How to dispute non-delivery of item?
September 27, 2009 11:35 AM   Subscribe

How do I dispute a claim for a handmade item when the PayPal dispute time has expired? The seller strung me along with claims that it was going to be sent until I ran out of time to dispute it.

I ordered a $100 ring off of Etsy in mid-July, and the seller (shadejewelry) claimed that it would arrive within a few weeks. A month later, I returned to message him about when to expect the ring, only to find that his shop had been closed. Some googling found his Facebook page, so I sent him a message, a posting on his fan page, and an e-mail asking for an update. He said that he would send my ring the following Monday.

Two weeks later, I asked what was taking so long, and he responded, "Scott your ring was shipped, I'll give you the tracking number tomorrow." I haven't heard from him since. I also found a page about his banning from Etsy due to several other people reporting similar behavior. In retrospect, his e-mails were probably intended to string me along until after the 45-day window to chargeback the transaction on PayPal closed (which was within a day or two of the last e-mail). Still, it was quite a surprise - his Etsy feedback had been high, and I ordered a ring from the seller roughly a year ago without any problems. He was also a featured seller (the page has since been deleted), etc.

As word got around, he changed his store name from Shade Jewelry to Brink Jewelry (NOT Brink's in Minnesota), but still appears to be in operation. (There is even a picture of the ring I ordered on the front page.) Incidentally, the original ShadeJewelry website still redirects to the closed Etsy store page.

This was supposed to be my wedding ring (I'm getting married in two weeks), but at this point I think the odds of getting the ring in time or being reimbursed are slim. What can I do to prevent this from happening to anyone else? I used PayPal linked to a checking account, so (AFAIK) I cannot do a chargeback the way I could with a credit card, and the PayPal chargeback period is over. I reported non-delivery to Etsy and sent a report to the IC3. I also posted on the etsycallout blog, and have been followed by several similar complaints.

This scam seems to exploit a vulnerability in the way Etsy+PayPal operates: The buyer pays ahead of time for a custom item that can take weeks to make, but at that point the 45-day PayPal chargeback window is already closing. Etsy has already banned the seller, but since they don't handle the money directly, they seem to consider the matter closed. Still, they haven't done anything to remedy this major loophole in the way they operate, so it will almost certainly continue.

Does anybody have any ideas what to do to keep this from happening again? (Besides not paying in advance for custom items?) Anything I could do to get closure on this would be appreciated as well.
posted by silentbicycle to Shopping (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you contacted PayPal directly by phone? If you are a loyal PayPal user, they may refund your money despite the chargeback window being closed. A couple of years ago, I contacted PayPal because an eBay seller never came through. Because I had used PayPal regularly for many years (including business use), they immediately refunded me. I don't know if they still continue that practice, or if they do it for non-business PayPal users, but it's worth a phone call anyway.
posted by dayintoday at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2009

I had a similar problem with an etsy seller. I contacted PayPal and they refunded even though I was out of time.
posted by paduasoy at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2009

Unfortunately, there isn't a whole lot you can do to keep it from happening to others, beyond complaining about him at every available opportunity you can (without spamming, obviously) so that if someone Googles him, it comes up. You could try complaining to the Better Business Bureau so they have a record of him on file.

What you yourself can do to prevent this: Always dispute a Paypal charge within their window of opportunity even if you are in contact with a seller, because you can always cancel a dispute if you get the item.
posted by MegoSteve at 12:15 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mod note: removed links and whois information, please link to personal information, don't copypaste it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:21 PM on September 27, 2009

Here's his contact info.

Call him, be polite and don't mention paypal disputes (at first). If he has changed his whois page by the time you read this, memail me- I'm keeping the info.
posted by arnicae at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2009

Fuck paypal and emails - contact the police. (YRMV but this proved very successful for a friend.)
(It was for quite a bit more... so it might really be helpful to mention that even though you're only chasing $100 there seems to clearly be a line.)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:09 PM on September 27, 2009

Did you by chance use your credit card through Paypal? If so, perhaps you can unleash them on Mr. Scammy McScammerson.
posted by bunji at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2009

And please post an update in this thread with the outcome.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:04 PM on September 27, 2009

Just throwing out a bit of belated advice here:

When paying for anything via paypal, be mindful of the claim period expiration and if you don't have whatever you paid for within, say, 7 days of the claim period expiration, file a claim no matter what the seller has said or promised you.

If the seller comes through on their side of the bargain, you can cancel the claim with no harm/no foul.

If the seller doesn't come through, you've preserved your claim.
posted by de void at 11:25 AM on September 28, 2009

Response by poster: Update, thus far: I called PayPal, and (eventually) spoke with a representative who stated that, since I was past the 45 day dispute window, they couldn't go through the normal dispute procedures. If there were similar complaints about other transactions from the seller around the same time, they may re-open the issue and take further action, but since the funds are probably outside of PayPal now they may not be able to do much more than freeze the seller's account. (They have a time frame of 180 days to investigate.)

bunji: No, as noted, I used a linked checking account. (Now I know better.)
posted by silentbicycle at 11:55 AM on October 2, 2009

Response by poster: No updates from PayPal, but they still have a couple months.

I've been in touch with police in his area. They called and knocked on his door, but haven't been able to contact him. They will probably follow up further if there are other complaints, but since I'm from out of state, it wouldn't be worth my time to sit in on a court case over a ring.
posted by silentbicycle at 10:30 AM on December 11, 2009

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