My recent experience in PayPal dispute

I want to share this story with fellow Agoners.

I sold a used tube power amp here in Audiogon. In transit, a power tube was broken. I told the buyer that I could either send an additional matching tubes or accept a return with full refund. The buyer opted for additional tubes. I sent them and there was no response from him until 5 months after the sale. The buyer asked me for help since the amp had a biasing problem. The amp was almost 20 year old model.
I told him that I cannot provide any help other than trying new set of tubes. The buyer apparently wanted more helpful afterservice, and filed a dispute for return/refund to PayPal. Apparently PayPal allows filing a dispute within 6 months of purchase.
Well, he did not go through Audiogon. Anyway, PayPal closed the case in my favor. For me, it is rather obvious that the buyer cannot ask for a refund after 5 months of purchasing a 20 year old tube amp.
Yes, it may be obvious to you, but some people think that if they buy a used piece of gear, the seller has to warranty it for life. I'm glad it worked out in your favor because these things often go in the seller's favor.
Sounds like a ridiculous policy. It would give the buyer a 6 month money back warranty. I think that is more than enough time too ruin a previously good piece of gear. I understand protecting the buyer against.. DOA but I don't know how long after that.
I guess a reasonable period after arrival that would reveal any electronic problems not mentioned by the seller and I suppose cosmetic problems not revealed by the seller as well. I guess it would add up to an honesty in listing equipment policy. And a method to appeal unreasonable demands by the buyer to protect the seller.
I Guess a 21 day period should do, but I am curious about what others think.
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I had a similar experience. It was a nightmare, too long to explain. Still use PayPal, but always list in my ad that buyer has 48 hours to determine everything is ok...after that no returns.
You're lucky, PayPal almost always rules in favor of buyer.
PayPal in concept is an awesome way to purchase goods from private people over the internet. BUT their policies are way to protective of the buyer! Giving a 6month "warranty" period to Joe USA has encouraged a "buy and try" trend. I have sold brand new items and had a dispute immediately filed over the sale. PayPal decided in my favor since the unit worked perfectly but wasn't exactly what the buyer thought it was.
It is a gut wrenching experience and one I hope to never experience again. Now I put "PayPal Friends and Family" preferred in every ad!
As with Muzikat I had a nightmare experience with PayPal. They held over $8k of my funds for more than three months after a minor issue which was resolved immediately between the purchaser and myself. After many phone calls and pathetic customer service a PayPal rep acknowledged that they had received the funds from the purchaser's bank three months prior to finally releasing them to me. Mine was not an isolated case.
I use PayPal for small dollar purchases and will never again trust them for major purchases.
I count the days until the six months is up.
i use direct merchants instead of paypal. i provide paypal checkout upon request on items bellow $10 each.
09-21-15: Mitchchavis
As with Muzikat I had a nightmare experience with PayPal. They held over $8k of my funds for more than three months after a minor issue which was resolved immediately between the purchaser and myself. After many phone calls and pathetic customer service a PayPal rep acknowledged that they had received the funds from the purchaser's bank three months prior to finally releasing them to me. Mine was not an isolated case.
I use PayPal for small dollar purchases and will never again trust them for major purchases.
Mitchdavis, could you suggest who you would use for major purchases since you don't trust Paypal? Thanks.

good to read that Paypal had the sense to rule in favor of the seller esp. after the buyer piped up after 5 months.
i had an almost exact experience as you several years ago. I sold a Counterpoint SA9 pre-amp to someone here.

the buyer had some initial questions after he received it. it also looked like his plans were to use it a bit and flip it for a profit. I entertained his questions for about a month and eventually referred him to Alta Vista Audio or web searches. The latter questions, made it clear he was trying to flip it for a profit, which made me a lot less inclined to continue to respond to his questions

About 6 months later, i received a PayPal notice email in am email account, I rarely used anymore. They placed a $4000 hold on my account. I had, at the time, 5 days to respond and clear it up. The seller claimed it was non-receipt of goods.

I contacted the several people, including the former owner of Counterpoint, Michael Elliot, who was extremely helpful to me. He had even been contacted by the buyer of my item, looking for info and upgrades. (ie, proving he was in receipt of item)

the seller ended up dropping his claim, with his excuse initiating it, that I stopped answering his questions.

Moral of the story, yes, this can happen and there are a lot of out there people you can run into via the web
Bombaywalla, I am comfortable with bank transfers and certified checks although with certified checks I would be more vigilant. Feedback for an individual is a good indication of their integrity and I always prefer to communicate over the phone with a buyer/seller if high dollar transaction is involved. I have used PayPal on many occasions without problems but I would be especially careful if you're the seller and high dollar is involved.
Many thanks for all of your feedback.

In my case, I received his first email about the problem a couple days before my Europe trip, and I forgot to respond to him before I took the plane. Then, I got another email a few days after I arrived in Europe. It was about five months after I sold the amp.

I had a limited access to the Internet in Europe, and I told him that I could not help him for the problem he had -- the biasing problem -- and suggested him to try new tubes.
Then the buyer sent me an email and said how disappointed he was about my response, and went for a dispute with no further discussion.
So, apparently he seemed to have expected more help from me. Had I had more knowledge in biasing (the amp is self biasing), and had I had a better Internet connection, I might have tried to be more helpful, but as a matter of fact, I could not give any more helpful advice than changing tubes. If changing tubes did not work, then I might have advised him to contact the manufacturer.

The amp functioned just fine before I sold it, and that may be why I did not hear anything from him until five months had passed. Anyway, I felt sorry for him that the amp started acting up, but it was beyond what I could do for 20 year old used power amp five months after it was sold.
Also, I had no knowledge of how the amp was used or abused by the buyer for several months, and there was no way that I would accept the return.
I had a Michigan Ebay buyer tell me that a 9/10 perfect ARC preamp I sold him might be going to need a part _in the future_ because he could hear relays click during the warmup process. This as most of us know is normal, and mentioned in the manual. I had the exact same preamp in my other system, and they both worked identically (No, both of them weren't broken). He said three hundred dollars would resolve the problem, and he said he had his local dealer look it over, and that was what they wanted to replace the part that wasn't yet broken, but "might fail in the future".

I told him I was wise to the scam, and to return it for a refund, as I wasn't falling for it... and I'd rather deal with honest people. Then he decided to keep it, but left no feedback... And I deserved a "rave" positive, that pre was perfect in every way.

You really are more vulnerable as a seller than a buyer.
Paypal...necessary evil many times unfortunately; I've had to use it many times which have gone well but there is always that threat of the buyer coming back with some bollocks months down the road. They also take a long time (several days) to route money to you claiming (as they have with me via phone), that it is not their fault and it about clearing times through the FR on the disbursement of funds. Please note the same linkages and paths between the banks through the FR are used to pull money from an account and conveniently seem to work faster than when they have to disburse money from PP into your account. A cynical person who has worked much of their career with the financial markets and many FSI customers including the federal clearing related entities and settlement houses might conclude they are also 'playing the float' on the funds as a rather high percentage of possibility...same with Bombaywalla's experience while that $8K was sitting in their possession.

I'll have to check out Direct Merchants (pointed out by Czarivey above).

Wire Transfer and Certified Checks have their perils too (mostly because recourse is limited in the event of fraud once the funds have moved out of an account).

It all comes down to whether we are dealing with a scumbag on the other end of the transaction. I had one nightmare transaction spanning December 2014-early February of this year that was costly but was not PP-related. Also had one in the last couple of years where the user came back several months in and claimed a working unit had issues after not hearing back for almost all of the first 3 months after shipment was received and then freight-forwarded somewhere else that was a pain to resolve but eventually did get resolved.
I forgot to mention in the 2 problem transactions I cited above, that in the case of the 1st costly one, I was the buyer and the second I was the seller.....
incho, you were very lucky

Nowadays PayPal is seller´s nightmare but foolproof for buyer, on eBay at least IME. I wonder how safe it is for a honest seller to do business here at A´gon...several month warranty with used, decades old gear ? Totally absurd.

Bank Transfer is the safest way for sellers, once you´ve received your money no-one can touch them.
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Thanks! for sharing- guys.
it is imperative to post both positive & negative experiences when dealing w/ these companies.
Happy Listening!
There is something to be said for Cash, Check or Money Order for business transactions!
Paypal is a turkey so was your buyer!!

In my case a  buyer -true Idiot I spent 3 hours over 2 days speaking,he buys the $4k amp I had fedex pack take pictures , the guy says 
he wants money back files a claim 6 hours after the buy saying didnot get merchandise. I had already took funds to buy speakers he files didnot get merchandise. PayPal are crap they allow this . Then this idiot to pull a stunt like that .totally Classless. He
refuses the package it cost $280  with packing it comes back to me,
they vote in my favor ,but he puts in a dispute with not even a reason or explanation.
But  he is a Big seller on Ebay, they give him the $4k
and charge my account -$4k.  I will never ever go to this sleezy organization again !!
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You need to know how to use paypal.
Using paypal requires you to know how to secure your funds QUICK or quicker than the light travels as soon as they hit the bucket.
$4000 on hold? really? I never allow that to happen. Once they tried to lock $400, but it was too late -- the money had been moved and CASHED QUICK. They set the account to negative, but that's I guess their problem. You can build an enormous number of paypal accounts to manipulate and secure your funds. If one account is negative -- open the other one positive and continue on and on...