I could prove I had been scammed but eBay wasn't on my side

I sent all the evidence that a £450 pair of trainers were perfect, but it refunded the buyer who has kept my trainers

I appear to have been scammed after I sold a £450 pair of trainers on eBay about a month ago to a “buyer” in the US.

They paid straight away, and the delivery address was a business in New York, but there was no contact name and they had zero feedback. This concerned me, but I believed I’d be protected by eBay.

I took pictures of the shoes and the box from every angle, and then I bubble-wrapped and double-boxed them so there was zero chance of any damage, and the buyer couldn’t possibly dispute their condition. Which is exactly what happened.

They claimed they weren’t in the same condition as the listing, but wouldn’t send any photos as proof. They then opened a case against me, asking eBay to force me to refund them.

Despite me proving beyond all doubt that the item was sent in perfect condition, eBay gave me four days to provide the buyer with a prepaid returns label. If I didn’t, they would issue a full refund and let the buyer keep the item. It was that easy for the buyer.

So I sent the prepaid label, costing $54 (£41). The buyer then claimed that the cost for the weight was not sufficient. Again, I sent eBay the evidence that it was but, again, this was ignored.

Finally, a full refund was issued to the buyer, and my shoes have not been returned. Throughout this process, I have provided endless evidence – photos, documents etc – to show that what I am saying is correct. The scammer has sent none.
MT, via email

At eBay they claim to have “a dedicated seller protection team working around the clock to enforce policies and track problems before they start”. If so, you have to wonder where they have been.

The brutal truth is, in cases like this, eBay almost always sides with the buyer. Scammers realise this and exploit it.

For many years Guardian Money has advised people selling expensive items on eBay to hand them over in person, and only accept cash on collection. If you mail them, you are wide open to this abuse. We receive an email like yours every few weeks, though this was the worst we have seen for some time.

We asked eBay to take a second look, and it has decided it got this one wrong. It has now repaid you, apologised, and taken action against the buyer.

“Ebay invests heavily in teams dedicated to fraud prevention and law enforcement. If an incident like this is reported, our fraud team will investigate and take appropriate action,” it says.

So what can others do? Some sellers will only send items to buyers with proven feedback – say, 100 or more. This will help, but it isn’t failsafe.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions: http://gu.com/letters-terms


Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

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