PayPal refused to listen when eBay buyer returned item in pieces

Four months after being sold, the rotovator arrived back used and muddy, but still £112 was blocked from my account

Early in December 2016 we sold a rotovator on eBay which we had purchased from a local auction. The auctioneer had tested it and confirmed it as working. The eBay buyer turned up in person to collect the machine and seemed happy with the purchase.

Four months later we received a message from PayPal that claimed that the machine had been significantly “not as described”. Puzzled, we asked if we could get some pictures of the machine and, if possible, to let us know what was wrong with it, as we suspected something dodgy was going on. This request was ignored. Instead, PayPal instructed the buyer to send it back to us, and then blocked £112 from our account.

When we opened the package it was covered in mud, was disassembled with loose screws, and was rusted – it looked as though it had been used by our buyer on his allotment.

We protested to PayPal and sent pictures of the machine before and after, but have been told that its decision is final. It refuses to listen to reason. MK, Colchester

Clearly, whoever dealt with your case at PayPal had not looked at the photos. It looks as though the buyer had used it, it broke down, and they decided to try and get PayPal to issue a refund rather than fix it. As we have reported in these pages before, PayPal will usually side with the buyer when disputes arise, and your case was no different. You were especially frustrated because you felt PayPal staff were either failing to read your letters or deliberately ignoring your points

We asked the payments firm to take a second look, and happilly it has agreed to refund you the lost money.

“PayPal’s aim is always to strike a balance between the interests of the buyer and the seller. This means that both buyers and sellers can have confidence when using PayPal. In this case, we have reviewed our decision and have provided MK with a full refund, plus a small goodwill gesture to apologise for the inconvenience caused.” It declined to say whether it has taken the money back from the buyer, citing client confidentiality.

If you sell on eBay it is important not to claim too much in your description. Using phrases like “perfect condition” leave sellers vulnerable to claims later on, however unreasonable, although there is no evidence of that in this case.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at 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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