A+++++++++ Best Question Evar Would Answer Again
March 9, 2009 8:27 AM   Subscribe

What are the current best practices to make sure that you don't get ripped off on eBay as a seller, especially if you are getting paid by PayPal and/or selling to an international buyer?

I'm selling a dozen or so relatively inexpensive items on eBay, but haven't really used it in years. So, I'm a little bit nervous about being ripped off in some way. I have looked here and here already.

Nothing is going to go for more than maybe $100 or so. I'm getting some interested buyers from overseas, places like Greece, Italy and Canada. I'm not averse to sending something to one of these buyers, but I want to make sure that I actually get paid. If I am getting paid via PayPal, what do I have to wait for until I know that the payment is legit? Should I just wait for the payment to show up, or should I wait for a certain period of time after that? Is there a way to be sure that I am not going to get ripped off? How are overseas PayPal payments handled, and is the systemic risk greater than using PayPal for domestic buyers? What do I have to be concerned about with domestic buyers on PayPal? Can they reverse the charge after I have sent the item?

My current plan is:

1. Accept PayPal payment
2. Send via UPS (cheapest possible), photograph stuff in box, send signature required, with insurance, and keep all the documentation.
3. Avoid getting ripped off
4. PROFIT! (at least compared to what this stuff is currently getting me)

Are there any other things that I need to do in 1 or 2 to make 3 happen?
posted by iknowizbirfmark to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
While I am not sure of the type of product you are selling, and I'm assuming you are in the USA, you should be aware that the price of shipping certain electronics and electronic media across international lines can hit interesting customs issues which can delay shipments or cost a whole hell of a lot more. Canada is not much of an issue, but unless you are extremely familiar with customs restrictions and tarriffs for Italy and Greece, you could wind up with many many issues. The company I work for, as policy, directs international customers to more localized support through our international offices, or requires delivery to addresses within the United States (or Canada) By insisting the delivery be within the United States, this puts the onus on the customer for international shipping charges and issues.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:43 AM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: I feel like a broken record, but there is no way to protect yourself. You can be ripped off completely, despite your best efforts.
posted by procrastination at 8:51 AM on March 9, 2009

Study the seller threads in this board in great detail and learn from the real-world problems and scenarios you see here.

Personally I would NOT sell anything of value to an international destination as the Paypal Seller Protection is inadequate, and barely gives sufficient protection to domestic destinations. If there is any dispute, Paypal will place a hold on the funds until they take their time sorting it out. The only way I would sell something internationally is take a check drawn on a US bank or an international postal money order.
posted by crapmatic at 8:51 AM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: I am selling a few miscellaneous electronics and car parts, all used, nothing worth more than $100. It sounds like there is no way I can be sure that I won't get ripped off, which I guess is ok, given the value of the items in question.

Still, ugh. This is kind of what I feared, and it sucks that PayPal and eBay just rely on there not being too many of these kinds of scams. Is it at least the case that the situation which procrastination described are the exception to the rule, and the cases are usually resolved in favor of those with good evidence, or is it common for eBay to side with rip-off sellers, even with good evidence in support of the seller?
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 8:59 AM on March 9, 2009

My wife simply refuses to sell outside of the US. Since 9-11 the customs forms have become a major headache. She's done a couple of hundred transactions with only one problem - and that was settled in our favor eventually. She accepts only Paypal, she transfers the money to our bank account immediately upon receipt in Paypal, and she puts delivery confirmation on every shipment.

There is no foolproof way to protect yourself, but for $100 and less transactions this seems to be good enough.
posted by COD at 9:11 AM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: Just to add to my own reply and tag on to what COD said, I do agree that if the items are of minor value then international sales by Paypal will probably work fine. The only area where you'd really be at risk is electronics, video games, software, etc. For ordinary, non-glamorous merchandise I think you may be fine.
posted by crapmatic at 9:19 AM on March 9, 2009

(and items that are not over the $50 to $100 range are relatively safe)
posted by crapmatic at 9:20 AM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: I would refuse sales to anyone with poor feedback and/or no feedback. The people most likely to screw you are in the habit of screwing people, and they get weeded out pretty quickly. The guy who has no feedback and is mysteriously the highest bidder is the guy to reject. I've never had a problem with any ebay member whose feedback history was solid.
posted by jon1270 at 9:37 AM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: Please do not use UPS to Canada; their brokerage charges can add $20+ to the buyer's cost. USPS is cheaper and more reliable. I don't buy from UPS shippers.
posted by scruss at 10:29 AM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: I have sellers from Greece and Canada who have excellent feedback and appear to be completely legitimate. For the particular items I am selling, it makes sense that there would be interest in these places. Each of the international buyers, on different items, have asked me how much I would charge to ship internationally and said that they would pay the customs charges. Items are unlikely to go above $100-$150. Seems legitimate. I will add a few regions to the Ship To field and, well, at least I am going in knowing the risks.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 2:35 PM on March 9, 2009

Do not buy/sell expensive and complicated stuff to people with no history, unless you can communicate with them and be sure that they're legitimate.

I think many people to avoid this problem arrange to have a professional dealer (or semi-pro, someone with hundreds of sales) sell or buy stuff for them. Unless the dealer is a friend, he or she takes a cut of any sales.
posted by bad grammar at 4:45 PM on March 9, 2009

My general rules:

1. I don't sell outside the US. Too much trouble for me, and my goal here is to get money for the item, not to build some kind of international business.

2. Paypal required, sometimes I do "immediate payment required."

3. No buyers with zero or negative feedback.

I'll make exceptions in some cases - for example I sometimes sell fountain pens, which are relatively cheap and easy to ship with regular mail, so shipping to Canada or Europe is no big deal. And I've sold to a buyer with zero feedback who emailed me his phone number and explained his situation beforehand.

I've had a few deadbeat buyers (who never paid, and I relisted and sold to someone else) but I've sold a bunch of items including some electronics and a couple of iPhones with no outright scams or cheaters.
posted by mmoncur at 8:20 PM on March 9, 2009

Just to give another aspect...
I am in Australia, with 300+ of 100% positive feedback on ebay. It frustrates me that some ebay users restrict auctions to US only. I understand there are hassles with postage, I have had them myself when I have sold stuff, but you will often get a much higher price if you accept international sales.
for example, $200 Amazon gift vouchers are selling for $245 if you will send them overseas. This is because we often have to pay over the odds for our local sellers, or because a desirable item is only available at retail in the US (e.g. kindle).
Ultimately, paypal does offer no protection, but it offers no protection in the 50 states either, so I would urge you to accept 100+ feedback users wherever they are. Unfortunately, ebay have broken feedback, because they have crippled it for sellers, but you should trust trustworthy sellers.
Better to say you will charge USPS plus $5 (or whatever) to ship internationally.
posted by bystander at 4:51 AM on March 10, 2009

duh..trustworthy buyers, obviously.
posted by bystander at 4:52 AM on March 10, 2009

PayPal verifies addresses in the USA, UK and Canada. This gives you extra protection (given that you ship only to verified addresses). If you have tracking there should be no problem.

The buyer has 45 days to file a claim. Say he still hasn't got it on Day 44 (you can both see this by the tracking number), he could file a claim. PayPal wouldn't immediately give him his money back, there would just be a claim open. Not sure how big that window is. But then you also have insurance from the post office (you might have to pay for this). SO even if it it really does get lost in transet, you;re not out, as you;ll the money back from the post office.

I ship overseas all the time, even outside of UK, USA and Canada, and as long as you have tracking and insurance, there's no problem. Out os US payments are no different than within US payments.
posted by Penelope at 10:25 AM on March 10, 2009

Response by poster: Some follow-up: things seem to have gone well with all my sales, although I am still kind of worried that one guy who hasn't given feedback is going to try to pull some crap. Thanks again for all the great advice.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 7:09 AM on March 27, 2009

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