Buyers returning goods damaged and demanding refund

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I've happily sold clothes on eBay for a couple of years now and have always prided myself on the excellent feedback received from customers.  But it saddens me that I am now having to think twice about ever selling clothes on eBay again having recently fallen victim to a new wave of cheeky buyers that take full advantage of the fact that eBay seller protection does f*$@ all to protect honest sellers.  

Over the Christmas period I put up for auction five evening dresses, one of which was brand new and tagged and the rest in almost new condition.  All garmets were described as honestly and accurately and with good pictures.  Come auction end, all items had sold, payments were received, items were carefully packaged and posted.  Having heard nothing from three of the buyers after a couple of weeks I assummed all was well and good until I received emails from eBay/Paypal informing me that three buyers have opened disputes against me claiming the garmets were badly damaged.  I was baffled at this since one dress was brand new and tagged while the other two were in pretty much perfect condition - no damage to any of the dresses whatsoever and they were all well packaged so little chance of being damaged in the post. Also none of the buyers had contacted me any earlier to say that there was a problem.  So I had three sellers demanding full refunds including postage and packaging costs and threatening to escalate the dispute if I didn't.  I was totally bewildered as to how the dresses could have been damaged as i had inspected every single one prior to writing their description.  However, with no way to prove that the garmets i posted were not faulty or damaged, i had no option but to offer a refund upon the return of the dresses.  When they arrived back, to my horror one had been ripped at the zip fastening, another was full of holes around the hem and the one came back smelling like it had been worn despite having been freshly laundered by myself prior to posting it out to the buyer and with a few stitches unpicked at the seam!  But again - i couldnt do anything to prove that the dresses did not leave my house in the same condition that they had been returned.

The cheeky buyers had bought the dresses with the intention of wearing them over the party season and then damaged them afterwards in order to return them for a full refund - because they can.  eBay/Paypal helps them to do just that, leaving me with three damaged dresses and out of pocket.  Thanks a lot guys.  Never again!

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