The Perils of PayPal – A Cautionary Tale

Posted: April 27, 2012 by Josh in Rants
So, here’s an interesting question: What happens when a student from
some third-rate university decides to purchase a collect only item from
Ebay? The answer, one would imagine to be simple: the student pays,
collects the item and all is well. You would, in that case, be dreaming.
The most unfortunate event to befall me of late is that I happened to be
the seller in a transaction eerily similar to this. Selling an exercise
bike (because I have a real one…) should be a simple thing. You list
it as collect only (because really, who could post that?) and someone
buys it and collects it. Everything happened, except the collecting
part. The buyer paid about 5 minutes after the end of the sale, so they
were seemingly rather keen to receive this item. I tel them my address
and contact details so that they can contact me to arrange a collection
time. All is well.

I then receive a phone call on Wednesday. It is of an angry student
wanting to know where their item was. I explained calmly to the student
that the listing had clearly said that the item was collect only and I
would be happy to arrange a collection time on the phone. The student
said that they could not collect the item as they lived far away and
they expected me to provide free delivery of the item or they would
complain about it to Ebay. I mentioned that they should go ahead because
they were clearly at fault here, I had not made any mistake.

Over the next couple of days, emails were exchanged about fairness
and morality (one would imagine a student to be slightly more mature
than that) and Ebay was called. Ebay sided with me because it was not my
fault but PayPal put a hold on the money that the student had paid to me
so that I did not see a red cent of it, if you will. I phoned PayPal and
was told that as per the terms of service that I agreed to upon creating
a PayPal account, I had to provide tracking and delivery of all items
that I sold. Now, I mentioned that the item was listed as collection
only on Ebay but the nice Filipino gentleman on the phone told me that
this did not matter, the terms of service did not make a distinction for
collection only items. I was told that my only option was to give a
refund and sell the item again. I was not pleased.

I, therefore, would advise you to read your T’s & C’s before signing
up to anything but I know that nobody does. Hell, I only ever read them
when I am doing something with a bank or my very personal details. Even
then, there’s rarely anything that you can do about it, even if you
don’t agree; you just end up kicked out of the site anyway and when
that’s something that you need to do, you end up having to agree. A
prime example of this is with Student Finance but I’ll go into that one
at a later date…

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