Ebay filter: How to get my refund before declaring my case resolved?
February 2, 2014 7:02 PM   Subscribe

I bought an item on ebay, and didn't receive it. Tracking shows it was returned to sender about 10 days after shipment, from a post office in my state, but about 100 miles away. I followed the ebay instructions for what to do when a purchase was not received, contacting the seller by opening a case. Seller agreed to just give me a refund rather than re shipping. Now they say I need to declare the case resolved before they're able to issue the refund. This can't be right, can it?

Everything's been courteous, and I don't think it's a scam or anything (purchase is less than ten bucks, so I'm not super stressed about it, either). I think it's just some complication with the ebay / Paypal process, combined with a seller and buyer who have no experience with refunds.

Can someone walk me through how the seller can issue the refund before I close the case, so I can pass that information along instead of just refusing?

Or, if the seller is right and I'm supposed to close the case first, can you explain how that's not backwards?
posted by Kriesa to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's how to issue a refund through PayPal. There's definitely no need to declare the case resolved before the seller issues a refund.

If you happened to have used a credit card to fund the purchase (as you always should), then you have a second avenue here in case the above method doesn't work - you can issue a chargeback on your credit card.
posted by saeculorum at 7:23 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have sold many things on eBay. I have issued refunds for various reasons. I do it through PayPal. You don't need to do anything fancy - you just use the initial transaction, and you can issue total or partial refunds easily. (I've chosen to give partial discounts once or twice when I shipped really late due to life circumstances.) This seller is being dodgy in some way - possibly they are worried that you will not close the case, possibly they don't understand how to give a refund, but there is no reason for them to insist that you close the case before refunding, and if I were you I would not do it.
posted by Frowner at 7:53 PM on February 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I opened a case on Ebay because I never received an item from a seller. They then contacted me, apologized, and asked me to close my case so they could send me the item. This seemed fishy to me. I did not do that. However, I was told by Paypal that the funds are frozen on the sellers end (even though the debit had been subtracted from my account) once I opened the case. If it's resolved I believe it unfreezes their funds. But the Paypal Rep advised me that the seller could use his/her own money to ship my item and get the funds from the account later after I *did* close the case. So I told the seller this, and they agreed. I didn't close the case until I received the item because Ebay states you can't re-open a closed case.
posted by bluespark25 at 8:23 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

eBay actually tells you not to close a case until you've received the refund or whatever resolution - don't do this. Simply respond back [within the dispute resolution, not through outside channels] "eBay will automatically close the case when you issue the refund."

If they don't do this, it will get escalated and then ebay minions will review and take care of you.
posted by arnicae at 8:32 PM on February 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

First, eBay definitely instructs you not to close the case before your refund arrives, and you should wait until the refund is out of "pending" status before you do so. Second, I think for other reasons that this is a scam, one which I (may have) fallen for in the past year. The only difference is that my item cost ~$80. Here's what happened to me:

A seller mailed something (in retrospect, probably not my purchase) to what I assume was a nonexistent address in my ZIP code, and the USPS shipped it back to him. There was even a tracking number, so I was able to open a non-received item case as soon as the package's status turned over into "no such number/address" or something like that.

Since I've had trouble with my local post office I assumed the address was sloppy, or, at worst, the seller had transposed a digit. After I contacted him he quickly offered to give me a refund or re-ship once the item made it back to him, and I opted to have him re-send it.

What I didn't count on (and maybe he did?) was that returning an item to the sender can take a long time. Many people report several weeks to a month, which is the maximum length of time your eBay case will stay open. After 30 days, if you don't act, it automatically resolves and you can no longer use eBay to force the seller to issue a refund.

Almost all of the 30 day window before my case auto-resolved had passed when the package made it back to him--I could even monitor this with the item's tracking number. Once it arrived, it was clear that there was no way he could ship it back to me before the case closed (short of perhaps overnighting it, at great expense--it was bulky and heavy, or would have been if it had existed at all).

I've had fairly good luck with eBay so far, and everything about the transaction seemed non-scammy up to this point: the seller was easy to communicate with and the auction looked legit, with real photos that weren't lifted from another listing, decent feedback, etc. So I decided to risk letting the case drop rather than forcing him to refund my money or spring for extra-expensive shipping. He offered a weak sauce excuse for why he didn't have a new tracking number in time for the case closure deadline--his wife had misplaced the package somewhere in the garage, he hadn't had a chance to find it and get it back to the post office, or something. After that, I never heard from him again.

So, I know this is slightly different from what's happening to you, but I strongly suspect it's a similar scam: ship a package with an intentionally cocked up address, and hope that the return will run out the clock on your eBay case. Since your package actually made it back in time, they're taking a different tack. I imagine my scammer/seller would have tried the same thing if I'd opted for the refund.
posted by pullayup at 9:06 PM on February 2, 2014 [9 favorites]

This isn't kosher - definitely escalate.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:34 AM on February 3, 2014

Believe it or not (it certainly was a shock to me) eBay has really excellent customer service by phone. I had an issue with a buyer recently and I used their Call Me Now feature. I think I got there by going through the FAQ and saying that I couldn't find the answer to my question. Call Me Now then popped up as an option.

After selecting Call Me Now, I got a phone call from a real person within 60 seconds. Best part of all, that person was not reading from a script and gave me actual real-person advice.

If I were you, that's what I'd do. Not only will you get the best advice from eBay itself, you might put the seller's shenanigans on their radar.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:04 AM on February 3, 2014

eBay's policies are pretty well stacked in favor of the buyer, so rest assured that as a buyer you're protected.

Head over to Resolution Center within eBay to take a look at your cases. Just make sure that you take any action required by eBay. If the seller isn't being responsive to your case, you can escalate it to eBay after a certain period of days and let eBay decide. I can guarantee you that if the tracking number shows delivery in the seller's zip code, not yours, and the seller has not already refunded you, eBay will process the refund for you.
posted by reeddavid at 1:09 PM on February 3, 2014

Thanks so much, everyone. I did call customer service, and they confirmed that I shouldn't close the case before being refunded. They also said that sometimes there's a technical issue where the refund can't be issued through ebay, but can be through Paypal, and that I should tell the seller to call them for a walkthrough if need be. I passed that along to the seller, and my refund is now pending. I was pretty impressed by ebay's service.
posted by Kriesa at 5:22 PM on February 3, 2014

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