If you’ve ever purchased or sold anything on eBay, chances are, you’ve probably used PayPal before. PayPal is the most widely recognized payment method on eBay because it offers its customers financial security through their Purchase Protection program – where eligible transactions are covered for the full purchase price, at no additional cost to the consumer. I also use PayPal for the majority of blog income, since advertisers prefer to pay electronically, instead of cutting cheques.
Even though I’ve often talked about how high the PayPal fees are, their Purchase Protection Program not only covers transactions where you don’t receive an item you’ve purchased, but it also protects you if you’ve received an item that is significantly different than what was described.
You have to open a dispute through PayPal within 45 calendar days of your purchase. That’s not a lot of time, so if you’re waiting for an item to arrive, you really need to be watching the calendar to make sure you’re still within the time frame.
Once a dispute is open, you will be able to discuss the problem with the seller (through PayPal’s Resolution Centre), and try to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. It’s important to be clear and try to come up with solutions on how to resolve the issue.
However, if you can’t come to an agreement, you have up to 20 days to escalate your dispute to a claim – otherwise your case will be automatically closed. When you escalate to a claim, you are essentially asking PayPal to make a decision based on what is noted in the dispute file (your conversation with the seller), as well as any additional information they might as either the buyer or seller.
I’ve used the Paypal Purchase Protection Program twice. The first time was in 2006, when I bought a $500 digital camera on eBay that never arrived. It was a very smooth process, and the seller and I were able to come to an agreement during the dispute process, where I received a full refund from the seller for the purchase price of the camera.
Last year, I had to use the PayPal Purchase Protection Program again. On December 6, I ordered a pair of TOMS shoes for my boyfriend from an eBay seller in Texas. It was going to be a Christmas present. But by January 12th, I had yet to receive them in the mail. I e-mailed the seller to tell him that I understood it was the busy holiday season, but if my shoes didn’t arrive by January 18th (Day 44), I would be forced to open up a dispute as per the PayPal policy.
During the dispute phase, we were able to communicate with each other via the PayPal website. We agreed that I would wait until the end of January, and if I had not received my shoes by then, I would escalate my dispute to a claim, in order to try and get my money back.
Escalating a dispute to a claim is a bit of a gamble, because you just don’t know whether PayPal will side with the buyer or the seller. It’s really important to communicate openly and honestly with the seller, and keep record of every e-mail and phone conversation you’ve had – it will work in your favour to have as much proof as possible.
On February 1st, I escalated my dispute to a claim, and on February 7th, PayPal ruled in my favour and I received my money back.