Item Location Misrepresentation

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Dealing with a Fake Item Location

I was recently subject to the repercussions of buying from a seller  who listed an item as located in the UK that wasn't actually in the UK. During the whole fiasco I had to deal with the seller stalling for time for the item to be delivered after I requested a refund, paying customs and VAT because I'd "imported" from London and opening a case before I actually got anywhere. During this time I hopped around the answer center, the guides and eBay customer support to find out what I could do and nobody could give me a definitive answer of how to deal with it or what would happen.
As such, I decided to write this guide to help out anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation.

You may have seen it, you may have not but believe me there are plenty of items on eBay that aren't shipped from the location they are listed as being located in. This is known as Item Location Misrepresentation and what little rules regarding it there are are buried in the eBay Money Back Guarantee if you can find them.

Now, for someone who's buying an item listed as London UK, it won't be such a big deal if it's dispatched from York - it's the same country subject to the same postage charges for either location so you may be tempted to let this slide. However, there are lots of Items on eBay listed as being located in an entirely different country to where they actually are: as well as a longer-than-expected wait, there's import duty and charges to pay on an item that comes from somewhere out of your countries borders (or outside of the EU if you live within the EU) . Sellers usually do this to circumvent the regional filter that buyers use to search for items and some even go as far as to register for a GB VAT number to make it seem legitimate.

The practice of listing an item in the country it's being sold to, rather than being sent from is most prominent among (but not limited to) Chinese sellers. That's not to say that all Chinese sellers do this - but it's definitely widespread.  It's also important to note that a seller registered in China/another country may indeed have premises in your country (such as a warehouse) to dispatch the goods from, so their item location could very-well-be legitimate.

What Happens...

You buy an item located as being somewhere in your country and after a while you realize the seller is based outside of the country. Sometimes this can be because a delivery date has passed and contact with the seller is poorly translated, other times it can be you just noticed the seller is registered in a different country and at the end it could be that you've received a slip through your door saying your item is subject to import charges.

What Do I Do?

If the delivery estimate has passed and the item hasn't arrived, don't delay - open an INR case and explain to the seller that you haven't received the item. This helps you claim your money back if the item doesn't turn up or cannot be proven via tracking that it's in transit. Most sellers at this stage will either offer a tracking number to prove it's been dispatched or a refund. If not, after 8 days you can ask eBay to  step in and make a final decision. 

If the item has arrived but has been held in customs, you'll probably feel like you're in a catch 22 situation. The eBay Money Back Guarantee which can help you get a refund doesn't cover import charges and duty, however refusing delivery of the item (not paying the charges) could result in the Guarantee being nulled.  In this situation, I thoroughly recommend paying the charges and accepting the item - once it's in your possession you can claim a refund for the item and the original postage via the Money Back Guarantee.

You also have to bear in mind that the packaging (which includes customs declarations on the packaging) is your proof that the item was sent from any location other than what was listed.

Getting Your Money Back

So the item has arrived and it's come from another country, you've had to wait an eternity for it to arrive and you've had to pay out for customs charges you were lead to believe by the sellers listing that you wouldn't be subject to.

Well, Item Location Misrepresentation is a serious breach of eBay policy. It's not fair that you should be misled in to being out of pocket and this is exactly the same as if you received the completely wrong item: you open a case for SNAD (Significantly Not as Described).

While in most cases you are expected to return the item to the seller for a refund, don't worry - you WILL NOT be expected to return the item to it's country of origin at your own expense. If the seller cannot provide a return address which matches it's item location on the listing, the seller will be expected to provide you with a postage label to return it. If the seller does not provide you with a returns postage label (making them subject to expensive international postage and their own countries import charges) then you will be entitled to keep the item AND receive a full refund of the items value and original postage.

The Import Charges

Unfortunately, you cannot claim back the Import charges from eBay or the seller. The charges were imposed by your customs and excise authority an as such, eBay or the seller do not have this money to give back to you.

If you keep the item, then the import charges are none-negotiable and you will not be able to claim them back. If you return the item to it's country of origin, however, then you can apply for a refund of the charges and tax, providing you can prove the item was returned out of the country.

How to Avoid it

As mentioned earlier, some sellers registered abroad may legitimately have premises in the country and are shipping the item from the location listed and it's up to you whether you want to take the risk. 

The way to tell if a seller is registered in a different country they claim to ship from is to look at their seller profile - this will always state where the seller is based.

As with any purchase you make through eBay, you should always check the sellers feedback. You should particularly check  the negative and neutral feedback for any mentions of slow delivery or the item not coming from it's listings location. Also check the amount of revised feedback a seller has listed - it can be very telling if the seller has to ask a lot of people to change the feedback they left.

Reporting Location Misrepresentation

Item Location Misrepresentation is a breach of eBay policy and hurts both the customers and legitimate sellers registered in another country who can ship from different locations. You can report a seller you suspect of Misrepresentation, however it's worth making sure you are absolutely positive it's happening before you do and having proof to back it up, such as an email/tracking no. confirming it's actual location or the packaging of an item showing it's customs declaration.  
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