Selling Gear on Ebay – Seller Beware!

So… I had a surround speaker system that I’d taken out of my media room when I sold my house. I sold the main tower speakers / sub locally, but I was left with a pretty high-end center speaker. What to do? It was worth around $2,000 when new, but I had no use for it. I moved it into my warehouse, and would decide later.

Going through the warehouse, I decided to place several items on Ebay to see how that might work. I’d never sold anything of any significance on Ebay, but what did I have to lose? I listed the speaker, got several bids, and eventually sold it for just over $300… I pittance compared to its real value, but better than sitting in my warehouse.

So first, a couple of details. The speaker was heavy, roughly 70 pounds. So I listed it “No Returns” because I definitely didn’t want to get stuck paying return freight. I was told by Ebay’s automated system this might be a deterrent to buyers, but I didn’t care. I wanted to sell it and it’s gone. If that meant less money, so be it. Second, I was very honest about scratches the unit had on its black lacquer end pieces – from the move to and from my warehouse. I carefully and honestly noted and provided images to show the damages. I paid $75 for shipping, and the buyer received the item.

This buyer, it seems, knew the Ebay system MUCH better than I did… Read on…

So, I get a message from the buyer saying “It has a few more scratches than I expected, I would like to return the item”… I asked him about those scratches, etc. No proof, images, etc – only words saying that it was more scratched than he expected. I reminded him that I had provided a description and images to show those scratches, and hid nothing. No deception, or bad descriptions. Anyway, I offered a partial refund – twice. First $30, then $50… and he refused both. I said “then pay to ship it back to me, and when I get it – I will refund it”… nope. He said “I will use the Ebay system instead”. So he filed a claim, now suggesting there was shipping damage vs “a few scratches”. Ebay, under the excuse of COVID, took more than a week to respond, and eventually, I got an email saying they’d decided in the buyer’s favor, and took the money AND shipping from my account. So, now – I was out $400… but at least I would get the speaker back, and I had a new found education…. not so fast!

Weeks later, I’ve appealed this decision (twice), I’ve spoken to countless ebay people on the phone (their support is offshore… so you can imagine that process), and their response now is “sorry, it’s over 30 days, you have no options”.

Bottom line is this… The buyer has my money, the shipping, AND the speaker, and Ebay’s system supports that. Their answer… “you sold this with No Returns, therefore, he is not required to return the item”. The buyer gets a full refund, including shipping, but gets to keep my speaker. This was their decision.

If this doesn’t bother you, you must not be paying attention. Why am I telling you this? Because take this same scenario, and apply it to a sound system, or digital audio or lighting console – and you can be out thousands of dollars. And because you’re operating within their own payment universe, their system…. their rules. Ebay seems to have the final say on this, and while I am SUPER angry about it, there is absolutely nothing I can do. I have reached out several times to the buyer, asking him to “do the right thing”, and his response is basically “talk to Ebay”.

Be VERY careful. I’ve researched this problem, and it’s actually a huge issue with much deeper darker details surrounding it. There are a few scams at play. The most basic is that a buyer can simply steal your item and there’s little you can do. But also, there are buyers who get an item, file a return (they have 60 days to send it back) then can use the item, or even re-sell it for more money. In every case, it’s at your expense. In my case, I believe the buyer may have found a better deal and used the system to return a non-returnable item with some easily accepted lies. He either re-sold my speaker or kept it and used it. Either way, he won – I lost… and according to Ebay, there is NOTHING I can do about that. Shameful.