Monday, June 26, 2023

The Partial Refund eBay Scam

I suppose most eBay sellers know this already, but in case there's a newbie out there, then consider this a public service announcement.  I was once such a newbie and fell for it.  Thankfully, I wised up after that.  Basically, you sell an item, then the buyer messages you afterwards that there is a problem with it.  You say, ok, bummer, sorry about that, please send it back, and I'll refund your money.  Then the buyer says, well, I'll keep it if you send me a partial refund.

Don't do it.  Basically, you have a cheapskate/con artist for a buyer who is looking for a discount after the sale.  The buyer likely tries this scam on every seller because some sellers do fall for it, either because they are worried about their seller rating or it's not worth the trouble to spend any additional time on it.

I wish they wouldn't though because it encourages the scammers to keep trying this same scam.  I don't sell a lot on eBay anymore, but I still seem to get it about once a year.  The way to respond I've found is to just offer a full refund if the buyer returns the item.  Usually, the scammer disappears at that point.  The scammer tried and failed.  Occasionally, the scammer will persist.  Just keep offering the full refund.  Usually, the scammer gives up.  Very rarely, will the scammer just return the item and get the refund.  I've had that happen once in the last few years.

Here's some examples:

1) Dude buys a vintage Star Wars drinking glass from me.  He messages me that the box rattles, and he thinks the glass is broken.  Many messages go back and forth, and mine stay consistent:  "Open it up.  If it's broken, then send it back, and I'll refund you."  He disappears, later posting feedback about how he loves his glass.

2) Dude buys a record and claims it skips.  Since I had played the record before shipping it and it played fine, I am skeptical.  When I don't bite at the partial refund requests, he goes away.

3) Dude buys a golden age comic book and is surprised it is in terrible condition even though I have described it as being in terrible condition.  When I stick to my send it back for a full refund line, he refuses and just gives me negative feedback.  I return his negative feedback with negative feedback (technically positive feedback since eBay refuses to let buyers get negative feedback, but my comments are that he is a scammer and other sellers should beware).  When he complains and has my feedback removed, I call eBay to complain, and, amazingly enough, the eBay representative agrees with me that the dude was trying to extort me with negative feedback and removes his negative feedback and gives him an official eBay demerit or something.  He then goes away.  Apparently, he was ok with his purchase after all.

The latest is a guy who bought a brand new cd box set.  His complaint is that the brand new sealed box has a cutout mark (which was in the pictures and noted in the description).  We'll see what happens with this one.  He already opened up an official return (sometimes the scammers do, hoping the seller will just approve the request and then they get to keep the item and their money--I never do that).  This dude messaged me when he bought it with needless shipping instructions, which is always a red flag (I was half-tempted to cancel the sale then), so he may just be a moron who doesn't read descriptions and just wastes everyone's time and money shipping purchases back.  If the item arrives in the condition it shipped in, then I'll refund his money.  Usually, they never end up shipping it, and eBay closes the return request after a few weeks (in the meantime, I get to have eBay hold my money in case he does return it--thanks, dude). 

As I noted, thankfully, this only happens to me about once a year, but I am sure sellers with greater volume probably deal with this nonsense weekly.  I just hold my return the item for a full refund line and add the scammer to my blocked buyers list so the scammer can't plague me again (at least until the scammer gets a new eBay user id).  I've noticed that over the years most of the scammers on my blocked buyers list get thrown off eBay eventually, so I'm assuming they tried the partial refund scam a few too many times and even eBay got exasperated with them (and, unfortunately, eBay is a little too scammer-friendly because over the years eBay switched from being an equal trading post to placing more emphasis on attracting buyers), which is impressive. 

In addition to holding the full refund line and adding the scammer to your blocked buyer list, I also pay for postal insurance on items sold above $100.  Then if the scammer tries the old "it was lost/damaged in shipping" routine as an excuse for why they can't return the item, you can just direct them to take it up with the post office (and the scammers won't want to deal with a USPS inspector, so that will be the end of it).

The vast majority of my eBay sales go through just fine with happy buyers and a happy seller.  Unfortunately, there are some scammers out there though, so know what to do.  If enough sellers hold the line on partial refunds, then the problem should lessen, which would be good news for everyone.

There is a copy of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus for sale on eBay, but you can also buy the novel directly from me.

1 comment:

  1. The dude never returned the item and never responded to my message, so eBay released its hold on my funds and closed the case in my favor. I'm assuming it was yet another partial refund scam. Please stop doing this crap, people.


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