EBAY - When things go wrong... (excessive postage etc)

Views 22 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful

Have you ever had a transaction go wrong and you need to contact eBay?

From past experience, I would strongly advise you not to bother... unless of course, you want to be subjected to a tirade of excuses from eBay as to why they cannot get involved.

eBay states, "they provide a market place for buyers and sellers to interact. They are entitled to specify rules for the use of their market place, which are described in their User Agreement and policies. They can stop members from using eBay if they breach the User Agreement and policies. However, they don't have the powers of the police or courts. This means that they can't mediate or take sides in a dispute, make decisions for a user, force a user to fulfill their obligations at the end of a listing, or initiate a criminal investigation against a user."

Basically, you can do pretty much as you like on eBay and they will do their utmost to avoid any involvement, but they are excellent when it comes to providing excuses as to why they cannot help or intervene.

Their help or excuses usually take the form of directing you to a particular policy page, however, eBay has confirmed in writing that they cannot enforce their own policies, and that the only option that they do have is to suspend or close a member's account.

To suspend or close a member's account then puts eBay in a quandary; it might teach someone a lesson, or even stop any other members from being overcharged or ripped off, but eBay would ultimately lose revenue from further listings and/or sales from the guilty party, and therein lies the heart of the matter.

eBay's only concern is (in the words of ABBA); money, money, money - to get involved at all puts them at serious risk of harming the goose that lays their golden eggs.

You are not a valued member... no, you are simply a means of income!

Whether you buy/sell occasionally, or whether you are a Powerseller with a gold star etc; you might be able to turn a profit, but eBay makes money regardless of whether you sell or not, so why should they care?

This is not simply a case of sour grapes and whining about eBay; no, this is about eBay shirking its responsibility and profiteering on the back of the misery that some buyers and sellers suffer during the "eBay experience".

What can you do about it when or if things go wrong?

For a start, don't put any faith in eBay attempting to resolve the matter for you - but by all means do make a complaint to them. If they receive enough complaints from customers, then they might possibly develop a conscience, but don't hold your breath. If you don't believe me about the excuses, then try it for yourself (but don't say I didn't warn you...!).

Particularly if an item is of high monetary value - by all means pay for it with Paypal, as that provides you with the possibility of some recompense - the best course of action is to pay for it on a credit card via paypal as you can then raise a transaction dispute with your credit card issuer.

If it is a serious criminal matter, then report it directly to the police. The police are best equipped to deal with the matter and they have access to a more direct route to eBay. Even the police have had problems with a lack of support from eBay - but at least they don't discriminate in that way, they are unhelpful towards everyone!

Report the matter to your local Trading Standards office as the more complaints that they receive about eBay and their lack of care, then the more chance that a regulatory body will force eBay to start conducting themselves responsibly.

Consumer programmes are always a good source of embarrassment to companies such as eBay, and a wider public audience of horror stories about eBay will ultimately make their management take notice. This usually makes a managerial representative of eBay give an interview and elicits a token gesture of apology and a questionable promise of improvement.

Your local MP is also a possibility, as I am sure that they will not take kindly to receiving an avalanche of complaints about eBay. The more MP's that receive complaints about eBay, the more chance there is of regulation of eBay and really making it a safer environment (as eBay freely admit that they are incapable of doing so themselves).

The Financial Services Authority are a powerful regulatory body and a complaint to them about eBay would not go amiss. The Office of Fair Trading is another good place to make a complaint to about eBay. The OFT and FSA have recently investigated banks and ordered them to clean up their act, so it should not be a problem for them to order eBay to clean up its act either.

These involve no real cost to yourself other than a phone call or the price of a stamp. The other favourite remedy of eBay is to suggest you seek legal recompense in the civil courts, but you really must weigh up how much you have already lost, how much more it is going to cost to obtain any sort of victory, and more importantly, does the other party have any money to recompense you with. Another factor to consider about an action in the Small Claims Court is that you are expected to cover your own costs, and so the victory really could prove very costly indeed - this is all the more reason why eBay should enforce it policies and start to share the burden of responsibility.

Another financial possibility is employing a solicitor, but not to represent you in a claim in the civil courts (their hourly rate would probably prove too expensive). Sometimes a letter from a solicitor can have a positive effect and possibly make a wayward seller relent. Some solicitors even offer a free consultation, so you could even discuss it then and see what is the best course of action.

For the forseeable future, the simple fact of the matter is that eBay will most definitely leave you to your own devices should anything go wrong with a transaction.

There is no hard and fast rule for ensuring that the description of an item is fair and accurate, or that the postage costs quoted are fair and true - you are entirely at the mercy of the honesty and integrity of the seller.

You can of course look at previous feedback comments, but not all transactions that deserve a negative score actually gets one... why? Because the response is retaliatory negative feedback, and who wants their feedback score affected negatively on top of a troubled transactions?

eBay is currently the market leader when it comes to online auctions and there is no possibility of that changing, so there is no alternative and that is another reason why eBay are not prepared to make any changes - they don't need the hassle and they still get their money regardless.

If you are lucky enough to have trouble-free transactions on eBay, then good luck to you and long may it continue - just be aware that should anything go wrong, then don't rely upon eBay to do anything about it.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides