BK Magazine Marginally Unethical Life Hacks
Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Ebay remains a tricky venue because you can land some great deals but can also get stuck with some serious lemons. This hack should not be used to defraud honest sellers but employed against the less-than-honest online merchants that misrepresent their wares.
A lot of Ebay sellers have a return policy but they will only refund the amount you paid for the item, not the cost of shipping the item to you or your cost for shipping it back (which can add up to $40 or more). If you return an item and you just decide you don't want it, you should pay for shipping and return, but if you receive an item that is not accurately representative of what you saw in the listing, be careful of the reason you select for returning it. You should not be liable for the shipping costs of items that were misrepresented by the seller--the simple logic being that you should not be financially penalized for the seller's error.
When you go to return an item that was not represented accurately, DO NOT just ask for a simple return as some sellers advise you because then you'll get stuck with shipping costs (a simple return is the same as saying, "I thought I'd like it but I changed my mind," so it's basically your fault). Open a case and always indicate "Item was not as represented/did not match description/was damaged." Ebay automatically puts you into a sub-system that automatically works to refund your shipping cost and provide you a seller-paid return shipping label so you get all of your money back and don't pay to return the defective item to the seller.
Sellers will tell you that they will fight the case with Ebay--pay them no mind. For better or worse, Ebay sides with the buyer in almost all cases. There are some buyers who take advantage of this to scam sellers, but honest buyers have a great ally with Ebay.