I recently bought a tenor sax on ebay (the make and model aren't really that relevant for purposes of this discussion) that I believed was not as described and, after the seller gave me the option to return it for a full refund, I sent it back and awaited a refund that unfortunately did not come--at least not right away and not without a "fight." But in a way the whole thing was my fault as an experienced ebayer who let my guard down just once--but of course once is enough to get bilked out of hundreds or thousands of dollars of your hard-earned money. So I've decided to share the experience with the hope that it will prevent others from making the same mistakes I did.
But here's what happened: After receiving and trying to play the horn I emailed the seller to let him know it did not play easily in the low register and that it appeared to have leaks and not be in the good playing condition that he had described (he had said in the listing that it had just been fully repadded and adjusted--turned out later the "just" was extended to it having been done about 4 months ago with significant playing time since then).
But in response he offered two options: 1) To work with me as far as a partial refund based on an estimate from my tech to put it in playing condition; 2) To return the horn for a full refund.
I decided to take Option 2. However, because his feedback was 100 percent with around 500 transactions--and other details that made him look like a nice guy--I didn't file a Paypal Claim in advance of shipping the horn back but just made sure to get delivery confirmation on the shipment. Also, I don't like filing claims because it has an odd way of pissing off sellers when you do it, you know, even if it is proper protocol. But as we shall see, this was a near-fatal judgment call on my part.
Well, after it was delivered--silence for a good 24 hours and no refund. I file a claim with Paypal and escalate it immediately. Still nothing. I call Paypal--they tell me that I should've filed the claim in advance of returning the item, and that I needed Signature Confirmation on the shipment (in this case USPS Priority Mail) since sold for over $200 on ebay. Well, been using ebay for 10 years and I've never heard of this until now (must be fairly new).
Also Paypal is no longer accepting emails as evidence due to people faking them (that IS a new policy) so the email from him that was my ace in the hole saying I could return was worthless.
Fortunately, the second time I called Paypal the agent just happened to be a sax player himself whom I immediately connected with. Long story short--though he couldn't accept the emails-- with the deliv. confirmation and the fact the seller had already relisted the horn, he decided to make an exception and decide it in my favor right on the spot.
But I was VERY lucky since normally if you don't get sig. confirm. on a return you are SOL. And the sickening part was that this long-time ebay seller appeared to know this judging from the silence and no refund. And if the Paypal agent would not have intervened on my behalf all the seller had to do was wait out the clock, it would have gone his way, and he would've gotten to keep the horn and my money.
But the same night the agent did this, and notification emails were sent, I get this sudden nasty message from the seller saying I was a con and a thief (funny, since at that point he still had my horn AND my money). But I think he knew at that point that it was game over.
Basically because of the sig. confirm. rule, he still could've won but now he was going to have to respond to Paypal directly with an answer as to whether he'd received it instead of waiting for the clock to wind down. And I guess he decided it was not in his best interest to lie (I was already considering legal options) because he never responded by the 3-day deadline and it was automatically decided in my favor with an extraction of funds from his account.
But that was four days after he received the horn. So based on that there is no doubt in my mind that he would have kept the horn and the money if it had gone his way.
But here we have some valuable lessons about using Paypal/eBay: 1) Never trust an ebay seller that you don't know personally, even if he has 10,000 transactions and 100 percent feedback--because they know how to work the system and so can potentially use it against you and to their advantage; 2) Always use the proper Paypal protocol for returns, which means filing a Not-As-Described Claim in advance of shipping and getting Signature and deliv. confirmation.