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Sun Jan 29 2006 18:08:11

When Sellers Renege

By: Ina Steiner

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Here's an article about someone who won a car on Yahoo Auctions in Singapore for $1: "Man ready to sue to collect S$1 car sold at online auction," By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia, 1/27/06 (link).

What happens when you win an online auction at an incredible bargain, but the seller refuses to honor the transaction? I get asked this question a lot by readers. eBay has rules for sellers including one called "Seller Non-Performance" (link).

When a seller lists an item on eBay, and a buyer bids for and wins that item, the seller and buyer have entered into a contract. Both members are expected to honor that contract.

eBay tells buyers that, If a seller has refused to complete a sale, and payment has not been sent or payment has been refunded, report the seller. Make sure to include a copy of the email documenting the seller's refusal to complete the sale with the full message text and complete email headers when making your report.

If the seller still refuses to complete the transaction, it appears to me the buyer has an option to retain legal counsel. I urge buyers to use common sense - there may be a valid reason a seller cannot complete the transaction. But if it appears the seller is merely disappointed that the item did not get a higher price, or that the seller is using the listings as a form of advertising, that's a different story.

There are likely some cases in the U.S. where buyers have taken sellers to court over non-performance, but I have not seen much written about such cases.

It's important to note that while much attention is paid to seller fraud, unfortunately buyer fraud is also alive and well online. And buyers also renege on transactions, thus the need for eBay's UPI (unpaid item) process (link).

Comments (6) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: James Downing

Tue Jan 31 11:50:09 2006


Just wanted you to know that I linked your site in our blog about an upcoming tool auction that we are running for Stanley.  I'm sure you have heard about it, since we are advertising on your site.  I really enjoyed your news letter when I was working on eBay. . .Keep up the great work.


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by: roy

Wed Feb 22 14:43:05 2006

Re:Sellers Renege. This has happened twice on bargains I found. If I report them to eBay then I bet the seller will give me a unjust negative rating. Seems the protection is for the sellers only and the honest buyers get duded. Need more power for the bargain hunter.

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by: Wilson

Sun Sep 10 15:46:22 2006

I just had a seller reneg on an item that had no reserve and no minimum bid. She claimed she listed the item for a "friend" and the friend was unhappy with my winning bid and would not release it. As soon as the auction ended she sent me a message telling me to not pay for the item.  
I found your blog by search for "ebay reneg" and when I followed the link in your article I found the ebay links will not allow the buyer to file a complaint for ten days and then will only allow the filing to proceed if you list method of payment and date of payment.  In other words, there is no way of just filing a compalint if the seller refuses to sell and tells you not to send payment.  The only action seems to be to use negative feedback which is nearly a hoax...

Thanks for your blog...

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by: annette mcclintock

Mon Mar 26 09:42:23 2007

what do i do when seller denies payment four times? what recourse do i have? ebay has now blocked further emails from me to seller saying i do not have open transaction with seller. amount involved is only 9.50 but i bid and paid in good faith. if shoe were on other foot, i'm sure seller would be after me in a hot minute! why doesn't ebay back the little guy who makes up the bulk of the business???

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by: Chris

Mon Sep 15 17:24:35 2008

Some buyers are real Ebay trolls though...Will go after a ridiculously one-sided transaction with with the gusto of a starving Ethiopian child. If my car went for one dollar there is absolutely no way I would accept the deal. Sorry cheapskate.  

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by: anon

Mon Sep 15 21:31:31 2008

The contract is between seller and bidder, so bluntly,  has nothing to do with ebay.
Taking the case to a small claims court will be the answer to either party failing in their commitment.

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