Last week’s story about the eBay seller who sold two concert tickets that seemingly got lost in the mail and PayPal refunded the money to the buyer has generated plenty of comments. It shows that this isn’t an isolated case and that many others have had similar problems with lost items, problems proving delivery and disputes over refunds.
Since then we've heard from PayPal and a spokesperson had this to say about Peter’s situation:
“It is unfortunate that this seller has lost his tickets and money. We make the steps required for sellers to qualify for Buyer Protection very clear. They must use an approved delivery service that provides accurate tracking information. Without this crucial step, it is a simple matter of he say she says. As a business we are proud to offer customers and added layer of protection both on eBay and off. It is very important that customers (both buyers and sellers) are aware of their role in ensuring they are protected. Evidence of shipping and submitting a claim within 45 days of purchase are the two most important considerations. Sorry we are not able to be of greater assistance.”
Lost in the mail
In Peter’s case, registered mail could have been used for sending the tickets, although this is by no means a fail proof method. Australia Post can still say the item was delivered, or even lost, and it doesn’t mean it can be proven that it arrived at the correct address or with the right person.
But the comments from last week reveal that even if the item doesn’t turn up and has been sent via the safest mail system, the seller can still lose out if a refund is given to the buyer.
Play by the rules, PayPal's word is final
Users unhappy with an outcome can lodge a complaint with the Fair Trading office, but this may bring little or no joy, and even the industry regulator The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission seems unable to do anything to address some of the issues. It’s a closed system and users have no choice but to play by the rules or not venture into the online marketplace.
The sheer volume of transactions through both eBay and PayPal mean that disputes only have a limited shelf life on which to act and PayPal’s word is final.
One of the themes of comments every time we write about eBay and/or PayPal problems is poor communication, decisions made and then handed down with little or no scope for appeal and time limits that make it very difficult to pursue a problem beyond a couple of months.
These stories show that there a lot of unhappy sellers and buyers and who aren’t afraid to vent their anger online and this may be the most effective way to get complaints heard and act as a warning system for others to avoid similar problems.