BOOT CAMP 386 (19/07/05)

ebay Top Tips part 5, Disputes, scams and tricks


When you buy or sell goods thorough Ebay it is a legally binding contract, but between you and the other party, rather than Ebay so the lengths it goes to in resolving disputes and the amount of compensation you can claim is fairly limited. Nevertheless most sales do go smoothly and even when things go awry they can usually be sorted out amicably with a carefully worded email.


Late or slow payment is often a result of simple forgetfulness, laziness or perhaps the buyer is away or ill so if after a week or so the item you are selling still hasn’t been paid for a polite reminder email will usually elicit a positive response. If you still haven’t been paid after two weeks, say, then go to ‘Items I’ve Sold’ in My Ebay and in the Action column, click the drop down menu and select ‘Report an unpaid item’ and the buyer will be sent a courteous email from Ebay asking them to conclude the transaction. If this is ignored after a further 7 days you can apply to have your final valuation fee repaid. To qualify for a refund you must report non-payment within 45 days of then end of an auction.


When an item you have purchased is not as described, faulty or damaged inform the seller immediately, and again you are more likely to have a satisfactory outcome (refund, replacement or discount) if you are polite and don’t immediately resort to threats of further action or leaving Negative Feedback. The seller is responsible if the goods were damaged in transit due to poor packaging or careless handling, though if you or the seller chose not insure the package it may be difficult to obtain compensation from the carrier.


If you are still unhappy with the sale or an item you have bought hasn’t turned up and you haven’t received an explanation or response from the seller you can initiate a claim 10 days (and not more than 60 days) after the end of an auction. Go to ‘Items I’ve won’ in My Ebay and in the Action column click ‘Report an Item not received’ on the drop-down menu. Click the ‘Item not received…’ link at the top of the page and this explains ebay’s dispute resolution and compensation claim procedures in more detail.


When selling goods you can expect to receive messages through the Ebay mail system from potential buyers asking questions and you should respond to them as quickly and fully as possible, However, you may also receive requests to end the auction and sell the item direct, often at an unrealistically high price. This is a very bad idea and almost certainly a fiddle that will relieve you of your goods, and possibly even more money, with no way recovering either. Do not reply to these messages as apart from anything else they can reveal your email address and expose you to even more scam and Spam messages.


You should also ignore emails purporting to come from Ebay and PayPal, suggesting that your account is being miss-used or suspended. These are blatant attempts at ‘Phishing’ that ask you for your password and account details, which will be used for fraudulent purposes (see also Boot Camps 374 & 375). Neither Ebay nor PayPal will ever ask you for this information so delete them immediately.


When buying goods from overseas sellers, outside the EU, you may be liable to VAT and Customs duty; this could prove expensive and easily wipe out any savings you might have made. You’ll find more details on the Customs & Excise web site at: (click the Internet shopping link). There’s also more useful advice from the Office of Fair Trading at: (click the Consumer Information link). See also this week’s Top Tip.


Finally, one recent trick to be aware of is high value goods being sold for a ridiculously low price (£0.01 to £0.99 pence, for example) in Buy it Now sales. However if you check the postage and packing this will be a huge amount, equivalent to the item’s real value. The idea is the seller avoids paying Ebay a final valuation fee, which is based on the selling price, rather than postage. Whilst not exactly a scam Ebay is loosing out and it’s unlikely that it will tolerate this cunning ruse for much longer.


Next Week -- Wireless Networking





Ebay users are encourages to leave Positive or Negative feedback at the end of a sale to help others assess the honesty, or otherwise, of buyers and sellers



Direct electronic payment system owned and operated by Ebay



Emails claiming to come from financial institutions -- banks, building societies etc. -- requesting passwords, PINs or details of bank and credit cards




Ebay has made it easy to buy and sell goods overseas but there are a few points to watch out for. Sending back faulty or damaged items can be expensive and disputes may be much harder to resolve. Electronic and electrical items may operate on a different mains supply voltage and video equipment and software may not be compatible with the PAL system used in the UK. When sending goods abroad take extra care with the packaging and labelling and always ask the buyer to take out insurance. Be scrupulously honest when filling in Customs declaration forms and warn the buyer that they will be liable to pay any local import duties and taxes. Watch out for hidden costs in currency conversion and payment system; to check current exchange rates go to:

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