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How eBay Saved Me From a Fraudulent Buyer Dispute

I have used eBay since 2003 to sell products for my business and buy items for my personal use. This article is about one of my experiences.


I had the weirdest experience with a customer who did everything possible to scam the system after he bought a product I frequently sell on eBay.

This is actually quite an amusing story. Some people can be so silly and self-destructive, as was this fellow.

How a Manipulative Customer Is Doomed

I had what I thought was another routine order from someone who selected my product on eBay and made his payment with PayPal. The actual product I sell is of no consequence here since this story is not about me.

This customer called me for support within a few days after receiving my product. He had problems understanding how to use it. After much time on the phone, he admitted he didn’t read the guidelines for proper use. He even hooked it up incorrectly.

Based on what I learned about this customer’s planned usage, I explained that he had not installed it properly and that his office configuration did not match the compatibility standards described in my eBay listing. I told him to return it, and I would refund his full purchase price.

Two weeks later, he called again. He still was struggling with it. Again I told him to return the product. And again, I said I’d refund in full as long as he returned the item within 30 days of receipt, as stated in the return policy in the eBay listing.

Silly Customer Ignores 30-Day Refund Policy

I never heard from him, and his 30-day limit was coming close. So I was about to call him when suddenly I received an eBay email notifying me that he started a dispute claiming that the product was not as advertised.

He also posted negative feedback stating that I was rude and refused to tell him the return address.

This was so silly of him, because I mentioned the refund, and I gave him the return address via a message through eBay’s email system. So he couldn’t really expect to fool eBay. What was he thinking? I had clearly offered a full refund in writing.

At this stage, since he got eBay involved, he was now forced to return the product in order to move ahead with the dispute. Meanwhile, eBay held my money to refund to him in case we couldn’t work things out or until either of us escalated the dispute to eBay’s support staff to decide the case.

I finally got the product back and discovered that he had damaged it. But I decided to refund him anyway and write it off as part of doing business. These things happen. I’d rather not waste time with troublesome people when my time can be put to better use. So I just wanted to give him his refund and get on with my life.

Customer Escalates Dispute to eBay Customer Service

When I logged in to issue the refund, eBay notified me that he had escalated the dispute. That means that he turned it over to eBay to make a final decision. Therefore, I no longer could refund his money. It was in the hands of eBay now to decide his fate. Well, that was his choice!

The only thing I did at that point was take pictures of the damaged product and upload them to the dispute platform for review.

It became obvious to me that eBay is focused on making sure that buyers and sellers treat each other fairly. They have been working hard on that lately. I once had trouble with something I purchased from a crook who was selling stolen merchandise, and eBay protected me and got my money back.

Now the tides were turned, and I was the seller in trouble with a disgruntled buyer. But once again, I was the honest one being taken advantage of by a ruthless individual.

The buyer chose to have eBay make a decision, and they decided the case in my favor. And they told me why:

  1. They saw I had given him the return address way back at the beginning when he first asked for it. So his complaint that I refused was unfounded.
  2. They saw his feedback stating that the product did not match the description, even though all my other customers posted feedback stating how well the product works as described. (What made this guy think his one negative comment would hold up against all the good stuff?)
  3. They also saw a message he sent before returning the item, saying he would remove the negative feedback if I refunded his money. He sent that via eBay’s mail system. What a fool!

Based on all this, eBay said it was clear that he was trying to manipulate me into refunding him without returning the item, and that’s against their policy.

They told me I don’t need to refund his payment since the unit was damaged, and they released the hold on the money and credited it back to my account. They also removed that nasty and inappropriate negative feedback that this fellow had posted.

Imagine, I was going to issue a refund despite getting back a product I could do nothing else with but to toss it out.

Case closed.

Honest Buyers and Sellers Will Be Protected

Over the years, eBay has dramatically improved its support in both directions. It doesn’t matter who one is, a buyer or a seller. If they are honest and get deceived, they will be protected.

It takes vision for a company to see the need for this strategy, knowing that it displays integrity and provides for a successful transaction for all involved. It’s a huge change from how things were in the past.

How PayPal and eBay Work Well Together

In 2002, eBay purchased PayPal and had done a great job at intertwining the two platforms so they work together seamlessly. That gave customers the ability to securely pay for things they buy on eBay, at auction or for immediate sale.

However, in 2014 eBay spun off PayPal under pressure from Carl Icahn, a substantial investor in the company.

Due to the split of the two companies, I noticed a temporary decline in support to protect buyers and sellers. Functioning as independent companies, they no longer worked well together.

I had another experience after the spin-off, and I discovered that disputes resulted in finger-pointing between PayPal and eBay. That made it difficult to resolve conflicts because neither company took responsibility for settling claims.

According to eBay's updated policies published in their terms of service, they quickly corrected that unfortunate experience. Taking things into their own hands, eBay revamped the support policies to benefit both buyers and sellers with a more positive experience.

I've been protected by eBay on both sides of a sale several times. As long as you do the transactions according to their rules, they protect you from fraud.


This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Glenn Stok


Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 04, 2018:

AA - Things have changed since PayPal split from eBay. eBay has problems now since my experience I spoke about in this article.

I had the same problem with a buyer who put in a claim without contacting me first. He never returned the product and eBay just credited him for my account.

But PayPal has a sellers protection policy. After eBay failed to help, I went straight to PayPal and they took care of it and gave me my money back. So you just need to know who to contact for help. It's too bad you gave up before fighting for your money as I had done recently..

AA on May 04, 2018:

I got screwed by ebay after being a member for 14 years. Their new rules and regulations favor the buyer more than the seller. So I've had enough of their crap to deal with. the guy took my item claiming it was defective (when all the pictures, discription was on their page), took my money and I am left with nothing! ebay won't even refund me anything!! Where is the seller protection that your arguing about?? That's even after providing all the evidence to ebay, yet, they sided with the buyer. So, I closed my account and moved on. I hope more seller will stand up to their abusive regulations, otherwise, what happened to blockbusters might just happen to ebay. They only exist because the sellers.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 17, 2016:

Sunshine625 - That's good that you didn't stop using eBay. I find it to be a useful venue for selling and also for finding things to purchase. I am sure you'll notice the improved quality of their support if you should ever need to deal with a dispute again. I suspect that they knew they needed to make that change in order to stay in business.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 17, 2016:

Glad to read that your transaction had a better ending than mine. Luckily transactions like mine are far and few between. I am still selling on Ebay and do not intend to stop! :)

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 07, 2015:

TreasuresBrenda - Yes, I guess they were struggling. eBay has made many changes in the past couple of years to have a better handle on all this. I have been pleased with the improved support and how they protected me with sales and with purchases. I do hope that they can maintain that extra advantage now that PayPal will be splitting from eBay. Thanks for pinning my hub.

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on May 07, 2015:

Great post, Glenn. I do believe that eBay is struggling to find a balance that works for all. I'm pinning your post to my How to Sell on eBay board.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on September 15, 2014:

SusanDeppner - Yes, there are plenty of stories of people's experience with eBay. Lately they have improved their support so much that I would guess there are more stories with happy endings. Thanks for your comment.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on September 15, 2014:

Glad the good guy (you) came out okay in the end, though the process cost you plenty of your valuable time. I know quite a few people who have done eBay for years and they have plenty of stories to share, some with happy endings, others not so much. Thankfully I didn't have but a few crazy customers during my brief eBay career.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 25, 2014:

TIMETRAVELER2 - If you go back to eBay I am sure you'll see a major change Sondra. They probably revamped their support of both buyers and sellers because so many people were getting burnt. I guess they learned their lesson.

Sondra Rochelle from USA on August 25, 2014:

This is interesting because one of the reasons I stopped selling on Ebay was that they gave me very little support, even though buyers were ripping me off right and left. It's about time they started being fair to everybody again because I understand many sellers are leaving the site due to problems like this one.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 03, 2014:

Suzanne Day - Yeah, it's really amazing how people who think they know how to cheat the system end up losing everything. Thanks for the positive feedback.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on August 02, 2014:

What an idiot! And a waste of your time. Glad Ebay decided in your favour and that they go through email records to assist. I once had a dodgy experience with a painting from Poland that never turned up and Ebay was able to help me there. As a seller, I haven't had any troubles like this. Voted useful and up!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 20, 2014:

Torrs13 - You're right Tori. That fellow was not smart at all. He should have realized that he can't claim to eBay that I refused to give him the return address since my answer was already posted in eBay's email system. No, I was not stressed over it - mainly because I knew I had all the proof that he was manipulating me and all eBay had to do was review the emails that went back and forth. I had a similar situation once before and eBay protected me on that one too. So I expected the results would turn out well, as it did. And eBay removed the negative feedback too.

Tori Canonge from North Carolina on June 20, 2014:

What a crazy situation! I'm so glad that eBay had your back throughout that. I don't understand why people try to manipulate the system, especially when things are already in writing. First of all, it's not smart, and second, it's just not good business. You handled this situation so well! Were you stressed at all? I probably would have gotten some anxiety from it, especially after getting a negative feedback.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 08, 2014:

cclitgirl - You and me both. I did get stressed out over it, which is another reason my I almost refunded that buyer. I just wanted to end the nonsense. It's so funny, really, that he beat me to it by escalating the case to let eBay decide, which backfired on him.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on June 08, 2014:

What an interesting story. I have some good friends who sell products on eBay and they have some stories, too. So glad for documentation, eh? Even though you as the seller were absolutely fair and honest, if I happened to be the seller, I would have been a little stressed out with the whole thing. :P You're awesome!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 21, 2014:

Thanks for your positive comments Audrey. I have seen eBay go through a lot of improved changes lately with how they seek out and eliminate people who try to take advantage of others.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 21, 2014:

Hi Glenn - This story shows how people try to work the system and take advantage of others. I have never dealt with Ebay and admire you for being the kind honest person in this adventure with a customer. Ebay knows a good person, especially when information proves that fact. Thank you for telling this story and providing us with a look at the workings of Ebay. Sharing this hub. Blessings. Audrey

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 14, 2014:

TurtleDog - I'm finding it interesting that so many have run into nuts on eBay. But like you say, over 99% are great. Lucky for that anyway. Thanks for the vote up.

TurtleDog on May 14, 2014:

It's incredible how some people act on Ebay. I casually sell there and have been doing it for about 10 years too. Every so often you get someone who is just nuts, the other 99.9% are great folks. Voted you up and awesome

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 14, 2014:

Helena Ricketts - If that happened to you today with your jacket, I am sure eBay would have helped you keep your money. I say that based on two of my experiences where buyers sent back my item in damaged condition and eBay helped me.

As for PayPal, I already had it happen where a buyer put in a dispute with the credit card. PayPal fought with the bank and won in my favor. They were able to win for me because I was able to give them all the required info to show I did everything right. That's all that matters. With that, you can trust the new methods of customer support.

I can see both PayPal and eBay are putting much more effort today into fighting for the good guys.

Helena Ricketts from Indiana on May 14, 2014:

I was an Ebay seller for 12 years but closed up shop when their fees kept rising and the buyers just became too much of a hassle. My last straw was a brand new jacket, with tags, that was returned with the tags missing and it was dirty. I still buy on there but will never sell again.

Watch for a charge back through Paypal if this guy paid with a credit card. That's another way they scam and if they win on that Paypal will also charge you a fee for it. I had one do that to me and the Paypal fee was an additional $35.00. If I remember correctly they have up to 6 months from date of payment to file.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 14, 2014:

RachaelOhalloran - You gave me an idea I didn't think of, that he might have been jealous. Maybe he was a competitor who wanted to mess with me. But I don't think he intended to lose his money. Like you said, some people can just be so nasty. Funny that nasty and stupid doesn't work. Thanks for reading and for your comment.

Rachael O'Halloran from United States on May 13, 2014:

Some people are just so nasty. In this case, maybe there was even a little bit of jealousy there, seeing all those positive comments. Perhaps he was just too stupid to deal with the directions for the product and in an effort to cover "dumb" he intensified it to "stupid." You handled it well; you appear to be a pro at customer service! I wouldn't have been so nice, then again I don't own a business.

I am glad this worked out well in the end.