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How to Resolve a Complaint About an eBay Purchase

Try to settle the dispute with the seller yourself first before asking eBay to step in.

I bought something on eBay that was defective. What can I do about it?

For an item that differs from what's described in the listing or that never shows up at your door, the eBay Money Back Guarantee assures that you'll get the product you were promised or a full refund. But first try to resolve the problem directly with the seller (you can see how to contact the seller in your purchase history). You'll avoid jumping through hoops with eBay’s resolution process, and the seller will appreciate the opportunity to keep a clean record.

Stick with eBay's messaging platform to contact the seller (rather than, say, switching to a phone call) so eBay officials can see the correspondence if they have to step in. Attach photos to show damage or any other visible issues with the product, and specify how you want the problem to be resolved. For instance, if a shirt has arrived with a stain but you want to keep it, ask the seller to cover the cost of cleaning. "Usually, the seller will make it right," says Marsha Collier, author of eBay for Dummies. Or, if you return the item, ask the seller to include your shipping cost in the refund.

If you're dissatisfied with the seller's response or you don't get a reply within a reasonable time, you can involve eBay by requesting a return in your purchase history or by visiting their resolution center. If eBay determines that you deserve a refund or replacement, the Money Back Guarantee applies. (The Money Back Guarantee doesn't cover you if you decide you don't like the item or if it was damaged during shipping.) A separate policy, called Vehicle Purchase Protection, provides up to $50,000 in coverage for cars bought on eBay.

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