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Sellers Say eBay Sides with Buyers in Damage Claims

Dealing with packages that get damaged in shipping is part of the business of selling online, and with the rise in holiday orders and frantic pace of deliveries, it makes sense that claims would increase as well.

But some eBay sellers say they are now dealing with an additional challenge: claims abuse.

“Here’s a good example of one of the most maddening abuses that eBay sellers have to deal with these days: the S.N.A.D. trick, whereby a buyer exaggerates or makes up phony criticisms to avoid having to pay return shipping or to extort an unwarranted refund,” a reader emailed EcommerceBytes on Monday.

Sellers determine their returns policies (though if they choose to have one, there are certain conditions eBay imposes on them). But in SNAD cases (Significantly Not As Described), different rules apply – and no-returns and restocking fees go out the window.

The seller in question forwarded the email the eBay buyer had sent them. The overseas customer was unhappy they had to pay customs charges, and this part of their email to the seller stands out: “You advertised as looking new to you but to me it is not as you have described it, so I would be willing to hold on to it but would like a substantial partial refund or the item will have to go back to you.”

Another seller wrote to us on Monday and said, “I would venture to guess that eBay, which apparently leaves the dirty work of handling upset sellers to their overseas agents, always come down on the side of the buyer, even if the preponderance of evidence shows the seller is right.”

In her case, she says a buyer claimed the item they received was damaged in transit but sent photos of the box in good condition while the item itself was damaged. “So tell me, how did something get damaged inside that wasn’t damaged on the outside and was mailed in perfect condition,” she asked. “I have pictures of how it looked when I mailed it. It’s perfect.”

On the flip side, the eBay boards also contain reports from buyers who are worried about items they received damaged.

Should eBay require buyers to assist sellers in filing a claim with the shipping carriers? How do you think eBay is handling SNAD claims, and how could they improve?

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.