Here’s something that we just learned the hard way – from direct personal experience.
If you file a dispute with Paypal – and then escalate it to a claim, as Paypal encourages you to do – there is only one situation in which Paypal won’t then immediately dismiss your claim, making it a win for a non-compliant, non-responsive, or just plain sleazy seller.
When you file a dispute with Paypal, you can file it for one of several pre-designated reasons, which include that you ordered merchandise and it was never received, or that it was received damaged, or that it was received but was not as advertised. In each of these cases, you are asking for a refund of some or all of the money that you paid to the seller via Paypal, or for some other resolution with the seller.
In our case, we had received merchandise that was so substantially not as advertised as to render it unusable. In fact, we didn’t even open the packaging. Instead we closed the box right back up, and called the vendor (a business). We called several times, and every time got voicemail (and left messages). There was never actually anybody there to answer the phone (the message on their voicemail always said to call back during normal business hours, even though our calls were always placed during normal business hours).
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We also sent several emails to their email address.
After getting no response from them, we opened a dispute with Paypal. We selected the “we received the merchandise but it was not as advertised” category because, well, that’s what the problem was.
The way this is supposed to work then is that Paypal sends a copy of your dispute to the other party, and they have a certain number of days in which to respond.
In this case, they never responded, and Paypal sent us this message:
“Your dispute over the payment you sent to [ ] will automatically
close on Jan 13, 2009.
Because your seller has not yet responded, you should consider escalating
to a claim soon to ensure that your case remains eligible for PayPal
review. By escalating to a claim, you are asking PayPal to review the case
and decide the outcome.
We will assume that the dispute is resolved and will automatically close it
unless you log in to the Resolution Center and escalate it before Jan 13,
2009. A closed dispute cannot be reopened or escalated to a PayPal claim.”
So, we dutifully escalated the dispute to claim.
Within an hour of escalating our dispute to “claim” status – at Paypal’s behest, mind you – we received this response:
“You have chosen to escalate your dispute to a PayPal claim. By ending
communication with the seller, you are asking PayPal to investigate the
case and decide the outcome. As part of our investigation, PayPal reviewed
any communication you may have had in the Resolution Center.
Our investigation into your claim is complete. As stated in our User
Agreement, the claims process only applies to the shipment of goods. It
does not apply to complaints about the attributes or quality of goods
received. Therefore, we are unable to reverse this transaction or issue a
So what does this mean? It means that if you pay somebody with Paypal, they can ship you anything – they could even ship you a sack full of manure – and so long as you receive something from them, you have no recourse to get your money back.
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