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eBay Seller Protection: Does It Exist?

Linda (Kaywood) Bilyeu is a self-published author. Her books are available on Amazon. She writes from the heart—there is no other way.

After 18 years of selling on eBay, I encountered a buyer who bullied and conned me. Who did eBay side with? Read my story.

After 18 years of selling on eBay, I encountered a buyer who bullied and conned me. Who did eBay side with? Read my story.

eBay Sellers Are the Bread and Butter of the Company

What's a good way to make money online? Sell goods on eBay and become an e-commerce seller. That question and action happened 18 years ago, and I have been an eBay seller ever since.

I have had many transactions along the way and made quite a few memories. It's interesting what buyers are looking for on eBay, and it's even more interesting what they are willing to pay for an item.

As an eBay seller, I was never bullied or conned—until now. This makes me mad, not only for myself, but on behalf other eBay sellers also. In e-commerce, you never know who you are truly dealing with. Online transactions are based on an honor system, and not everyone is as honest as we would hope.

Sellers Need Protection

eBay is the middleman. They try their best to protect the seller and the buyer, but sometimes even the middleman has glitches. Sellers need to be protected just as much as buyers do. Sellers are the heart and soul of eBay, for without them, there wouldn't be an eBay.

The eBay logo.

The eBay logo.

The eBay Buyer Who Continued to Harass the Seller

In all my years as an eBay seller, I rarely had problems. Sure, a customer might not have been pleased with an item, but we always professionally worked things out. Both seller and buyer were happy. I think that is a very good record.

Until recently . . .

My Story of Dealing With an eBay Bully and Scammer

  • It all started when a buyer won an auction.
  • Within 5 minutes of winning the auction, he decided he really didn't want it so I could sell it to the next highest bidder. Huh? Who does that? If you really didn't want the item, then why did you bid? Whatever.
  • I offered the item to the next highest bidder, but they never responded. I relisted the item and sold it. Little did I know that original buyer was still stalking my items.
  • A week went by. My stalker won two items.
  • A feature that eBay has that is very useful is the Unpaid Assistant: If a buyer doesn't pay within a certain amount of time that you designate, the Unpaid Assistant sends an automatic reminder. So the Assistant did its job three days after those two auctions ended. Within minutes, I receive an email: "What did you do that for?!?"
  • I was baffled by his rudeness. "Do what, remind you that you haven't paid for your items yet?"
  • He then requested that I turn off the assistant and give him more time to pay. "Why?"
  • He proceeded to tell me that other sellers have waited 3–4 weeks for payment.
  • I'm calling bullshit on that! There is no way a seller would wait 3–4 weeks for a buyer with less than 20 feedbacks to pay. But, since I was juggling multiple things in my life, I gave him two weeks to pay. I didn't have time for bullies.
  • Thirteen days later, he emailed me. "How much more time do I have?" I responded, "One day." He paid in 5 days.
  • I mailed his comics. Securely. Like I have mailed multiple other comics. Packed tight.
  • Three days later, he is back, saying the comics are damaged. Oh my gosh, will this bully ever go away! Nope, not yet.
eBay proved to be unhelpful in my situation.

eBay proved to be unhelpful in my situation.

The Buyer's Demands

He demanded a refund or a partial refund. Why was I not surprised?

He claimed that the books arrived damaged. How was this possible? I packed them like Fort Knox. But since he was trying to bargain his way through each transaction, I was not shocked at the complaint.

As a person who does not like bullies or being conned, I was not about to just give him a refund or a partial refund for a collectible comic book.

Why? Because, as I was well aware, as a comic book reseller he could very well have been trying to return a damaged book that he had previously owned but upgraded with my comic. That is not going to happen on my watch.

  • I called eBay. As a seller, I figured they would protect me since I have invested 18 years in their company.
  • eBay suggested I continue communicating with him in a professional and civil manner. OK, I could do that. eBay will be monitoring our communications and will base their decision as to how to handle the case via our messages. OK, sounds fair.
  • So, we communicated back and forth. He explained how the comic was damaged. He supposedly shared photos of the package I sent him, but it wasn't the package I sent him! Idiot. (That's me being civil.)
  • I explained that my standing in the community spoke volumes, along with the buyer feedback that I have received.
  • This went back and forth until I had enough. Surely, I thought, eBay would follow through and stand by their rules of no bullying and no conning of sellers or buyers.
  • It was at this time that I asked eBay to intervene on my behalf and make a decision.

The eBay Battle Continues

I received an email response from eBay. They had received my request to intervene on my behalf; please allow 48 hours for them to evaluate the situation and make a decision. OK.

Within 15 minutes, the bully emailed me: "Told you I would win!" WTF?

I then read an email from eBay saying they had sided with the buyer and the buyer would be returning the books for a full refund in addition to shipping. WTF?

Scroll to Continue

An Unacceptable Response From eBay

I phoned eBay. How dare you suggest to me 4 days ago during our telephone conversation that I continue to communicate with the buyer and try to come to a conclusion on our own and if that's not possible that you can intervene. How dare you ask me to allow 48 hours for an eBay specialist to approve the case and make a decision and yet 15 minutes later you kick me to the curb. How the hell do I know a robot didn't give their stamp of approval? How could it only take 15 minutes for a specialist to review the days of communication and the attached photo? How could eBay allow me to be conned? I thought eBay was against fraudulent activity?

I was told to, "Please remain calm, ma'am." Are you kidding me? This is unacceptable!

I have never ever been so disappointed in eBay as I was at this time.

They advised me to allow the buyer to return the comic books, and then when I receive them phone eBay to start an appeals process.

Are you serious? I do not have time for this crap! Just protect your damn sellers like you should have been doing all along.

Proceed as follows, eBay:

  • View my history.
  • View their history.
  • View my photos.
  • View their photos.
  • View the previous messages he was sending me prior to receiving the package.
  • View our communications.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know when a scam is in occurrence.

eBay Protects the Buyer, Not the Seller

In a nutshell:

  • eBay protects the buyer so that the buyer has a pleasant experience and continues to return and shop.
  • eBay could not care less about the seller who is their bread and butter. Makes no sense to me either.
  • Will I stop selling on eBay? No. One bad apple doesn't ruin the whole bunch for me.
  • I will no longer be so accommodating to buyers. One bad apple did ruin that whole bunch.

The Final Results of the Ordeal

I received the comics books back. They were both damaged, and there was no way in hell that damage occurred during the shipping process. Absolutely no way.

The buyer sent me back the comics in different comic bags and no boards. He never returned the original mailer that I shipped the books in, which would have allowed me to verify whether the damage happened during shipping.

I phoned eBay; they said there was nothing I could do but accept the fact that I was scammed. Really? Since when has fraud been legal?

Obviously, as long as the buyer is satisfied, it doesn't matter to eBay that a seller was ripped off.

We live and learn.

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.

© 2016 Linda Bilyeu


Todd on July 12, 2019:

Ebay is the worst of the worst, great for buyers, screw the sellers.

Please, somebody come up with a better and more fair company other than Ebay.

G on April 30, 2019:

eBay almost always sides with the buyer! It's getting dangerous to sell anything especially if it's expensive. And even worse.. the next layer of protection is PayPal, and they are EVEN worse. They ALWAYS side with the buyer!! In today's enviornment, a buyer can always win in any scam if they are willing to go through with it.. it's getting super important as a seller to just sniff out the scammers and refuse to sell to them. Honestly it's gotten so bad, that I think sellers need to come together with a class action lawsuits..

Joe on November 18, 2018:

You should google the buyer address as often its a front or mail forwarding address. In my case a google search found tge address has odten been used for mail fraud.

A. File a report online with USPS inspector for mail fraud as tge mail was used to steal.

B. File against Ebay with the BBB.

C. Leave feedback even id you' forced to label it positive and state fraulent buyer.

D. Report the buyer to Ebay.

I found that I was not tge first victim of this Russian evay crminal.

Anon on June 05, 2017:

I really like your story, it's a good read after you have had a poor experience with ebay. I have been using ebay for 15 years as a small time seller. Never once was there an issue and i have maintained perfect feedback.

Get an email yesterday with someone demanding a return on an item from over a month ago. They never contacted me, just went straight to dispute. Apparently you can have something for 180 days and still get a refund. It's a brand new sealed security camera and the buyer claims it can't connect to the internet. Paypal puts all the funds on hold while i sit at a negative balance. As for options there really isn't many. I already paid $14 to mail it out and it would cost another $14 to have it sent back, then proceed to refund the full amount to the buyer... i mean holy crap! Even if i got the item back it would lose most of its value being opened.

The worst part is ebay just takes the buyers word on everything. Calling them will get you no where, regardless of your feedback or years of service. I specify that i don't accept returns but with the buyer protection they can still request it, so it's just a useless feature. The best option in my mind is to offer a partial refund but the buyer still hasn't replied to that. Even a full refund would be cheaper than a return.

Just out of curiosity i looked up the buyers address and it's someone living in a high end neighborhood, expensive houses everywhere. The buyer has basically no feedback and never leaves feedback. Yet they go after me as if the small amount of money means that much to them. Ebay puts more value on them than a great seller.

I am extremely wary of selling items again because of this and i definitely don't have money to just throw away. In the end the buyer will walk away with a security camera which probably works (the person probably doesn't understand to make it work properly) a partial/full refund and free shipping. I am out about $70 and who knows if this person will just leave negative feedback for the heck of it. What a world we live in.

Bob90210 on December 30, 2016:

Just sold a few items on fleeBay that were brand new. The customer opened them, used it and now he wants a refund because he ordered the wrong item. Guess what? There is no seller protection on eBay. Trust me I've used it and it doesn't work. Those no refund boxes they make you check before your listings are invalid. I will no longer buy or sell on eBay, they've lost someone very valuable to them. I brought these people money every single month, and this is how they treat their sellers. So long fleeBay, I now see what so many people hate you guys.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on October 01, 2016:

I would think your signed agreement should be seller protection enough. Then if the buyer is picking up the item and not paying through ebay there is no way for ebay to hold onto the funds. Ebay removed the transaction funds from my Paypal account and held onto it until the dispute was settled.

James on October 01, 2016:

What about In-Store Pickup - AS IS condition?

My arcade products must be picked up by buyer.

Is there any protection if they inspect, sign agreement, then haul it away from being cheated later?

Margaridab on September 27, 2016:

I did enjoy your article. It's a good reading piece that makes us read till the end. The song is a bonus.

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

I feel your frustration. That was a disgusting way you were treated.

I sell and I buy on eBay. Since about two years ago they have revamped their protection policy. They have protected me on both sides. As you indicated, there are people on both sides that try to screw you.

The important thing is that all communication needs to be done through their email system, not by direct email. That is the only way they have a record to look back on. In addition, no policies should be changed midstream. It only confuses the issue for eBay to defend you.

If he had two days to pay, never offer extra time for any reason. An auction is a contract. The buyer has a choice. On the first sign of trouble, stop. Once they break that contract you move on.

If someone tries to force you to change policy, and you do, they will know that they can take advantage of you again, and they will.

Dianna Mendez on August 25, 2016:

I see that HP is no longer supporting ebay ads. May be a good thing after reading this article. You were surely in the right on this and it is unfortunate ebay did not support you as a long-time seller of excellence.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 19, 2016:

Hi Lipnancy, I sold books on Amazon at one time...I just might get back into it. Thank you!

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on August 18, 2016:

I sold on Ebay for many many years and always had problems. But the good news is I now sell on Amazon and there are no real problems, people rarely send products back and when they do, Amazon inspects them for any damages and usually refunds the seller. Do you believe that? It is so refreshing to be treated with respect at Amazon. It is truly an alternative you might want to look into.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 18, 2016:

Great idea, Thelma and thank you Kathy for responding.

I never accept returns on the items I sell...needless to say, eBay didn't care.

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on August 18, 2016:

That's a good question, ThelmaC! In my case, even if I had said no returns it wouldn't have mattered. He never sent the item back, and because it was supposedly damaged in transit I had to give the guy a refund. I didn't really want it back anyway after he sent pictures of how badly damaged it was. It did teach me to buy extra insurance when I mail things- but I've heard that it's sometimes hard to get the post office (insurance) to pay.

Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 18, 2016:

Would it work to your advantage to say "no returns" or would that really hurt sales?

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on August 18, 2016:

I had a bad experience with eBay, too, that made me cut way back! We were moving across the country, so I was selling stuff to downsize. I sold an antique looking record player to a guy from New York. It was one sold by Montgomery Ward ( you might remember that store!)

This turntable style record player played those big 33rpm albums. I packaged it well, too.and shipped it.I was told it arrived"damaged" with photos that looked like a baseball bat had been taken to it! Unbelievable! All I could think was no way was that shipping damage! EBay sided with him and I had to give him a full refund. After some investigating, I realized this guy was a dealer, buying and selling old electronic items. This turntable had old style "tubes" that are probably very hard to get replacements for if one goes bad! I figured he got the turntable, took whatever tubes and parts he needed from it and smashed what was left. He ended up with free tubes and parts, I was out a turntable and the money I had to refund. It feels terrible being scammed!! Lesson learned.

I had even sold a guitar once and it arrived in perfect condition, so I knew what I was doing packaging delicate items!! Ever since, if I do sell on eBay, it's things like clothing and shoes that can't be damaged! Like the saying goes, burn me once, shame on you. Selling can be risky on there! You deal with scummy scammers who want something for nothing!! So sorry you experienced this too!

Suzie from Carson City on August 18, 2016:

You're biased.......which is GOOD, since you're my main squeeze! I love you too! When I grow up, I want to BE you!......Hugs, Effer

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 18, 2016:

Hahaha, Effer! While I understand how you came upon your decision, (I think! Ha!) you would be an eBay success. You rock at all you do!!!

Suzie from Carson City on August 18, 2016:

I've entertained getting into selling on eBay a few times in the past. As with everything else I've ever approached, I did as much research on the process as I could.

I've always found one on one conversations with experienced individuals who are familiar with a topic and can offer personal opinions, suggestions and advice are the best avenue to take.

I learned a lot by talking with several people of their eBay sales & purchases. I yielded equally positive and negative feedback.

I then took all of this information and considered options and made a decision. Here's how I arrive at most decisions............

If 100 people participate in a specific activity......99 of them are very happy & successful, I may guarantee myself I will be that ONE schmuck who falls flat on her face and will never know why!! Duh.

I have always been better off in the audience as opposed to on stage!!

LOL....Sorry that jerk gave you such a hard time GF! Love Effer.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 18, 2016:

Thanks for sharing your experience, Sunshine - very disappointing.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 17, 2016:

Hey Mike, Don't give up on eBay. Just be cautious with your buyers, set the rules before you ship your books. I still sell on there. I do like the site, they just don't appreciate me.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 17, 2016:

My brother does not mind telling the story of the check from a "Church" that bounced for some merchandise he sold on ebay. Sorry you ran into a scammer. At one time I routinely sold, primarily books, on eBay. It has been years. I have been thinking of resuming the practice which should be a red alert that eBay is finished!

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 17, 2016:

Chances are once a scammer, always a scammer. I am sure my buyer damaged books before and got away with it, but as you know I was dealing with the search and didn't have the patience to keep up the fight with him which is why I just passed it off to karma. Karma never disappoints. Hopefully eBay learns a lesson too, they did not support my case at all. It's a shame, I cut back on selling due to their negligence.

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 17, 2016:

Karma needs to handle these people, for sure. I mean, as I explained when I copied and pasted those communications they obviously never thoroughly viewed during their so-called review, how can someone claiming to have never opened the product because it was not what was in the picture know that the wrong product was inside? It's not that hard for any pseudo-detective to see the discrepancy in those statements, now is it? So, you betcha, I waas persistent! But PayPal, which I learned was owned by eBay, charged so many fees for all of the transactions that it didn't work in our favor. My only consolation is that it didn't work in that piece of crap scammer's favor either. He may have gotten a drill, but he lost his money, too. I hope he thought twice about trying it again with someone else, but probably not.

It really sucks that your guy got to keep your books. It appears to me that eBay hasn't changed much and doesn't care as much about the sellers as they claim to.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 17, 2016:

Hi Flourish, eBay does have it's many benefits, but I can understand you being frustrated from one bad apple.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 17, 2016:

Wow! Good for you for being reimbursed and being so persistent, but why wouldn't you be persistent when YOU were in the RIGHT. As was I, but eBay couldn't care less, even though I have been a seller for 18 years. Luckily I rarely had a problem, and this issue was obviously enough to warrant a hub, so you know I was pissed off. In the end I resold the comics at a loss due to the damage the buyer caused, but I do think karma can handle this one for me. Thank you for sharing your story!

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 17, 2016:

I swore off using eBay as a buyer when I had a bad product and was told that they weren't responsible for refunding me the money, I'd have to go through my credit card company, Discover. Someone filed a class action and I eventually got my money back along with lots of other but I decided I wouldn't be doing business there. I'm sorry about your experience.

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 17, 2016:

Let me tell you about my husband's bad experience on Ebay, which was enough to make we extremely wary of ever selling anything on Ebay again. He thought it would be a good method for making a little extra income when he spotted these name brand drills on sale at a local hardware store. They were at least $50 cheaper than normal retail price and sold for over $100. He bought one set for himself and another set to sell on Ebay just to see if something like that would indeed be profitable. Everything seemed fine. He set up a buy now button for the normal retail price and listed it as an auction as well. It sold for a profit, of course. Yay! Nope, not so fast. . .

This particular "buyer" complained to Ebay that we'd sent a damaged drill. No, sir. No way. Never been opened before drill? Then he attempted saying it was not the product displayed in the picture. Again, no. My husband seems to think I am his secretary and I was setting all of this up and dealing with it all. I KNOW it was the right one. I even double checked because we had an identical drill set still at home. But, okay, whatever. I sent this dude a message to just return it per the return policy for a refund.

Care to guess what was returned? What appeared at a casual glance to be an unopened drill set. But, oh no. The original ziptie typically used by stores was your average run of the mill zip tie any old Joe could've used. Naturally, red flags go up and we open the package ourselves. Inside is a used drill that is scuffed up and damaged and like he said, definitely not what was supposed to be in the package described. However, knowing we'd never opened it, we knew he had to have kept one o the new drills and replaced that one with a used one.

Ebay had already reversed the transaction and refunded the customer, per his complaints. So I had to contact Ebay, not once, but several times to try to get it all resolved. Meanwhile, he keeps appealing it and saying we are the ones in the wrong. So, I went directly to him with emails explaining to him exactly how I know his con is a con. Just how stupid does he think I am? Eventually, he hung himself with the replies to my emails by contradicting himself in what he claimed happened. Obviously, he couldn't keep up with his own lies very well. I copied and pasted it to Ebay since they didn't' seem to be reading their own communication logs. I mean, all of this communicating was happening via their own site and not through personal emails. Finally, someone took time to really examine all that was said. In between his direct insults of me, the truth was evident. They finally awarded us the funds and we kept the useless piece of crap he mailed back to us. However, we were also stuck with so many other fees that we did not make a profit after all. In fact, we lost money and time. And somehow. . .ended up owing PayPal money after it was all said and done. How the hell that happened, I'll never know.

Anyway. . .I've ot really attempted to sell anything else on that site ever since that happened. That was something like 6 years ago.

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