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Post Info TOPIC: PayPal not so friendly over return of fake goods

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PayPal not so friendly over return of fake goods

PayPal not so friendly over return of fake goods

A customer was left hanging as PayPal's dispute process generated an email advising an inappropriate course of action

On eBay it looked a desirable deal: Cyberlink Suite 7 Ultra software for 24.99. So Cheryl-Anne Vass succumbed, but took the precaution of paying via PayPal so she would have extra protection if things went awry.

The package duly arrived, but turned out to be pirated. Vass reported the fact to eBay, which investigated then removed the listing from its website. Then she embarked upon PayPal's dispute process, expecting sympathy and a refund. To her astonishment, however, PayPal's response instructed her to return the goods to the seller at her own expense.

On the advice of her card issuer Vass contacted the police, who pointed out that if she returned fake goods to the counterfeiter she could incur criminal liability, and that PayPal could be found guilty of aiding and abetting a crime by telling her to do so. She reported all this to PayPal, but the only response she received was an email informing her that the company had not yet received a tracking number to show she had returned the goods to the seller as requested.

Vass is now at a loss. "I do not want to incur criminal liability simply because I want my money back," she says. "And I do not want to return pirate software to the seller as I am sure he will just sell it to someone else."

Five days after I contact PayPal's press office Vass receives a conciliatory email explaining that her claim had started out via a "user-initiated" phase during which the seller, when contacted about a problematic transaction, can ask for the goods to be returned.

A week later PayPal's press officer declares that Vass failed to tick a box marked "fake" when she registered her first complaint and so received an automated request to return the software. Ordinarily, he explains, buyers of counterfeit goods would be asked to keep or dispose of them after getting a qualified third party to confirm their dodgy origin.

Vass insists there was no "fake" box to tick and that her complaints record shows she detailed the nature of the problem at the outset, and that evidence of the forgery obtained from Cyberlink was disregarded because it was not on headed paper.

The difficulty, clearly, lies in automated complaint systems which generate generic replies. PayPal says it will reconsider the nature of the first automated response that Vass received, and it has refunded her money as a "goodwill gesture". Other buyers beware: if you suspect that goods you have purchased are fakes, never return them to the seller. Instead contact Consumer Direct for advice on what to do next.


Exposing the sleazery of ebaY and PayPal

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