The rules on refunds 

For all online purchases made from a trader on or after 13 June 2014, the Consumer Contracts Regulations apply. 

Traders selling at a distance, including business traders on Ebay, can withhold a refund if you haven't returned the goods. 

This is unless you have provided proof of postage. 

If you can give proof of postage, you should get a refund within 14 days after the goods have been returned, or after you've provided evidence that they've been returned.

Under the new regulations, traders can also deduct money from a refund where an item appears to have been used.

Ebay auctions

For anything you buy in an auction, you should make enquiries about the condition of the goods and make sure they're fit for your particular purpose before bidding on them.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations and you now have an automatic right to cancel.

Your right to cancel starts from the moment you place your order and doesn't end until 14 days from the day you receive your goods.

The seller can set a reserve price which they are not obliged to disclose – if the reserve is not met you can’t force the seller to sell the item to you.

'Buy it Now' on Ebay from a business

Many sellers set a 'Buy it Now' price which you may think is worth paying if there's an item you really want and don't want to run the risk of losing it in an auction. 

In practice the seller is offering two different ways of buying the same item. 

Some items however, aren't covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations, such as something that's personalised for you or items such as CDs or DVDs which have been opened.  

If you're buying from a business, you have the protection of the Consumer Rights Act if the goods aren't of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or as described.

Top tips

  • If you buy from a business rather than an individual on eBay you have greater refund rights under the Consumer Rights Act 
  • If you end up in a dispute with a buyer or seller, the eBay Money Back Guarantee scheme is there to help

Make me an offer from a business

Some sellers offer a third option which enables you to put forward a price that you would be happy to pay.

If the seller accepts this offer then a contract is created and, as with 'Buy it Now' purchases, the contract is covered by the Consumer Rights Act and the Consumer Contracts Regulations - unless the item is one that the Consumer Contracts Regulations don’t apply to.

For purchases made before 1 October 2015, the Sale of Goods Act applies in place of the Consumer Rights Act. 

Ebay rights buying from an individual

Many individuals sell unwanted gifts or items that they no longer need.

Here you're buying from a private seller in the same way as if you were buying from a classified advert in a local paper, and the principle of 'buyer beware' applies.

When you buy from an individual, the Consumer Rights Act says that the goods you get must be as they were described to you.

For example, something second-hand should not be described as new. If it is, the seller is in breach of contract. 

If a seller takes your money, but then sends nothing, they would again be in breach of contract.

Some people who sell through Ebay may be doing so much business that they are considered traders rather than individuals.

In this situation you would have the same rights as if you bought from a business, but you would have to find evidence that the seller is indeed a business if you wanted to make a claim against them as a business seller.

Ebay Money Back Guarantee policy

Ebay has changed its dispute resolution process from Buyer Protection to a Money Back Guarantee policy.

The Money Back Guarantee policy only applies if you paid via PayPal and into the seller’s PayPal account.  

It will not apply to other forms of payment, such as paying by credit or debit card.

There are some items for which you can’t use the policy. These include vehicles such as cars and motorbikes, real estate, digital content and services.

The Money Back Guarantee policy covers any problems reported to Ebay within the first 30 days of receiving your goods. This has been reduced from the previous 45 days under the Buyer Protection policy.

In addition, PayPal may be able to assist after this time under its PayPal Buyer Protection - this protection has now been extended to 180 days from the date of purchase.

Paypal Buyer Protection is a separate scheme to the Money Back Guarantee policy and you can’t use both redress schemes simultaneously.

How to use Money Back Guarantee

You can use Ebay Money Back Guarantee policy if the item is significantly different from its description or it was broken or didn’t work in the way that had been described. These are the same rights you have under the Consumer Rights Act. 

You are also eligible if your item has not been delivered. Under the Money Back Guarantee policy, you can put in a claim to the seller for a refund at any time up to 30 days from your actual or latest estimated delivery date.

In both cases you must have raised the issue with the seller and given them eight days to respond. This is longer than the three days previously given under the Buyer Protection policy.

The seller can either dispute the claim, offer a refund or a replacement, or send the original if it was never delivered.

If the seller doesn’t respond or doesn’t accept the claim you can ask Ebay for a resolution.

If the seller said it would provide a refund or a replacement, and more than eight days have passed since the seller has received the item you sent back, you can also ask Ebay for a resolution.

Remember, in both the cases above, the complaint must be lodged to Ebay within 30 days of receipt of the goods, or within the estimated delivery date.

If Ebay upholds the claim, it can process a refund which will be made as a PayPal credit.

If you don’t escalate your issue with Ebay, after 30 days you will be out of time to refer it to Ebay for a resolution.

Don’t forget that you still have the option to use PayPal in this case, as long as it's within the 180 day limit.

Ebay Money Back Guarantee policy also applies to counterfeit goods. If the goods are found to be fake, Ebay can require you to destroy them. If this is the case, Ebay will refund you for the full cost of the item and original postage. 

PayPal Buyer Protection

PayPal also has its own dispute resolution process called PayPal Buyer Protection, which you can chose to use instead of the Ebay Money Back Guarantee policy.

Find out how to claim against PayPal if you don't get what you paid for.

This can also be used if you make a Paypal purchase from a trader that wasn’t operating through eBay.

It's very similar to eBay Money Back Guarantee policy in that a claim can be made in the same circumstances and payment must have been made in specified ways.

A dispute must be opened within 180 days of payment, but certain items aren’t covered, such as motorbikes and cars.

If you and the seller can’t resolve the dispute, the dispute must be escalated to a claim within 20 days of lodging the dispute.

If PayPal finds in your favour, it can order the seller to refund the original cost of the item and the postage you paid. But you would be responsible for the cost of returning it to the seller.

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