So, you've discovered ebay. Oh joy. You might start off buying a few small things that... lets face it... you don't really need, and now that your fear of buying things over the internet has ceased, you're willing to buy a few more expensive things.
First things first. Paypal doesn't offer any protection for people who set out to scam you. If i wanted to, i could set up a paypal account with false details, do the same with ebay, and sell you a plasma tv and run off with all your money. It's scarily easy to do and paypal are fighting these crimminals as best as they can.
So, paypal says 'all payments are protected'. But did you read the fine print? They can only recover funds if the seller happens to have money in their paypal account. If they don't. You're stuffed. If in the case of an honest mistake, an item goes missing, the seller will usually be more than happy to chase it up at the post office and give you a refund after say 3 weeks. If an item was never sent by an unscrupulous seller and they clean out their account (withdraw all of their money or send it to another paypal account), all that paypal can do is phone them up a few times a day asking for your money back. They don't even bother with court action for 95% of scammers. All that happens is that the seller gets bad credit (if they actually used their real details) and can continue to open new accounts under more and more fake identities.
If you can't afford to lose your money. Don't buy it. Buy it in a shop or from a well-known website. It is very difficult to get court action for civil cases, and as most people get ripped off out of relatively small amounts (say £50-£500), it will cost you just as much to sue.
If you are really determined to buy higher priced goods from ebay, buy from a powerseller or someone who has been registered with ebay for at least 12 months which would allow enough time for their feedback to reflect their selling practises.
If you are buying 'immaterial goods', i would advise you to make sure that some part of the transaction needs to be posted say passwords or confirmation slips so that you can prove that nothing was sent in the case of you not recieving your goods.
I am writing this guide just becasue most people think that paypal protects them. When it doesn't. It is impossible to have a perfect system and unfortunately due to the way that paypal is set up, it is exploitable.
Tips for buying safely online & Paypals false security.
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3 November 2008
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