No Seller Protection on eBay From Buyer Scams - Should I Bail Out? Use Escrow?
June 15, 2004 11:45 AM   Subscribe

eBay hell. I haven't sold many items through eBay, so I was startled to wade through all the associated fine print to discover - after I had concluded a sale, received a payment via Paypal, and was ready to ship my item - that as a seller I get absolutely ZERO protection from buyer scams if I ship my item from the US to Canada. [ further, buyer supplied phone # tracks to address different from shipping address provided which is, as well, "unconfirmed" ] So, I'm considering 1) calling off the sale, refunding the $ and taking an eBay rep. hit or 2) eBay's escrow service. Any opinions?
posted by troutfishing to Work & Money (9 answers total)
How expensive an item is it? Also, what's the feedback like for your buyer?
posted by dobbs at 11:50 AM on June 15, 2004

Response by poster: US $300, buyer has 4 prior feedbacks over about 1 year - all positive. Further, I can't verify that the buyer lives at the provided address. The buyer-provided phone # tracks to someone else in town with a different name from the buyer - who is either a young female city bureaucrat or a 30ish male into the gay leather scene (but in a generally nice way, as far as I can tell).
posted by troutfishing at 12:00 PM on June 15, 2004

I'm confused. You've got the dough and a buyer-provided address to send it to. If you use a shipper which tracks the shipment and send it signature-required, what's your vulnerability?

You're paid, you have verifiable proof of delivery -- what scam could be run against you?
posted by majick at 12:05 PM on June 15, 2004

Just verify the delivery if you're worried. You might want to email the person and ask for their correct phone number, but you might be a tad bit paranoid here.

In the future, you could try escrow, but it's probably too late here. Odds are though that this transaction will turn out fine, save receipts though and have proof that you shipped the item.
posted by drezdn at 12:14 PM on June 15, 2004

As a Canadian, it frustrates me endlessly when sellers back-out on auctions I've won because I don't live in the US. If he/she paid you, ship him/her his item.
posted by Jairus at 12:51 PM on June 15, 2004

As another Canadian, I've been on the receiving end of this too.

Don't cancel the sale unless you've run out of every other option. Chances are there's the right person on the other end who wants this to work as much as you do, and for a US$300 value, will probably be willing to verify their identity in some way. Nail down the right phone number, call him/her, arrange to have him/her send you some sort of verification—a scan of a telephone bill (with both my number and address on it) worked for me when I was in a similar situation as buyer.

Most importantly, keep the communication channels open. Drop him/her an email explaining your worries and apologize for the delay while you look into secure options. Nothing's more frustrating than an incommunicado seller. If your buyer is legit, he/she will most likely be understanding. (Of course, if he/she puts up a big fuss about the delay, that could set off warning bells, and prompt you to work with a little more caution.)
posted by DrJohnEvans at 1:12 PM on June 15, 2004

If they give you the money first, you're safe. Get them to pay by PayPal and move the money into your bank account as soon as you receive it.

However, buyers of big ticket items should beware. There are a lot of scams going around:

- Hijacked accounts (it looks like a genuine seller with good feedback but they've stolen someone else's eBay ID)

- Western Union frauds (you win a genuine looking auction and then the seller tells you to send payment via a totally unsecure wire transfer. The item never existed.

If in any doubt, ask to pay by escrow - and choose one of the escrow sites listed on eBay itself.

If they're genuine they'll go by escrow.
posted by skylar at 1:21 PM on June 15, 2004

An unconfirmed address isn't necessarily the eBayer's fault. I would love to confirm mine, but PayPal just "can't" do it. I have my credit card listed with them and everything, but for some unexplained reason, they simply cannot confirm some Canadian addresses (my boyfriend, who uses the same credit card company and lives at the same address as me, WAS successfully confirmed.

Not that I'm bitter about it or anything.
posted by parrots at 2:02 PM on June 15, 2004

Yeah, I have no idea why some are confirmed up here and some aren't, the fault lies with PayPal and eBay in this regard.

Just get a signature, that way they can't claim lack of receipt.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:49 PM on June 15, 2004

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