The Oz Round Table boards > PayPal

Paypal's "Mission Impossible" - A Duty of Care

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For the record, I have been given detailed documentation supporting this story.  I have names, addresses, dates and times, emails, case numbers and copies of shipping documents.  I have the tracking information and have performed my own online inquiry on the status of the parcel in question.

I also have the seller's permission to present his story here.  

(A complete copy of the above information and the seller's permission has been forwarded to this site's Admin.)

As you will appreciate, there are some things that I cannot publish and other things that would also carry legal risks to this site - fundamentally, things that could identify the buyer.  So I while I will be presenting as much detail as I possibly can, there will be some details that will not be disclosed and there will be times when I present my own precis in lieu.

I have also looked at bothe the buyer's and seller's feedback profiles and present my own opinion, which I have endeavoured to make objective and accurate.


This is a story.  A true story which, at the time of writing, still has the last chapter unwritten....

It's a story about Paypal, involving a buyer in Germany, a seller in Hong Kong and an 'ex-display' laptop computer worth around $2,000 AUD.

The buyer is a young fellow - around 20 - living in a town somewhere in the middle of Germany. His membership on eBay is over 6 years old with a feedback score between 100 and 200 - about one third of which is as a seller.  He has a couple of negs, but nothing excessively worrying.

The seller is an Aussie Powerseller who operates out of Australia, but spends much of his time in and around Hong Kong, where he has an office.  He trades in a variety of products - including high value, high tech equipment, such as laptop computers and mobile phones.  He operates on eBay and through his own website and ships all over the world.  From what I have been able to glean, is doing quite well.  

(I will have to ask you to trust me on my examination of his feedback - I've been doing the same exercise on sellers whenever I'm looking to buy - and I've never been stung.  So far.)

While he's not perfect, his (4 digit) feedback indicates he only scores negs when the buyer: didn't read the listing, breaks the item, wants false customs declarations, wants untracked shipping, complains about customs charges, gets caught trying a fraudulent payment or loses a Paypal dispute.  In all the years he's been trading on eBay, his total count of red dots number in the single digit range. His neutrals are fairly mundane for the products involved and he has a couple of 'Withdrawn' ratings.

Other stories I have heard regarding this seller indicate two very, very clear points:  Firstly, he will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure a buyer is happy and, secondly, the power a buyer wields through the leverage of eBay and Paypal is astonishing - and has resulted in this seller pulling out all the stops and then some!

Bottom line: If I was asked if I would buy from this seller, I would answer: Absolutely!!


With the international purchase of a laptop, you can probably expect some correspondence - which certainly happened here.  I have written it up in another thread, so as not to clog up this one too much.  It is not an atypical example of what sellers are expected to go through and still smile sweetly...
The Preliminary Bout: "Ask Seller A Question"

 - the buyer has bought and paid for his laptop
 - the seller has sent it on its way

and don't you just know, this is where the fun begins......


Nine days after posting, the buyer lodges a dispute - Item Not Received.

Let's not dwell on the buyer's motives nor the seller's anxiety - we'll just cut to the chase on this one......

The seller provides the tracking information which shows the item is still in transit and Paypal find in his favour.

Here is the (anonymised) email from Paypal advising of the outcome:

Subject: PayPal: Resolution of Buyer Complaint Case no. < case number >
Date: 29 December 2009 11:48:02 PM GMT+08:00
To: < seller email >

Hello < seller name >,

PayPal has concluded our investigation of the following Buyer Complaint:
Buyer's name: < buyer name >
Buyer's email: < buyer email >
Transaction ID: < transaction id >
Transaction date: 18 Dec 2009
Transaction amount: $2,000.00 AUD
Your transaction ID: < seller transaction id >
Case number: < case number >

Thank you for providing the requested information in a timely manner.

The postal information you provided has been verified. The claim has been
closed in your favor.

Thank you again for your cooperation with our investigation.

Yours sincerely,
PayPal Protection Services Department

I believe this process took less than a day.

A quick decision and correct.  Paypal has done well.

But wait, there's more!


Less than 2 days later, the buyer raises a Significantly Not As Described dispute, even though the item is still in transit. (This is the case which prompted me to post the thread: Can a buyer lodge a SNAD dispute without....).  Whilst seemingly an illogical ability, there are some circumstance where it does make sense - but this case is NOT one of those.

The trail followed by this SNAD is, from all accounts, pretty standard.  Here are the basics from the emails received by the seller:

Subject: First Request for Information About Buyer Complaint: Case ID no. < case number >
Date: 31 December 2009 10:54:49 PM GMT+08:00
To: < seller email >
Hello < seller name >,
< buyer name > recently opened a dispute against this transaction indicating
that the purchased item was significantly different than what was described.
The buyer's claim is in regard to merchandise that either was never
received or did not match your original description. Please understand that
until our investigation is complete, the funds associated with this
transaction may be temporarily held. For more information, please review
our User Agreement.
Please be aware that until we complete our investigation, we may place a
hold on funds associated with this transaction.

Subject: Status Update - Case no. < case number >
Date: 2 January 2010 6:36:08 PM GMT+08:00
To: < seller email >
Hello < seller name >,
We are writing to let you know that we requested additional information
from the buyer about this case.
We'll let you know if we require additional information from you.

Subject: Resolution of Buyer Complaint Case No. < case number >
Date: 4 January 2010 6:08:44 PM GMT+08:00
To: < seller email >
Hello < seller name >,
After careful consideration of the evidence provided in the case detailed
below, we have completed our investigation and decided in favour of the
buyer. Under the terms of our User Agreement, we have debited the following
amount from your PayPal account as a refund to the buyer:
< Transaction Details >

What to Do Next
If you requested that the buyer return the item to you and it was not
received in its original condition, you may appeal against this decision.
To make an appeal, log in to your PayPal account, click the Resolution
Centre link, and click the Appeal button next to the case.
Please understand that although we will carefully consider your appeal, we
cannot guarantee a reversal of the decision.
Due Dates
Provide additional information within 10 calendar days from the date this
case was filed.
Other Details
To review the PayPal User Agreement, visit the PayPal site and click the
'User Agreement' link on the bottom of any page.
At PayPal, security is our top priority. We investigate fraudulent buyers
and transactions in order to protect the integrity of our payments network.
You can help protect yourself by following the steps outlined in our Seller
Protection Policy.
To learn how to protect yourself from disputes, we recommend visiting the
PayPal site and clicking the Security Centre link located at the bottom of
any page. There you will find information in the 'Seller Protection Policy'
Thank you for your patience and cooperation in this matter.
PayPal Protection Services Department

Subject: Resolution of case no. < case number >
Date: 4 January 2010 6:08:45 PM GMT+08:00
To: < seller email >
Hello < seller name >,
PayPal has concluded the investigation of the following claim:
< Transaction Details >
A refund has been initiated from your account and the case is now closed.
Unfortunately, due to insufficient funds your account balance is now
negative and may be limited. Any funds entering the account will apply
toward making a positive balance.
This claim has been solved amicably. Please consider this when leaving
feedback for this buyer.
Yours sincerely,
Protection Services Department

The buyer, I am informed, claimed that they had received "an empty box".  It would seem Paypal simply accepted this statement, despite the seller providing tracking information which showed that the item was still in transit.

Here is a screen shot of the tracking status as it was on the 5th January, showing that German Customs had only just received the item - THE DAY AFTER the case had been closed.

This is going to sound corny - but you ain't seen nuthin' yet!

[attachment deleted by admin]


Now, this seller is not the sort of guy to take this lying down and just accept it - especially when he's done everything he's supposed to do.  It's also not in his best interests to become known as an easy target for the high value items he sells.  It goes against his principles as well.

So it is no surprise for him to have appealed the decision.  Twice.

From what I have been able to see, the first appeal was just another formality and was, not surprisingly, denied.

The second appeal was only allowed to be made after our seller pursued the matter - in no uncertain terms.

Here are two emails I received from the seller when I was preparing this story.  They talk about a number of points, but include some details about what he had recently gone through and the conditions imposed to get that second appeal.  They are presented in their entirety, with some bolding I have made of some particularly relevent statements....  (please take into consideration that dates and times of the various entries here are affected by differing time zones)

From: < seller >
To: < Me (Brum6y) >
Sent: Thursday, January 07, 2010 11:23 PM
Subject: PayPal Issue

Hi < Me (Brum6y) >,

thanks for the email.    i have attached a folder with all the relevant details in which prove beyond a shadow of a double that i shipped the item, the buyer requested the shipping method and agreed to the shipping time.    that PayPal closed the INR in my favor and then allowed the buyer to open an SNAD and find in his favor.    after denying my first appeal the case was granted to me on the second appeal with the condition that i was not given a refund of the payment just the satisfaction of winning the dispute.   the buyer already had the funds and PayPal were not crediting them back to me.     they will also not give me a copy of the police report they claim lists me as shipping an empty box to the buyer.    given the package is still not delivered and he filed a police report on the 2/1 its not rocket science to see it was a scam.

at this stage i have recontacted the buyer and warned him i will be taking legal action and flying to germany to have him charged with fraud.    he claims he never really lied... never really lied?    i told him i wanted a copy of the police report and he said he was not allowed to give it to me.    or he has been told by PayPal not to give it too me.   he also said his account is still open with PayPal and he does not believe he did anything wrong.    only what he was told to do...   told to do????

i have given him an hour to provide the police report or have me on his door step with the police on Monday.

let me know if you need any other detail at all.

best regards

< seller name >

p.s.   this is what sent to the BSFO today
< file attachments included >

From: < seller >
To: < Me (Brum6y) >
Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 1:37 AM
Subject: Re: PayPal Issue

Hi < Me (Brum6y) >,

thanks for the response.    not a problem at all.    of course the details sent contain all the contact details etc for the buyer but only because this was given to BFSO so needed that.    feel free to use what you think suitable but as you can see wading through it is what can only be considered as gross misconduct on PayPal's part for failing to investigate the claims made by the buyer and allowing this SNAD dispute to be awarded in his favor even though he had never received the item and it was clear to see this fact looking at the tracking that was provided at the outset and easily seen online.

the fact that at 2am this morning i finally forced a PayPal manager to actually log onto the DHL site whilst i recorded a conversation to see for themselves that the item the buyer claimed he had already received 5 days earlier as an empty box.    she then agreed to reopen the dispute which i had lost and then had my initial appeal declined.     the absolute slap in the face was the granting of my appeal after the 3 attempt only to have PayPal tell me to contact the buyer for my money.    as if he will be going to give it back when he ran the whole thing as a scam.

seller protection .... sure, i won the INR ... but then the buyer was permitted to open an SNAD which has no seller protection ... so the claytons win to allow the buyer to get his money back in the end.

let me know if you need any other details at all.

best regards

< seller name >

Below is a screen shot of the log of the SNAD dispute, with identifying information removed (by me).

Now, if you think we've really got a meaty case where Paypal has something to answer for - in the next instalment you will see that this has just been the entrée!

[attachment deleted by admin]

So - where is the laptop now?

At the time of writing, it has been cleared by customs for collection - but has, as yet, not been picked up.

This screen shot was taken a couple of days ago and the status has not changed. (I just checked)

[attachment deleted by admin]


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