What can I do to make it clear to this Etsy and Ebay user that ripping people off has consequences?
June 9, 2011 6:09 AM   Subscribe

What can I do to make it clear to this Etsy and Ebay user that ripping people off has consequences?

I have been purchasing on-line and via Etsy for a long time. I've had a great set of experiences until very recently.

I purchased a $40 item via Etsy as a present a month in advance. I paid via Paypal (which drew from my bank account) and everything was great...until I didn't hear from the user for two weeks about the item being shipped or not. I tried contacting them several times without response.

I then filed a claim through Paypal. The user, of course, showed up saying they were on vacation. The gift was going to be late at this point, so I said I didn't want it and asked for a refund. They said they already sent it, and out of good faith, I cancelled my claim so they could get paid. They promised me a vague refund for my troubles before I cancelled the claim.

It's been a month since then. I have tried to get a tracking number, or any response from the user, and they are not responding at all to me. I've filled a non-dispute claim through Etsy, and approached Paypal about re-filing a claim, but both organizations seem to want to point to the other for help and nobody's actually doing anything. I can't file for a chargeback because Paypal took money from my bank account.

They're a fairly prominent Ebay and Etsy user and are still active, as I have seen them post auctions since. I seem to, for whatever reason, been singled out as someone they're not going to provide a product to. I know that happens, but I want to ensure that this doesn't happen to other people.

I've left feedback on their Etsy "wall" instructing other buyers to be weary.

So, I want to take a route to ensure this user provides a service when they're paid to do so. They're located in Germany, I have the handle they use everywhere and their name, address and phone number. I've tried the phone number and asked for the person by name (in broken German), and a male called for her and she came to the phone (and I could hear kitchen noise in the background), so I think the information is legit.

Is there a business registration service in Germany where I can find out if they're a registered business? Is there a better business bureau, or comparable? Furthermore, is there another avenue I haven't thought of if it's a self-proprietorship (for example, a government department that deals with Ebay related tax payments)?

I'm not looking to enact revenge, but rather I want to make sure this user understands that being a world away doesn't make you impervious to action. My first route will be to explain to them the organizations I am going to contact about this, and to give them a chance to make it right. I do want that information to be right though, which is why I'm reaching out to Mefi.

Mefites, do you have any advice?
posted by dflemingecon to Shopping (10 answers total)
They are pretty much impervious. Any action you take beyond feedback will just be bad for you. Ebay and paypal won't do anything.

You have to let it go and chalk it up to experience unfortunately.

I stopped using ebay that much due to being ripped off with something, which I managed to repair but it's par for the course and a lot of people are still using these things just because it hasn't happened to them yet.
posted by Not Supplied at 6:19 AM on June 9, 2011

....I think this is a lot of effort to be going through for a $40 loss. I could see tracking down the German BBB if you were out a couple hundred bucks, but....$40?

You've left feedback via Etsy. If you know that they have an ebay account, and there's a way to leave feedback there, do that. I hear you on the "principle" thing, and I was in a similar situation involving an ex, but someone advised me to just let it go beyond what I'd done so far, because there are some people who just won't get it, and $40 is a small loss, and you've got the moral high ground totally locked up.

Otherwise...you start to look like that paper boy from the movie Better Off Dead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 AM on June 9, 2011

There are some general tips on how to handle this on Lifehacker. I didn't know about Scam.com, for example.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:25 AM on June 9, 2011

Just to be clear, I'm not looking to obsess over this; if there are readily available resources I can contact via email, great, if not, it's not a huge deal. I am keeping my actions to the bare minimum of crazy.

I'm just hoping that there are a couple of really easy avenues that German Mefites might know about that show I have a lay of the land there.
posted by dflemingecon at 6:27 AM on June 9, 2011

Otherwise...you start to look like that paper boy from the movie Better Off Dead.

Love that movie.

Anyways, I'm surprised PayPal won't help you out, they took your money. Maybe see if you can contact your bank or CC, if Paypal pulled the money from there, to see if you can get them to revert that transaction.

I personally don't use ebay or PayPal because of this. I've heard enough horror stories.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:40 AM on June 9, 2011

Call paypal, and tell them you cancelled it by accident.

Why did you cancel the claim without getting the goods? I'm guessing because you are new to this. But don't do that in the future.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:08 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Send an email to the etsy callout blog (which calls out both resellers and scammers.) you won't get results but they will be named as a bad seller which may satisfy for need for revenge/vengeance.
posted by vespabelle at 8:15 AM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

File a claim through etsy, the shipper has to respond or their shop will be suspended.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

AFAIK, there's no such thing as a Better Business Bureau in Germany (and if there were, it would probably not care about Etsy sellers...).
What you would do in Germany would basically be
a) get a lawyer to write a letter to the woman to scare her into reacting to you. Obviously not worth it for 40 $...
b) go to the police - again, obviously not worth it for 40$, nothing would come of it even if you were in Germany and even if this were not an internet thing.

So, you're on your own. I would probably write her a letter (to her postal address), ideally using the proper legal terms for what she's doing ("Betrug", I guess), and say you're going to involve the authorities ("Anzeige bei der zuständigen Staatsanwaltschaft"). I'd also state a definitive date until which she'd have to transfer the money to you ("Fristsetzung"). This scares some people enough to make them pay. Most likely, nothing will come of it, but maybe it would make you feel better...
posted by The Toad at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2011

What did you buy? Snail mail from Germany to North America? Can easily take three weeks even with airmail.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:47 PM on June 9, 2011

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