This is the nightmare story of how I was defrauded out of $675 on eBay—and then charged another $675 on my credit card by PayPal (which is owned by eBay) without my authorization, so this huge financial services company can cover its costs while taking months to unravel what happened to my money—if it ever does.
Don’t use eBay and PayPal to sell gold or other valuables! You could be defrauded as I was—and then charged the amount of your loss to your credit card without your authorization by PayPal on top.
Heed my tale…and then help by spreading it far and wide!
Oct. 26, 2011 – I sell a $675 gold bar on eBay. The transaction goes through, the purchase paid for by one Edo Tanaka. I get an email from PayPal with the cheery subject line, “Edo K Tanaka has just sent you $675.00 USD with PayPal” with “Payment type: Instant.” My PayPal account shows the money in my account. I ship the gold piece toJapanby UPS (even though Mr. Tanaka suggested shipping via U.S. Postal Service, and didn’t request insurance. OK, red flag, my bad.)
Flawless transaction. Right?
Nov. 23, 2011 – about a month later, solely by chance, because I was looking at my PayPal account for another reason, (not because eBay or PayPal has a system in place to let account holders know when payments for eBay items have been reversed, mind you), I learn that my PayPal account SHOWS A NEGATIVE BALANCE OF $675.
Nov. 23-Nov. 28, 2011 – frantic emails to “Edo Tanaka.” You got the gold bar shipped by UPS, right? You’re reinstating payment through PayPal, right? This is all a misunderstanding, isn’t it? People are fundamentally good, not lying, cheating sacks of dung, right? I let eBay and PayPal know we have a situation here. I request a refund of the eBay online auction fees for selling my item (the “final value fee credit”), which eBay promises to do. I submit a copy of my UPS shipping manifest and open a Dispute case with PayPal. Theresa of eBay tells me I have an 80-90% chance of getting my money back. And she assures me eBay will revise “Edo’s” customer review rating to zero.
Nov. 25, 2011 – I get an unsolicited inquiry from fellow eBayer Jay Cash, who is also wondering what happened to HIS money, after selling and delivering a gold bar to “Edo Tanaka.”
And I notice that despite my alerts to eBay and PayPal, “Edo’s” eBay rating is still 5 stars! 100%! Little problem there, eBay: there is no way for a seller to go in and change a rating of a transaction once it’s been made.
Nov. 28, 2011 – I know…I’ll get international law enforcement on the case! I figure out by reading through long FAQs on PayPal/eBay (they do not make it easy for you to talk to a live representative by say, posting a toll-free number prominently on their websites), that because mine is a theft case crossing international borders, I need to submit a complaint to something called IC3. www.ic3.gov.
White hats will soon be riding into Toyota-shi, Aichi-ken, to escort Edo directly to the donjon!
Nov. 29, 2011 –having cycled through the first stage of grief (denial), I have moved on to rage. I get in touch by phone with PayPal. I learn the beginnings of how the “buyer” worked his scheme: by claiming the purchase was an unauthorized charge on his credit card. This is called a “chargeback.” PayPal agentSamantha,ID42112, lets me know the company is on my side, that they are investigating this buyer’s account, and that if there is a pattern of theft, they will collect evidence and submit it to his card issuer.
PayPal is fighting this on my behalf! Samantha says so, in those exact words! I’m flooded with gratitude for my financial institution!
Samantha also tells me the credit card issuer has 75-80 days to make decision, but it doesn’t usually take that long. I have a “good chance of getting my money back,” down from the 80-90% forecast from eBay a few days prior. Hmmmm.
I also try to email eBay through the My eBay message system, to request, again, that my 100% rating of Edo Tanaka be changed to 0%, and to bar him from eBay to protect other honest people whose money is at risk. I get a robo-email response stating my “email hasn?t been read,” and that I have to contact eBay by phone.
For someone who likes things in writing, this is not reassuring customer service.
Dec. 5, 2011 – eBay refunds my final value fee credit as promised. Praise be! I phone and ask eBay representative Robert to change Edo Tanaka’s eBay rating to 0%, since it still shows 5 stars. I’m told eBay has made him ineligible to bid on anything again, since he is now the subject of at least two non-paying complaints.
Next, I talk to PayPal. I learn from Jonathan, PayPal agent 525, that the company has designated the $675 I’m owed “Marked as unauthorized chargeback,” and they are communicating with the credit card company (used to make the purchase of my gold bar). If the credit card company in the end declines to pay, the transaction is then considered theft, and PayPal will provide documentation for referral to local law enforcement (white hats!!). Jonathan says PayPal’s next response date is Dec. 12.
By now, I am getting inklings of the dysfunction in eBay’s/PayPal’s customer protection/service systems. For example, while I’m a joint account holder with my husband on our PayPal account, he must authorize every conversation I have with PayPal, by getting on the phone with them first, since he was the opener of the account. It doesn’t matter that this is 2011 and not 1951, or that I am a joint holder of the bank account from which PayPal draws.
Dec. 23, 2011. 59 days since I “sold” my gold on eBay. Instead of egg nog by the hearth, I’m warmed by a phone call from the irate boyfriend of American Express card holder Monica Koby, who lives in Florida, who wants to know why should she pay for a gold bar piece charged to her card that she never ordered or received. Ahhhhh, another piece of the puzzle falls into place. “Edo” apparently used a stolen credit card number to purchase my gold bar. The boyfriend, Jim Pederson, says AmEx is insisting the charge is legit, despite Monica’s protestations. He tells me when he called the phone number (402-935-7733) listed on the credit card statement associated with the $675 charge, it led to a dead end in the Bronx. He says he’s filing a police report on the matter.
MORE WHITE HATS!!!
I give Jim detailed information about the fraud, and ask him to alert American Express that this is a case of theft by Edo Tanaka. I send an update to PayPal, giving them all the details and contact info for Monica/Jim inFlorida, providing the incontrovertible proof that yes, this is fraud, my gold bar has been stolen, and so has Jay Cash’s. I send copies of my emails with Jay stating he has also been cheated. I ask PayPal to please communicate with American Express directly, since there can no longer be any doubt that this is a case of theft on eBay, and to inform me when I will be reimbursed by PayPal.
NOW, I think, I will most certainly be reimbursed my $675, because AmEx will speak directly to PayPal in their own secret-society-mega-financial institution language, and get this whole misunderstanding ironed out.
Jan. 2, 2012. Day 69 since my travails began, with the “sale” of my gold bar. I wonder why I ever, ever, ever wanted to sell anything on eBay or trust PayPal with hundreds of dollars and my bank account number. I resend my documentation on the stolen credit card number used to purchase gold bar to PayPal, because I notice an email address that may get some results (email@example.com). I request an immediate response and speeding up of the process. At boiling point, I let PayPal know if I don’t get a reply by Jan. 15 I will begin blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking my ordeal.
And now, the coup de grace.
Jan. 17, 2012 – I notice an unfamiliar charge on my credit card statement: $721.39, with PayPal listed as the vendor, along with Almost a Ranch. Weird. I bought a horse blanket from Almost a Ranch on eBay for $59.40. Are they ripping me off? I phone the number listed by the transaction, which is PayPal’s (402-935-7733). After a long time, what with the whole thing that I am a Little Woman and “we’re not sure we can talk to you since hubby’s at work,” and getting put on hold and such, I’m disconnected. Vowing to return, I take care of my work day.
Tonight, I phone the 402 number again. This time, I request and get a toll free number (here it is, PayPal’s customer service line, 888-221-1161, you’re welcome) before I’m put on hold. My husband kindly vouches for me so customer service will talk to me. Then Abel gives me the bombshell: because my PayPal account on Dec. 8 when I made the horse blanket purchase showed a negative balance of $675, PayPal saw fit to add that charge to my purchase price. (There was a stray ten bucks or so in my account, thereby the total charge of $721.39.)
There must be some mistake. This can’t be. Not only have I had $675 stolen from me on eBay (which owns PayPal)…not only has the money been owed me for coming on three months…now PayPal is CHARGING ME AN ADDITIONAL $675?
I request to speak to a supervisor. Adam,ID#41769, comes on the line. I tell him about the fraud, the open case in the dispute resolution center. He parrots the party line: “The system just does it this way, there’s no way to change it.”
I tell Adam I’m not paying this fee, that it’s an outrage, that I did not authorize this charge when I bought a $50 item on eBay. I point out this would result in a loss of $1350 to me instead of $675. He says I’ll get reimbursed when the dispute with American Express is resolved and PayPal gets their money from AmEx. I ask to speak to the supervisor above him. He says my only recourse is to write to the Legal Department (the honest-to-God address), and mail in a letter. (It really is 1951 in PayPal Land.)
And I vow to him that I will publicize this outrageous, abusive corporate policy to anyone who will listen.
So now it’s up to you.
I sold a $675 gold bar on eBay. The transaction went through, my PayPal account showed I was paid. So I sent the buyer my gold. I was defrauded first by a thief. Then even more egregiously, I was wrongfully charged another $675 by PayPal, which put the charge my credit card without my authorization by tacking it onto the purchase of a $60 horse blanket I bought on eBay.
This is the nightmare that eBay and PayPal have put me through since October 2011. Before you sell on eBay, before you engage in any transaction on PayPal, think twice. These companies do not protect you from theft, and their customer service sucks if you ever have anything go wrong.
Don’t lose your valuables and your money. I sure won’t be selling anything on eBay again, or purchasing anything with PayPal.
Please Tweet this, post it to your Facebook wall, write your Congresswoman, form a posse, send up flares. Tell the world: PayPal has the worst customer service on the planet. And they owe Merry Ann $675.
Merry Ann Moore
eBayer, Dec. 1999-Jan. 2012