I was recently scammed on eBay when I sold some car parts and the buyer claimed he didn’t get it despite the package being marked as “Delivered” by FedEx.
The scam is super easy, and anyone can do it, so I’m sharing it here to bring greater awareness to this problem and hope that someone at eBay reads this and does something about it…but even if they don’t, I hope that even just one eBay seller sees this and that I can prevent them from having the same thing happen to them.
Before I tell you how the scam works, and how you can avoid it (or take advantage of it), let me get this out of the way: Noel Silva of 418 Main Street, Fairhaven, MA 02719 is a scammer and thief. Do not trust him, do not hire him, do not date him, don’t let him around your kids, and definitely do not do business with him. His phone number is 508-717-7232.
How the scam works (aka how to get things for free on eBay as long as they cost over $750*)
The scam is quite simple – buy anything you want as long as it cost over $750 (including shipping).
If the seller does NOT require signature confirmation, then you can pretend you never received it…simply wait until after you get it, then file a Dispute claiming you didn’t get it, and eBay will refund the full amount (including shipping) back to you, and you get to keep the item.
It doesn’t matter if the item is marked as “Delivered” by the shipping company, or if the seller is a power seller or has a great track record – eBay always sides with the Buyer as long as it’s over $750 unless there is a signature confirmation from the shipping company to prove you got it.
If they did require a signature, you’re stuck with the item – but most sellers do not do this as it something that eBay themselves doesn’t make clear and buries deep into their Help Portal that you’re unlikely to read or see until it’s too late…even if you buy the shipping label through eBay, which I’d imagine most sellers do, there isn’t anywhere that suggests let alone requires Signature Confirmation, so the seller would need to go out of their way to check the box for Signature Confirmation because they were aware of the scam or are otherwise very thorough people. I would imagine some of the Power Sellers on eBay know about this rule after they likely got stung by this too, so if you really want to do this, you’re best off looking for sellers who don’t do a ton of volume and you should probably only do this if you actually want the item in case they do require signature and you’re out of luck on getting a refund.
What’s crazy is that it doesn’t matter how many times the seller calls customer service, how good their seller rating is, or even if FedEx says the item was delivered and you have receipts proving you dropped it off (all of which I did), eBay will always side with the Buyer. This seems like an insane loophole, yet it remains wide open.
What really sucks for the seller is that that refund comes directly from the Seller’s pocket – including shipping, which the seller already paid to FedEx (or UPS/USPS)…eBay also keeps their fees, so the Seller gets extra screwed in the process.
For me selling this $1,000 part resulted in the following loss:
- -$1,000 car part value (I’d argue it was worth more, but that’s what it went for)
- -$122.75 in shipping refund to the buyer (what he paid for shipping)
- -$74.88 in actual FedEx label costs (purchased through eBay)
- -$27.47 in packaging costs (I had FedEx do this as I wanted to make sure it arrived safely)
- -$148.75 in eBay fees that they collected (and kept!)
TOTAL LOSS: $1,373.85
Now you’re probably asking why I didn’t insure the package – of course I did. I opened a claim with FedEx seeing if they’d step in and help…but FedEx shows the package as delivered, so they denied the claim since it isn’t their fault that eBay decided it wasn’t delivered…and neither the buyer nor eBay has any proof it wasn’t delivered. In fact, the only actual proof in this case shows that the package was delivered based on the tracking number, along with receipts I have to prove exactly when I dropped it off.
For the record, here is the link to the original listing: https://www.ebay.com/itm/133766634536?transid=0&ul_noapp=true
And here is proof it was shipped & delivered:
How to prevent yourself from getting scammed on eBay as a seller
The biggest thing you can do is to require signature confirmation on everything you ship. This is a huge pain in the butt for the buyer, as it requires them to be home to accept the package, but because eBay’s policy is so firm, it’s the only prudent course of action.
I would also be suspicious of buyers like Noel Silva aka nocplaya2012 on eBay who hadn’t bought anything for a while, as they could be scammers and/or not legitimate users of the site.
That all being said, the best thing you can do is to not use eBay.
The eBay “Money Back Guarantee” sounds nice from a marketing perspective, but what they really mean is “if there are any problems, we will take the money back from the seller and give it back to the buyer.”
Even worse, they’ll keep their fees, which are fairly significant (almost 20%) if you don’t proactively refund the buyer when they ask, even if you did in fact ship the item and it was marked as delivered by the shipping company.
If you think that you’ll be able to get a different outcome because of your persuasive skills, or excellent Sellers History, think again. I am an eBay affiliate, I’ve been paid by eBay as an influencer to create “Pro-eBay” content, and I have this blog – all of which I told multiple customer service representatives about (as much as I hate playing that card). I also let them know our conversations would be published here, and in total I sent about 40 different emails and placed at least 5 phone calls trying to escalate this. I even filed two different appeals of their original decision – all to no avail. I don’t care if you were the founder of eBay yourself, the offshore customer service team has no ability, authority, nor interest in making an exception to their rules – if you didn’t have signature confirmation, the buyer gets a full refund and gets to keep the part.
Simply put, eBay is not a safe place to buy or sell items online – consider local transactions (OfferUp, Craigslist) or speciality websites rather than a faceless bureaucracy like eBay that doesn’t have any real capacity to investigate and settle disputes fairly.
Why you shouldn’t do this (even thought it’s so easy)
For starters, it royally screws over the Seller – if eBay were the ones actually stepping in and paying out of their pocket like an insurance policy, then it’d be a mostly victimless crime has a market cap of $47,000,000,000 (that’s billion!) and so paying the occasional claim would be a rounding error in their balance sheet…but that’s not what eBay does, they debit the amount straight out of the Seller’s checking account.
Not only is the Seller out the actual part (which had value), they end up eating the shipping costs and eBay fees too. In extreme cases, the refund might be enough to overdraft their checking account, or cause them to not be able to pay bills. I’m thankful and fortunate that this amount was not a major financial hardship for me, but I’d imagine for some sellers, it very much could be.
If you don’t care about the Seller, then consider not doing this because it will make you a better person. You may or may not believe in karma, sin, shame, or some other mechanism of determining right vs wrong, but doing this is objectively wrong.
Will I shut down my eBay account?
Initially my answer was yes – I shut down my account after my second appeal was denied. I was so mad and frusterated that I couldn’t imagine a world in which I’d ever want to use eBay again.
As time went on, I realized that I didn’t want to lose my great feedback score (oddly enough this dispute, even though ruled against me, didn’t hurt my seller feedback whatsoever) should I want to buy something in the future. eBay has a ton of used car parts that are very difficult if not impossible to find elsewhere.
As such, I’ll probably never sell on the platform again, but I may consider buying things. If I do, it will only be as a last resort, and I’d be willing to pay more money for the same item if it can be purchased outside of the eBay ecosystem…but if there is truly no way around it, I’ll reluctantly use eBay again…as much as I’d love to boycott them, the truth is that the boycott would hurt me far more than them, as they’re too big to ever notice my business being gone.
I do hope that one day eBay changes their policy, or makes it more clear to seller that signature confirmation is required. It would be really simple to do for those who purchase their shipping labels through eBay (as I did) by actually making this a required field in order to purchase the label – I can’t think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t opt for this, and it would cut down on fraud from both buyers and sellers drastically.
In the meantime, shame on you eBay, and shame on you Noel Silva.