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Filing a PayPal Buyer’s Complaint

Written by Nickel - 18 Comments

This year I did a bit of Christmas shopping on eBay. Unfortunately, one of the things that I bought (a GameBoy cartridge for my son) didn’t work when it arrived. Fortunately, I tested it out before wrapping it up and putting it under the tree. The seller actually has really good feedback, and it’s a cheap enough item that I can’t imagine he’d be running a scam. But when I e-mailed him about it, I didn’t get a reply. To be fair, I didn’t contact him until two days before Christmas, and he may well have been out of town for the holidays. Regardless, I don’t like being ignored ;) , and I decided that I might need to nudge him a bit to get this resolved. Thus, I filed a buyer’s complaint with PayPal on the grounds that the item was ‘not as described.’ In case you ever need to do something similar, here’s how a quick synopsis of how to do it…

First off, this transaction was covered by PayPal’s Buyer’s Protection Policy, which means that the seller had ? 98% positive feedback with a total feedback score of ? 50, and I paid with PayPal. The other thing to look out for is that there’s a 45 day limit on filing a claim (in my case, we were getting close).

Okay, so here’s how to file your complaint:

(1) Log in to your PayPal account, and click on the tab marked ‘Resolution Center’
(2) Select ‘File a Claim’
(3) Read the terms and conditions, then click ‘Continue’
(4) Enter the PayPal transaction ID
(5) Fill in transaction details and submit your claim
(6) Let them know whether or not you’re willing to accept a partial refund

And that’s it. I’m now on step #7 — wait for PayPal to contact the Seller and for the Seller to respond. Hopefully this will get worked out without too much trouble. The good thing from my perspective is that the seller has already left positive feedback for me, so he can’t retaliate for my PayPal claim by leaving a negative. And I haven’t left feedback for him, so he still has a possible negative hanging over his head.

Update: PayPal Buyer’s Complaint Resolved

Published on January 4th, 2006
Modified on January 6th, 2006 - 18 Comments
Filed under: Online

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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18 Responses to “Filing a PayPal Buyer’s Complaint”

  1. 1
    FMF Says:

    Let us know how it works out. I’m betting he’s just swamped.

  2. 2
    jim Says:

    Did you put in the subject line that you had a problem? I know when I come back to a swamp of emails I rely on subject lines to help me sort out what’s higher priority. Being an ex-relatively active seller, I’m more hesitant to pull the “claim” trigger (esp. on PayPal) unless it’s really become dire. However, if you’re coming up on the 45 day deadline I can understand.

    I, in no way, think you did the wrong or inappropriate thing though, don’t read what I wrote above as to mean that.

  3. 3
    MoneyDummy Says:

    I’m betting he’s swamped too, but do let us know how it turns out.

    I had no idea that Paypal offered any kind of guarantee like that. That’s nice to know, and something to consider in my future e-bay purchasing.

  4. 4
    Jonathan Says:

    Not to be rude, but I would be mighty annoyed if you filed a Buyer’s Complaint for me only a few days after e-mailing me over a holiday week. Especially for a guy with lots of feedback – it’s unlikely that he will screw you over for $20. If it was over a week not on a holiday, that’s a different story.

    If you file a complaint, it is very likely that PayPal will FREEZE the guys account, so that he cannot take any of his money out. In addition, he will have to fax in everything but his underwear 0 SSN, Inventory Proof, Phone Bill,… . I had a guy do this to me because the package didn’t arrive after just two days, and it was a royal pain in the arse.

    Anyways, just a view from the other side of the fence. =)

  5. 5
    nickel Says:

    Jim: Yes, I made it clear in the subject that there was a problem.

    Jonathan: Yes, I may have ended up creating a major hassle for him. However, I had to file the complaint when I did because I had actually made the purchase in November, and the window for doing it was rapidly closing. I also gave him about a week to respond to my e-mail before I actually filed the complaint. Moreover, it’s been close to two weeks since I filed it, and he still hasn’t gotten back to me.

  6. 6
    Jonathan Says:

    Ah, see from your initial post it sounded like you just bought it right before x-mas and only gave him over Christmas to reply. Good luck! =)

    I’m interested to see if PayPal will actually refund your money.

  7. 7
    jim Says:

    Yeah it sounded like that to me too, which is why I asked how many days until the window closed. In the end, it’ll all sort itself out but that guy might be at your door… he does know where you live. :)

  8. 8
    Cap Says:

    hmmm.. thats a tough one. I generally dont recommend people to file buyer’s complaint.. because in my opinion, paypal does little to help – unless you file the complaint as not received.

    although maybe their practice and policy has changed

    do they have different levels of “not as described” now? I’ve had a “not as described” filed against me (I was seller), and paypal didnt tell me to do squat. they said that they will “investigate” and give me an update.

    eventually the complaint just disappeared. filed away as “closed”

    if you’ve paid with a VISA or MasterCard, you can always do a chargeback if paypal doesn’t pull through.

    but yeah 2 weeks is plenty of time to response, vacation/holiday period or not.

    plus he’ll see that “open claim” notice everytime he logs into his paypal account.

    hope it’ll be resolved! dead on arrival items irks me big time.

  9. 9
    FMF Says:

    If you bought it in November, why didn’t you test/try to return it then?

  10. 10
    nickel Says:

    Mostly because I assumed (mistakenly) that a guy with such good feedback wouldn’t sell me a DOA item. I decided at the last minute (just before wrapping it) that I had better check it out to make sure that it worked. Fortunately, I still had enough time to go out and buy a new one before Christmas (although I had to pay quite a bit more to get one new).

  11. 11
    FMF Says:

    Another alternative would have been to wrap it anyway, give it to your son, and then accuse hiom of breaking it. You could then ground him for a month. Good for lots of tears on Christmas day. ;-)

    Ok, so that’s why I’m not writing the parenting blog!

  12. 12
    Blaine Moore Says:

    That sounds like fun, FMF…

  13. 13
    FMF Says:

    Oh, yeah! I’ve got a million of them! ;-)

  14. 14
    Cap Says:

    oh my.

    “did you know how much that game cost!? you’re going to work it off for the rest of your life!!”

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