus things like the Guardian article.

      Most buyers and seller can work things out between them where issues are genuine. The small claims courts can handle the rest for both buyer and seller.

      Rather than deal with the problems caused by scammers, they have taken a commercial decision to side with the buyer and also chose to make money from it by fining the higher return rate sellers an additional 4%.

      It is a commercial choice they made. They did not have to do it, they chose to.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ mw

      I was nearly not responding to your post as I felt it didn’t warrant my comment.

      However, here goes…..

      Its obvious they are in a difficult position. ebay are just the platform.

      they dont see the returned item / sent item. thats not difficult?
      they have one party saying one thing / the other party saying the opposite. thats not difficult?
      Who are they to believe? the carriers are not giving an exact location (as per this article) where the product was delivered. thats not difficult?

      do they toss a coin? Phone Mystic Meg? Phone me? Even I dont know EVERYTHING.
      Perhaps they could go on security footage? Perhaps they could side on the person who is a Public Servant? Or they could go on the certificate of posting? (blanks of which can be ordered from Royal Mail). Maybe they could side on the person who raises a crime reference number?

      Off course they are in a difficult situation. In fact often its an IMPOSSIBLE situation. You say that most buyers and sellers can work things out – that is not what this thread is about – it is about the folk who are deliberately abusing the system. It doesnt take for this to happen many times to right off your net profit.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Rob

      also, if ebay did not think it was a problem why would they set up an entire department and man the department and put systems in for the department. It would have cost them a lot of money setting up the Trust and safety Department and I believe it is in every country.

      Hardly the actions of a company that “dont see it as a problem”.

    • 7 months ago

      @alan paterson

      “if a buyer does a return scam – report it to ebay. If they are repeat offenders they will be removed from the platform. ”

      Is this one of those situations where you create a case against the buyer to let eBay know they have defrauded you, eBay find in favour of the buyer but you then have to report the buyer for the fraud, even though that is what you just did?

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Tyler, yes thats correct. ebay are monitoring the amount of “reports” buyers get and operate a “tier” system. Too many and they are out (off course that goes for sellers too). Doing know how many repeats offences need to happen before ebay take action.

      we need to be clicking the “report buyer” button and give a brief outline of what has happened. ebay are listening and I have had buyers removed from the platform – I guess this was not their first “offence” though.

    • 7 months ago

      @alan paterson I think that was my point, I had already reported the buyer by creating a case and letting them know the buyer was committing fraud, but then I have to click another button to report the buyer, even though I had already done it.

  • Adam Williamson
    7 months ago

    No Alan, it’s not a terrible idea. Every single time this scam has been tried on me, it has been done via sending goods at the Post Office. If in these cases, eBay had required
    the seller to upload a proof of postage (which is the printed ticket given to the customer at the post office), it would have proved that the item was never shipped to the me in the first place. That is the only way to defeat this ‘same zipcode’ scam.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Adam, see that terrible idea that you had? its still terrible ……….

      I can’t comply with what you suggest. How can I get a post office proof of postage when I dont go into a post office?

      I am not sure if you read my last post. you can actually ORDER from Royal Mail BLANK certificates of postings. So thats not open to abuse? You can full them in yourself! that means the scammers can fill them in! They are BLANK! lol

      Its such a terrible idea that I actually feel feint. Give me a min…………

      5 mins later ……. I think you said you were missing something in your first post. yes, you are.

      You do know that most business sellers deal direct with Royal Mail and have a RM collection ……… they dont use Post Offices. This is not a solution.

  • Barney
    7 months ago

    eBay is NOT a safe place to sell anything of any value.

    eBay does not care about its sellers as long as they can make money from them.

    eBay will ALWAYS side with the buyer despite what proof you give them.

    I NEVER trust the post office to send parcels, they are barely competent enough to deliver a letter without loosing or damaging it.

    I ALWAYS use a courier.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Barney

      absolute non-sense. “ebay will always side with the buyer”. If you came and worked here for a few days you would et your words. However, I would never employ anyone who dealt with such absolutes. You are talking non-sense and you seem to have such contempt for selling on line that iy would seem folk to continue to do so is that is your views.

      I rarely defend Royal Mail but I can count on one hand the amount of parcels they lost for me last year. and their successful delivery statistics are one of the highest in the industry.

    • 7 months ago

      @alan paterson Barney may have a point

      “eBay does not care about its sellers as long as they can make money from them.”

      Mind you I believe that to be the same as Amazon and even OnBuy.

      I have never felt “cared for” by eBay, no “cuddles” seem to come my way, on top of that TameBay have just published two negative articles relating to eBay

      1. eBay Free to List will gift Private Sellers 1,000 free listings.

      They already have enough “private” buyers running a business, that they do nothing about, but wish to encourage more.

      2. Record high eBay Quarterly Earnings as sellers billed $80m in additional fees

      And to quote Andy from the last articles comments

      “The problem for sellers is that Ebay’s focus has shifted on increasing revenue for THEM, as opposed to increasing sales on the site, which benefits both Ebay AND sellers.”

      On the matter of THIS article I do think eBay’s hands are tied and there is very little they can do, they know from past experience that if they do not refund the scammer they will take it up with their credit card company, who will refund without question.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Tyler – with an attitude like that should Barney even be selling on the platform.

      I am baffled at how some sellers “see” ebay. I cannot remember the last time I was out of pocket for a buyer scam. Its built into costs anyway. ebay have always covered me but you got to stick with the rules.

      If you do loose out with a bogus return – report. the buyer will be removed eventually but we got to work as a team and inform ebay of the problem buyers.

    • 7 months ago

      @alan paterson I think that is a choice Barney has to make and I would guess his attitude is from experience and all our experiences with eBay / courier companies will often be different depending on the items we sell, value of them etc.

      As I said I don’t think eBay are in the wrong on refunding scammers even though it frustrated me when I had a problem.

      Over all I think eBay is ok, I make money from it with very few problems so it works for me but Amazon works far better.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Yes, Tyler but a mis-informed choice made by some who does not send out enough parcels to make such a statement. the sad thing is that many people read these posts and often follow advice, not realising it has been written by an idiot.

      But your not an idiot. I like at least 50% of your posts (disagree with about a quarter of them). thats a good metric!

  • 7 months ago

    I have been hit by this in the last month. Luckily the greedy scammer opened a Paypal dispute as well, this closed the eBay one instantly. That meant I could prove to Paypal that the item was in the wind and I got my money (£400) back. The local postal depot are helping track the random box as well, the benefits of a small community.

    eBay could fix this easily, returns must be tracked and signed for. After all, those are the standards they will happily hold a seller to. eBay have not even responded to my report.

  • Mark
    7 months ago

    Royal Mail do not do a bad job for us the only issues i really have is the new confirmation of delivery tracking as that system has the makings of something good but needs finishing. Our area had its local sorting office closed and now everything goes to Sheffield suddenly that service is awful.

    We use click and drop which creates a label and uploads the tracking/confirmation number. All is fine then we get item not received and days later even weeks later the item number shows nothing more. When we call they say they have not received the item into their system.

    I say hold on a minute. Our account has no compo and your system produced that number so you are saying we paid you the money and did not send so we could then apologise to the buyer and post the item again paying you again. They then accept something is wrong and apologise (I feel much better then)

    But then the item suddenly shows up later on ebay as delivered.

    I have asked them to just introduce a scan on arrival at the Sheffield depot proving the item is in the system for us and our buyer.
    Our postal collection man said Sheffield has mountains of mail stacked up some outside the building as they cannot cope.

    So the road is in place but the final bridge is not making that service pretty useless when it fails.
    But otherwise fully tracked services are fine. Ebay should stop punishing when no full tracking is available if it was offered on the listing and not chosen by the buyer.

    We offer multiple shipping methods and the buyer chooses the cheapest then says where is my item and please send tracking.

    eBay should only get involved on the buyers side when the shipping method they chose and paid for is not given. Some low cost items just cannot warrant tracking prices.
    After all they say to the buyer here is your money back oh and here is the section for you to leave negative feedback. As if its your fault the shipment did not arrive so you are hit both ways cost and feedback.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Mark

      I presume you are talking about 2d barcodes. there is no acceptance scan of 2d barcodes for first class mail / packets anywhere in the country.

      If you need an acceptance scan you need to look at TRACKED 24 or TRACKED 48 SERVICE by Royal Mail (not available at post offices but you have a business account with Royal Mail by the sounds of it).

      Most of the time they are comparably priced with each other but the TRACKED service will give you the acceptance scan that you are looking for.

      useful information – almost all LARGE LETTER 2d barcodes are uploaded and confirmed as delivered. I presume it is because they fit through a letterbox and the delivery will be scanned immediately and not neglected. If not scanned on delivery often the scan is neglected – this often happens to parcels that wont fit through letterbox. The question I ask myself is “is the item letterboxable?” if yes then I am happy to use Royal Mail 2d barcodes as they are running at almost 100% success rate.

    • 7 months ago

      It is understandable that you will not get the same service from RM.

      I was quoted £2.99 (+3% fuel surcharge & VAT) for TRACKED 48 which is about 80p more than what I pay for 2nd class with 2d barcode.

      Multiply that by 1200 parcels a month and you have quite a saving

  • Alex
    7 months ago

    The truth is that the industry as a whole needs to grapple with the issue of returns, both real and fake, before it gets even more out of hand. Retailers and sellers have dug their own grave by being overly generous to consumers, racing to the bottom in an effort to get them to click that buy button but not considering the monster they were creating. Zalando, which has bought its market share through a staggering returns rate of 50%, is finally grappling with this by putting a label on clothing that people couldn’t possibly wear out. (Although, considering the inventiveness of fashionistas perhaps this could even become a new style).
    The fact that the Emperor – some might say the Napoleon due to its hubris – of returns, Zalando, is taking action shows at least that companies are realising this – hopefully it is not too late to gently recalibrate customer expectations and get back from Moscow.

  • Mark
    7 months ago

    A good tool eBay could provide is a click where you can report without reporting.

    In other words where a buyer says item not received you can click on a button which has a background metric visible by eBay only. The reason would be reporting buyers every time they say they have not received is a lot of messing around and they are not all scammers.

    So the hidden metrics will begin to highlight to eBay who these people are then they could simply email them advising them that in the last however many weeks months etc they have had XXX number of items not delivered on X amount of occasions so they need to contact their local police to make them aware that your post seems to be being intercepted.
    They would be shocked that eBay no these figures and may stop the initial hardball contact the buyer makes to get another item sent or refund.

    Nice and easy

    also a blue mark in feedback which shows numbers of replies to feedbacks as when they leave negative that is outrageous but not removable you can reply yes but that reply is only visible if you go looking on their feedback. So make it visible so sellers can see what replies are left etc.

    Item broke and no refund.
    reply we can only help if we are informed of an issue
    item never arrived
    we cannot help unless we are told by you.

    again nice and easy

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Mark, couldn’t agree more. Brilliant post.

  • Mark
    7 months ago

    Hi Alan you not quite right with the tracked 24 and 48 having an acceptance scan.

    We have an account and a free collection by Royal mail. He does not stand in our premises and scan every item in the tracked at all. He just picks up the sacks and scans the barcode on our wall to say he has been. So he could take a full sack home if he wanted to.
    The first scan is at the sorting depot. So if he decided to take the parcel home we would be told we never posted it. The only saving grace is that the barcode would never get scanned so w would not be billed for the shipping but we would be completely out of pocket for the lost item. So nothing has an acceptance scan at the total beginning.

    All i ask is that the items all of them get a scan at the sorting depot to admit acceptance into the system whether they are 2D or tracked i am not asking for full tracking.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Mark, I am absolutely correct with the TRACKED mail getting an acceptance scan. however, this is rarely done on your premises – it is done at the Mail Centre and it is referred to by ebay as “AN ACCEPTANCE SCAN”. Dont take it letter ally.

      all your collection needs to do is scan the Royal Mail Collection Point FIR number.

      I really wish people on here would stop correcting me. I DO know what I’m talking about and if I didnt I wouldn’t dare write it.

      You will receive what ebay reffer to as an “acceptance scan” at your Mail Centre. you wont get that with a 2d barcode and please dont tell me that I’m “not quite right”

      The last time I was WRONG I was in nursery – and thats because some kid ate my smarties WHILE I was counting them. Dont eat my smarties. I have been pretty much correct since then.

      I am surprised that you are not familiar with the term “acceptance scan” when it is the basis of a large chunk of your ebay seller metrics.

    • Ross
      7 months ago

      @ Mark Acceptance scan doesn’t mean they scan the parcel in your warehouse. It’s called acceptance scan by eBay. The first scan of the parcel. Paterson is correct. He is trying to help and is getting told he is not right ! Lol don’t tell Paterson that he is wrong.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Ross, can you believe that ? He told me I was “not quite right”. astonishing! I had to pick myself up off the floor.

      some people are far too literal. Must be new to ebay.

    • Ross
      7 months ago

      @ Patterson

      Does he know who you are ?

    • 7 months ago

      Using CRL24/48 with 2d bar codes, our bags are scanned on collection and taken to the local delivery office, put into cages, loaded onto larger lorries and taken to the sorting office.

      The one and only item scan we get is at the point of delivery.

      Why the items cannot get scanned at the sorting office is strange, I am sure they are all sorted by computer before being dispatched to the buyers local delivery office.

  • Mark
    7 months ago

    If you all want total proof of scammers and fakes on ebay just take a look at item number 163515782192.

    My brother purchased tis item over 12 months ago and when it arrived realised it was fake then the seller refused to refund saying no returns and the listing tells you that are not genuine. “LIKE THATS LEGAL”.

    Then eBay stepped in and refunded my brother and then my brother left negative feedback eBay then removed the feedback stating that my brother had said eBay refunded.
    Then he pointed out that the advert clearly states these are copies /facsimile in other words fakes. They said they would deal with it.

    Well one year on and the advert still says the same and he is still selling them we have reported it over 30 times and eBay just say Carl Zeiss need to report it even though the description clearly says they are fake.

    What do you all make of that then just take a look for yourself it proves eBay cannot give a S**T as long as money is rolling in

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Mark, I have to disagree with this post. ebay spend a lot of time, money and labour trying to sort this out. Not fair to say they dont give. a shit when there is an entire department dealing with it.

  • Jonah
    7 months ago

    @Alan Paterson
    There might be one department dealing with it Alan but there is another department thinking up even more ways of profiting from it. Remember eBay profit from returns and scammers- never forget that.

  • Roger Peterson
    7 months ago

    Is Alan Paterson an eBay employee or has he just drunk the Cool Aid?

    Is there anything eBay could do that he wouldn’t fan fare on?

    What a grade a pillock.

    • 7 months ago

      @Roger Peterson As far as I know he does not, this has been mentioned before and he has always denied it. I have never heard of Cool Aid but Alan did mention Smarties which used to be full of E numbers. On the plus side, some other child stole half of them so he is not as bad as he might of been.

      He is an eBay brand ambassador and can seem a little too eBay positive for some readers. He does get a little wound up when people continually run down eBay but I have noticed in the last 6 months he has done a little mud slinging himself in frustration of some of eBay’s antics.

      There are people who seem to have more problems with eBay than others, that goes the same with courier companies, I never understand why people have a problem with RM.

      Overall I find Alan gives good advice and is always willing to help others, that can’t be a bad thing.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Tyler, thank you for the positive comments 🙂

      What is “cool aid” ? is that like red bull? (I already have wings)

  • Mark
    7 months ago

    Alan i did not say you were wrong but as i spoke with royal mail i too now what they told me and crikey i may be a bit stupid but i am sure they have been trained in their own system.

    I was merely saying the RM system should scan the 2 d barcodes as well when they arrive at the sorting depot then our buyers would not accuse us of not even sending and sometimes that we have made up the tracking number.
    Royal mail also said that yes the items are on a belt and automatically scanned to be sent on the right delivery route so it would not be an issue to scan it as an Acceptance into the system especially as there is no redress on money its all around trust and it may be coming soon.

    Oh and i can only say i am pretty pleased that child pinched some of your smarties at nursery or the extra E numbers you will have consumed could have addled your brain making you even further up your own backside.

    • alan paterson
      7 months ago

      @ Mark, I was only having a joke.

      But remember, if you are asking Royal Mail – I know more about Royal Mail than they do.

  • Mark Hetherington
    7 months ago

    Congratulations Tamebay on telling the world how the scam work. Now every chancer and his dog are going to be at it. Sellers be prepared for a big increase in “empty box” returns.

Featured in this article from the Tamebay Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.


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