Shop on eBay? With more and more sellers selling discount goods directly from China, you need to watch for deceptive sellers who claim they ship things, or issue refunds, but they really don't. And they make it difficult to dispute what happened so that you finally give up.
One man wants others to know his experience so it doesn't happen to them. Bob Masters was looking for some tools and found an eBay seller with tools at well-below-hardware-store prices.
The ad said the products were from China, but the seller appeared to have mostly good reviews (and 95% positive feedback), so Masters thought he would give it a try.
He ordered several items for his toolbox, but nothing ever showed up.
A month later, Masters says, he "filed a dispute with eBay. They contacted the seller, and the seller offered to send a replacement."
But two months later, the replacement for the lost tools failed to arrive as well!
"I thought the first one was lost in shipping," he said. "But neither the first item, nor the second item, ever showed up."
By the time he was able to file a second dispute, Masters says, months had gone by.
"They finally told me and eBay that they had refunded my money and told me to check my PayPal account, which I checked," he said. "But there was no refund."
We checked with eBay, and learned that eBay offers a 30-day money back guarantee. That's great for dealing with local sellers, but not someone shipping from China.
PayPal in 2015 extended its dispute window and now gives you six months to dispute a charge. But endless promises can make that deadline slip by, too, which is what ultimately happened with Masters.
"I'm out what I spent on it," Masters said. He wonders how many other dozens -- or hundreds -- of buyers, also never received items from this seller,and finally gave up.
So what can you do?
The easiest thing is to see where that item is coming from. If it says China, that should raise some red flags and require extra diligence.
Some Chinese sellers are fine. Remember, iPhones and almost everything else we buy are shipped from China.
But upon further review, this particular seller offered thousands of tools, electronics, even clothing items at prices that seem too good to be true.
Do they all really exist, or is it a copycat site, listing items from other, legitimate, sellers? Masters is not sure. That's why it’s essential to always use PayPal to pay. Read seller feedback carefully, especially negative feedback. (It's fairly easy to get shills to give positive reviews.)
If prices seem too low, question whether it is legitimate.
Masters suspects his seller was not legit. It turns out a number of the negative reviews said there was no product delivered and no refund months later.
"They play the game and they take people's money and don't ship things," he suspects.
Masters wonders how many other buyers never got refunds, even though the Chinese seller claimed it refunded their payment.
Be careful so you don't waste your money.
-- John Matarese