[Auction FAQ]



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    This thread is meant to serve as a resource for buyers. Sellers have existing resources available to them, but we recognize that many sellers are also buyers, and that many PWFers are primarily buyers. Therefore, problems are addressed from the buyerï’ perspective, and some advice offered may be contrary to the best interests of sellers (for example, buyers are encouraged to pay with a CC, while sellers for many reasons prefer not to accept CCS).
    The majority of the content in the OP was written by Nariokotome. tlaxon contributed to it, but Nario deserves the lionshare of the credit for the excellent guide.
    Buyers and sellers alike are encouraged to give input on this, either by posting in this thread. Your input and information is invaluable, and will be fully credited. Suggestions for both content and form (how the information is organized) are appreciated.
    This guide is intentionally somewhat vague. it can’t possibly address every potential problem buyers may experience. When certain kinds of problems appear to be on the rise, they may be addressed here, but if you have a problem as a buyer that is unique in some way, feel free to post about it in a separate thread so it can get more attention and advice specific to your situation can be offered.

    Tips for buying stuff on eBay.
    Before you buy: Or, successful problem resolution through prevention.

    1. Do your comparison shopping elsewhere. The stock information eBayprovides for a given item is often inadequate. The information provided by most sellers is often inadequate, or worse (but rarer), flat out wrong. You’re better off using a well-known, large internet retailer for finding the information you need. I use Pricegrabber.com &Amazon.com the most often as both sites have just about any product you’d want listed. Nothing beats seeing the physical product itself, so use a b&m; retailer for that, especially if you’re thinking about buying a more expensive item.
      I recommend usingeBayto look for specific products, not a type of product - but this doesn’t apply in all cases (i.e. old stuff that wouldn’t be on a retailer’s website or in a big box store).
      If you’re not sure about a specific product, you’re better off paying more for it at a b&m; retail store with a lenient return policy before buying it on eBay.
      Now that you’ve identified what it is that you’re buying,
    2. Learn how to use eBay’s search features. Do a completed listing search to get an idea of how much you should expect to pay for a product on eBay. If there have been enough of the product sold, try to identify any patterns in its selling price: are they selling for less at certain days, or times of the day? are they selling more frequently now than a week ago (this means the price could be either going up or down depending on other factors)? are there a lot of unsold listings for the item (likely means prices will be/already are dropping)?
      Use eBay’s result sort features as needed. The default sort is now “best match” - this combines keyword matches, time ending, seller feedback and detailed seller ratings, and some other eBay voodoo. You can adjust your settings to show results by ending soonest if you like. You can also try doing a search for lowest price first or newly-listed (this is especially useful if you’re looking for buy it now items).
      So you’ve found something that looks good,
    3. Check the seller’s feedback. Then check it again. 100% positive feedback is meaningless. 95% or even 90% positive feedback might not necessarily be a bad thing. You need to pay to attention to the patterns in the seller’s feedback.
      Do they have 96% positive because they have 100 feedbacks & 4 are negatives from the a year ago? This wouldn’t worry me at all. Usually if they haven’t received any negative feedback in recent sales, you’re in the clear. Do they have 99% feedback, but have 10,000+ feedbacks, & have received an increasing number of negatives recently? That would concern me.
      Donït forget to actually read the feedback your seller has received. Toolhaus is a great resource for quickly checking a seller’s negs and neutrals. You also should at least skim the positives; trading partners will often leave ïsoft positivesï when the seller wasnït fantastic, but not a complete jerk. A lot of comments such as great product, slow shipping, fast shipping, item ok or a simple thanks often signal some underlying problem with the seller.
      There are three types of eBay sellers: casual sellers who clear out stuff from their house once in a while, part-time sellers who try to make a couple extra hundred dollars a month reselling hot deals, clearance items, etc., & full-time (or close to full-time) sellers who are making substantial amounts of money selling on eBay. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to figure out which type of seller is the best to buy from. I find casual sellers often simply don’t know what they’re doing, don’t know how to pack items well, take their time shipping, and/or freak out if you complain. High volume sellers, I’ve found, either don’t give two sh!ts about buyers (what’s a negative or 20 a week when you’re selling >1,000 items in the same time frame?) - or will be very good at what they’re doing. I’m probably biased towards part-time sellers because that’s what I am, but I’ve found other part-time sellers value each purchaser enough to try to do everything they can to ensure a smooth transaction - they (we) simply don’t want eBa yto take up any more time than it requires - which means taking extra care making sure a listing is accurate, packaging well, & shipping quickly. However, these are just generalities - and feedback trumps all! Basically - if the seller is low volume & has a few negs, move on. If the seller is medium volume & has a few negs, don’t necessarily move on. If the seller is high volume - well, check their feedback - with high volume sellers pay particular attention to their ratings on shipping time & communication.
      How does the seller respond to their negative feedback? By leaving retaliatory negatives, using immature language? That’s a concern. By replying, “Sorry, refunded the buyer’s payment”? That’s less of a concern - unless that’s a standard reply to all of their negatives & the follow-up from the buyers is always, “No they didn’t!” Sellers can no longer neg buyers, but you can still see what they have done in the past. You can also check responses to feedback they have been give.
      Who has left them negative feedback? High % eBayers who have left few negative feedbacks & have themselves received few negative feedbacks, or buyers who are leaving lots of negative feedback &/or receiving lots in return? The former is definitely a cause for concern while the latter, ehh, not so much - some people are just idiots.
      Watch out for feedback rings, or meaningless feedback. Feedback rings are usually fraudulent accounts that all give each other feedback for auctions of items that are 1 cent (or very low cost) & have no shipping cost - meaningless feedbacks. Look out for a seller who has been inactive (as either a buyer or seller) for an extended period of time (>1 month), & now has tons of stuff for sale, especially expensive stuff - that’s probably a highjacked account.
      The new detailed seller ratings (DSRs) (aka the gold stars on the FB page) may also help you decide who to buy from or avoid. Sellers need at least 10 FB before the stars show up, so if youïre looking at a casual seller, donït be alarmed if you donït see DSRs yet. Ideally you want a seller with high marks on all four DSR categories. An average of 4.5 or better would be good, but consider the whole seller profile in assessing the DSRs.
      Seller looks ok?
    4. Read the auction description. And its terms. Look for auctions that are devoid of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, or stupid sh!t like lots of smiley faces & awkward formatting. Look for clear, concise descriptions of whatever it is that you’re buying. Look for clear pictures as well.
      Watch out for disclaimers like, “stock photo”, or what are obviously stock photos the seller is just stealing from some other website. If they can’t take the time to take an actual photograph, do you think they’ll take the time to package well and/or communicate with you if something goes wrong? This doesn’t really apply to high-volume sellers, but it certainly does to low- & medium volume sellers. Actual photos are critical for items with a value materially affected by condition. You just don’t buy a crystal sculpture without seeing photos to ascertain that the “mint” description is correct. For other items, however, actual photos aren’t always necessary. Do you really need to see a box of a sealed hard drive? Use judgement in deciding whether you need to see actual photos. If they aren’t in the listing, and you want to see them before bidding, either move on or ask the seller to take some for you.
      Watch out for “untested”. Untested usually means ‘we tested it & it didn’t work’, unless it’s obviously some random item the seller might not be very familiar with. If you’re buying computer parts that say “untested” from a computer parts seller, I can practically guarantee you they did, in fact, test it, & it didn’t work. Otherwise they would be selling it for a higher price and some sort of guarantee.
      Watch out for “no refunds”. This is pure BS, plain & simple, at least for most items. You can very often get a refund through PayPal even with that language in the auction. Usually, I interpret it as an indication that the seller will do anything & everything in their power to fight giving you a refund. For some items, like concert tickets, or adult toys or lingerie, this is not a concern - if a normal b&m; retailer wouldn’t let you return it, then don’t expect aneBayseller to let you return it.
      Watch out for sellers who advertise a manufacturer’s warranty, especially for electronics. Many electronics manufacturers demand a retail receipt before doing warranty work – and eBay sales are rarely (if ever) covered by them. This is common for digital cameras & camcorders (of which there’s a big gray market on eBay- do not buy a camera on eBay from a seller in NYC, haha). Nikon, Canon, Kodak, &Sony all need receipts for warranty work. If the auction does not explicitly state that the seller is including a copy of the retail receipt or an original gift receipt, don’t buy it. Period. Many (most?) of the digital cameras sold on eBayare made for overseas markets & have no US warranty. Maybe this isn’t an issue on a $60 point n shoot, but it certainly is on a $600 SLR. Other electronics manufacturers do NOT require a receipt, like hard drive makers (i.e. Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Hitachi), RAM makers (i.e. Crucial, Mushkin, Kingston), & cpu makers (neither AMD nor Intel require a receipt last I had to RMA a chip, but neither warranty OEM chips anymore). If you don’t know - call the manufacturer! A simple, “I bought this item two months ago & can’t find my receipt, can I still send it in for warranty work?” is all it will take.
      Check the seller’s return policy. Do they have one specified? If not, that’s not a selling point but it’s not necessarily a bad thing, either (again check feedback to see how they’ve handled this before). Does the seller make it easy or difficult to return things? Do you need to go through some PITA RMA process & ship it back in 3 days? That’s never a good thing. Do they plainly state items must be returned in their original selling condition within 1 week? That’s fine.
      If an item is expensive (for me, that’s just about anything over $100), I contact the seller first with some question or another. I’ll confirm that a detail in the description is correct, ask about combined shipping, or something else (even if I don’t really need to know the answer) - simply to establish that the person is half intelligent in their response, as well as to see how quickly they respond.
      Look at the shipping information each seller provides. Many sellers will indicate their shipping time frame in the listing. Some sellers may ship only once a week, others ship twice a day. If you need your widget in a hurry, look for a listing that promises prompt shipment. Don’t forget that prompt shipment via Media Mail probably won’t get you your rhinestone tiara in time for the prom. Many sellers offer a choice of shipping carriers and services/classes. If you need something in a hurry, look for a seller who has some sort of expedited shipping service offered, but remember that you do pay for the privilege of fast plane over slow boat. If you need something by a specific date, consider what carriers offer guaranteed delivery. From the USPS, only Express Mail has a service guarantee (which is 1 or 2 days after shipment depending on where you are in relation to where the seller is). UPS/FedEx/DHL are typically better choices if you need your widget on time. If you can locate an item close to you, and choose a private carrier, you’re likely to get your item by when you need it. Otherwise, suck it up and buy from a B&M.;
      The shipping fee matters, too. A favorite tactic of many sellers is to increase the shipping/handling fee while decreasing the item price. This reduces some of the fees the buyer pays, and due to buyer psychology tends to attract more bids. Make sure that you consider the item price plus any s/h/i fees in determining what to buy. A $5.99 widget with free shipping will cost you less overall than a $2.99 widget with $4 shipping. eBay now offers the ability to sort by total price in searches.
      You also need to think about how you can get packages. if you have a PO Box, then don’t spend time looking at widgets that ship only via UPS. Also, you need to know that most sellers will require signatures on delivery for sales of $250 or more. This isn’t to hassle you, or delay you getting your package, but a PayPal requirement for seller protection. So while you may need your rhinestone tiara by Friday, and UPS says they can get it to you on Friday, you may still need to arrange to have someone available to accept it, or you might have to go out to the UPS depot yourself to pick it up and sign for it.
      IF A DEAL IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT’S BECAUSE IT IS NOT TRUE.
      Fakes, forgeries, frauds, charlatans, & mountebanks abound on eBay. This is especially true with certain items such as designer jewelry, clothes, & just about any electronics item that’s coming from Asia. DVDs being sold at far less than retail price are bootlegs from Asia. Flash drives being sold at far less than retail are fakes from Asia. Lest I sound like I’m picking on Asia, fossils that are too awesome for the asking price are fakes from North Africa. Or China. Sorry, I can’t help it.
      Don’t be the sucker out of all the people who were born the same minute as you. Pay a few dollars more to buy your DVDs from an American selling retail American DVDs. This doesnït mean that an American-purchased widget is guaranteed to be authentic, just that the odds of getting a real widget are much better when buying American.
      So the item looks ok? Then go for it.
    5. Paying for your purchase. Use a credit card. Most buyers will use credit-card funded PayPal, but if you and your seller can agree on another service that lets you use your CC, that works too. You just really want to be sure your payment is CC-funded (whether processed by Paypal or any other processor), because a chargeback may be your only recourse if something goes wrong. (Unless you’re buying porn, then use a USPS postal money order.) As a seller I hate to say it because I’d rather cash out USPS postal money orders, but as a buyer I won’t use anything else. There is no real way to recover any money sent in the form of a personal check or money order. eBay won’t let sellers take Google Checkout (yet). If you absolutely must send a postal money order, I wouldn’t send one for more than you can afford to lose without getting too bent out of shape over (i.e. that last Playboy you need for your collection). Note I keep saying USPS postal money order - most sellers prefer this type of MO, & if they try to screw with you, you can at least send the USPS after them for mail fraud. With other MOs, you do still have the mail fraud option, but the USPS looks even less kindly on fraud committed with the USPS x 2 (USPS MO + mailed through USPS).
      A note about payment methods:eBay has severely restricted paper payments. Sellers may no longer advertise they accept checks and money orders in most categories. If you wish to pay with a check or MO, contact the seller before bidding/buying to ensure they are willing and able to accept it.
      We’ll assume, for the purposes of much of this guide, that you are using CC-funded Paypal. If your CC was processed some other way (using a seller’s merchant account, for example), then some of this info applies but clearly not all.
      Anyway, onto PayPal payments. First, if you have any balance in your PayPal account, withdraw it to your bank account or send it to one of your other PayPal accounts before paying*. Second, pay with a credit card. If something goes wrong, & PayPal refuses to help, a credit card chargeback is your last resort. PayPal will discourage you from using your credit card. The default option is to pay with funds in your bank account, you’ll need to click on the ‘more funding options’ link. Then, you’ll need to select your credit card. Then, you’ll need to turn down PayPal’s nice reminders that there are no finance charges or bills to pay when you use your bank account, and insist you want to use your credit card. (What good FWer pays interest anyway, what with our glorious finance forum and all?)
      *Yes, you may have up to three Paypal accounts, one personal and one premier or business, plus one for micropayments. If you find yourself needing to shuffle funds in order to pay with a CC, then send the money to the other account, make the payment, then refund it. Alternatively, send the money to an email address you control that is not attached to any PayPal account, make your payment, then cancel the first transaction.
      Send your payment, & immediately start sending harassing emails to your seller that you haven’t received your item, that you want your tracking number now, that you’ve changed your mind, etc. Just kidding. Sit back, & wait. At least a full week before contacting your seller (unless it’s a concert ticket you needed overnighted, in which case, don’t wait a week.)
      After you buy: Or, resolving problems that arise post-sale.
      How to handle an INR.(That’s Item Not Received.)
      So you bought your stuff, waited a week (that’s seven calendar days/five full business days), & you still don’t have your stuff?
      First look at the listing. Did the seller say he shipped only on Saturdays? Then start the clock from that day. If you bought on Monday an item scheduled to ship Saturday, and itïs now Tuesday (8 days after EOA), you need to wait a few more days before starting to worry.
      Contact your seller through eBay. Give them at least three full business days or a full weekend plus two business days to respond. No response? Contact them through eBayagain. Wait at least three full business days or a full weekend plus two business days to respond to your second email. No response? Request their contact info through eBay& call them.
      If they don’t answer your call, leave a message & wait two full business days or a full weekend & one business day. If they don’t return your message, call again. If they don’t pick up, leave a second message.
      If/when they answer/call you back, ask where your stuff is. If they say they mailed it already, ask for a tracking number. If they haven’t mailed it yet, politely state you expect it to be mailed that day or the next business day. If they say that’s not possible, tell them you want a refund, but be polite, ala ‘No harm, no foul, no problem - I’d just rather not keep waiting’. Don’t get suckered into the “I’ll ship it in a few days” gambit (they won’t ship, ever, let alone in a few days). If they flat out state they won’t refund you, just hang up. If they say they’ll ship it that day or tomorrow, wait two full weeks before filing an INR (more on why you should wait this long before filing an INR later).
      No widget after four full weeks? File an INR complaint through eBay(which will route you to PayPal) ïunless the item was advertised as being shipped via media mail or parcel post.Media Mail & Parcel Post can take over a month to arrive.
      Why should I wait four full weeks before filing an INR complaint through PayPal?
      Because if your stuff shows up after you’ve filed the INR complaint but before PayPal has closed it, you can’t file a SNAD claim if the item arrives SNAD.
      Well, actually you can convert an INR to a SNAD, but it takes persistence to get it done. PayPalïs system is set up not to allow buyers to convert claims, but the paypal reps can do it if you call. Theyïll likely tell you it canït be done, but if you can reach a supervisor and make your case, it is possible. Itïs often much easier to turn to a chargeback if you end up in this situation.
      The seller says they shipped it & that it must have been lost. They say since I didn’t buy insurance, I’m screwed. Am I really screwed?
      No. At this point, you can either:
      Politely state to your seller that the language in their auction that states that they aren’t responsible for items lost in the mail is irrelevant & that PayPal’s terms state that the seller must prove to PayPal that the buyer received the item or the buyer will win any INR claim. This will either piss the seller off & they’ll refuse you a refund or intimidate them into issuing you a refund. If they issue a refund, great, if not, well, file an INR claim.
      Or,
      You can simply state that you’re disappointed. And then file an INR claim.
      How to handle a SNAD.(That’s Significantly Not as Described.)
      The stuff I got wasn’t what was advertised, what do I do?
      If it’s an electronics item, do yourself & the seller a favor & read the damn manual - it might not be broken. It also might not be compatible with your existing equipment.
      Email your seller & describe, as precisely as possible, how the item does not match its description. BE POLITE. Do not accuse your seller of deliberately trying to scam you. At this point, you really do not have any reason to assume anything other than that the seller made an honest mistake. Did the seller use poor packaging, or do something else just plain stupid? Possibly, but that’s not the same as trying to scam you. Even if you have reason to suspect you’ve been had, don’t let on that you think as such. It just makes resolution more difficult, and the goal now is to get your money back, not vent your frustration/anger. Do not leave rash negative feedback.
      Give your seller a full week to respond. Try to reach an amicable resolution. If you can’t, file a SNAD claim with PayPal, & prepare to wait a while (weeks, to more than a month) while PayPal freezes the funds in the seller’s account, lets that money accumulate interest in their own bank accounts, & then finally decides to either release it to you or give it back to the seller.
      If you do reach an amicable resolution, most sellers will expect you to ship the item back before issuing a refund. Ship it back at this point only if the seller has explicitly stated they will refund you when they get it back (in other words, the seller consented to the return). Be sure to use a trackable method (i.e. USPS delivery confirmation or FedEx/UPS). Insure it if you think it’s necessary. Get a signature on delivery if you paid $250 or more. Most sellers will issue you a refund within a week of receiving the item back. If the seller does not issue you a refund, file a SNAD claim with PayPal. This process can take a month (or more), so be patient.
      Why should I use a trackable method and insure the return shipment?
      Because if you can’t prove to PayPal that you sent it back, you lose the SNAD claim you’ll file if the seller hasn’t refunded you a full week after they get it back. If the package goes missing on its way back to the seller, you lose the SNAD claim you’ll have to file, because the seller wouldn’t’ve received the item & therefore wouldn’t’ve refunded you.
      PayPal says I have to get an expert to state that the item is fake/broken/SNAD. Why?
      In balancing buyer and seller needs, Paypal will often puts the burden of proof on the buyer. This is to ensure that sellers are not taken advantage of by buyers with remorse over purchases. Itïs also to help PayPal settle claims. They donït have the widget, you do, so you may be required to get a letter from an expert stating that the widget is SNAD. If you buy a watch that arrives broken, for example, you might have a jeweler examine it and write a description on letterhead. That letter would then be faxed to PayPal. The request for an expertïs review is not unusual in certain categories, and for more expensive items.
      PayPal ruled against me! WTF?!
      File a credit card chargeback. Paypal used to close the accounts of buyers who bypassed Paypal in favor of a chargeback, but this is no longer the norm. Instead, the UA explicitly allows buyers to file chargebacks without risl to their PayPal accounts. You do need to be aware that if you have a claim open and file a chargeback, the claim will be closed, and you will not be allowed to reopen it. If you have not yet filed a Paypal claim, and choose instead to go for a chargeback, you will not later be allowed to go back and file a claim if the chargeback is unsuccessful. For this reason it is often recommended to go through PayPal first, and if you lose then go for a chargeback. That way you really have two potential arenas for the win.
      I’m a victim of fraud. What do I do?
      Perhaps you didn’t use Paypal. Perhaps you did use PayPal, but your purchase was not eligible for PayPal Buyer protection, or your purchase was for an amount greater than what was available to you via the BPP. Perhaps PayPal simply did not rule in your favor. Whatever the reason, as a buyer you may need to report fraudulent activity to law enforcement.
      If the USPS was involved in any way (you mailed payment by USPS, or the item was shipped USPS, then you may file a mail fraud alert. This can be filed online here https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/filecomplaint.aspx. You can also obtain the form at any post office.
      IC3 is run in part by the FBI to help combat cyber crime. They take complaints about any Internet crime that may occur. You can file a report online http://www.ic3.gov.
      Local law enforcement may also be helpful. You can file reports with your local LE, and have them forward it to LE in the seller’s jurisdiction.
      FYI, PayPal does accept IC3 reports in lieu of a report from a local police jurisdiction when they request a police report during an active dispute/claim.
      Feedback
      With changes in May 2008, sellers can no longer leave negative or neutral feedback for buyers. Buyers still can leave negative, neutral, or positive feedback for seller. eBay considers a neutral and a negative equivalent in determining buyer satisfaction, so if you are thinking that a neutral is kind to the seller, think again.
      Generally it is best to leave feedback after the entire transaction is complete. That is, after you have received your widget and are happy with it and the seller’s performance. Alternatively, after you have exhausted all means of working with the seller to obtain a reasonable solution to whatever problem might have come up. Don’t threaten sellers with negs, and don’t leave it prematurely (before you fully understand the entire transaction and its outcome).

    Acronyms:
    PP= PayPal
    SPP = PayPal Seller Protection Policy
    INR= Item not received
    SNAD=Significantly not as described
    CC=credit card

    Contents:
    I. PayPal Seller Protection Policy
    II. Reversals and Chargebacks on PayPal payments
    III. How to fight reversals and chargebacks
    IV. Important measures to take to protect yourself
    V. Important dates/Timeline
    VI. FAQs

    I. PayPal’s Seller Protection Policy:
    The SPP is a policy that provides some protection against claims of nonreceipt and unauthorized payment. It WILL NOT protect you against SNAD claims. To qualify for the SPP, you must:
    1. Live in the right country
    The sellers primary residence must be in the U.S. Thus, the account must also be registered in the U.S.
    2. Ship to the address on the transaction details page
    PayPal no longer requires ebay sellers ship to confirmed addresses for coverage. Instead, the current requirement is to ship to the address as listed on the transaction details page in PayPal.
    3. Shipment requirements
    PayPal requires you obtain proof of shipment and/or proof of delivery - what you need depends on what kind of dispute is filed. To cover yourself against claims of unauthorized payment, you need mere proof of shipment. For example, UPS tracking showing package pickup, or a receipt from the PO. The proof may be physical (e.e.g, paper) or digital (e.e., e/DC status). The proof must show the buyer’s city and state or zip code at minimum.
    If you want coverage against claims of nonreceipt, you need proof of delivery. This must be available online (e.g., e/DC showing delivery or UPS tracking showing delivery). The proof must contain the buyer’s city and state or zip code at minimum.
    If the total combined payment (item price + shipping + handling + insurance) is $250 or more, you MUST get a signature upon delivery. If not, you WILL lose an INR claim. For shipping via USPS, get Signature Confirmation (SC). For the other 3 carriers, request a signature.
    Best bet: Get proof of delivery as that covers all SPP situations.
    Note: DC is confirmation of delivery only. It is not tracking. You may get some scans along the way, but consider those a bonus.
    If you allow pickups, you will not have online trackable proof of delivery. You WILL lose all INR claims. A receipt signed by the buyer in DNA-typable blood will not satisfy PayPal. Therefore, do not accept PayPal for pickups.
    If you want to ship to international locations, you need to use FedEx or UPS (get tracking) or USPS Express Mail International or Priority Mail International. UPS or FedEx will tend to tick off your buyer as they get charged brokerage fees. Additionally, if the buyer does not pay the brokerage fees, FedEx will go back to the seller to get the fees. Both USPS options can be used, but EMI is the only option if you need a signature on delivery. Keep in mind PMI cannot be tracked everywhere so be sure to investigate what option is best for your particular situation.
    Registered Mail (USPS) will meet the PayPal SPP online trackable proof of delivery requirement for items under $250. RM does require a signature, but it is not displayed online and as such will not meet the signature requirement for items $250+. This means that as long as all other criteria are met, you can ship items under $250 to APO/FPO addresses with RM and be covered under the SPP. Thanks to Airtommy for confirming with PayPal that RM will work.
    If you plan to ship with Fedex, you have 3 options for obtaining a signature (indirect, direct, and adult). To comply with the signature requirement, you should request either direct or adult. PayPal requires that the package be signed for by someone at the delivery address. Indirect may not get a sig from the delivery address, so it may not meet the SPP requirements. It might, depending on who the Fedex driver gets to sign, but you should not count on it.
    4. Ship within 7 days of payment
    You must ship with 7 days of payment if you want any SPP coverage for non-receipt… For eChecks, the clock starts the day PayPal clears the payment into your PayPal account. For all other payment types, the clock starts as soon as the payment hits your PayPal account. The 7-day rule does not apply for claims of unauthorized payment. It is, however, best practice to meet the more stringent rule to cover yourself against more problems.
    5. Item must be tangible
    Services do not qualify for SPP protection. Intangible goods (such as digital goods) do not qualify for SPP protection. if you’re selling something that is not tangible, you get zero protection. This means WoW codes, gift codes, prepaid cell phone minutes, eBooks, or anything you might email, etc are not covered. You can help protect yourself by shipping a physical item. No shipping means you violate the requirement for online-trackable proof of delivery. If you want to sell a gift card, you can email the code to your buyer but you had better also ship that physical card. If you want to sell a Staples discount code, you will not be SPP-eligible.
    6. The transaction must be marked eligible or partially eligible on the transaction details page.
    In general ebay sales should be marked as eligible. This will happen if the buyer does what he is supposed to and links the payment to the listing by paying from ebay or paying for eBayitems within paypal. Even if the buyer’s address is unconfirmed the sale should still be eligible (assuming all other criteria are met).
    In general non-eBay sales will be marked as partially eligible, allowing for coverage against non-receipt but not unauthorized payments. Non-eBay sales may be marked as eligible with coverage against both types of claims when the buyer’s address is confirmed.
    Confirmed addresses are those at which a buyer receives his credit card statement. Do not confuse a confirmed address with a verified account. Addresses can also be confirmed through other means (Alternate Address Confirmation - usually involves faxes in utilities statements and related stuff), but most buyers use the CC method.
    If your buyer indicates a confirmed address on the transaction details, but then requests you ship to another address, and you do it, you will lose an INR complaint automatically.
    How do I know you the buyer’s address is confirmed? Look at the transaction details page. Below the shipping address, you should see “Confirmed” in green letters (like in this screenshot).
    Some addresses in the following countries have been reported to be confirmable: United States; Canada; United Kingdom; Japan*. keep in mind that a confirmed address is necessary but not sufficient for full SPP-eligibility for non-eBay sales. In contrast, a confirmed address is no longer required for ebay sales.
    *Japan addresses may or may not be confirmable. Yonatan found that a Japanese address was listed as confirmed in an email and not confirmed in PayPal. YMMV.

    II. Reversals and Chargebacks on PayPal payments
    Reversal vs Chargebacks:
    A reversal is done via PayPal. It may be done in response to an INR or a SNAD claim, or because the funds used in a payment were fraudulent, etc. A chargeback is done through a CC company, which yanks back the payment from PayPal, which in turns tries to yank it back from you. We often talk about these processes loosely at FW, but they are distinctly different and each has different implications for sellers.

    III. How to fight reversals and chargebacks

    1. Gather together your side of the story. Locate your DC/tracking number. If it’s a SNAD complaint, locate all of your photos and the item description.
    2. If it’s a PayPal reversal, log into your PayPal Dispute Console and enter all the info requested. You must do this by the stated deadline (usually 3-10 days after the complaint is filed) or you automatically lose.
    3. If the console will not allow entry of information, call PayPal and give your information over the phone.

    IV. Important measures to take to protect yourself
    In no particular order:
    'Refuse PayPal from most international buyers unless you are willing to expose yourself to the risk of reversals for nonreceipt or are willing to pay for trackable shipments.
    'Ship only to addresses provided by PayPal in the transaction details. Ship nowhere else. If a buyer needs a change of address refund and have then pay again. 
    'Make sure you ALWAYS have DC/tracking on EVERY package. Get sigs when necessary.
    'Have clear, concise, and precise Terms of Sale. 
    'Clearly and accurately describe your items, and take very good, clear photos. This is your best defense against a SNAD claim.
    Not sure if your transaction is SPP-eligible? Log into your PayPal account and look at the transaction details. If the transaction is SPP-eligible, you’ll see about halfway down the page the line “Seller Protection Policy” followed by “Eligible” in green type (see this screenshot for an example).
    Not sure how to block payments from countries you don’t ship to? If you do not ship worldwide, blocking people registered in countries to which you do not ship will really cut down on problems. You can put this block in place by logging into My eBay. On the left menubar click on “eBay preferences” (under “My Account”). In the “Seller Preferences” section, click the second to last “change” link on the right side (see this screenshot). That brings you to the Buyer Requirements page (looks like this). Choose whatever blocks you like. Mine are shown on that screenshot.

    V. Important dates/Timeline
    Day 0 ’ Payment
    Day 7 ’ You need to have shipped by today to be covered by the SPP
    Day 45 ’ All INR and SNAD claims must have been filed by today
    Day 46 - You’re safe from all PayPal claims if they haven’t been filed yet. You’re still potentially at risk for CC chargebacks.
    Day unknown ’ CC chargebacks can be done for potentially months after payment, depending on the CC company

    VI. Frequently asked questions:

    1. How do I know if I am covered by the SPP?
      Once the buyer has sent payment, look at the transaction details page. It should say either ‘Seller Protection Policy: Eligible’ ‘Seller Protection Policy: Partially Eligible’ or ‘Seller Protection Policy: Ineligible’.
    2. How can I tell if my payment was funded with a CC or not?
      If your payment was marked an eCheck, then you know it wasn’t a CC. If your buyer does not have a verified account, then he has either paid with existing funds or a CC. If your buyer has a verified account, there is no way to tell. No, PayPal CSRs will not tell you how the buyer paid if you call and ask.
    3. I have a premier/business account and don’t want to accept credit cards. What do I do?
      As of August 18, 2005, you are no longer be able to block CC payments. If you accept PayPal, you must accept all forms. This also applies to personal accounts that may be forced to upgrade. See the second question above. Sellers may not block echeck payments on ebay at this time.
    4. I just received an eCheck and my buyer wants me to ship ASAP. Should I?
      NO. PayPal tells you to wait until the eCheck clears. This usually takes 4-5 days, but may take longer. The eCheck can bounce, just like a real check, so you must wait. If your buyer gets pissy about the wait, forward them the payment notice you got from PayPal and point out that PP is telling you to wait.
    5. My buyer wants to send the item to his son at school. Am I protected?
      Yes, if the son’s school address is listed on the transaction details page and you meet all other SPP requirements.
    6. A buyer wants me to send his item to Nigeria. Am I covered?
      Possibly, assuming all SPP requirements are met, but if you want to ship a widget to Nigeria, may I first suggest you buy some oceanfront property in Tucson?
    7. My item sold for $5400, but my buyer’s CC limits are $2000 and $4000 respectively. She wants to pay me in 2 separate payments so she can charge the item. Is this a good idea?
      Split payments are no longer forbidden by the SPP, but they still aren’t a good idea. The buyer could rather easily reverse one payment as you would have proof of delivery for just one of the two payments. Also, you lose an extra 30 cents in fees for each additional payment.
    8. My item sold for $240, and my shipping/handling fee was $12. Do I need a signature at delivery?
      Yes, you do, if you want to be covered by the SPP.
    9. My buyer lives just 20 minutes away and wants to pay with PayPal so she can use her CC, but she wants to pick up my item since she’s so close. Should I let her?
      You can let her pick it up, but DO NOT accept PP on this sale. You will lose any INR complaint.
    10. But I ll have my buyer sign a receipt. Won t that work?
      NO! PayPal doesn’t care if you have a receipt. PayPal doesn’t care if CNN broadcasts live footage of the buyer accepting her item. PayPal only cares about having online-trackable proof of delivery for coverage against claims of non-receipt.
    11. Why do you say I have to do this, that, and the other thing? I sell a lot, don’t do what you say I should, and never have any problems.
      Good for you. You’ve been lucky. Don’t assume you will continue to be. If you like the level of risk you are exposing yourself too, fine. If you prefer to minimize risk, follow the terms of the SPP.
    12. Do you work for PayPal? You sure sound like you love them and think they can do no wrong.
      No, I don’t work for PayPal or eBay. PayPal is a tool, nothing more. Used correctly, you can conduct business with minimal risk. Used incorrectly, you can lose your shirt.
    13. My buyer has an APO (or FPO) address. It is not confirmed. Am I covered under the SPP?
      Yes, if the APO/FPO address is listed on the transaction details page and you meet all other SPP requirements. APO/FPO addresses are tricky, however. You must use the USPS (no UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc). As of sometime in November 2006 DC is available for most APO/FPO addresses. Signature confirmation does not seem to be currently available based on information at usps.com. You can also send your item Registered Mail. If you use RM, confirmation of delivery does show online. RM requires a signature upon delivery, but it does not show online. This means that RM will work as confirmation of delivery and therefore meet the SPP requirements ONLY for items under $250. Thanks to Airtommy for confirming PayPal will accept RM as proof of delivery.
    14. I shipped a widget to my buyer confirmed address with UPS. My buyer then did an address correction with UPS that resulted in the package going somewhere else. What will PayPal do?
      According to this thread, that would result in PayPal ruling delivery was made to an unconfirmed address, which means the transaction would not be SPP eligible. Buyers may similarly have products rerouted through a USPS forwarding scheme. I’ve seen reports from PayPal reps that if the tracking/DC shows the package was sent to the confirmed zip but was forwarded in response to a buyer’s change of address forward order, that this should be covered by the SPP. You may have to talk to a rep to get them to handle this situation properly.
    15. My PayPal account is in the negative. Can PayPal yank money from my bank account or CC?
      PayPal used to do this, but lost a lawsuit several years ago and now will not pull funds from any source without your authorization. If your account balance is negative (through a chargeback, reversal, etc), here is what they may do (in the likely, though not guaranteed, order):
      *Take any funds in your paypal account to bring the balance back to zero
      *Use any incoming payments to cover the negative balance
      *Ask you to add money to your account to solve the problem. 
      *“Piggyback” the owed amount onto any payments you might make. There is full disclosure as to the total amount you are authorizing to be pulled from your selected funding source, and you do have the option to decline to make any payments.
      *Send your account to collections
      Keep in mind that you will not be able to send any payments (including payment of ebay fees) until your account is brought back to zero. If you refuse, and incoming payments are not sufficient to create a positive balance, your account may eventually be locked and sent to collections. Opening a new account to get around the restrictions is forbidden by the UA, and if/when PayPal discovers the new account, they can and will lock it and use any funds in it to cover the previous negative balance.
    16. My buyer filed a SNAD dispute, and I lost. What happens now?
      Your buyer will be given 10 days to return the item to you. He must pay for it, and you cannot be charged for the return shipping fee. The package must be returned with DC/tracking (and a sig for items $250+), just like you have to do as a seller shipping goods. At the end of the 10 days if the DC/tracking shows delivery, PayPal coordinates the refund. If the DC/tracking shows the item is still in transit, typically a PayPal rep will allow it to go a few more days. If the buyer does not provide proof of return, and you do not otherwise acknowledge receipt, then PayPal closes the dispute with no money changing hands. That doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods, as the buyer may be able to file a chargeback.
    17. Will I always lose when shipping to an unconfirmed address?
      Confirmed addresses are no longer needed for ebay sales. For non-eBay sales, PayPal looks for online-viewable proof of delivery (and a sig when necessary) when handling INR claims. The confirmed address requirement comes into play when defending against a chargeback, or when the buyer claims the payment was unauthorized. So says this PayPal employee at Paypal’s Online Merchant Network. I haven’t had to defend against INR claims with unconfirmed addresses yet, so can’t confirm this firsthand. IMO, given payPal’s vagaries it’s probably better to assume that unconfirmed will result in a loss, and be pleasantly surprised if you win.
    18. Does the SPP apply to off-eBay sales?
      Yes, it applies to sales made both on ebay and off eBay. However, note the special rules about confirmed addresses still exist for non-eBay sales. Also, the SPP does not apply to Direct Payment or Virtual Terminal sales (f you don’t know what these are you don’t use them).
    19. Is there a limit on how much coverage I can get through the SPP?
      The old limit of $5k per year has been lifted. Coverage is now unlimited (not to exceed the amount of the disputed payment, of course).
    20. I sold 12 widgets to the same ebay buyer. Can i ship them all in one box, or do i need one tracking # per item?
      The general rue of thumb is that you need at least as many tracking #s as payments. So if all 12 widgets were on one invoice, you need only one tracking #. If the buyer paid you in 12 separate payments, you need a tracking # for each and every payment. If this bothers you or the buyer, then refund and re-invoice into one payment, but be aware the buyer will probably want a shipping discount if you do this.

    This FAQ is designed for eBay sellers, but much of the content is applicable to off-eBay sales as well as personal shipping purposes. This FAQ is focused on sales, payments, shipping, customs, and other issues related directly to international sales. Refer to the existing Paypal, scam, and insurance FAQs for detailed info about those areas.
    Note: I don’t do very much international shipping, and when I do its primarily to Canada, so please feel free to offer suggestions on improving this so we all can get the most use out of it. This is a work in progress, and input is greatly appreciated.

    Note2: Unless otherwise specified, currencies are listed as USD.
    Contents:
    I. Payments
    A. International postal money orders
    B. PayPal
    C. Cash
    D. Western Union wire transfer
    E. Western Union money order
    F. Bank wire transfers
    II. Customs
    A. Customs documentation
    B. Customs broker fees 
    III. Duty and taxes
    IV. Proving international delivery
    A. UPS/FedEx
    B. USPS
    V. Insurance
    VI. USPS international shipping options
    VII. Other useful links

    I. Payments
    A. International postal money orders (IPMO): These are great ways to get money with very low risk and cost to the seller. Unfortunately the list of countries that participates in the international PMO system is somewhat small (list of participating countries).
    The max amount for an international PMO is $700, and you do need to make sure that the IPMO is denominated in US dollars. These can be cashed just like domestic PMOs can, right at the post office. Always cash these; this both verifies the authenticity of the IPMO and gets you your cash much faster. If you normally use a smaller PO branch, it might be easier to go to a larger branch where the clerks are more likely to be familiar with IPMOs, and where they are more likely to have cash on hand to cash the IPMO.
    B. PayPal: See the PayPal FAQ. At this time only shipments between and within the U.S., U.K., and Canada are covered by the SPP. You make the call on whether the risk of a reversal is worth potentially more sales and higher bids. You do need proof of delivery, so see that section below for more information. Fees: up to to 3.9% plus 30 cents per transaction, may be lower depending on sales volume. Transactions may be subject to currency exchange fees, and/or cross-border fees.
    C. Cash: Not allowed by eBay.
    D. Western Union wire transfer: Not allowed by eBay.
    E. Western Union money order: Need to add details.
    F. Bank wire transfers: Allowed by eBay. Some banks offer free incoming transfers. Be sure to verify your banks fees before offering/allowing this. Need more details.
    II. Customs:
    Customs/taxes are the responsibility of the buyer. Customs are importation fees (aka duty). Sales taxes may also be due depending on where the buyer is located. For example, if you ship from the U.S. to Canada the buyer may owe customs fees and/or provincial sales tax and/or general sales tax and/or harmonized sales tax (HST or PST don’t seem to be charged simultaneously, but I’m not a Canadian tax expert).
    You as the seller can help ensure the buyer is properly charged the appropriate fees by doing the following:
    1. Correctly describe the item. Most countries reduce taxes/customs fees for used goods. if you sold a used item, be sure to indicate it is used on the customs documents.
    2. Correctly value the item. The value listed should be the purchase price of the item exclusive of shipping. Overstating the value often results in the buyer being overcharged for taxes/customs, and may result in the buyer having to pay any fees at all when none should be due. Many international buyers are well aware of the values at which customs/taxes are due and try to keep purchases under that amount. They can apply for a revaluation and refund of overpaid taxes/customs, but they tend to be unhappy if you make them go through that hassle.
    Correct valuation also affects insurance for the item. You cannot insure for more than the item’s declared value, so listing a lower than actual value means that if the item is lost/damaged in transit, you get to make up the difference.
    3. Correctly mark the item as a gift or merchandise as appropriate. If you sold a widget to a buyer, that means it’s not a gift; it’s merchandise. You should mark the customs documents appropriately. Some buyers may ask that you falsify customs forms by marking purchases as gifts. They want you to do this because gifts typically are charged less customs/taxes than purchases. Falsifying customs documents is illegal in the U.S. and most other countries. Items grossly undervalued may also experience customs delays if the customs officials catch the problem and take the time to correct it.
    A. Customs documentation:
    Merchandise being shipped internationally should have customs forms attached. Whichever carrier you use can supply these documents. I’ll include links to USPS forms in an upcoming revision to this FAQ.
    B. Customs broker fees:
    All of the major carriers charge a fee to the buyer to get packages through customs. Rates vary by country. I’m including rates for U.S.-to-Canada shipping; if you have links to rate tables for other major destinations, let me know and I will post them.
    Canada Post: $5CDN fee for non-EMS items; $8CDN for EMS items
    UPS: Free for items valued <$20, starts at $7 items valued >$20 (UPS rate table). (I believe those values are USD, but the UPS table is unclear on that). For reference for importers, here is the rate table for fees UPS charges for bringing stuff into the U.S.
    FedEx: If you have the rate table, please let me know.
    FYI, Americans may have to pay broker fees if we are shipped dutiable stuff from other countries. USPS charges $5.35 per dutiable item in most cases. The private carriers vary.
    Cautions:

    1. FedEx will attempt to collect from the buyer, but will release the package to the buyer without being paid the broker fee. If that happens, they can and will go after the shipper (you) to get that fee. UPS does not do this.
    2. UPS and FedEx fees can get fairly hefty; don’t use these carriers without making sure your buyer understands he will be charged fees beyond taxes/customs in order to get his package.
      III. Duty and taxes: These vary greatly by country, by product, and by product value. For Canada, gifts valued <$60CDN are tax and duty free, while merchandise <$20CDN is tax and duty free (source). Australia allows imports of goods valued up to $1000 (I believe AUD) before charging customs (taxes may be charged - I’m not familiar with the Australian tax system). Other countries have different thresholds.
      Determining the duty rate for an item can be an exercise in frustration. I’ll post some links to U.S. rate tables in a future revision, but be aware that the rates can vary wildly by country or import and export, product type, and value.
      IV. Proving international delivery: If you accept PayPal, you need to be able to prove delivery to satisfy SPP requirements. You may want to have proof of delivery when you accept other forms of payment as well. Proving delivery internationally can be somewhat tricky. Your options:
      A. Ship UPS or FedEx: These private carriers handle the package from shipment to delivery, and can provide the usual tracking and signature if requested. Rates for international UPS and FedEx are higher than domestic shipping, and that customs broker fee applies.
      UPS Ground can do signature on delivery to Canada. See this page. Should be able to do the same shipping anywhere else, and of course with other classes of service.
      B. Ship USPS: The May 14, 2007 postal service changes include extension of tracking to additional mail classes. Express Mail International and Priority Mail International are supposed to be trackable. Until we see how reliable tracking on PMI is, sticking with EMI for proving delivery via tracking may be a good option.
      Registered Mail: Add more here.
      V. Insurance:
      As with domestic shipments, you may wish to insure international shipments as well.
      UPS: Includes insurance up to $100 at no additional charge
      FedEx: Includes insurance up to $100 at no additional charge
      USPS: Global Express includes insurance up to $100 at no additional charge. Additional coverage is available at $.75 per $100 cverage. Priority Mail International has insurance available at a discount rate of $.75 per $100 coverage; Up to $300 indemnity is provided at no additional charge for PMI (except PMI FRE) based on weight and destination.
      Third-party insurers: Often cheaper than the carriers’ insurance, especially if you maintain an account. The most popular are U-pic and DSI.
      VI. USPS international shipping options
      Global Express Guaranteed:
      Includes up to $100 of insurance at no additional charge
      Guaranteed delivery by specified date or postage is refunded
      Tracking included
      10% discount on postage when purchased via Click N Ship or authorized postage vendor
      FedEx handles shipment and delivery
      This service does include a sig on delivery, as FedEx is the final carrier and has the capability to get a sig.
      Express Mail International (formerly GEM):
      Includes up to $100 of insurance at no additional charge
      Additional insurance at $.75 per $100 coverage (a discount over regular rates)
      Tracking included
      8% discount on postage when purchased via Click N Ship or authorized postage vendor (PayPal shipping IS eligible)
      Flat rate envelope now available: $22 to Canada/Mexico; $25 everywhere else
      Priority Mail International:
      Additional insurance at $.75 per $100 coverage for PC Postage users (a discount over regular rates)
      Tracking included
      5% discount on postage when purchased via Click N Ship or authorized postage vendor (PayPal shipping IS eligible)
      Flat rate envelope now available: $9.95 to Canada/Mexico; $11.95 everywhere else
      Flat rate boxes now available: Standard box: $23.95 to Canada/Mexico or $38.95 everywhere else ; large box $29.95 and $49.95
      4-pound weight limit for FRE and 20-pound limit for FRB
      Insurance available starting at $1.65 for up to $50 coverage
      Flat rate envelopes cannot be insured by USPS. 
      Flat rate boxes and standard PMI (non-USPS provided packaging) will carry up to $300 indemnity coverage based on package weight and destination. Additional coverage can be purchased.
      First Class Mail International:
      4-pound weight limit
      Does not appear to be insurable via USPS
      Registered mail service be added
      Shape-based pricing now exists, just like domestic first class (that is, different rates for letters, flats, and parcels)
      On the tracking issue, well be getting an expansion of tracking to PMI. The IMM indicates tracking is only to major destinations, however, so while it’s a great expansion for international sellers, it will not work in every case. You may need to check trcking at the website of the final carrier (e.g., Canada Post or Royal Mail) for complete tracking and delivery info.
      All flat rate boxes ad envelopes can be used for both domestic and international shipments.
      VII. Useful links not listed above:
      USPS info specific to each country:http://pe.usps.gov/text/imm/immctry.html Click the appropriate country)
      USPS International Mail Manual: http://pe.usps.gov/text/imm/welcome.htm

    Alt auction sites
    AbeBooks
    Alibris
    Amazon.com
    Atomic Mall
    Bonanzle
    Craig’s List
    Delcampe Auctions
    Double Take Auctions
    eBid
    eCrater
    Etsy
    Google Base
    iOffer.com
    Overstock.com
    PriceFalls
    Ruby Lane
    sell.com classifieds


    This is a work in progress. Needs to be updated. Disclaimer, this information is provided on an AS IS basis, It may be incorrect, please research for correct information.

    Please Comment and leave your own tips, comments, or advice, The best advice is from someone with knowledge.


 

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