Beware of accepting PayPal if sending items uninsured

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'I will not be held responsible for items lost in the post if you do not pay for insurance..'

How many sellers naively add this phrase to their item description???

Do You Accept PayPal Payments????

Well sorry, because this may surprise you, but you ARE responsible!!!!!

It happened to me.

I have been trading on Ebay for almost four years now and in that time I have had virtually no problems at all with any of the 1600+ items that I have sent out not arriving safely, and certainly no problems at all with the much maligned Royal Mail service, the only two problems being with overseas bidders ie a DVD that was sent to France which allegedly never arrived and a CD that was sent to Israel in virtually mint condition which mysteriously arrived 'badly scratched'. On both occasions I couldnt be bothered to quibble with the buyers and issued them with full refunds off my own bat. Neither had taken up my offer of insurance but nevertheless I kept them both sweet with a refund in order to preserve my 100% feedback record. Incidentally I believed the French buyer's story but not the Israeli's as in my opinion he was just trying it on, but due to the small amount of money involved it wasn't worth the hassle of disputing his claim.

Then, earlier this year, in March I listed a CD at a 'Buy It Now' price of £9.99 and offered free P&P to UK buyers. The item was subsequently purchased, surprisingly, by an American, the UK artist in question not being well known for his trans-atlantic following, and due to my misguided sense of fair play I quoted him a vastly discounted international P&P rate in considering that I had offered it free within the UK and, as usual quoted the optional additional amount to include insurance if required.

The buyer duly paid for the item by PayPal, for ordinary uninsured airmail, and I posted his CD the following day, having acknowledged his payment by return email in which I also advised him of the dispatch date.

Nearly a month then elapsed (delivery time to USA is 3-5 days) and I had no further communication from said buyer which didn't surprise me at all because I find that most of the Americans that I deal with don't bother to either acknowledge safe receipt of their item or to leave feedback and in the case of this individual I was even less surprised as he hadn't even bothered to respond to my polite winning message to him in which I amiably explained the reason for the small amount of postage that I was charging him - the ‘comments’ box on the PayPal payment notification having been left decidedly blank with no sign of a Cheers mate, thank you, kiss my a--e - nothing.

Then I arrived home from work one afternoon and checked  my email to find one from said buyer and I quote ‘Hello:I have yet to receive this CD, have you shipped it?

Followed by a fairly heavy duty, legal-sounding email from PayPal - ‘We recently received a claim from a buyer regarding merchandise that either was never received or did not match your original description. Please understand that until our investigation into this matter is complete, we may place a hold on funds associated with this transaction. For more information, please review our User Agreement.

I was incensed on logging in to my PayPal account to find that this person had given as his reason for opening a dispute the fact that ‘I hadn't responded to his email’ - that would be the one he wrote 9 hours earlier at midnight my time and which I had just read for the first time.....

Further down there was another one from him, written I presume to try and pacify me and no doubt preserve his own 100% feedback which read - ‘Hello: Please don't take it personally, but I am beginning the process for a refund for not received item, paypal doesn't allow it if too much time passes.’

Well, I'm afraid I did take it personally, I don't like being placed 'under investigation' when I have done nothing wrong and I also thought he had a damn cheek complaining when he himself had chosen not to have his item sent insured - I mean it wasn't like I didn't offer him the option. I logged on to my account to resolve the dispute and to my amazement found that the only options I had were to supply a tracking number, which obviously I couldn't because he specifically didn't want insurance or refund his money myself or failing that they would find in his favour and refund the money themselves out of MY account in 10 days time - there was absolutely nowhere for me to give my side of the story at all.

Following that I did a bit of homework on this character as I found certain aspects of the situation curious ie the lack of communication, no home address (PO box number supplied) and an undue haste to instigate a dispute, and found that he has another, non-Ebay, selling forum on the internet where he not only sells but also provides a service whereby he will track down hard to get hold of CDs (which incidentally my item was) 

The system could easily be abused....

It is very easy to see that for any dishonest person in a similar position Ebay could be a fraudster's paradise, whereby you could buy expensive items from unsuspecting sellers who don't send items by insured mail, and either keep them yourself or sell them on for profit to your own buyer. You then claim to PayPal that you never received your Ebay item and request a refund which the seller is forced to give you from his own account, leaving you quids in all round - nice work courtesy of PayPal's 'Buyer Protection' Scheme as you are allowed three of these unsubstantiated claims a year as a buyer, with no obligation upon yourself to take out insurance, and why should you, you get it for free from Joe Muggins, the seller, who doesn't have a leg to stand on and has not only lost the sale price, but also the cost of P&P and the Final Value Fee as well, good eh?

Several more terse communications ensued between myself and the buyer in an attempt to get him to see the unfairness of his claim but his attitude was unfortunately akin to the sadly all too familiar compensation culture mentality that abounds, whereby when anything happens 'anyone but me is to blame' and he was quite adamant that it was my responsibility to make sure he received the item safely with no onus on him whatsoever even though I had a certificate of posting which proved that I had sent it, whereas, if it had been the other way round I would have just thought to myself well, you win some, you lose some, it's my own fault for not bothering with insurance.......the British mentality, I think??

So, feeling extremely angry and victimised I then wrote to PayPal asking them to consider things from my point of view ie that I had obtained a certificate of posting and could prove that I had sent the item so how was it that I could be held responsible for it's alleged non-arrival and also mentioned that he had told me that this was the second such claim he had made for supposed non-delivery but had still failed to opt for insurance.

Protect yourself and read the small print.

To try and cut a long story PayPal sent me a typical bog standard polite response but couldn't help at all because basically it was my own fault for not reading the small print:

'Dear J,
Thanks for contacting PayPal. I appreciate the opportunity to assist you
with your questions.
We apologise for any inconvenience. However, the ability to provide
proof-of-postage which can be tracked online is an express condition of the
Seller Protection Policy.
We can only suggest that you review the delivery confirmation products
available to you from Parcelforce Worldwide, Royal Mail, UPS, FedEx, and
other shipping service providers. You may wish to consider making the cost
of online shipment tracking mandatory for your customers for your
protection in cases such as this.
The PayPal Seller Protection Policy is designed to protect sellers using
PayPal. However, we must rely on sellers to follow the conditions of the
policy as stated. You may review the conditions of the PayPal Seller
Protection Policy by clicking on or
copy and paste the entire link into the address bar.
Thank you for your co-operation.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again.
Yours Sincerely,
Protection Services Department
PayPal, an eBay Company

Anyway, if you're still reading this, sorry that it's quite long and I'll understand if I lost you on the way but hopefully you stayed with it and if you did then maybe it will help and you won't end up feeling ripped off or conned like I did by somebody who's item may or may not have arrived - I guess I'll never know for sure but it has never been returned to me as undeliverable so I drew my own conclusions.

Don't just believe that everyone else is as honest as you, or you may become a victim.

As a consequence of this bad experience I will now only send items paid for with PayPal by Royal Mail's  'Signed For' service, both inland and abroad, as I am not prepared to have this happen to me again, although I think that even this may not be quite good enough for PayPal requirements as the item is not tracked every step of the way, but at least I am covered for up to £32 compensation if something genuinely does go missing, and for more expensive purchases I use Special Delivery which is tracked at every stage of it's journey.

Thanks for reading this and I hope it helps others to avoid my situation :-)


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