When eBay launched in 1995, there were many who complained that they became victims of fraud. This is not because eBay was a bad company, but because eBay was used by bad people. Some took the money of buyers and never shipped the item, while some sold fake or replicas and sold them as if they were the real deal.
Now, after 20 years, has eBay changed? The question many people ask is: is eBay safe?
eBay is a Safe Place
The answer is yes. Over the years, eBay introduced so many safety measures to keep both buyers and sellers safe. During its starting years, even sellers were victims of fraud because some buyers pretended that they never received the item even if they did. Buyers filed chargebacks, got a refund, and also kept the products for themselves.
Buyers are safe because they are entitled to refunds, disputes, claims, and returns. On the other hand, sellers are also safe if they have proof of shipping, and they have the right to answer dispute issues if a buyer files a complaint against them.
Buyer Protection Policy
eBay makes buyers safe by implementing several rules. Some examples of these are identity verification for sellers, and another is an escrow service where the money will be held by a third-party, and will only be released to the seller once the buyer confirms that he is happy with the product.
There is a thing on eBay called Money-back Guarantee. This policy applies to almost all products listed on eBay. The policy gives buyers the right to file a complaint if the item did not arrive, or if the item is not as described. However, there is a time frame of thirty days for a buyer to wait for the item. If the issue does not get resolved between the seller and the buyer in three days, eBay will return the money of the buyer.
Here are some rules about the Buyer Protection Program:
- You can return a product simply because you changed your mind, but you must return it in the same condition. You will also pay for the return shipping and re-stocking fee
- If you return an item because it is not as described, you will also pay the return shipping and other fees
- Refunds are generally credited in six business days after the item was returned to the seller
- International returns are much more complicated, so the resolution is between you and the seller, not eBay
- The guarantee only applies to physical goods, and only if the item is not received or is not as described
There are deadlines to meet if you want to be covered; you cannot wait one year and then complain and ask for a refund
Seller Protection Policy
Sellers must also be protected because they spend money on shipping and other things like employee payments and fees. To do this, eBay has a Seller Protection Policy which will ensure that sellers also have a great experience on the site.
For one, you can lodge a complaint on the site, and if the eBay management finds the buyer to be abusive, they will remove the negative feedback. Also, eBay will cover the cost of shipping label of up to $6 if you can prove that a buyer’s complaint is false.
If a buyer returns an item, and the buyer was the one who damaged it, you can deduct up to 50% of the item’s value from the refund. What this means is that if you sold a product for $100 in good condition and the buyer broke it, you can refund only 50% of that.
Here are some more situations where a seller can get protected from buyers:
- Retracted bid with no payment – eBay is an auction site. Sometimes, a buyer makes a huge bid just to win the item and then does not proceed to buy. In this case, the seller was already charged a listing fee. If this happens, eBay will remove the negative feedback, and you will receive a refund
- Buyer wants something that is not on the listing – one good example here is that a buyer is looking for a box for a product, which the item description clearly stated not available. Some would even demand a discount. In this case, a seller can cancel the order, and then eBay will remove bad feedback. However, the buyer’s demands must be on the eBay message center as proof of the unreasonable demand.
- Events out of seller's control – if the shipment was late, but it was not the seller’s fault, he has to prove it to eBay by presenting shipping documents. In this case, negative feedback will be taken off, and you will not be charged by eBay if the buyer files a dispute.
How do you protect yourself on eBay?
eBay is a big market place. What this means is that there is a lot of money to be made in there. And because all the transactions have money, there will always be bad people out there who will prey on your weaknesses.
Here are some ways to protect yourself if you are a buyer:
- Read the full item description – below the item picture and general details, you will find the item description. Make sure you read this carefully because there are sellers who will post the picture of a product, and yet they are only selling the box. To your surprise, you order the item, thinking it is a wristwatch, and then you receive only a box.
- Check the seller’s ratings – there is a quick view about this on the right side of the listing. The number beside the star shows how many ratings there are in total, and you will see a percentage below that to show you how many of those people who left feedback are happy with this seller. Click the seller’s name, and you will see more details.
- Do not deal outside of eBay – this is very important. The usual tactic of fraudsters is to tell you to pay them outside of eBay. If you do this, you will not receive your item, and eBay cannot help you. Usually, this happens to big-ticket items. Let us say that you want to buy a wristwatch worth $1,000. The seller will tell you that he will sell it to you for $700, but you have to pay via Western Union. Do not fall for this trap. Once you send that money, you will never get it back.
Now, here are some ways to protect yourself as a seller:
- Keep all documentation – whenever a buyer files a dispute, you can only win the case if you can prove to eBay that you completed the end of the bargain. Always keep shipping receipts so you can scan them later and send them to eBay management.
- Describe your product accurately – if you said that the item is in good condition, then make sure that it is. A single bad thing about that product will give the buyer the right to complain, and you are bound to lose money.
- Do not sell non-physical goods – buyers can easily say that they were not able to download an item, or that the item you sold is copyrighted material, or that the gift card or voucher you sold did not work. In cases like this, the buyer wins most of the time, and you will lose money.
- Use PayPal – PayPal offers a seller protection policy on top of the eBay seller protection policy. If you use PayPal, all your transactions are safe, and PayPal will have a record of the buyer. So if you happen to be dealing with a fraudulent buyer, PayPal will be able to trace this person and help you resolve your issues.
eBay has grown into one of the largest international marketplaces in the world. Because of this, it has also become a breeding ground for fraudsters and scammers. This is not to say that eBay is not safe. It is a perfect place where you can conduct business and a perfect place to buy items at affordable prices.
However, you must know that bad people also lurk there. No matter how safe a place is, you can still be a victim if you do not follow the rules and safety tips. These rules are put in place for a reason. Years of experience taught eBay management what kind of scams are out there, and what practices should be put in place to protect both the buyer and the seller.
Whether you are a buyer or seller, you will be safe if you do the following:
- Follow the rules
- Document everything
- Know all the details of the transaction like product description
- Transact only on eBay
eBay is a safe place as much as Amazon is a safe place. There are many policies and systems that will protect you, but you also have to do your part to stay safe.