Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

First eBay / PayPal charge-back. We'll see what happens.

Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011, at 11:32 AM
View 15 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Hi Steve Mills,

    Firstly, we all have to understand that PayPal is not a direct participant in the retail banks' international credit card payments processing operation. I suspect that all PreyPal's credit card processing is done through their retail banker (Citi?) and PreyPal is no more than an extremely large, but nevertheless very valuable, "credit card merchant" account to them.

    Any dispute by a PreyPal user that has a credit card involved would therefore have to be submitted by PreyPal to Citibank for Citibank to then submit same to the real (and fair) transaction mediation process provided by the participating banks' credit card processing operation. And therein lays the problem. PreyPal wants the fees without any of the, admittedly relatively great, inconvenience and cost of having to perform any transaction mediation--a most unprofessional operator.

    As is obviously now the case with eBay, it is clear that PreyPal users are not all equal. If you are lucky, you may be more equal than others and, rather than simply apply their usual simple hard-wired bias in favour of the buyer to any dispute, PreyPal may actually put your "proofs" to their banker for submission to their "real" payments transaction mediation process. But that does require additional manual work that PreyPal is clearly loathe to perform.

    Who knows? Some people believe that miracles can happen.

    I note too that PreyPal has just published notice a major revision to its already "all responsibility avoiding" user agreement. That should make interesting reading.

    Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

    -- Posted by PhilipCohen on Sat, Apr 16, 2011, at 8:09 PM
  • I'm a seller, and they have been extremely nice to me whenever I have had issues with transactions.

    Best of luck, Steve.

    -- Posted by cats4me on Sun, Apr 17, 2011, at 12:06 AM
  • It is most likely a case of the buyer not recognizing the charge for what is was, and is a simple misunderstanding. We had this happen once, quite some time ago. In our case, the husband filed the complaint not knowing the wife had made the purchase, and it was eventually closed without problem.

    But as a general rule, ebay and paypal (although I like Philip's version much better, Preypal) are pro BUYER, not seller. And since they implemented their new "ebay buyer protection" policies, things have only gotten worse. Customers mistakenly get the impression that the best resolution to any problem is to file a buyer protection dispute, not realizing that it will impact your seller standing (it almost seems as though ebay encourages customers to file a dispute).

    We had this happen recently when a buyer filed a protection claim less than 10 minutes after informing us of the issue she was having with her purchase. As it turned out, the issue she was having was that she had purchased DVDs, thinking they were CDs, and her computer did not have a DVD-ROM.

    Anyway, best of luck to you. Meanwhile, here's hoping for a comparable alternative to ebay and paypal someday in the near future. Because unless they start leveling the field to be equally as protective and supportive of sellers as they are of buyers, then more and more of us are going to start "jumping ship."

    -- Posted by shawna.jones on Sun, Apr 17, 2011, at 3:09 AM
  • I am mostly a buyer on ebay, and I always use Paypal. Although I have seen a swing towards buyer protection that may be unfair towards sellers, it has helped me, as a buyer, in several incidents.

    If I have a problem with a seller, I always try to work it out through email first. But there are a LOT of deadbeat sellers out there. I have been ripped off numerous times over the years. Paypal has helped me in a few of those disputes and my money was refunded.

    That being said, it has also sided with the sellers on a couple of occasions. Buyer beware is something I stress to new ebay users....

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Sun, Apr 17, 2011, at 8:22 AM
  • I have no issues with PayPal. They are actually easier and less expensive than any credit card solution we have found but eBay, oh eBay, where for art thou? Where is your common sense, your desire to make things better for your true customer, the seller?

    Yes, some of the things 1% of our community tries to get away with need to be stopped but some of the sellers antics might not be occurring if not for eBay's lack of connection to the real process of selling.

    They have the technology and intelligence to deal with sellers who charge a penny for product but $40 for shipping. Instead they try to sell us on "free shipping" which anyone with smarts knows is not free, but.....

    When free shipping does not work they now charge final value fees on the shipping, AND call it a reduction in rates!! Political spin and corporate marketing spin sure sounds a lot alike.

    Just because I teach eBay does not mean I agree with all of their actions. True, it is job security to try to make sense of it to our students but I do not agree with some in my teaching community that think we need to take this stuff they are dishing out and say "thank you, can I have some more?"

    Instead I believe we should shout at the top of our lungs to plead for sanity, common sense and a return of management who can explain to their board of directors that sometimes the market slows and there is no "magic" to wring more blood out of the masses.

    To be able to explain that, I believe corporate management needs to know the marketplace, maybe even be a seller themselves, to understand what is good for the venue and what is just plain stupid. I do not believe that is the case with the current management.

    All that said, there is still no place to sell our products that compares to eBay. I have compared sites for years and will make a separate post on some of them.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Apr 17, 2011, at 8:44 AM
  • Buyers like espoontoon are reasonable. They contact the seller BEFORE using the other protections eBay has put in place and that is good! There is plenty of time built into the system to do that, but many are afraid of the worst and file immediately.

    If a seller does not respond promptly and reasonably, they need some strong supervision. Probably 99% of sellers out there agree and don't want our buyers messed with by some "fly-by-night" operation, or worse, a blatant thief.

    By the way, my definition of fly-by-night does not mean small. It means one that is run without ethics or a strong degree of professionalism. Bedford Trading Post is small in the world of eBay, but we take our sales and customers very seriously.

    eBay's protection policies are only unfair when they allow obvious scams from either side. In some cases, there will be a loser but I trust that most of us, buyer or seller, want to do the right thing.

    I refunded a buyer in Greece for a lost item (including shipping) and it was not on eBay. There was no "big brother" telling me I had to do it. It was just the right thing to do.

    Their Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program gets unreasonable but I give them the benefit of the doubt there because it is a very complicated issue and I cannot see a sure-fire, economically viable solution.

    I would like to see a little more explanation about how to help our students navigate the program, but I am not trying to police a venue with millions of individuals. I can only imagine the complexity.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Apr 17, 2011, at 9:09 AM
  • Many people have had no problem with PayPal; as principally a buyer, I have had no problem with PayPal; certainly for buyers, PayPal is convenient. And, indeed, those sellers that have had a problem with PayPal may well have deserved to have had a problem. But did all of those who appear to have had a problem with PayPal deserve to have had that problem? The internet is simply awash with horror stories about mostly sellers' bad experiences with PayPal. If I was a seller of anything of real value I would be simply terrified of accepting payment via PayPal.

    The great number of horror stories on the internet about PayPal suggests that PayPal's risk management is primitive, or non existent, to the point that they accept no responsibility for any risk (sans legal action) and their transaction mediation process is also either simply non existent or is so controlled by a simple computer algorithm biased towards the buyer that it is (again, sans legal action) effectively useless if a problem does arise.

    Conversely, if you have a problem with a credit card transaction you can immediately speak to a living person on the telephone, at your own bank, in your own country, and instigate a fair and effective mediation process, which process surely has to be the real backbone of the Visa/Mastercard and their participating banks' credit card payments processing system. Credit card users don't have to deal with some risk-ignorant, fee hungry, middle man, such as PayPal; credit card users deal with their own retail banker, by whom they are known and who is in a position to assess any risk that the card user/merchant might pose.

    I can only relate one personal story about the effectiveness of the banks' credit card transaction mediation process. Some years ago I was involved for six years in an auction business. We sold a high quality, expensive, vintage (post 1898) firearm to a buyer in the US. He duly advised us of the licensed dealer to which we should ship the item. Some time later the buyer had the charge on his credit card reversed because he could not get the item out of US Customs as, he claimed, we had not done all the necessary paperwork. It turned out that he had not earlier applied for an import permit (which only he could do) and further he had given us the name of a firearms dealer who was apparently not licensed to import firearms anyway: all of which we had no control over. The facts of the matter and a copy of our T&C of Business setting out such responsibilities were supplied to our banker and the charge was subsequently re-reversed in our favour.

    The point is, the transaction mediation process supplied by the banks is fair and effective--I know that it does work. I may be wrong but it appears to me that no such effective system can be easily accessed by the merchant if PayPal is involved.

    -- Posted by PhilipCohen on Sun, Apr 17, 2011, at 5:44 PM
  • I have had no problems with PayPal and primarily sell since 2002, but I have had a problem with my credit card not honoring their agreement. Long story but everyone except the final decision maker at Visa thought I was right.

    Guess it happens to all of us at some time, no matter how well we prepare.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Apr 17, 2011, at 6:04 PM
  • Mostly, I try to sell items in the $20-30 range to minimize my exposure to risk. I will admit, I was sweating bullets (no pun or disrespect intended) when I sold a very rare, Civil War era daguerreotype of a soldier in uniform, contained in the original thermoplastic display frame. I simply do not like the risk of being vulnerable to those things which are entirely out of our control. I have found that, for the most part, people are understanding when things go wrong.

    I insured the item heavily, required a signature, and hoped for the best. Happy customer, happy seller. This time.

    I just don't have the nerves of steel to sell some of the things I see on eBay, like breakable fine china, fine jewelry, and ultra high end designer bags/clothing/shoes.

    My advice for the newcomer would be try a certain niche for a while, and see if you can build a brand for yourself.

    I honestly wish there were an alternative, though, and I have tried one other venue for one season, which did not produce a single order.

    It also makes me uncomfortable that eBay and Paypal are basically under the same roof now.

    -- Posted by cats4me on Mon, Apr 18, 2011, at 11:08 PM
  • An interesting update on the PayPal event. I just received a call from PP in which I was told we will be receiving seller protection because we sent the item to the address on PayPal, in a timely manner and provided tracking. We are awaiting the return of our funds, but it sounds promising.

    They called on a number that I had not realized was on our file so I was immediately apprehensive, especially when they mentioned this blog. Seems someone had found it and forwarded to PP claims.

    They never asked for any identifying info from me and knew the facts in more depth than I posted here, so it relaxed my concerns. It also impressed me. I was going to call them today to see what the next step was and they beat me to it.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Apr 19, 2011, at 11:25 AM
  • So, it seems that you may not finish up being put through PreyPal's buyer-biased transaction mediation wringer.

    As far as the mention of your blog is concerned, frankly, I would be surprised if PreyPal was not, at the least, watching Google Alerts for stories about themselves. In the old days "brand" companies (even apparently scrupulous companies), that were always interested in knowing how they were being perceived by the media/consumers, employed "clipping services" to supply them with copies of all print media stories about themselves.

    We then have to wonder, just how valuable a good Google-indexed blog may be in influencing PreyPal's behaviour, if not generally, at least towards the individual blogger? Let's face it, a good result for you, will be a good result for PreyPal as well--if you here ultimately give them a pat on the back for coming to that right decision.

    -- Posted by PhilipCohen on Tue, Apr 19, 2011, at 5:53 PM
  • I agree that Google Search (or something similar) was used and the possibility is strong that PayPal is concerned with their public image ( would expect nothing less), but I am small potatoes to them in the scheme of things, and my blog is as well.

    They referenced my blog, so it was in their thoughts but I think my case stood on its' own merits and would have been resolved favorably anyway. In reality, I want it to be good for both sides, so if the buyer does not want our product, we will take it back with no problems.

    In this case, I think it might be a mis-communications with two people using the same eBay account, so I do not think it was a real confrontational event. I will now contact them to see if they have a change of heart.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Apr 20, 2011, at 10:24 AM
  • Steve,

    I was pleasantly surprised to hear that you do not swallow and try to dish out all that is ebay/paypal spoon fed to you. Although I do not know you personally, I now have a much greater appreciation of you as an ebay member.

    Admittedly, I assumed incorrectly because you are an ebay instructor that you would simply smile and say "welcome to ebay, the perfect online seller's world." I'm glad I was wrong and I hope I get the chance to actually tell you in person some day.

    Best of luck to you.

    -- Posted by shawna.jones on Wed, Apr 20, 2011, at 11:33 AM
  • Thank you Shawna.

    It bothers me too when someone wears such a heavy pair of rose colored glasses that they do not admit when there is an issue. They are not being honest to themselves and just as important, they are not being honest to those they influence.

    While I teach eBay, I represent myself and at the end of the day (or class) I want to feel that I have represented things honestly and to the best of my ability.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Apr 20, 2011, at 1:38 PM
  • The charge was in fact returned to us. While I am curious, I decided to let it go and not contact our customer.

    To avoid another issue with this customer, I may block them from buying any more from us. No hard feelings on our side, but things must not be stable on their side so......

    -- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Apr 27, 2011, at 6:16 PM
Respond to this blog

Posting a comment requires free registration: