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A Little Thing Called “Burden Of Proof”

By Bob

Hi All,

I have been using eBay and Paypal for years. The popularity of auctions and then using a service like paypal to pay or receive money has made the online auctions fun and safe, or at least I thought.

I recently sold an electronic item that had a value of at least $150. I originally was only selling to the USA, but I had some inquires from Canada, so I agreed to accept bids from Canada as well. The bidder was anxious and wanted to pay a determined price before the end of the auction. Since I know a lot of bidding happens in the last few minuets of an auction I was not interested. I was pleased with a bid of a little over $200 and as long as I got paid I was all set. The person from Canada paid a few days later using Paypal. Once paid I sent the item the next day. I have always operated under the premise the customer gets whatever they pay for (insurance, tracking, ect) Since the buyer did not want anything other than air shipping, that is what I did. Everything was good, I had a receipt and a customs note, and the money in my account. Then about 3 weeks later the buyer informs me he has not received the item. I assured him I sent it and I would even do a postal trace on the package. In the mean time I get a note from Paypal that there is a dispute against my account and the money is being suspended till the complaint is resolved. Since I had proof I sent the item, excellent feedback with ebay and an account it good standing with Paypal, I felt that surely they would find in my favor. I even faxed a copy of the receipts to Paypal to further proof my case. Well I received the judgment today and was not happy, they found in favor of the buyer. A call to Paypal further infuriated me. Their policy is the seller has the burden of proof that the item is received. The only proof I could give them is a tracking number, which I did not have, because the buyer didn’t ask for one. My receipts with addresses, shipping weight, and my signature isn’t proof! I even asked the Paypal customer service person this; “so, I could send an empty box and as long as I had a tracking number, that would be ok?” ” Yes it would” said the customer service person. Well, to say the least I am not happy. My gut feeling is the buyer received the item, and knows how Paypal works and took advantage of me. What baffles me more is that I have the burden of proof. The only thing the buyer had to do was pay, after that it is the sellers problem. The buyer doesn’t have to prove they received the item or not. What I have learned from this:

1. ALWAYS require a tracking number and /or a signature.

2. Paypal, while handy, is maybe not the best service. I will be looking for others for sure.

3. The seller has the burden of proof, but they also have the right to how the auction will work, demand services that will protect you!

I hope you will pass this on to anyone that uses eBay, hopefully my $200+ lesson will save someone else.

PS – as a further burn, I still have to pay the Paypal fee for the money that was returned to the buyer (about $9.00)!

Posted: April 20, 2012 at 6:31 am

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