Do I have to pay for something I bought through BidPay but never received?
September 1, 2005 10:42 PM   Subscribe

CollectionAgencyFilter: I bought an item on eBay in July and paid with my Visa debit card using BidPay. When it became clear that the seller was a scammer and wasn't going to deliver, I contacted my bank and they issued a chargeback on BidPay, and I got my money back. Today I received a somewhat threatening email from BidPay saying that I still owe them the full amount, and if I don't pay they're going to sic a collection agency on me. Do I have to pay it?

BidPay says:
Under the Terms & Conditions of BidPay, you are responsible for the amount of the auction payment and the charge for the BidPay service fee (see BidPay Terms & Conditions):
d. Notwithstanding anything in this Agreement, if, as part of the BidPay Services, you purchase a money order or instruct us to provide Direct to Bank Services, (i) in addition to the terms and conditions contained in this Agreement, you are also subject to all terms and conditions appearing on the face of such money order or imposed by the originating, intermediary and/or destination banks and you hereby agree to comply with and be bound by all such terms and conditions; (ii) in the event that such money order is fraudulently cashed or stolen or the money is fraudulently directed to the wrong bank, BidPay assumes no liability and you agree to assume all liability; and (iii) BidPay's obligations with respect to such Direct to Bank request or money order are complete upon BidPay’s (a) deposit with the designated financial institution, or (b) deposit of such money order in the mail or with a recognized courier service.

The email later says:
If we have not received remittance within 15 days, we will place your account with a collection agency.

Should I be worried? It says I assume all liability, but that only seems to refer to the money order being stolen, "fradulently cashed" or misdirected, nothing about the seller never delivering. I don't want to ruin my credit over $84 (though they do only have my debit information and none of my credit info). I figured that my bank would go after BidPay and BidPay would go after the scammer, not me. They deposited my money into his bank account, after all.

Should I just pay it and be done with it? Should I tell BidPay that the seller never delivered and I'm not paying? Do nothing? Or is there some advocate/attorney general/senator/better business bureau i can contact to help me out?

Thanks in advance for your help.

It was a Buy-It-Now auction and I think 20-30 people also got scammed. Many of them are going after the guy in NY small claims court (he's in Staten Island). I declined to participate because I thought I had already gotten my money back, and I'm in PA and wouldn't have been able to make it to court.
posted by reflexed to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Does BidPay have a process for reversing payments to sellers when transactions go wrong as PayPal does? And did you invoke that at any point in this process?
posted by jacquilynne at 11:02 PM on September 1, 2005

You should definitely let BidPay know that you retracted payment because the Seller did not fulfil their side of the contract (ie giving you the product that you purchased). They may not know that the Seller is a scammer and are just thinking that you are trying to get a product for free. Phone them and set things straight.
posted by LunaticFringe at 6:00 AM on September 2, 2005

I just looked at the auction page and have to say that I have been shopping on ebay for a number of years and would never buy from anyone with less than a 95% approval rating. This seller isn't even a registered user. I would still try to get BidPay to drop the collection process but I would also pay more attention to the seller's ratings and feedback if you decide to shopon ebay again. Even though ebay promises to assist in rectifying any problems, you still have to pick your sellers carefully. Caveat emptor. You may have to pay and just chalk this one up to a life lesson learned.
posted by LunaticFringe at 6:07 AM on September 2, 2005

Is it too late to take the seller to small claims court?

BidPay shouldn't call a collection agency if you send them copies of the charges against him. Even if they do, if you fax them to the collection agency they should suspend the claim pending the outcome of the trial (IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that's the law).

Depending on what NY law says, you may be allowed to have one of the other plaintiffs be your agent and argue in court for you. Since they're already in court and mad as hell at the guy, seems you wouldn't have a tough time convincing just ONE person to help you out to cause this scammer more pain. :-)
posted by shepd at 10:13 AM on September 2, 2005

Response by poster: BidPay doesn't seem to have their own policy for sellers who don't pay--they say go through the auction site; I'll get them on phone and see what they say. Thanks for the help so far.

LunaticFringe: At the time of the auction he actually had almost perfect feedback (I think he had 96 positive responses) from selling similar items. His score dropped and he unregistered after the auction went south. It's pretty annoying that this was the auction that did it, but such is life sometimes.
posted by reflexed at 11:16 AM on September 2, 2005

My uncle, who buys A LOT of stuff on ebay, only purchases from 98% and up positive feedback.

reflexed I know that doesn't help now but maybe it will help somebody else. I've also been screwed using ebay and paypal.
posted by 6550 at 11:57 AM on September 2, 2005

Bidpay is not like paypal. Paypal is part of the transaction, Bidpay is outside of it, that's why many sellers only accept bidpay - it is safer for them from fraudulent buyers, which unfortunately means that fraudulent sellers are safer from honest buyers.

I would think you may well be in the wrong - the agreement you make with bidpay when you use their service is that when you purchase the money [order] from them, they will send the money exactly where you tell them to, and their obligation ends there. In other words, what you do with that money - who you allow to cash it and why, is your private business and your own responsibility, and nothing to do with them. They do not oversee your transaction and/or assess risk. They are a courierboy.

From their point of view, you paid them the money and told them where to send it, they gave that money to the person you told them to, fulfilling their side of the contract, then, after the money was delivered and their obligations met, you chargebacked them.

I'd be interested to know whether they do go after both parties (like paypal does), not just you. But from my memory of the agreement, it would probably be easier to go after you - if the agreement you made to use their service is legally binding, then it's probably enforceable.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:09 PM on September 2, 2005

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