eBay Seller, Don’t Get Scammed Selling Smart Phones and Electronics [4 hard lessons]


In this guide, we’ll review some eBay seller tips regarding buyer scams of electronics. Especially for the sale of smart phones.

We all know that eBay has a pretty generous buyer satisfaction and return policy. It’s so generous in fact, it typically overrides any pictures or return policy (or disclaimers) a seller may have in their product listing description.

When a buyer is not satisfied with the item you sold them, they are pretty much guaranteed the option of returning the item for a refund. If they are at fault for possibly damaging the item it will not matter. They will most likely return the broken item to you. And eBay will side with them; it’s a bit unbalanced, to say the least.

It’s a perfect system for any buyer who wants to be a bit shady; the seller will lose just about every time. And this protection system has been evolving against the seller for quite some time now.

Now let’s talk about one of the biggest eBay headaches for sellers trending right now.

Lesson #1: eBay Buyers Abuse Return Policies for Electronics!

Ever hear the story about the man who buys a video camera for that upcoming family vacation? Then he takes it back to the store for a full refund afterward? At one point in the recent past, portable electronics were like short term rentals for consumers, which was free.

These items are not only high on the list for scammers. eBay has made it easy for buyers to buy an electronic item, try it out, then for just about any reason send it back for a full refund. Sometimes, they’ll even get the shipping charges refunded to them.

There’s a reason most big box stores have strict policies on electronic items and charge a 15% restocking fee. Those stores will limit the duration of returns from 30 to 15 days, especially for mobile phones, computers, cameras, etc.

On eBay, I consider electronic items to be the riskiest thing to sell. The big box stores have learned from the past. Can eBay change the policy to favor the sellers again? Buyers regularly abuse this customer satisfaction guarantee, that will cause the seller to lose every time, in time and money. Many wish eBay could be good again, like back in the late nineties.

Here’s a great resource I follow online to keep up with all the latest eBay news! It’s called Ecommerce Bytes.

Lesson #2: More About Selling Electronics

Selling items such as video game systems, mobile phones, old computers, stereo amplifiers, cameras, speakers, and other old electronics will have a high risk of malfunctioning, for any number of reasons. This is especially true for vintage electronics such as the old Retro Video Games systems like the Nintendo NES, Sega Genesis, or SNES.

Damage to the electronic components can occur from user error or from the shipping company. A seller can test the device, package it well, insure it, and take photos, then go out of their way to securely package it with quality shipping supplies. The minute the package is dropped off for shipment, it’s out of the seller’s hands. The deal is done, or so we think!

So double think your strategy if you believe that selling these items on eBay will just be a quick, easy sell.

Lesson #3: Getting Screwed As a seller, Once Your Package is Dropped Off!

A seller takes a big risk not to get burned, but somehow always will!

A delivery driver or warehouse worker could kick or throw the package. A buyer could drop the package and claim it was not their fault. Everyone will point the finger to someone else.

Another issue of getting screwed as a seller is that electronic items seem to also have a high risk of being stolen too. The item could be stolen by delivery drivers, a scam artist buyer or worse, porch pirates during Christmas time!

With such bias on the eBay buyer satisfaction policy and shipping companies wanting to watch their own ass, it’s no surprise the seller is the loser every time something might go wrong with the shipping.

Lesson #4: Overview Of the Latest iPhone Scam Story

Below is a short overview of recent events that happened to a fellow e-Bayer. This seller was very experienced with the eBay selling process.

Check out the entire story here:
Recent iPhone buy and sell return scam on eBay, seller loses big time!

Overview of what happened! Follow me through 1 to 9!

1) The seller posts a mint condition iPhone 6 up on eBay with lots of good photos and a great description! He even has the original box.

2) The seller makes sure the buyer has a PayPal account. This will help filter out fraudulent buyers, as directed by eBay.

3) The auction ends, and the iPhone sells for $328.oo to the highest bidder, and they pay via PayPal right away.

4) The seller packages the mint condition iPhone 6 in its original box. They pack it into a high-quality flat rate box and promptly ships it out via USPS with shipper’s insurance.

5) The buyer receives it a few days later and reports the iPhone 6 was damaged, maybe during shipment. He or she opens a return claim with eBay customer service. The PayPal funds from the transaction are immediately frozen.

6) The seller responds and requests pictures of the damaged phone (front and back), with the original packaging. The photos of the damaged iPhone should also include a clear view of the serial number on the back.

7) These pictures are required so an insurance claim can be filed with the Post Office. The seller receives only two pictures. Both photos were fake showing another iPhone that was damaged. It was also showing no serial number from the box or the back of the phone.

8) The buyer gets a return label from the eBay claim with a tracking number, then ships back a package containing an old Credit Card Scanner. Did you hear me? Not an iPhone, an OLD CREDIT CARD MACHINE.  Then eBay tracks the return with the tracking number and once a delivery confirmation is reported, a refund is issued straight back to the buyer.

9) The seller is screwed at this point. They have no proof of a damaged iPhone, so no claim can be filed against the shipping insurance. The buyer gets away with a return scam based on eBay’s favorable buyer policies and gets a free iPhone 6. The seller loses an iPhone and money for the purchase and is left with a piece of junk credit card scanner! Wow, that stings.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it folks! eBay keeps screwing around with its policies. Making it even harder for the sellers and buyers to honestly work things out between transactions that end up going south.

I hope one day that eBay can bring back it’s original feedback and seller policies. There was much less risk and it put sellers and buyers on a pretty even playing field. Only time will tell, eBay are you reading this?