I am hoping you folks can give me some opinions on what you would do in my current situation/transaction.
I listed an integrated amplifier here on Agon, a gentleman purchased it and I boxed the unit as absolutely bombproof as possible. From looking at the buyers other transactions it seems he is somewhere in South or Central America as he has a shipping agent in Miami that receives his shipments, and then sends packages on from there. It took quite a while to get to him and I received an email from him saying that the unit was not working. When I sent the unit it was in perfect working order. There is a little bit of a different turn on process with this amplifier as it has a power switch on the back that you turn on first, then you push the button on the front panel which puts the unit into standby mode. You then push that same button again to get it going into warm up mode which takes 9 seconds. I have explained this to him and the buyer says it is still not working. I then sent the instructions which I found online at the manufacturers website to make sure he understands. I don't know if there is a language barrier or not but I asked if the boxed was damaged and have not heard anything back. I would assume the buyer would have notified me if it was damaged as soon as he got the amplifier. What would you folks do in my situation? I have perfect feedback as I would never try to scam anybody and I over describe whatever I sell...I also package everything as bombproof as possible. So if the unit was working and there is no damage to the package what would you do? Refund his money and hope I get the unit back? Thanks for your insights and opinions.
 A refund is never given until the item is shipped back to the seller. If you have not heard back from the buyer,then don't worry about it. He most likely figured out how to use it!
+1~,  NO Money until you get the amp back in your hands. Buyer pays shipping and insurance back to you as well with proper tracking.
Ok thanks guys. I've never had this happen before and I have been through plenty of transactions. Thanks for educating me.
I have to disagree with the above two responses. According to Audiogon policy, the buyer's money should be refunded before the amp is returned.

The process should work exactly the same, except in reverse. The seller is not expected to ship the item until payment is received, and the buyer is not expected to return the item until the refund is received. The buyer is expected to cooperate with the seller to make arrangements for the shipping company to inspect for any damage, for insurance claims.

This is from the Audiogon Shipping Tips:

Generally speaking, the Seller is expected to refund to the buyer, and recover the money by pursuing the damage claim. Shipping companies generally pay the seller only and it may take some time. The Buyer should not have to wait until the claim is processed. Essentially, it is the Seller's responsibility to deliver the item to the buyer in an undamaged condition.

Note: The word 'Generally' is used because occasionally the buyer directly pays for the shipping and insurance. In this case, the buyer should ship the amp back and process the insurance claim, since the insurance claim will only be paid to the person who purchased the insurance (normally the seller).

Here is a link to the page. Good luck, hopefully his lack of reply means the amp is working fine now.

Beware, this could be a scam. A friend was selling gear on Ebay and was approached for a sale like you had. Ship to a location in the USA and in turn, it would be shipped out of the country in a container, most likely. Through some detailed internet searches, he turned down the sale upon finding that the seller is still responsible for the unit even though he (or you) have no control of the piece outside the first destination in the USA. There were hundreds, if not thousands of complaints where innocent sellers were scammed out of their money.

Good luck with the resolution of this case.
I'm sorry but I wouldn't sell my items to S America or anywhere outside the US. There is too much risk involved. Let this be a lesson learned.
+1 to what joeind says. It could be a scam.

ALWAYS wait for the item to return before giving any money back to the buyer.

I have never seen any AgoN policy that would advise/require otherwise.

Receive your item first before issuing a refund... Period.
just like going to a store: first you hand over the cash then your item is handed to you, if you decide to return it then first you'll hand'em the item back they check it to make sure... Then you're handed your refund.
simple as that and no other way.

when you shipped it to him it was his or his agents responsibility to check for damages due to shipping and to inform him or you of the damages incurred so the shipping company you sent it through could inspect the item and verify if the damage happened through shipping. You are usually allowed a very short time period to inform your shipping company of this for good reason.
if there were no damages to the item due to shipping and it was just Doa, then he can send it back to you to inspect and then issue a refund. (Many companies require the same packaging as was used when shipped and not repackaging by the buyer to make sure it wasn't damaged in shipping)

remember though a transaction should always be based on good faith, meaning that if the item was really doa or whatever guarantees you provided him (if any was offered by you)  then he should be refunded his money once you get the item back in the same shape you sent it to him.
also hope both your electricities are the same, in other words he didn't connect a 120v item to 220v plug etc. ...
just my two cents
good luck.
John, This audiogon's article is good to print out on toilet paper before taking a snit.
Paypal rules are no product no money back period.

Common sense will point you in the correct direction.
Follow your instincts without over thinking it!
It was generally believed at the time that the earth was flat...
It's winter here in the North, so my advice is to have the buyer pay for a return ticket to his city, and a weeks stay at a beach hotel. You can then inspect and pick up the piece in person.

short of that, return the buyers money only upon receipt of an undamaged, functioning amp.
then sent the instructions which I found online at the manufacturers website to make sure he understands. I don’t know if there is a language barrier or not but I asked if the boxed was damaged and have not heard anything back.
Do absolutely nothing and enjoy your Holidays.

You sent him the instructions along with an email asking if the box was damaged and have yet to hear back. I would say the ball is in his court so don’t worry about it until you do.
Thanks everybody. I had not thought about it from a scam perspective as the buyer had good feedback and someone had mentioned in his feedback the process to the agent in Miami went smoothly. I guess we'll see if he responds back to me after receiving the instructions. If not, great, if so and he says it is still not working, I will have him send it back before refunding his money. Thanks again.
Give him money back and do as i do ONLY deal with lower 48 states as foreign buyers have a language problems and shipping problems as well.I also do not sell to Canada as well.Good luck.

" I have to disagree with the above two responses. According to Audiogon policy, the buyer's money should be refunded before the amp is returned."

It's easy to do the right thing when it's not your money. If it was AG's money at risk, do you think they follow the rules they set for you? You're obviously not trying to take advantage of anyone here, so protect yourself.

As far as the rest of it goes, you need to be careful. First, its not an international sale. You shipped the amp to Miami, not S America. Assuming it was damaged in shipping, which shipping company was responsible for the damage? The one that sent it to Miami, or the one who sent it to S America? No one in their right mind would ship a used amp like that to another country without checking it first, so you have to assume the damage was done after your transaction was completed. And that would be when the amp was delivered to Miami. What happened after that has nothing to do with you. 

Also keep in mind that the "shipping agent" (most likely a friend or family member), was too cheap to get the proper insurance when they sent the box to S America, so they're using you to fix a mistake you didn't make. 
Very sorry to read of your predicament, Sean.

You appear to be a stand-up guy with a genuine interest in doing the right thing, always a good thing, but sometimes we unintentionally get involved with someone with another intent.

Sounds like you have followed the right steps. Keep documentation of all correspondence along with dates. Don’t have a weak moment and let the money get away from you until you get the right acknowledgements (preferably the amp back in working condition) from the buyer.

I really hope it works out well for you.

Best to you Sean,
Hopefully everything will turn out ok for you . The more risks involved in this hobby with shipping internationally the more you put yourself at risk . You lose security by doing international selling . Even u.s. based sales have some risk involved . Hopefully the amount of this transaction is not too great . 
Whew! I sold an amp to this guy. I must say that I was very concerned at first and maybe I was lucky. The only way I felt comfortable was the fact that it was shipped to Miami. I told him I have no control over what happens after it arrives and he agreed that his "forwarding agent" would take care of it. For all you know it could have been unboxed by U.S. Customs. If he presses for a refund, I would ask for a pro number (tracking number) and weight prior to any refund. If the weight matches then it should be fine so long as he doesn't ship you rocks. I would proceed carefully.
Also keep in mind that the "shipping agent" (most likely a friend or family member), was too cheap to get the proper insurance when they sent the box to S America, so they're using you to fix a mistake you didn't make.

Ahh, but Sean did make a mistake, he agreed to sell to a buyer in South America.

I have shipped many items all over the world, but I have never shipped electronics or speakers out of North America. I'll ship cables, cords, fuses, outlets, phono cartridges, etc., anywhere. When YOU put yourself in a difficult position, YOU should assume some responsibility.

That is my take, though I see that it is unpopular here. It seems there are some shady sellers here.

Yes, there are unscrupulous buyers, there are also unscrupulous sellers too. If you don't want to run the risks of shipping through two shipping companies, or overseas, then sell you item for the best offer in North America. That is what I do. I have had some crazy "better" offers from foreign countries which I am not willing to ship to....I simply turn those offers down.

As a seller, if you accept one of these offers, you are putting yourself in this 'dangerous' position, and you should accept responsibility for your actions.

So while I empathize with Sean, he does have some culpability for accepting the offer. I can't just ship something to a foreign country and accept no responsibility because we have to assume all foreigners as scammers. As always, YMMV.


While what you say is true, I think that Sean understands that this was a bad decision. Bet he never does it again!

Offering good advice and encouragement on getting it resolved is all that we have to work with.

Best to you as always John,
The guy probably figured out how to turn it on and is too embarrrassed to tell you. Don’t worry about it unless you hear from him again.
Run, don’t walk away from shipping goods to countries other than the US.

This has the hallmark of scam written all over it
So if you shipped it to Miami and his shipping address is listed as Miami you have fulfilled your obligation in Paypal eyes i believe . I did this type of transaction before myself . I was sure to explain my obligations to the buyer through communications on Agon thinking it would help my cause if i could prove the buyer accepted my obligation was done once the package arrived at his designated delivery address .
" Ahh, but Sean did make a mistake, he agreed to sell to a buyer in South America. 

I have shipped many items all over the world, but I have never shipped electronics or speakers out of North America. I'll ship cables, cords, fuses, outlets, phono cartridges, etc., anywhere. When YOU put yourself in a difficult position, YOU should assume some responsibility.

That is my take, though I see that it is unpopular here. It seems there are some shady sellers here. "

First, the OP made no mistake. He didn't make an international sale.  He made an agreement with someone, took payment on the amp and shipped it to Miami. You're letting the story cloud your judgment as to what really happened. 

What the buyer did with the amp once it got to Miami has nothing to do with anything. How could the sellers liability go beyond that in any way? The story is irrelevant. Only what took place is. What if some college kids father in Canada bought an amp listed on AG in California and shipped it to his son at the University of Miami for his birthday? The same exact thing took place even though the story sounds different. Either way it doesn't qualify as an international sale. That's the whole reason the buyer had the amp sent to Miami in the first place. He didn't want to make an international sale with someone he didn't know. Better to send it to a friend or family member in Miami that knows the rules for whatever country it was sent to.

This has absolutely nothing with my opinion or your opinion. Only the facts matter. The story has nothing to do with anything. Also, I know you mean well, but when you quoted AG's policy, you mislabeled it. If you read the quote, AG says they're tips. Tips are not policy, and policy may not be law. So if the OP decides not to refund the sellers money first, he disregarded a tip from AG, and nothing more.
Never refund until item is back in your hands. Screw anyone telling you otherwise. I’ve been scammed twice on eBay with US buyers. Both opened a dispute with PayPal. Both times I waited for returned item ( one cellphone and an audio interface) before I sent refund. Both items got returned with different serial numbers ( I always snap pic before shipping). I informed PayPal with evidence and both times disputecwas cleared. With the smaller items, these scammers probably get a 75% success rate. I'm not saying yours was a scammer, however keep your cash until you receive product and verify

Again, thanks for everybody's opinions. I respect everybody on this forum because you guys have answered my question with your opinions and insight. I have not heard back as of yet so at this point I believe he's probably figured out how to turn it on. If I hear back later(as in a week) then I don't think I am obligated to return his money as I have no picture of the box with damage, and as several of you have said, I shipped it to Miami. I have no control over the shipping after Miami. 
Thinking about it further-if the buyer was to send me pictures of the box that was sent from Miami and the unit, without damage on either, I would then refund him the money once tracking was established. I think that is reasonable.

 Look to see the shipping address on his Paypal account . If it's Miami i think you are good .
A lot depends on what terms you put in the listing.  Always state return policy or as-is, or whatever you are willing to support.  Barring that, I would also state No Sales outside the USA.  Different countries has different electrical systems, and that alone can be a problem.  In the end, I would not return any money until the unit is returned in the same condition in which it left your possession.  Having said that, there are people out there who will test your willingness to cater to them.  If they feel they can buffalo you, they will indeed push the limit.  Patience is the key.  Offer help, suggestions, ask for photos, proof, etc.  State a willingness to refund but only if it returned and you have it checked out.  That should quiet him down because he probably really doesn't want to return it. You could also appeal to Paypal if that was the method of payment.  They are pretty good at getting to the bottom of things.  Whatever you do, don't panic.

All you guys saying not to ship out of the 48 contiguous states..  come on guys, Hawaii is ok to ship to, just let them know shipping might be higher
This is my simple wisdom here, if He received the packages in Miami where you shipped it without damage,then he shipped to other country, you have no responsibility.But if He told you it's not working, yes, he should ship it back to you, Don't return his money till you receive the amp.This is Fair is sound like a nice guy, what if this is a scAm? And you return his money. Then you lose your money..wait till He return the amp.......
Uncola, don't feel bad I will ship to you my Andra if you want to buy them and pay the shipping and insurance, if you agree on the price too.
My family live there so if you scam me, they will pay you a visit, ahah joke only Merry Christmas to all and a happy New year...
Its your decision to refund, but if you do and there's any type of shipping claim, both parties have to work with the shipper in order to process any type of claim. If you refund the money before a claim is settled, you lose. 

In the event of a claim, what I do is get the process started and tell the shipper not to send payment to me, but have it go right to the buyer. Then, I contact the buyer and give him all the info on the claim so they can follow the process themselves. This puts the buyer at ease because they can see what's going on and not wonder if you are telling them the truth. The buyer will also be required to fill out paperwork and make arrangements to get the amp back to the shipper. This way works well because you already got paid for the amp and you have leverage with the buyer so they follow through on their end, as well. The whole thing just takes care of itself.

I'm assuming, of course, that the amp is still in the US and a legit shipping claim can be made. If the amp is somewhere in S America, keep your money in your pocked and the above infor for future reference.
I agree on everything you said. The amp is in Chili and I've heard nothing since asking for pictures so at this point I'm not inclined to go any further.

Hi Sean,

How was the transaction paid for? PayPal and shipped to the verified address on file? Wire transfer?
Yes it was paid for via PayPal and shipped to the verified address. I still have not heard back since sending instructions on how to operate the amp and asked for pictures of any damage, so I think the buyer probably got it turned on.

so you know; PayPal gives the buyer 180 days to file a claim and would probably freeze the amount of purchase in your account.
they require the buyer to send the item back to you in the same shape it was sent to them, upon receipt ot the item and your approval of the condition you're required to issue a refund unless you file a claim that it was not in the same shape or a different item (different serial number etc.) was returned where they take it to another level and would review the case themselves and make a final judgement.

so I'd recommend that for future transaction you take pictures including the serial number and keep it for your protection.
hopefully this case won't go that route.

So the buyer has not made any sort of claim with PayPal, so far. I do have pictures of the unit and serial, and it is a very rare amplifier, so I do not believe he'd be able to come up with another serial number, or amplifier for that matter. 

at this point and if it was me I wouldn’t worry about this, the worst that can happen is he sends it back to you undamaged and you issue a refund.
in all probabilities like you said he figured how to turn it on.

to those who say don’t sell overseas, I humbly disagree. I sold many expensive photo equipments on ebay and the buyers were from all over the world: Hong Kong, Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia etc.
never had a problem but one from Taiwan who said he didn’t receive a $450 filter I sent via USPS with proof of shipping and insured, but they didn’t provide online tracking, as he didn’t want to pay for fedex because "it was expensive"... Postal service said they checked with their counterparts in Taiwan and they informed that it was delivered but couldn’t provide proof... That was good enough for the post office to deny my insurance claim but not for paypal & ebay to rule against me.
So I learned my lesson to cover myself all the way, only send it with the likes of fedex, UPS, DHL etc. where they provide online tracking & fully insured with informing the buyer in the ad that customs delays or expenses are their responsibility... If they don’t wanna pay for those services then they can buy their stuff elsewhere. Never had a problem again.
like I said I wouldn’t worry about this until The buyer responds.
Good luck and Happy Holidays

Oh hell no, I wouldn't issue a refund till the unit is shipped back to you and you can verify the item doesn't work or if it was tampered with. Thanks for your time.
" So the buyer has not made any sort of claim with PayPal, so far."

I forgot to mention this before. I would strongly recommend that you don't let money sit in your PayPal account. Just leave a few dollars in so you have a balance. In the event of an incident, they pretty much do anything they want. PayPal has nothing invested in you, so they have no problem refunding or seizing your funds without much investigating to determine the validity of a claim.  Its not like a bank issuing a credit card, where they lend you money every time you use it. If you have an issue with a transaction where you paid by CC, the bank is far more likely to be aggressive, because its they're money. If something happens on a transaction made with a debit card, they don't care. (I'm not saying they won't do anything to help you, they just do a lot less because the bank is not losing any money over it.). PayPal has the same attitude.

Here's a couple of examples. I went to an audio store and bought a $1600 component with funds in my paypal account. When the transaction was processed, there was no approval at the stores terminal. I checked my PayPal account and it showed the $1600 removed from my account for the purchase I just made. To make a long story short, they removed $1600 from my account 5 times, yet the vendor didn't receive any of it. They only thing PayPal could tell me, is that they had no idea where the money went, but it wasn't they're fault. After spending a week on the phone with them, they somehow figured out what happened and put the money back in my account. To be honest, it wasn't the mistake that pissed me off, it was their attitude.  It was like they enjoyed watching me get upset.

Then there was the time I got up one morning and saw $5000 missing from my PayPal account. Same exact story as above. No idea what happened to my money, but they knew for a fact it wasn't their fault. Another week on the phone.
Update: never heard from the guy after I asked for pictures. I think he probably figured out how to turn it on! Thanks for the insight everybody.