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Problems with eBay sale......

(10 Posts)
RaphaellaTheSpanishWaterDog Tue 04-Aug-15 11:29:02

Hi all,

First time posting in this area of mumsnet, but looking for advice please regarding an item we recently sold.....apologies in advance for the length of this post!

We have a registered business (both with eBay and HMRC) and occasionally use it to sell off unwanted household items as well as our regular stock. Having recently moved house to the Midlands we found we had no space for a reasonably large piece of antique furniture. This was purchased about five years ago from a reputable London dealer for around £800.

Having listed it on eBay for considerably less than half the price we paid (buy it now), it was purchased by someone in London who arranged for a courier to collect. The buyer paid by PayPal.

Before the courier arrived we received a phone call saying one man was unable to make it so the courier was travelling alone and would someone be on hand this end to assist. As DH works from home we said this was fine. The courier - a very tiny bloke - turned up in a most unsuitable vehicle for transporting antiques - a fabric-sided van full of new fridges with no blankets to protect the item. He and DH easily carried it from the ground floor room that had outside access up the lane (our house is on a slope) to the van.

Today we received a message from the buyer saying they are unhappy with the colour of the wood and that the pics we used don't show a true depiction as flash was used. Apparently it doesn't match with the rest of their furniture. Flash was used in 2/3 of the pics, but not all and anyway surely some monitors show things differently? Also, why if it was that important for items to match, did they not ask questions about the colour/patination?

They then went on to say that on top of the courier's fee they paid a tip as the courier said access to our house was difficult!

The upshot is the buyer wants to either a) return the piece but wants eBay to decide if we are liable for the courier's costs or b) have the piece stripped and waxed (sacrilege on a piece that's over 100 years old!) with us contributing to the cost!

I guess that as a business seller we have no choice but to agree to take it back - but where do we stand regarding the courier costs which were paid direct to him.....and regarding return courier costs?

There is no way this item would not fit in with similar items of differing timber patination/shades from the same period - it has sat beside such items in our house with no issues.....but the buyer is always right, I suppose.

However, after some digging on Google etc we discovered the buyer is a dealer themself - of items from the same period, no less, although not furniture - and we are guessing that (whilst they used a different ID to purchase) they intend to sell this piece on and are just trying to get some money off by using the 'stripping' as a way to get us to capitulate and offer a partial refund......

Apologies again for rambling on, but needed to get all the facts across!

So guys, what - if anything - can we do here?


19lottie82 Tue 04-Aug-15 12:59:13

We have a registered business (both with eBay and HMRC) and occasionally use it to sell off unwanted household items

Why are you using your business to sell off "unwanted household items"? This means you'll pay tax on the sale price?

You should have a personal eBay account for these kind of things, rather than using your business account. The latter should only be used to sell your "regular stock" (i.e. items you have bought with the intention to re sell). There is no need to report the former to the HMRC.

Back to the OP....... All eBay will be able to enforce, is a refund of the original sale price, NOT couriers charges, or a tip. I doubt you will even be held responsible for the return carriage costs, as eBay can't issue a returns label for something so large.

Worse case scenario you have to refund in full, once the item has been returned, and the buyer leaves you negative feedback. You can, of course, offer a partial refund as a good will gesture to put the matter to bed, but that is entirely up to you. Personally, I wouldn't, as it encourages these nut jobs!

And moral of the story is NEVER let a buyer organise their own courier, it opens the door to a whole load of trouble.

With the greatest respect, this stuff should not be rocket science to an eBay business seller, perhaps it would be worthwhile brushing up on your knowledge in terms of eBay's T&C's and your liabilities as a business seller.....

butterflygirl15 Tue 04-Aug-15 15:25:03

you should never let a buyer arrange their own courier ever.

Tell him to return in the condition in which it was sent and you will refund. I would not offer a partial refund at all.

RaphaellaTheSpanishWaterDog Tue 04-Aug-15 18:54:48

Thanks lottie and butterflygirl......

I know, it is terribly naive of us, but we've just had some serious family stuff to deal with (death of a parent for a start) and took our eye off the ball when it came to eBay! We do have another account (used previously for buying items for the home), but it's been dormant for a while so we never even thought to use that one.

We've only really used the business account twice previously to sell non-business items, so no terrible implications tax-wise thankfully.

Anyway, a huge lesson has been learned and we have today resurrected that other account and will be using that one in future. We also won't allow couriers to collect or PayPal payments for collection only purchases!

In the past when we were using eBay as buyers very frequently (many of our antique furniture items were bought that way) we regularly had our preferred courier - a specialist in removing antiques/valuables - pick the item up for us, having paid the seller first via PayPal. Some extremely large pieces were couriered from Scotland/Southern Ireland to Southern England and as private buyers we a) couldn't have collected in person and b) wouldn't have dreamt of playing the system as this person appears to be doing.....guess we're nice but dim, lol!

We have, otoh, driven 200 miles to collect smaller but equally precious purchases ourselves though.

Logistically it'll be a nightmare to arrange return of the item, so whilst it's far from ideal I think a partial refund might in this case be the lesser of the two evils.....I know it goes against the advice given (for which I am very grateful), but with all we've had to deal with recently that last thing we want is this extra aggro.

Thanks again x

butterflygirl15 Tue 04-Aug-15 19:09:07

A partial refund is never recommended. It is just the buyer trying it on mostly. Return for full refund or nothing. Buyers remorse and he sees his profit margin lessening so is trying to stitch you up.

If a seller lets a buyer arrange a courier it should be cash or bank transfer only. Most eBay sellers should know this.

19lottie82 Tue 04-Aug-15 19:54:23

As advised its really up to you if you want to offer a partial refund, I never do it because quite often a buyer is just trying it on. IMO they either want the item or they don't!
If you can take the hit on a negative feedback (which isn't always guaranteed) then, I wouldn't offer one. Buyers won't judge a seller with one or two negatives..... And you do get the chance to offer a responding comment to any negatives.

OrangeVase Wed 05-Aug-15 22:12:02

Don't offer partial refund. You are accepting that the item was less than you described.

If he is not happy he can return it.

Katniramal Thu 06-Aug-15 08:50:24

I used to leave feedback until Ebay ruled in the sellers favour after I received a faulty item because I'd left positive feedback.

I'd received it, looked ok, did a quick test and left feedback. When I used it more thoroughly, loads of problems. No refund was given purely because I'd left positive feedback.

19lottie82 Thu 06-Aug-15 10:34:46

if an item is faulty / not as described, then eBay shouldn't decide in the sellers favour because the buyer left positive feedback. are you sure this is the reason why the case didn't go your way? Did eBay actually tell you this was the reason?

butterflygirl15 Thu 06-Aug-15 10:44:20

I agree - I have never heard of FB affecting a case. It is easy to leave FB for the wrong item so leaving a pos will have no impact on any dispute.

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