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How to Protect Yourself as a Seller on eBay - updated 11/2


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#1 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 10:11 AM

INTRODUCTION:

I sell some stuff on eBay once in a while, but I don't consider myself an "expert" seller, and I'm always concerned about running into problems due to the horror stories we all hear about. So I thought to myself, "I can't be the only one who has questions about selling, shipping, and the ever-changing eBay / PayPal "Policies", so why not utilize a resource that I know and trust?" And that resource, my friends, are my fellow CAGs! (and I do know... and trust... some of you... :D)

I'd like this thread to become (subject to changes/additions):
1. A resource list of what to do (and what to avoid doing) to protect yourself as a seller on eBay, as well as
2. A compilation of both good and bad experiences (especially Dispute Resolutions) in order to separate fact from fiction about eBay / PayPal policies.

This is awiki thread, so feel free to add your contributions and/or format changes directly to the OP (but I would suggest posting significant facts, experiences, and/or thoughts/rants to the end of the thread to create a permanent change-log of contributions).
In order to keep my thoughts organized, I've decided to maintain edits to the OP by myself for now (just until the information base becomes a little bit more expanded and contains some more "experienced" advice). But please post your significant facts, experiences, thoughts, rants, and questions at the end of the thread, so we can all learn together! Thanks!

A ??? in front of a suggestion/policy will indicate that the section is not complete yet.
statements in this color and in italics indicate a request for confirmation or more information.


Important Information to Keep In Mind:
  • Be prepared to get negative feedback.

  • If a buyer pays with a credit card (CC) (or even funds their PayPal payment with a CC), then the buyer can file a "chargeback" with their CC company at any time.

  • eBay and PayPal fees for each auction are pretty significant.

DOs and DON'Ts:
DO:

ALWAYS include Delivery Confirmation (DC) - Delivery Confirmation is a sequence of letters and/or numbers that allows a package to be uniquely identified, and is used to keep track of delivery attempts (time & location). Postal services are supposed to periodically "scan" packages that include DC in order to create a record of the item's location, but this is NOT guaranteed. Delivery Confirmation is NOT automatically included for some types of shipping methods (i.e., USPS First-Class Mail). Delivery Confirmation usually costs around $0.20 if you print out shipping labels online, but the price may vary if you go in-stores. Dishonest buyers can claim that they never received the package if you do not use DC.

use the blocked bidders list - The Blocked Bidders List prevents specified users from bidding on your items - better safe than sorry!

???use the "Exclude Shipping Locations" and "Buyer Requirements" options when creating a listing - When you create/revise an auction listing, you can determine specific locations that you will not ship to (i.e., international countries, US Protectorates, Hawaii, Alaska, APO/FPO/PO Boxes, etc.). I don't think these location exclusions actively prevent buyers from buying/bidding on your items; they may just make it impossible for buyers with shipping addresses in these exclusions zones from PAYING for the item. You can also set Buyer Requirements to weed out potential troublemakers (i.e., require PayPal account, # Unpaid Item strikes, primary shipping address, # Policy Violations, Feedback score, etc.). Again, I'm not 100% sure if this prevents bidding or just prevents payment.

???use Signature Confirmation (SC) when appropriate - required for payments over $250 USD as part of the criteria for PayPal Seller Protection. If you plan on using SC, have the cost already incorporated into a singleshipping & handling fee; adding on a separate Signature Confirmation fee after the sale has been made is actually a violation of eBay's policies. According to the PayPal CSR I spoke to over the phone, ANY signature will be acceptable (it does NOT have to be the intended recipient). If using USPS Signature Confirmation, sellers can request a copy of the Signature obtained during delivery/pickup (via email, fax, or First-Class Mail); however, such signatures are notorious for being practically illegible. How messy/non-intended recipient signatures hold up in actual Dispute Resolutions is currently unconfirmed. One danger of Signature Confirmation is when no one is home to sign for delivery AND the buyer refuses/is unable to go to the post office to pick up the package; after a certain amount of time (15 days? for USPS) the package will automatically be "returned to sender". Logically, you should probably only offer the buyer a partial refund due to the waste of time, effect, and original cost of shipping, but the outcome of actual Dispute Resolutions in this situation is currently unconfirmed.

???insurance - eBay sellers are "responsible" for items getting to the buyers in the intended condition. If you plan on insuring your package, have the cost (currently approximately $1.30 per $100 value) already incorporated into a singleshipping & handling fee; adding on a separate insurance fee after the sale has been made is actually a violation of eBay's policies. In my opinion USPS insurance is worthless because it requires the buyer to directly contact USPS and follow the proper required procedures (bringing package to post office, etc.); failing to do so will invalidate the insurance claim. It is not confirmed whether eBay requires buyers to comply with USPS insurance claims policies BEFORE resolving a dispute; sadly, it would not surprise me if eBay does not. Therefore, a dishonest buyer could claim a package was lost (if DC was not included) or damaged, get a refund from the seller (through eBay/PayPal if the buyer wins the appropriate dispute), and never contact USPS to start the insurance claims procedure (b/c the package was never lost or damaged in the first place), thereby screwing the seller out of the insurance claim. eBay's ShipCover insurance is slightly more seller-friendly because it only requires the buyer to have filed a "Package never arrived" or "Damaged during shipping" claim in the eBay Resolution Center before initiating the insurance claim on the seller's behalf. Actual experiences with ShipCover or USPS insurance claims would be highly appreciated! I would recommend using insurance only with expensive items or if you suspect the buyer will try to scam you somehow - I will probably end up listing all the different possible claims and detailing how to protect yourself in each scenario.

???take pictures when you package your items - I'm not sure if this actually helps in a Dispute Resolution, but it certainly can't hurt (if you don't count memory space) If you're worried that your buyer is thinking about scamming you, you can send a note during shipping saying "Your item was shipped today with [your choice of shipping service here]. It was carefully packaged using [some description]. Photographic documentation can be provided upon request. Thank you for your purchase!" What do you guys think? Too antagonistic?

DON'T:
sell on eBay or use PayPal - this would have inevitably come up, so I'm getting it out of the way right now. To be honest, there ARE a TON of ways for dishonest buyers to cheat honest sellers.

have a separate insurance fee or Signature Confirmation fee - adding on any type of fee separate from the existing shipping & handling fee is a violation of eBay Policies. Do not OFFER insurance or signature confirmation to buyers; decide whether or not you are going to get it BEFOREHAND and include it into your shipping & handling fee.

use USPS First-Class Mail International - USPS First-Class Mail International does NOT offer tracking or delivery confirmation. In fact, some types of USPS Priority Mail International (specifically, Flat Rate Envelopes and Small Boxes) do NOT offer DC either (regular USPS Priority Mail International is supposed to include DC). Only USPS Express Mail International guarantees both tracking and delivery confirmation, but it also costs at least $27. @International shippers: I would appreciate confirmation on whether USPS Priority / Express Mail International provide Delivery Confirmation).

???ship to an "alternate" address - I only accept PayPal, so I always ship to the address listed under the Transaction Details page in order to meet the criteria for PayPal Seller Protection. I'm not entirely positive if Seller Protection comes into play if the buyer uses an alternative form of payment (i.e., credit card).


eBay and PayPal Policies - Fact or Fiction:

eBay Policies: (alphabetical order)
Buyer Protection - eBay buyers are protected in situations where they do not receive their item OR the item received was not as described; "buyer's remorse" does NOT qualify for Buyer Protection. Here's is eBay's Seller's FAQ about eBay Buyer Protection.

Resolution Center - eBay buyers have 45 days after making payment to open a case on eBay. Sellers have 7 days to respond before eBay automatically sides with buyers.
  • ???Item Not Received (INR) Claim - can be opened immediately after the estimated delivery date OR 7 days after payment if an estimated delivery date was not provided. Sellers must provide Proof of Delivery (AND Signature Confirmation for transactions over $250 USD). It is possible to LOSE an INR claim if you DO NOT SHIP within your stated time frame (the "Handling Time" option when creating an auction listing).
  • ???Significantly Not As Described (SNAD) Claim - can be opened immediately upon delivery. I'm not sure how eBay requires "proof" that you didn't misrepresent your item, although I suppose taking pictures can't hurt. Any and all personal experiences with this situation would be greatly appreciated! Buyers can escalate this into a Counterfeit Item case; eBay does not require buyers to provide 3rd-party proof that the item is counterfeit, but there is no documentation on how sellers should prove authenticity.
PayPal Policies: (alphabetical order)
Hold Policy - PayPal holds your "payment" for 21 days or until you receive positive eBay feedback or until 3 days after delivery confirmation. If the payment is not automatically released after the conditions are met, contact PayPal directly and they will release the payment instantly.

Proof of Delivery - a tracking number with delivery notification; I"m pretty sure any of the standard Delivery/Signature Confirmation services are sufficient as long as the package isn't lost during shipping and/or the postal employee doesn't forget to scan the package when it is delivered. For Signature Confirmation, I am told (by a PayPal Claims representative over the phone) that ANY signature from a resident at the delivery address is sufficient (in other words, it doesn't have to be to your intended recipient).

Proof of Shipment - a receipt of a delivery service accepting the package; in reality, a tracking number if sufficient if your package is scanned at least once along the way (and I suppose you'd have to prove that the tracking number is for your package). If you're worried about your package getting lost or stolen BEFORE it gets scanned at least once, then you should go directly to the post office and get a physical receipt when they accept/scan your package.

Seller Protection - ship to the correct address in 7 days, use Signature Confirmation for payments over $250 USD, and keep Proof of Shipment and Proof of Delivery. This does not protect you from buyers filing "Significantly Not As Described" (SNAD) claims.

Edited by ragingst0rm6, 02 November 2011 - 08:47 AM.
unwikified the OP for now, added a section on taking photos


#2 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 10:12 AM

copy of the wiki in case of emergency rollbacks
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Edited by ragingst0rm6, 08 October 2011 - 10:06 PM.

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#3 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 10:12 AM

reserved #1 in case the space is needed for some reason

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#4 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 10:13 AM

reserved #2 in case the space is needed for some reason

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#5 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 10:16 AM

Got started with some of the do's and don'ts that I suggest.
also, policy questions!

EDIT: I've decided to remove the specifics in order to encourage reading of the wiki. Thanks!

Edited by ragingst0rm6, 10 October 2011 - 09:22 AM.


#6 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 09:48 PM

updates:

Seller protection - does NOT cover situations where buyers file a "Significantly Not As Described" claim.

Hold Policy - Payments should be released 3 days after delivery confirmation; if this does not happen automatically, feel free to call PayPal and speak to somewhere to get the payment released immediately.

Proof of Shipmen - Delivery Confirmation should take care of this for you, BUT iF your package gets lost/stolen BEFORE it gets scanned then you are out of luck.

???Significantly Not As Described (SNAD) Claim - how can seller protect themselves from this? Any personal experiences would be greatly appreciated!

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#7 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 08:13 AM

updates:

expanded Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, and Insurance sections.

added Do Not Have Separate Fees section.

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#8 62t

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 09:04 AM

"use USPS Delivery Confirmation to ship outside of the US - From what I hear, USPS Delivery Confirmation becomes useless because other national domestic mail services have no way of notifying USPS of actual deliveries. What about USPS "certified" mail? For international deliveries, what options are the best?"

Use USPS Express Mail and you will get tracking. If you Priority it will occasionally get tracking, but most of the time you don't get any confirmation

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#9 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 09:36 AM

Use USPS Express Mail and you will get tracking. If you Priority it will occasionally get tracking, but most of the time you don't get any confirmation


Thanks for posting! :D

Just to clarify: using USPS Express Mail International guarantees both tracking and delivery confirmation while USPS Priority Mail International sometimes does not receive delivery confirmation?

^ I did some checking on the USPS site and in small print they do acknowledge that USPS Priority Mail International Flat Rate (Envelopes and Small Boxes) do NOT guarantee tracking & delivery confirmation. Thanks a bunch! This is exactly the sort of small details that will make this wiki invaluable!

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#10 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 10 October 2011 - 10:25 AM

added a section on taking photographs when you package items. useful?

#11 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:08 AM

questions that need answering (first-hand experiences would be helpful!):

1. How does eBay/PayPal handle the situation if you ship via USPS with Signature Confirmation (and your listing repeatedly emphasizes that Signature Confirmation will be used), but the buyer is not home and refuses/is unable to pick up it from the Post Office? I believe after 15 days USPS will return to sender, and then the buyer can file an Item Not Received (INR) claim. But obviously the seller can't force the buyer to make the pick-up, so logically it shouldn't be the seller's fault and the seller shouldn't have to give a full refund - especially shipping costs. Would the "Attempted Delivery" status on the tracking info be enough to protect yourself under Seller Protection?

2. If you ship to an address authorized by PayPal (meeting the criteria for Seller Protection) via USPS, but the recipient has an automatic mail-forward for some reason (legitimate or otherwise), how does this re-directed delivery (which you obviously have no control over) impact your criteria for Seller Protection?

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#12 aem

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 03:01 AM

1. Definitely not. If you do not have proof that the item was delivered to the buyer they will win a claim and get their money back. It does not matter what the reason is.

#13 Indigo_Streetlight

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 03:33 AM

1. Definitely not. If you do not have proof that the item was delivered to the buyer they will win a claim and get their money back. It does not matter what the reason is.


In the case of package bounce-back there should be a stamp on the package that shows "package refused" or address undeliverable or something similar. I'd say take pictures of the package: the post-marked area, the rejection stamp, and the ship-to address.

Though ebay tends to side with buyers in a "your word against theirs" scenario, providing visual evidence can go a long way to shooting bs claims down.
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#14 Rig

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 03:59 PM

Just made a thread...and then saw this one. Any help/advice here?

#15 aem

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 04:19 PM

In the case of package bounce-back there should be a stamp on the package that shows "package refused" or address undeliverable or something similar. I'd say take pictures of the package: the post-marked area, the rejection stamp, and the ship-to address.

Though ebay tends to side with buyers in a "your word against theirs" scenario, providing visual evidence can go a long way to shooting bs claims down.



The point is that if the buyer does not have the item, eBay will always give the money back. If will not matter if they refused the package. They will not allow you to keep both the item you sold and the payment.

#16 2supekards

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 04:32 PM

I'm not sure what the big deal is. I've sold tons of stuff on eBay and never lost money. Sometimes there are buyers who cheat the system, but they get refunds through eBay, so that doesn't concern me. I don't appreciate the ability to leave bad feedback without contacting the seller first, but I think that's the worst policy.

I've never had funds held from me, and I'm pretty sure most buyers go through eBay and not paypal. Tracking is a must, but really even without it there doesn't tend to be a problem.

Selling on eBay isn't worth it anyway, which is why I quit. The fees are very high, customers are dumb (especially the few who leave bad feedback, or ask for an address change) and customer/seller support is basically non-existent.

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#17 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:16 PM

Just made a thread...and then saw this one. Any help/advice here?


Replied.


I want to thank everyone for reading and contributing to this thread! We all know that eBay/PayPal policies are biased against sellers, but hopefully we can reduce the likelihood of getting scammed/screwed by bringing information to light.

I'll be updating the OP later today when I have the time, but here is a final, rather depressing thought:

If the buyer used a credit card to pay (or used a credit card to fund a PayPal payment), then the buyer can file an "unauthorized charge" with their credit card company, bypassing any eBay/PayPal dispute decisions and leaving you with no money AND a chargeback fee from PayPal.

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#18 Indigo_Streetlight

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:40 PM

The point is that if the buyer does not have the item, eBay will always give the money back. If will not matter if they refused the package. They will not allow you to keep both the item you sold and the payment.


I'm not sure if it works that way, you might be able to do a restocking fee and a partial refund before it gets into claim territory. Besides if you do get into claim territory you have evidence right on the package that the buyer refused it and wasted your time and money on what was essentially sent in good faith.

It might be handy to check up on ebay's rules on non-deliverable addresses, as essentially what you have is an address that cannot be delivered to. I'd argue the legalease of things to the hilt in a claim situation, I would say right off the bat "Did the buyer check with their local post office, yes or no?" If not, why not?

Basically there's all kind of things you can do before a claim really kicks in; as long as you're attempting to resolve things with the buyer there's no reason for ebay to step in and make a judgement call, and while you're doing this you can build up a case.
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#19 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 07:28 AM

1. incorporated the info about Signature Confirmation
2. extended the eBay Buyer Protection and Resolution Center sections
3. I suspect that the "Exclude shipping locations" and "buyer requirements" do not actively prevent bidding/buying, and only comes into play during the payment process. would appreciate confirmation.

To Do: expand PayPal sections, including PayPal Buyer Protection and Seller Protection.

Also, a question I'd like to ask my fellow CAGs:
USPS is the only postal service able to "legally" deliver to PO Boxes (by which I mean, actually open up the Box and deliver items inside). I'm assuming that Delivery Confirmation in this case will work as usual with the mailman scanning the package as "delivered" when it's placed in the PO Box. I'm also guessing that Signature Confirmation would work the same, just with the pick-up slip placed inside the PO Box (and the pick-up location conveniently at the same place).
How does UPS/FedEx handle deliveries to PO Boxes, and is it eBay-safe for sellers? Some people [on the internets] say that
  • UPS/FedEx transfer the actual delivery over to USPS; if this is true, then how would Delivery Confirmation work/be updated?
  • UPS/FedEx get some sort of "authority figure" for the PO Box location (not necessarily the intended recipient) to "sign" for the package; again, how would DC work in this scenario?
  • UPS/FedEx will call the intended recipient's contact number (if provided) to arrange for final delivery (and that there may be a "change of address" fee).
Are any of the above correct?

(and I only use USPS ;))

Edited by ragingst0rm6, 18 October 2011 - 08:48 AM.
added a question

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#20 ragingst0rm6

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 07:51 AM

Some words of wisdom that sellers on eBay should take to heart:

Be prepared to get negative feedback.

You can take every single possible step to be the best possible seller in the world, but nothing you do can change the fact that [some] people are stupid. They will blame you for not reading the description in the auction. They will blame you for using the slow shipping method that they pay for. They will even blame you for shipping to their "old" PayPal/eBay address when they forget to "update" it.

And there really is nothing you can do about it. eBay will refuse to remove the negative feedback they leave for you. Your 80 characters to "respond" to their feedback is a big joke. Just accept the fact that [some] people are stupid, you will receive negative feedback, and move on to the next auction. It's an ugly truth, but one you'll just have to accept if you choose to sell on eBay.

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#21 dualedge2

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 08:04 AM

Way too much protection for buyers and not enough for the sellers these days. It's the reason I rarely sell anything on there.
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#22 GBAstar

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 08:41 AM

I'm surprised this hasn't come up:

use www.toolhaus.org to get the feedback history of a potential buyer. It also shows negatives received and negatives left. This should allow you to find out if a buyer is a PITA and has a history of leaving bad feedback


www.track-trace.com This website will connect you into the postal service of countries outside of the U.S. This is helpful because it will give you more accurate updates then what the USPS website shows. I have had the USPS website show "item in customs" for weeks on both Priority and Express International packages but when I use track-trace.com and check the customs house of that particular country it will show as "delivered".

This may not be helpful when dealing with eBay but sometimes a buyer will think twice about opening a case when they know that you know the item has been delivered.

www.shipsurance.com A cheap 3rd party insurance carrier. Starting out you can insure international packages for $1.10 per $100 worth of coverage. They cover against loss or damage so you can get some of your confidence back and ship First Class International (FCI) and not have to worry about your item not arriving. If a buyer claims an item hasn't arrive he just needs to fill out a "Claim affidavait" and e-mal it back to you. That is all the insurance company requires (you also need to show proof that you mailed the item and an invoice showing what the buyer paid for the item).

#23 XIGRIMxREAPERIX

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 06:23 AM

Heres some stories as a Seller. I got into ebay at around 13 and have been using ever sence. These 3 stories I will share all come from me "using" my moms account.

I sold a hydroponic growing system on Ebay. I had to use a fairly large box to put it all in.
I recieved negative feedback saying everything was broken. however I never recieved a notice for the guy to refund his money. I had a 7 day return policy and still nothing. So after 7 days i contacted ebay to have them remove the negative feedback. They told me they couldnt do anything about it. I was pissed as hell because I know I packaged those items right. So i pretty much just kept bugging ebay to take a look into it. After about a month i notice my feedback went back to 100% turns out someone did look into it. They guy was going around leaving bad feedback and trying to get refunds for expensive stuff. I learned several lessons that day.
1. take pic of stuff before u send it out.
2. pay the couple $'s for insurance
3. If you know your in the right keep bugging ebay.

Second Story... When the 360 came out I sold my gamecube and all its games. I sold it for what i thought was way more than it and the games were worth(~300). After selling it I did the usual steps to send the info to the buyer. I got an email after 3 days saying they will pay me next pay check... I knew at that point i was going to struggle to get my $ for my item. So i hurried up and offered it to the second highest bidder who declined. A week after the item sold I sent another invoice. I wanted to relist the item however my mom told me to wait for another week and see what happens. Being my mothers account i said ok. After a week i got an email stating, "Im soooo sorry my mom recieved a brain tumor and she cant pay your right now. However when she gets dismissed you'll receive your money..." I sent a reply "Im sorry to hear your mom has a brain tumor however she is still under contract to pay me and I need my $...'" at this time i already have contacted ebay and going threw the no payment stuff. Within 12hrs i received my money.
I learned people will say anything to get out of payment?
No real big buyer stories other than I ordered the one legit item from a GBA counterfeit seller. recieved my item and the $ back b/c ebay closed his account.
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