How to deal with fraudulent buyers on eBay
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Not knowing how to properly handle returns is one of the fastest ways to fall below standard / get restricted on eBay.
With that in mind, you've been selling on eBay for a few months now, maybe have even been an eBay seller for years, and a buyer requests a return. You approve the return and the buyer sends back an empty box or an item different from the item that you originally sent. What do you do now?
eBay Return Policy
According to eBay's return policy, the seller has 48 business hours to refund the customer after receiving the item. If tracking is uploaded in eBay, the date delivered is what eBay tracks. If the seller has not refunded the customer within 48 business hours after receiving the return, the customer can reach out to eBay to step in. Unfortunately, if left up to eBay, the decision will be very back and white. If tracking shows delivered, the case will typically be closed in favor of the buyer. If no tracking is provided by the buyer or it shows it was never shipped, it will be closed in favor of the seller.
You just opened the delivered return that you received from your customer and the box is empty! Do you open a case against the buyer and withhold the refund? Do you do anything at all? Do you refund the customer anyways?
Like you are probably thinking, my initial thought was, “I am definitely not going to refund someone who sent me back an empty box!” So, I didn’t, I opened a case against the buyer letting eBay know what had happened. The next day, I got a message saying the customer had opened a case and a message shortly after saying that eBay had closed the case in favor of the buyer, debiting my PayPal account.
Immediately after receiving the update, I reached out to eBay to resolve the issue. On the call, support was extremely friendly and gave me the impression that they would take care of the issue. They opened a 10-day case for me, giving me time to file a police report. I was instructed to get as much detail as possible from the police and upload it to my case. I followed the instructions and days later was notified that the case would stand in favor of the buyer.
How To Protect Yourself
The system is definitely not perfect, so it is important that you know how to protect yourself the best you can within the eBay policy. Unfortunately, ALL returns need to be refunded within 48 hours. How do you make the most of the eBay return policy?
Offer Free Returns - By offering Free Returns, the seller has the ability to issue a 50% refund if the item is not returned in the same condition it was sent, this includes empty boxes, boxes of rocks, and broken items. Obviously 50% is not ideal, but it is a way to guarantee that you will at least be able to recoup 50% of your loss.PayPal Claims - From my experience, PayPal is more willing to work with sellers in regard to fraudulent returns. PayPal is one of the best chances that you have in recouping your loss. If you choose to do Free Returns, you can open a case and try to recoup the other 50% from PayPal.
Considering eBay is one of the most trafficked marketplaces in the world, it is definitely a site that you will want to have a presence on. As painful as it is to refund fraudulent buyers, it is a sacrifice you have to make in order to abide by eBay policies. Offer all refunds within 48 hours, refund 50% if the item returned is different from the item sent to the customer. When 50% refunds are issued, open a case with PayPal to recoup the other 50%.