Is eBay’s Buyer Protection Policy Leaving Its Sellers Out To Dry?

Is Ebay's Buyer Protection Policy Leaving Its Sellers Out To Dry?Source: Wikimedia

The online shopping haven of eBay has provided a platform that enables entrepreneurs from all over the world to set up a shop and begin trading. You could choose to sell anything from custom made t-shirts to retro computer games or from antique furniture to minimalist sculptures. The possibilities are endless. Setting yourself up as a shop on eBay is simple, and you can begin trading immediately. The fees for eBay and Paypal are transparent, so it’s easy to work out how much you will be taking home after you sell your wares.

Like any online marketplace that involves financial transactions, the platform is open to abuse from both unscrupulous buyers and sellers. eBay has attempted to counteract fraud and dodgy financial dealings by implementing the money back guarantee for buyers. If a buyer purchases an item and it is reported as not received or not as described, the buyer can request a refund and eBay will ensure the seller coughs up the required funds. This sounds legitimate, and no reputable seller will dispute the need to stamp out those few sellers who try to get away with poor packaging, selling known damaged items or, even worse, selling items that don’t even exist.

The issue arises when buyers can manipulate this money back guarantee for their own gains, effectively stealing. Say a buyer purchases a lamp on eBay. He then states that this lamp hasn’t arrived and you, as the seller, have no way of disproving this assertion are forced to provide a refund. You then research the feedback given to this buyer to discover that this is very much his MO and he’s performed this fraudulent trick numerous times before. However, eBay still insists that you refund the money and no action is taken against the buyer. The madness of this situation has led to eBay sellers protesting the money back guarantee policy as it does nothing to protect the seller from fraudulent buyers.

One suggestion has been to implement anti-fraud machine learning initiatives that will enable Paypal and eBay to spot potential fraudulent buyers and halt any financial transaction. Software can analyse data and utilise clues to build up a picture of a typical fraudster. If any of these clues emerge, a red flag is waved, and the seller will be protected.

eBay’s insistence on protecting the buyer is not up for debate. This is a positive policy. It is the insistence on protecting the buyer at the expense of a seller’s reputation, financial stability, and well-being that is causing discontent amongst the millions of eBay sellers across the globe. Even if, as a seller, you protect yourself with tracked delivery and you can prove that your item was delivered to the buyer, there is no way that you can prove that the item didn’t arrive damaged if a fraudulent buyer chooses to lie to eBay. The money back guarantee states that a refund must occur.

Although eBay is the largest company of its kind, it can no longer risk being complacent towards its sellers. New online selling platforms are emerging all the time as well as the intuitive e-commerce website builders such as Shopify and WooCommerce. eBay must strive to find a balance in its policy that sees both sellers and buyers protected from fraud and scams to ensure that it doesn’t risk pushing its sellers away to source alternative online shopping avenues.