Need advice resolving an eBay transaction.
March 14, 2011 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Sold my PS3 on eBay. Buyer received it today and reports it has the red light of death (won't turn on). What now?!?

I clearly said no returns in the listing. It was certainly functional when I shipped it, but I really feel for the guy. He's across the country, so shipping was expensive. I did insure it for the purchase value ($192).

He said there was no damage to the box, but I don't know why else it wouldn't work! I've filed a claim with UPS so they can investigate.

Trying to handle this as promptly as possible, but I don't want to get screwed here and I want to make sure he's taken care of. If it was just $10 or $20, I'd write it off, but it's a couple hundred dollars. Any experience with situations like this? What can I expect?

What's to say he didn't just drop it when he pulled it out of the box?!?
posted by siclik to Technology (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have the serial number of the machine you sent him? My first thought is that he had a dead one and is trying to swap it for your working machine. If you have the serial number from yours, tell him so, and ask him to mail yours back to you. Tell him he can have a refund when you receive your original machine back.
posted by decathecting at 5:14 PM on March 14, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yeah, this one is slightly complicated. Is he someone with a history on eBay (e.g. does it look like he's had other successful transactions, or might he have opened the account with the sole purpose of defrauding you?)

If he is someone with a history of completed transactions on eBay, I would suggest asking him to photograph it with the "red light of death" on and send you the photo.

If he balks, there might be something skeevy going on. If he sends you the photo and it looks legit, I'd suggest telling him that he should send it back (because you sold it as functional, yes?), because conceivably if you simply tell him "no returns, sorry but can't help you" he can (and probably will) open a case with eBay for a full refund, which has a decent chance of being successful, which would mean that ebay/paypal would siphon the funds right back out of your account.

Once he sends it back, look for additional damage that wasn't there before, and make sure that it was your machine (did he swap it out for another, non-working machine? Does it have his kid's initials scratched on it?). If it was, I think you probably have no choice other than to give him a refund.

FWIW, I sell and buy a lot on ebay. If I were the seller, that is (unhappily) what I'd do. If I were the buyer, and bought something advertised as working that arrived broken, I would absolutely go through all channels possible to get my money back (and ebay tends to side with buyers over sellers).

Sorry.
posted by arnicae at 5:18 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately you're on the hook here. The "no returns" policy only applies for buyer remorse. Not a faulty product.

Tell the seller to return the item and refund him once it arrives and you've had a chance to look it over. Even if you don't have the serial, tell him that you do (like decatheting suggested) so as to deter potential fraud.

I've had this happen to me twice. One time the seller profusely apologized once I notified him. He paid for return shipping and refunded me promptly. Another time a seller kept insisting "no return" for a faulty product. I filed complaints with ebay and paypal and got my money back (paypal made me return the item first, which I did).
posted by special-k at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]



If he is someone with a history of completed transactions on eBay, I would suggest asking him to photograph it with the "red light of death" on and send you the photo.

If he balks, there might be something skeevy going on.


I'm not so sure about this. If you asked me to 'prove' that I do have a faulty item (beyond my text description), I am just going to assume you scammed me and file complaints with ebay and paypal asap.
posted by special-k at 5:26 PM on March 14, 2011


I went through the E-Bay arbitration process with someone who bought a laptop from me and claimed, upon receipt, that the audio wasn't working. I tried to take him through some basic troubleshooting on software, and he was non-responsive. E-Bay sided with him anyway, and told him to send the laptop back with package tracking and, once I got it, he would get his refund. Then, he just plain disappeared. After 10 days or so, E-Bay gave up and let me keep the money.

All this to say: calling someone's bluff is often a good strategy. YMMV.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:51 PM on March 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Agreeing with special-k above: all the "no returns!" signs in the world don't supercede fraud laws, which require sellers to refund purchases of defective goods.

OTOH, you should be prepared against buyer fraud - the switch of a previously-owned broken unit for your new one. Let the buyer know that he has to ship back the original unit, and after you check its serial number versus your records and verify its broken status, you will refund his money.

If the buyer is scamming you, the previous sentence will give pause. You don't have to prove you have the serial #. However, if there are any identifying marks - especially ones in the auction photos! - that can help you ascertain that the returned unit is yours.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:03 PM on March 14, 2011


"I'm terribly sorry to hear that you had a problem with my product. Please return it to me via , and I will return your purchase price plus return shipping upon verifying that the item is non functional and the serial number matches the item that I shipped"

You're on the hook here, especially if you value your seller rating.
If the buyer has a halfway decent rating (maybe 20 or so), they're probably not trying to screw you. If they've got a very low rating, you have to watch out.

But it's not all bad. You can turn right around and list the item as 'broken / for parts / AS IS', red ring and all and probably get half your money back. Here's an example. The more details you give in your description about what's wrong with the item, and the better it looks in your pictures, the more it'll go for.

posted by itheearl at 6:06 PM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


*via [return method with delivery confirmation].
posted by itheearl at 6:07 PM on March 14, 2011


There are a lot of idiots out there - and I think I have sold electronics on eBay to all of them. Unfortunately, everyone who is saying that you are on the hook is correct. The buyer is not entitled to return shipping, so at least he will have to pay to send it back.
posted by brownrd at 6:18 PM on March 14, 2011


>If he is someone with a history of completed transactions on eBay, I would suggest asking >him to photograph it with the "red light of death" on and send you the photo.

>If he balks, there might be something skeevy going on.


I'm not so sure about this. If you asked me to 'prove' that I do have a faulty item (beyond my text description), I am just going to assume you scammed me and file complaints with ebay and paypal asap.

Eh, I've had five people want to return things because of things not mentioned in the listing. 3/5 went away and never came back when I asked for a pic (I even mentioned that I would take a cell phone pic texted to my phone, whatever was easiest for them), 1/5 sent me a picture of an obviously different item than I'd sold them and 1/5 sent me a picture of an item that I'd genuinely made a mistake on, and I thanked them and fixed it.

I think asking for a pic is a fair way to, as l33tpolicywonk suggests, get them to put up or shut up. If you balked at a picture and filed a complaint with ebay, I'd be extra-suspicious of fraud and extra-careful when processing your "return"
posted by arnicae at 6:57 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


When this is resolved, could OP please post an update explaining what happened in the end?
posted by drezdn at 7:16 PM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


A picture isn't going to do you any good at all if you didn't record the SN of the one you sent. Pretty sweet way to replace your dead ps3---just find the same model on ebay and buy it and swear it's dead.

If you're confident it worked when you sent it, I would pretend like you have the SN even if you don't, and say basically what itheearl said above. "Upon receipt with maching SN's on the machine and hard drive, money will be returned" (the hd won't cause it to die, but he'll just think you're really diligent.)
posted by TomMelee at 7:17 PM on March 14, 2011


One of my pictures in the auction was actually of the unit's serial number. This was an important part of the auction because this particular PS3 was one that was backwards-compatible, and the serial number proved that.

I've already filed a damage claim with UPS and told them that the PS3 is at the recipient's address. Should I still ask him to return it or is that now going to mess up the claim process?

The buyer has a rating of >50.
posted by siclik at 7:17 PM on March 14, 2011


It is reasonable to ask the buyer to undertake basic troubleshooting (reset the device, check connections) but asking for more proof (before agreeing to a return) is unreasonable. Sellers on eBay and Amazon simply cannot make up their own rules about what hoops to jump through before accepting returns on defective items (Why stop with a picture. Why not ask for notarized statements from two witnesses?).

When you buy an item on eBay, you can do so with confidence. If you haven't received the item or it doesn't match the seller's description, your purchase price plus original shipping may be covered by the eBay resolution process. [source]

If you balked at a picture and filed a complaint with ebay, I'd be extra-suspicious of fraud

Unfortunately, by that point I couldn't care less how you feel. With 11+ years of solid feedback on ebay, I wouldn't think twice to file a fraud complaint against a seller with that attitude.
posted by special-k at 7:21 PM on March 14, 2011


FWIW, my experience with failing PS3s is that you get a "yellow light of death", not red. That said, a lot of the early 60 gig units are starting to fail, so you may have just been extremely unlucky to sell when you did.
posted by Oktober at 10:26 PM on March 14, 2011


Just wanted to follow up and say that the experience ending up going as good as can be expected, all things considered.

The buyer was very patient and cooperated throughout the transaction. He and I both reported the item as damaged to UPS. UPS then picked up the package at his house, inspected it, and immediately denied my claim for reimbursement for the sale price ($200). I logged onto their website, clicked the button that says "Dispute claim results" and magically, my claim was approved a day later. A couple weeks ago I received a check for the full amount of the sale price of the PS3 plus shipping.

eBay and Paypal refunded all fees and I provided a full refund to the buyer. After everything, I'm only out the amount of money that I paid UPS for the insurance (~$5, I think).

UPS returned the broken PS3 to my house for free, but then came only days later to pick it up again for salvage, as per the terms of the insurance settlement. (I was sad...I wanted to tinker with it)

You should have seen the box ... when I saw it on my doorstep, there were cords hanging out, I kid you not. I guess that's what happens when it goes cross-country twice. It's no wonder the darn thing didn't start up!
posted by siclik at 1:21 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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