eBay buyer wants to return item - should I?
June 10, 2011 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Can a (ebay) buyer return a laptop to me that they claim is faulty, and they may have carried out an attempted repair themselves?

Here's the story...

I sold my iBook G4 on ebay a week ago. The buyer received it, and claimed that the HDD was dead. I had tested it before posting and it was fine.

First they asked for a refund as they didn't want to buy and fit a new HDD.

I asked them to attempt reinstalling the OS.

They replied saying it didnt work - but they were appy to keep the laptop and attempt a repair/fit a new HDD.

Then I get another email a day later saying they had changed their mind again, and now want a full refund.

As they stated they were going to attempt a repair am I within my rights to refuse a refund as they may have opened it up and messed things up?
posted by anonaccount to Shopping (10 answers total)
You shouldn't have told them to reinstall the OS.
posted by fire&wings at 10:39 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

eBay and paypal's dispute resolution is HEAVILY biased towards buyers and you're going to wind up eating this if you go through that process. Take the laptop back or offer a partial refund. Just my experience from having gone through this a few times from both sides.
posted by pjaust at 10:40 AM on June 10, 2011

Just take it back.
posted by zippy at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2011

Take the laptop back and refund them, this seems scammy to me and you don't want to end up giving them a partial refund and letting them keep the laptop, or some other scenario where they get something for nothing.

I hope you have the serial number and other identifying info though, it's a common scam for someone to buy a piece of electronics when they own a broken version, claim the one they received is broken, and ship back their own broken item for a refund, keeping a working item.

And yes, ebay and paypal only help sellers under very limited circumstances.
posted by crabintheocean at 10:46 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and obviously if you make a sale like this again have an explicit policy of no refunds if the case has been opened up, and don't tell buyers to do anything to the machine. If they don't like it they can ship it back quickly and in its entirety.
posted by crabintheocean at 10:48 AM on June 10, 2011

am I within my rights to refuse a refund as they may have opened it up

No, you are not within your rights to refuse a refund on the basis of something you speculate the buyer might have done. Furthermore, as noted above, you don't have the power to withhold a refund if the buyer insists. PayPal has that power, and in any he-said-she-said situation, PayPal's policies will err in favor of the buyer.

Communicate with the buyer only through eBay's built-in message system, so that eBay has an indisputable record of what you've agreed to. Tell the buyer to ship the machine back to you, repacked as you sent it to them. Require that they send a tracking / delivery confirmation number. Tell them that when you get it back, you will issue a full refund and also pay their return shipping expenses.

In the future, indicate in your auction listing that you will not ship overseas or accept bids from recently signed-up ebay members, members with little or no feedback or with feedback ratings worse than X% positive. Include serial numbers in the item description to establish a more certain and public record of the exact unit you are selling. If a buyer is unhappy with an item you've sold them, offer a discount to accept the item as-is, or have them return it for a full refund; Do not suggest they attempt repair before they have accepted ownership.
posted by jon1270 at 11:28 AM on June 10, 2011

You used a shipping method with insurance right? eBay will assume that the buyer didn't do anything wrong and since you claim you didn't, really, that only leaves damaged in transit.

Next time, if it's damaged, just refund their purchase and have them ship it back (insured! like you did for them! with a tracking number (not delivery confirmation)! like the site says if you want to be covered by their protection policies!) to you.
posted by Brian Puccio at 12:00 PM on June 10, 2011

Look in my previous questions. This is a common scam.
posted by k8t at 7:13 PM on June 10, 2011

You should take it back. I've been through this myself. I refused the refund as the laptop was fine when I shipped it. The buyer opened a dispute with PayPal. I provided documentation to paypal that clearly showed the laptop was tested and working PLUS the fact that the auction was advertised as "no refunds". I still lost and the money was yanked from my PayPal account. It sucks, but that appears to be the way eBay and PayPal roll.
posted by rglasmann at 6:45 AM on June 11, 2011

rglasmann: " ... I still lost and the money was yanked from my PayPal account. ..."

I immediately take every dime out of that paypal acct upon receiving payment, leaving them nothing to yank but their dick. And yeah, I know that they can then cancel my account and send lots of big frowny, threatening emails or whatever, but if I'm going to get hosed by them supporting the buyer rather than being impartial about it, I'd rather just bail, esp if it's a significant amount of money. I've got a perfect score with them, I've worked hard to get it and to keep it, I've done nothing wrong and don't see why I should take a beating if some schmoe wants to run a game.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:36 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

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