Ontario small businesses being victimized by unscrupulous buyers on eBay

David De Notaris of Toronto makes his living selling electronics, like mobile phones, on eBay.

But he said it’s increasingly risky behavior because some consumers are taking advantage of customer-friendly refund policies to cheat the system.

“I lost $4,000,” De Notaris told Global News in an interview, referring to transactions over eBay where he says the customers received and kept iPhones but got their money back.

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“You don’t know if the customer is committing fraud, trying to get a free phone.”

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De Notaris is among a number of small, online merchandisers who described how easy it is to get fleeced by an unscrupulous consumer buying from merchants through the site.

Some sellers described consumer-friendly practices that could allow the buyer to claim they did not receive the merchandise, or the item was damaged, or the goods were not as promised in advertisements.

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In response, eBay Canada told Global News it’s committed to providing a safe marketplace for buyers and sellers.

“Only a tiny fraction of all transactions on our platform experience any kind of bad activity,” the company said in a submitted statement.

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“At any given moment, over one billion listed are offered for sale on eBay globally — with the overwhelming majority of transactions being fulfilled seamlessly.”

But De Notaris and others who have posted their experiences online said they are skeptical about eBay.

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An eBay seller posted a warning video described how he sold a boombox style audio system to a customer who later wanted to return it. But when the merchant received the return in the mail, a pair of “cheap dollar store headphones” was inside along with nothing else.

Another YouTube video from an eBay seller claimed that only about 20 per cent of returns are sent by honest customers.

“The rest are just looking for a discount,” the merchant claimed.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.