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: Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 10:28

Unauthorized transaction dispute filed 7+ months later – buyer wins

I sold an item on eBay in early January 2011 for about $20 (including shipping). Buyer receives item, leaves positive feedback. In mid-August, buyer opens a dispute on PayPal, says the transaction wasn’t authorized.

The same day I receive PayPal’s notice of the dispute and the transaction funds being held, I upload what documentation I have of the transaction, which is limited — I did not keep hard copies or records on my PC, except some e-mail. (Big mistake.) There are some records in PayPal, but the USPS tracking number doesn’t come up anymore, and eBay doesn’t keep anything older than 6 months. But I get what I have together into a PDF file. I felt I was at a loss here, because all I can do is show I shipped the item. If the transaction wasn’t authorized, that’s beyond my control, isn’t it?

Anyway, I upload my file and make a note in the case file about the long period of time between the transaction and the buyer’s dispute. I see nothing where the buyer has provided any documentation, only that they opened a dispute and it was reviewed by a PayPal agent. About two weeks later, the case is closed in favor of the buyer. There was nothing in the case about how that decision was reached, and not even another entry showing that the case and/or my documentation was reviewed again by PayPal.

I e-mail PayPal customer service, asking about the case and why they ruled in favor of the buyer, but all I get is a generic e-mail saying: “Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns. I am happy to assist you further. You can contact PayPal by email or phone.” Followed by specific instructions on how to contact PayPal using each method. Apparently, the first step in PayPal customer service means ignoring an inquiry and “helping” the customer contact them again. (Copy of the text of that generic e-mail submitted to this site.)

Before pursuing the matter further with customer service, I looked to see if anyone else had similar problems with PayPal… whoa! I had no idea there were so many horror stories! And most of those stories are far worse than mine. I decided to not waste any more time with PayPal customer service, paid the outstanding $20, and closed my account.

Other details that may or may not be relevant: The eBay buyer didn’t have the same name as the PayPal buyer, and I didn’t think much of that at the time, and although I got the shipping address from PayPal, it turned out that it wasn’t verified. Although from the complaints I’ve read about Paypal, I’m not sure it would have made a difference in my case. Really, someone hasn’t paid any attention to their Paypal account in more than half a year? And they get to file a claim now? And PayPal’s not only okay with that, but they’re happy to give the buyer my money.

My point is, even if PayPal says buyers have 60 days – last I saw on their website, it may change – to file a dispute for unauthorized transactions, apparently they will gladly “investigate” a claim on transactions over 200 days old. Who knows what the upper limit really is? From my perspective, this puts any transaction conducted as a seller at risk. At any time, a buyer could open an “unauthorized use” dispute and force a seller to pay back any money long after the fact.

I guess one can follow PayPal’s “seller protection” requirements perfectly, and keep copious documentation (on one’s own computer or hardcopy) of every transaction, no matter how small. But between my personal experience of PayPal ignoring any time limits for claims and the horror stories I’ve read here and elsewhere, I think using PayPal offers more risk than protection. I’m glad I only lost a small amount of money before getting out.

Submitted By:: L.K.

Location: Arizona, USA

One thought on “Unauthorized transaction dispute filed 7+ months later – buyer wins
  1. Michael on

    I sold tickets to a U2 concert June 13th, 2011. Today, August 5th, 2012, FOURTEEN MONTHS LATER, an unauthorized transaction dispute has been opened. I uploaded all emails via PDF as well as text messages to and from the buyer. Being the tic were local pick up, I’m not sure how this is going to shake out. But it’s to the tune of $315 at the moment. :-/ Any advice on this one? I have the lady’s address down in Huntington Beach and I’m about ready to go knock on her door!!!

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