PayPal Refunds -- Say the Magic Word for Claims, Maybe!
How E-Bay/ Pay Pal Screw Gems and Jewelry Buyers
Have you ever bought something on E-Bay , used PayPay, and found the item to be junk? You can file a "Significantly Not as Described" dispute. When you escalate from a dispute to a claim, you are told to return the item by a certain set of "track-able" carriers. Who wants to pay more money just to return junk?
Here's my story.
I'm interested in gems. I've bought one or two on E-Bay, using PayPal, with success, but I've bought three or four fake, usually glass or YAG. In the past I've received a refund, after escalating the dispute to a claim with PayPal, and threw away the fake. I was not asked to return the item.
This year PayPal is demanding the return of fake gems by carries that give tracking numbers and, at it's discretion get a third party opinion, on company letterhead, on the authenticity of the item. That means that a jeweler or appraiser must be hired; more cost to buyer. If you paid more than $250 for the item, even if it's worthless, you have to get signature confirmation, at an additional fee to the buyer. That would have cost me about $20 for a small ring or stone, for mailing, then $25, a low figure, for a written evaluation. Naturally, I was upset to have to spend $45 to recover less than $200, especially on top of the disappointment of receiving fake gems. It seem E-bay and Paypal are really not protecting us, making us return fake items.
I was determined to get all my money back without having to spend more. I'm retired, so if saving money costs me a little time, no problem. To the "user agreement" I went and under "Buyer Protection" I found the following:
"If you lose a "Significantly Not as Described Claim" because the item you sold is counterfeit, you will be required to provide a full refund to the buyer and you will not receive the item back (it will be destroyed)."
This is under "Buyer Protection", a bit confusing, but It worked. I stated that the gem was "counterfeit", which it was, and a day later found a refund posted to my PayPal account.
Checking the dictionary, I find that "counterfeit" means fake or "made in imitation of something genuine with the intent to deceive or defraud". Fake, but it was the use of the word "counterfeit" that made the difference.
http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/replica-counterfeit.html is where you can view the policy.
SEE Updates -- "Counterfeit" apparently, according to E-Bay and PayPal, does not apply to fake gems. It's reserved for brand infringement, for example, counterfeit Levi jeans.
There was no notification from PayPal or E-Bay that I had won my case, nor did anyone ask me to destroy the item or send it to be destroyed. This has worked with both the recent (June 2009) fake gems I bought, once by phone conversation with a PayPal representative and once by quoting from above sited user agreement in the "comments" section of my claim.
Sometimes using just the right word works!
Update! E-bay and PayPal have changed theirpolicy regarding fake item claims. Though they say that one can get a full refund, including shipping, of a fake gem, the buyer must return it and give a tracking number. That seems unfair as it could cost about $12. Will E-bay include a buyer's cost to return a fake gem in it's guarantee of a full refund? What's your experience? However the policy under which I got my refunds did not change. I think buyers of fake gems could get a refund under it and not have to return the fakes.
Update! February 2010, another fake gem! Even buyers with 50 positive ratings are selling fakes. Apparently PayPal and E-Bay are including only copyright or brand infringement under the term "counterfeit", steadfastly ignoring the dictionary. In this case PayPal refused to exercise it's stated option to allow the buyer of fake items to keep them and get a full refund.Their case handlers will let you use the word counterfeit in your discussions with them, but when you quote the sentence about counterfeit items not being returned to the seller, they will say that gems are not counterfeit and tell you that you have reached the end of the claims process and must return the item to get your refund. This is even after PayPal has received third party verification of a fake item. You must ask the agent what you can do next. He or she will refer you to a list of company big wigs that you can see from a drop down menu on it's home page and, then, hang up on you. When you go to the list, there is no information on how to reach any of these people. You have to search for PayPal's company address on the Internet. It's 2145 Hamilton Ave, San Jose, CA 95155 according to some internet sites.
Your credit card company my be more helpful, but, if you wait for PayPal to resolve a case, you may be too late to initiate a case with a credit card. If you initiate a case with your credit card while waiting for a PayPal resolution, PayPal will terminate your case. That's in PayPal and E-Bay rules.
With the credit card company, you will be issued a credit immediately, be told to return the fake gem or jewelry and get a third party evaluation on letterhead to send to the credit card company. I suggest that you get the evaluation, a signed note on a bill of sale will do. Most jewelers, who can test gems, don't have any letterhead stationary, only bills of sale. Send the evaluation to the credit card, but don't return the gem or jewelry yet. When the credit card company gets your proof of a fake item, call again saying you do not think it's fair to make you pay for returning the item. The agent will tell you that you must. Ask what will happen if you don't at this time. You may get the answer that the credit card company is waiting for a response from the bank of the seller. That's the status of a case I have so far. It's interesting that the agent will not volunteer the information that you may wait to return the item until she gets a reply from the seller's bank. You have to know what to ask. More as this progresses.
Late Feb. Finally, resolution. The credit card, VISA in this case, company made me "temporary" credit into a permanent one. I did have to spend $25 for a written evaluation stating that the gem was fake, but, since the original cost was $800, I'm happy. I did not have to return the fake piece of junk to the crook who tried to sell it to me!