What do I need to know about selling my laptop to a guy in Poland?
December 6, 2010 4:31 PM   Subscribe

I just sold my laptop on eBay... my first eBay sale. The buyer was in Poland. I've never shipped anything internationally. Looks like I can ship the package for about $40. It also looks like this sale might require someone to pay a Value Added Tax or import tax of some kind. What do I need to know about how this works? Do I pay or does he? Anything I should consider in the course of this sale?
posted by shanevsevil to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can't help you with the tax issues, but you should be aware that sale of laptops via eBay is a rather dicey proposition, especially with international sales. Make sure your buyer has a substantial history of excellent feedback before proceeding. If the buyer's account is new and/or he has little feedback history, you're probably dealing with a scammer.
posted by jon1270 at 4:43 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't do it.

even selling a laptop on eBay in the US is frought with scams (see my question history for an example.)

Unless you explicitly said worldwide shipping, cancel the sale.
posted by k8t at 4:48 PM on December 6, 2010

If you're taking payment via Paypal (as is the vast majority of eBay transactions), you should definitely read the Paypal Seller Protection Policy. Paypal allows buyers to easily raise disputes and get their money back when you don't follow the policies.

IE: You need proof that the item was shipped to the buyer's verified address with signature confirmation, otherwise the buyer can claim it was never received (and get their money back as well as have the laptop). International shipping makes this difficult since tracking is more difficult. Paypal is well-known for their lack of customer service, but seems to default to trusting the buyer and leaving you, the seller, with nothing.

Also VAT, customs, etc. are the buyer's problem, since they are not known until the other country's customs inspects the package (and sends the buyer a bill). If the buyer simply refuses to pay customs, they can initiate a chargeback, getting their money refunded. but you still won't get your laptop back. Lots of lots of pitfalls.
posted by meowzilla at 4:55 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: The guy has zero history on eBay... If I suspect a scam what can I do?
posted by shanevsevil at 5:02 PM on December 6, 2010

"I'm sorry, I really can't send this outside the US."

If he complains, so be it. The worst he can do is leave negative feedback. Sell it on Craigslist. Selling any piece of high-end electronics on ebay is a poor idea unless you're a professional.
posted by Slinga at 5:12 PM on December 6, 2010 [8 favorites]

I second the "don't do it" advice. Paypal completely enables scamming and you'll never see that money again.
posted by zug at 5:17 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, just cancel the sale and take the negative feedback point. You can reply to his feedback comment with "Foreign buyers with zero feedback are usually scam artists" or simply "No international shipping offered--next time please read carefully" and most experienced eBayers won't hold it against you. When they read it, they'll see he has low/no feedback and agree, or see that his account is disabled.
posted by K.P. at 5:18 PM on December 6, 2010

You can request a mutual cancellation of the transaction and you'll get your seller fees back. I agree with everyone else that selling a laptop on eBay to a zero-feedback international buyer is an iffy proposition and I'd avoid it. Request a cancellation and then sell it on Craigslist for cash.

(For future reference, if you sell to an international buyer, the buyer is responsible for any VAT or customs fees imposed by their country upon receipt of the item.)
posted by bedhead at 5:25 PM on December 6, 2010

This is totally a scam. Just log back into paypal and hit the refund button. The negative feedback, even if he bothers with one, will be of little consequence.

Further, if he really is a scammer, then his account will be closed shortly (you can only con so many folks before your account gets shut down). Once that happens your feedback from this person will say "This user is no longer registered with ebay". Whenever I see that I don't hold it against the seller for the reasons mentioned above.
posted by special-k at 6:05 PM on December 6, 2010

It is likely a scam, and PayPal's seller protection is completely worthless. Cancel the sale. Sell it locally on Craigslist.
posted by procrastination at 6:54 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I was a little freaked out, thankfully the hive-mind is a little more cool-headed. I've opened a ticket to cancel the sale.
posted by shanevsevil at 7:40 PM on December 6, 2010

Also, for the future, make sure you state clearly in your auction terms that you don't ship internationally.
posted by bardophile at 2:23 AM on December 7, 2010

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