Be wary when dealing with 0% feedback buyers on eBay


Selling things on eBay can be a great way to raise some extra cash and also to de-clutter your home. Most of the time when you sell things on eBay you will not face any issues at all and the transaction will go through smoothly, this has generally been my experience anyway. Recently though, I sold an item on eBay to a buyer with 0% feedback and I just wanted to share a little bit about the experience as it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare.

I’ve always known that you should be wary of 0% feedback buyers and sellers, but up until this experience I don’t think I’d ever had a 0% feedback buyer win one of my items, so the issue hadn’t really presented itself. A few weeks ago though, the issue did present itself when I had a 0% buyer purchase one of my ‘Buy it now’ listings on eBay. As soon as I saw the 0% feedback, alarm bells started ringing in my head. Worse yet, I could see that the buyer was based abroad which alarmed me even more. As the item I was selling had been listed for a while though, and the offer the buyer had made was a decent one, I thought I’d take the risk and see what happened, so I agreed to sell the item to him. Before I go on with the story, let’s take a moment to consider why you might want to be wary of a 0% feedback eBay buyer.

Why be wary?

The reason I have always been wary of 0% feedback eBay buyers is that they could potentially cause you a lot of headaches if they either:

  1. Don’t know what they’re doing and don’t understand the way eBay works
  2. They turn out to be a scammer.

Personally I think my buyer fell into the 2nd category, because the way that he dealt with the PayPal claims process hinted to me that he had done this a few times before. I might be wrong, but that’s what I think.

When somebody buys something through eBay and they pay via PayPal, the item is instantly covered by a PayPal guarantee, so that if the item isn’t as described or is faulty or even broken, the buyer can then make a claim through PayPal. I feel that scammers could easily take advantage of this by setting up an eBay account to buy something, purely with the intention of claiming that the item is not as described and then asking for a partial or full refund. They could do this with no worry that you might leave negative feedback for them, because they don’t really intend to use the account again. I really think that this is something that my buyer had done before, as they seemed to deliberately wait until the last possible day to progress the claim further during the PayPal claims process, I think in the hope that I would forget to respond or something like that.

Then we have those who might not be deliberately trying to scam you but who might just be new to eBay and not really understand the processes. I’ve always been wary of these too as they could easily misunderstand something and leave you negative feedback without even thinking about the consequences of this for you as a seller, even though you might not have done anything to warrant it. Perhaps I’m being overly cautious but I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So how did things turn out with my 0% feedback buyer?

As I said earlier, my buyer made a PayPal claim because he stated that the item was faulty. He said that one of the speakers was broken and that he could provide proof of this and he requested a partial refund of 50%. When I sent the item out, it all worked fine so I tried to give some guidance on how he could resolve the issue. The buyer informed me that they would try out my suggestions and that they would let me know the next day if it had worked. Well, one day went by and then another and another. After a week or two of not hearing anything back from the buyer I assumed that the issue was resolved, so I waited for PayPal to close off the claim and release my funds. Then, on the very last day possible the buyer asked PayPal to investigate the claim further, even though he had not responded previously when he said he would.

When PayPal asked for more details I gave my side of the story and again refused to give a refund, then waited. Finally, a few days later I logged into my account to find that my funds had been released and that PayPal had ruled in my favour, or at least I think they did anyway. I say this because I’m not really all that sure of how PayPal’s claim system works. Do they simply rule in favour of one party? Or, do they have some kind of insurance policy in place which allows them to resolve the claim by satisfying both parties? If they do deal with things by satisfying both buyer and seller, then I feel that this would only encourage scammers as they might know that they will always win. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on that?

In hindsight, I probably should have offered a 50% refund if the item was returned in its original condition. This way, the buyer would have had the hassle of returning the item and I don’t think he would have bothered doing so if there wasn’t anything wrong with it and he was just trying to pull a fast one.

Things turned out fine, but be careful

In the end things turned out fine in my case. PayPal eventually released my funds and fortunately the buyer hasn’t left any negative feedback – at least not yet. The reason I wrote this post is just to warn people that they need to be careful when dealing with 0% feedback eBay buyers, or sellers for that matter. If you do fall foul and end up having problems with a 0% eBay buyer, then be sure to think very carefully about how you respond to any direct complaints or PayPal claims, as you will want to do your utmost to protect your feedback while at the same time not allowing yourself to be ripped off by a potential scammer.

Have you ever had problems with a 0% feedback buyer on eBay?

One Response to Be wary when dealing with 0% feedback buyers on eBay

  1. Timely advice. I have been selling a lot recently on eBay as part of a decluttering challenge I am doing. It is something to be aware of. I have not–as yet–had any 0%ers so far but the day may come!

    Thanks for the interesting write-up.

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