I lost £1,165 to eBay fraudster when selling my electric guitar

The buyer of my Fender Stratocaster claimed there was no guitar in the case as soon as he received it

Can you help with an eBay/PayPal disaster. In June I decided to sell my Fender Stratocaster electric guitar on eBay, which went for £1,165. I posted it to the buyer’s address, and it was fully insured through a local Manchester firm which uses Parcelforce to deliver.

Tracking shows it was successfully delivered. But, on the same night, I received a message to say that the buyer had opened a dispute case with eBay claiming the item was “not as described” as “NO guitar in case”.

I sent out proof of postage etc to the eBay dispute centre and staff ruled in my favour. The buyer then opened another two cases via PayPal for “item not received” and “item not as described”. Again, I provided the same information. He had spoken to the police and obtained a report to state that the item was not in the case. As a result, PayPal has ruled in his favour leaving me owing £1,165 plus fees.

Parcelforce will not even launch an investigation until a missing item form is filled out and returned. As PayPal has refunded him there is no incentive for him to do so, and he hasn’t.

I am now left with no recourse through PayPal as it says the case is closed. The courier won’t act unless the forms are filled in.

I can’t believe there is no comeback for me here as an honest seller. Can you help, or at least warn others? JR, Manchester

This is a massive problem and we have received several other similar complaints in recent months. It seems that fraudsters have realised that there are easy pickings to be had by buying expensive items on eBay and then claiming they didn’t arrive. In such cases PayPal’s “seller protection” invariably turns out not to be worth a thing, as it almost always sides with the buyer. This is not new and Consumer Champions has warned against it previously.

Our advice is never sell an expensive item on eBay without demanding the buyer pays cash – in person. The risks are too great of doing otherwise. Laptop sellers are particularly prone to this problem, and courier firms are rarely much help.

Happily for you I asked PayPal to take a second look and it has refunded your losses. It declined to explain why, or give any details, but you are delighted it is over. Other eBayers don’t fall for this.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number


Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

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