Scam buyers, how to prepare for them, what to do.

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Scam Buyers, what to do!

I'm afraid it does happen, you sell something and the buyer claims it is not as described, was never received or is broken.

The most important piece of advice is ONLY to use ebay messaging while trying to resolve the dispute! That way there is a record that Paypal can use while examining evidence.

But here are the steps I take to ensure I protect myself as much as possible from scam buyers.

1.Take the best possible photos of the item from all sides especially including any serial numbers or marks. Blurry, vaseline smeared mobile phone pictures simply will not do. Keep all photos for at least three months after the sale. (ExampleA, a buyer bought an item and claimed it was broken. I asked him to return it which he did. The serial number was not the same as the item he had bought. He had simply thought to replace something he'd broken with something I was selling. Confronted with this fact HIS MUM (whose account he'd bought it through) said, yeah, we got it and it works great, sorry.)

2. Always describe the item on the listing as accurately as you can including known faults.This means testing it as fully as possible. If you're sure it doesn't work then list it as for spares or repairs. Try to pack the item and weigh it to help calculate P&P and do NOT try to make extra on P&P. Yes bubble wrap is pretty dear if you buy a small piece at the local shop. Just ask friends and relatives to keep all their bubble wrap for you, plus boxes which you can store flat. I actually bought a huge roll of bubble wrap for eight pounds which has lasted ages.

3. Answer any questions about the item as honestly as you can.

4. When the item sells pack it as well as possible, using white labels and permanent marker for the address and return address. For expensive items I try to use courier and will email the collection slip to the buyer, the only time I'd contact outside of ebay messages. Always get a certificate of posting. If the post office person quibbles about the postcode TAKE IT HOME AND CHECK WITH THE BUYER. Whenever possible use signed for at the post office.

5.Even if allowing collection insist on payment by PayPal, that way you get the buyers address.

Hopefully, all will go well, the buyer will receive their item and leave positive feedback. It usually does.

However If there is a query,  try to resolve the problem without entering a dispute.

Example B. A buyer won a fishing reel which they claimed did not work properly although it was fully tested before use. I asked the buyer to return the reel to me and I would then take it to a dealer or expert to confirm the fault in which case I would refund all monies paid, including his return postage in full. If the reel was not faulty then he would have to pay return postage back to himself and would receive a copy of the report. Never heard anything more.

Then there are the simpletons who just don't think it through. I sold a pair of very good hi fi speakers which were well packed and sent by courier. Buyer claimed one of the speaker cones was badly dented on arrival. I asked for good quality pictures of the damage so I could assess it and make an offer. Guess what? I got pictures of a speaker cone, taken out of the wooden surround so she could "get a better picture!" How was I to know that the damage had not been caused during dissassembly? Or even if it was there at all? Was it even the same speaker cone? I should have perhaps specified "speaker with damage in situ". In any case, if you buy something and take it apart, like a new car, how much chance do you think you would have of a refund? So she got nothing.

Of course you may well have made an error on the listing, perhaps an item wasn't quite as described. For this reason I always check items several times and before despatch. I once offered a very nice guitar for sale. There were lots of interested watchers. However, on examining it carefully I found a crack in the wood of the headstock, only small, but still a crack. So I withdrew the item for sale rather than cause disappointment.

If you really do unintentionally sell something that is faulty or not as described then I'm afraid I tend towards the refund in full route, although I will ask for images of damage but preferably a return of the item for inspection. If genuinely not as described or faulty I refund all costs.

Finally, beware of spoof messages about items from time wasters. I don't usually waste much time on them. You know the sort of thing, "You're selling a loofer? Is it a BIG one? Does it DRIBBLE?" Although I have to admit to my shame that I did once receive an email about a miniature porcelain toilet (part of a relatives collection I was selling as they were moving to a bungalow) from someone who claimed to be from from Thomas Crapper and Co Ltd. Ha, Ha, yeah right, and I gave him pretty short and sarcastic shrift. Oooops! A later Google search showed there really WAS a Thomas Crapper and Co Ltd and this guy was the managing director and owner!

Still, these things happen. I hope this has been useful. Good selling, davebegood.


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