Islander Angela Kingston is locked in a six-month dispute with eBay after a buyer accused her of running a scam.
In July, the 52-year-old council worker from Kirkwall, Orkney, sold a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet via the online marketplace for £600.
“At first the sale went fine but then the buyer claimed the goods were not as advertised,” said Angela.
“They said the serial number didn’t match the number on the box and claimed I was a thief running a scam. I had made an error by advertising it as new and I later discovered from Microsoft that it was actually a refurbished model.”
In light of this mistake, Angela contacted the buyer and agreed to take the device back.
She also offered to pay the return postage.
However, when the tablet was returned a month later, Angela said it was damaged, suggesting it had clearly been used by the buyer.
“The screen has a big crack running diagonally across it, there was no pen in the box, and the device is locked under ‘eye recognition’ to someone else,” she said, “so I can’t even use it or resell it.”
Angela complained to eBay and, while doing so, noticed that £579 from the sale was still sitting in her PayPal account.
“As a precaution I moved it out of there until all this was sorted out,” she said.
Angela was then told the buyer had lodged a claim with eBay.
The company found in the buyer’s favour and had already refunded them for the item.
“I was stunned when eBay then started asking me for £670, which included an extra £70 on top for their sales commission and postage,” she said.
Angela is refusing to return any cash until she feels she is compensated for the damage to the tablet and the inconvenience.
As a result, she now has ebay’s debt collection agency, Transcom Worldwide, phoning her house. “It will cost at least £200 to have the screen replaced and the device unlocked. This is the very least that should be deducted from the bill by eBay, on top of the seller’s fees being waived,” she said.
Angela wrote to Raw Deal for advice and, as a result, eBay investigated.
The company subsequently agreed to remove the £70 fee as a gesture of goodwill if Angela settled the remaining amount.
The firm pointed out that, under its rules, buyers had a right to return items in line with the eBay Money Back Guarantee.
A claim had been successfully lodged within 30 days of the estimated delivery date, with the buyer citing the condition of the item in line with what was advertised.
Last night, eBay said: “Taking all this into account, the seller’s appeal was denied. This is clearly not the result they’d like but we are happy the correct decision has been made in line with our policies.”
The company said there were other avenues Angela could explore, including launching a small claims court action against the buyer.
Angela maintains she feels hard done by and says she will continue to hang on to the £579 while seeking redress for her damaged goods through Trading Standards and the Ombudsman.
She added: “I want to warn other people what can happen when you are selling stuff online. This has been very stressful but I will fight it tooth and nail.”
Selling goods online: a guide
Unless the product is new in the box with warranty intact, always state its condition using one of the following descriptions:
● Guaranteed to function completely as new;
● Partially functional (list what does and doesn’t work);
● Replica of original item;
● Does not work;
● Untested/as is.
State your post-sale terms clearly. Don’t just hope the buyer won’t think to ask before the purchase is completed.
If you don’t accept returns or exchanges, or if you have specific return policies and steps, be sure to mention so.
List anything which is missing. Take care to let prospective buyers know what they are getting. If there is something a buyer might still expect to receive – a power cord or user manual, for example – be sure to mention they aren’t included.
Make sure the buyer receives the specific goods they have bid for.
Don’t use a stock photo of an item in great condition only to then send a poorer version.