|Sat Oct 16 2010 15:10:33|
eBay Opens Disputes against Sellers Giving Partial Refunds
By: Ina Steiner
eBay sellers are reporting that when they proactively issue partial refunds to buyers for shipping fees, the refund is being flagged and turned into a claim that counts against the seller - despite the fact that the sellers are trying to avoid overcharging buyers.
Before the seller even sends the item, and despite the fact that neither buyer nor seller has filed a claim, the following message appears: "eBay decided in favor of the buyer in a dispute filed with the eBay Resolution Center and authorized PayPal to debit your account for this refund."
The problem has been reported by several sellers on eBay's PowerSellers board. Some think it is a glitch, others suspect eBay is testing a new method to force sellers into making sure accurate shipping is displayed in their listings.
A seller posting in this thread on the Childrens Clothing Boutique board said she saw the same message appear on the last few transactions in which she had refunded shipping. "They ALL say that at the bottom! Crazy! So if you send a refund, don't be shocked to see that at the bottom of the details page."
In a similar case, one seller said she issued a full refund to a buyer who wanted to change shipping methods, and asked the buyer to resubmit payment for the corrected amount. After waiting for the buyer to submit payment for the correct amount, the seller filed an UnPaid Item claim but got an error message, "Our records show a refund was made to the buyer's payment on Oct xx, 2010." She discovered that on the bottom of the PayPal page for the transaction was the very same message, "eBay decided in favor of the buyer in a dispute filed with the eBay Resolution Center and authorized PayPal to debit your account for this refund." The seller called it complete hooey - "no dispute was ever filed for this transaction by the buyer or anyone else."
Sellers are right to be concerned, as eBay considered claims as a strike against the seller. Accumulate too many, and sellers are kicked out of the Top Rated Sellers program, and could ultimately result in account suspension.
Update 10/21/10: The claims-related message is popping up in error, according to eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff, who provided a statement explaining the issue:
When providing partial refunds to their buyers, some sellers may see an inaccurate message on the PayPal transaction details page: "eBay decided in favor of the buyer in a dispute filed with the eBay Resolution Center and authorized PayPal to debit your account for this refund." This message is being displayed in error and does not actually create a dispute or affect the seller negatively in Seller Standards. Sellers can confirm this by viewing their disputes through the Resolution Center and their Seller Standing through the Seller Dashboard. We are working to fix this as quickly as possible.