[Update: We contacted PayPal about this case. Read what they had to say here.]
‘It got lost in the mail’ is the online shopping equivalent of ‘a dog ate my homework’. Plausible, but hard to prove.
A reader contacted us recently about this burden of proof issue he’d had with tickets sold on eBay that never turned up with the buyer. He has no tickets and no money, with no way to prove that the tickets were sent; but then the buyer doesn’t need to prove that the tickets did not arrive. It’s another one of these tricky situations that can arise with some eBay transactions.
Peter sold two Big Day Out tickets at his cost price. The successful bidder paid using PayPal and he posted them using regular post for free the next business day.
He says: “The buyer said they hadn’t received the tickets. It was in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so I was prepared to accept that mail would be delayed. I made a point of putting the tickets between two pieces of cardboard in a plain envelope so that they would appear to be a card and given the number of cards sent in and around Australia in December I thought it was the wise thing to do. I didn't put "card only" on the front of the envelope and I didn't put a return address on the back.”
The buyer raised a dispute and the money was placed on hold. PayPal found in favour of the buyer even though Peter provided a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration saying he’d posted the tickets.
In its response, PayPal said that the document needs to show the item has beed delivered. “As the documentation we received does not show an official acceptance by the shipper, we are unable to find the case in your favour.”
“I am now out of pocket almost $400 as PayPal also took out close to a $10 reversal fee. I have no cash and no tickets. Meanwhile the buyer has their cash back without proving anything.”
Investigator has contacted PayPal to ask why a statutory declaration is insufficient proof that an item has been posted and if there is any protection that can be offered for the seller in these circumstances.