PayPal “item not as described” Horror Story – Reverb saves the day

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by nixdad, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    WARNING for all sellers who accept PayPal.

    We just went through an experience with PayPal that I hope no one else will ever have to endure. Going forward, I would seriously think twice about accepting payment through PayPal when selling any of your instruments. This is proof that PayPal will ALWAYS side with the buyer no matter what.

    The following experience involves a guitar and not a bass, but the type of instrument doesn’t matter – it’s what transpired and how PayPal handled it. This ordeal spanned 2 months start to finish.

    My son and I are both bass players, and have recently been selling off some instruments that are no longer being used. Several ads have been placed through Reverb, including the sale of a Moog keyboard and an F-Bass 5-string. In both cases payment was made through PayPal, and there were no issues.

    The last item we decided to sell was a Jackson Christian Olde-Wolbers (Fear Factory)
    7-string guitar that we purchased for my son as a Birthday gift 10 years ago (my son even took lessons with COW for about two years.) Although my son is a bassist, he did double-duty in a pop band several years ago where 90% of the time he played bass, but he’d switch to guitar when the female lead vocalist played bass on a few select tunes. This guitar was used live only a few times, was in near new condition and had been stored carefully in a well-padded gig bag for the last 6-7 years.

    The ad on Reverb included several photos of the guitar, all showing the near new condition, as it only had a few very minor scratches and absolutely no dings (it was accurately listed in Excellent condition for $650 including the well padded gig bag and 8 sets of strings.) The ad was answered, and a guy in Colorado bought the guitar. It was (over) packed extremely well for shipping. It was shipped via UPS fully insured and required a signature upon delivery.

    Here’s where the Horror begins. It’s a long read, but I’ve done my best to keep the story as short as possible. This ordeal was an emotional roller coaster I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    - A few days later, the buyer reported to Reverb & PayPal that the guitar he received was “not as described” and requested a refund and that he would return the guitar. He acknowledged through Reverb that it was packed securely, but claimed the guitar had some dings that were not disclosed and the condition was not what he expected. We had no idea what he was talking about, and asked him to provide photos.

    The following buyer photos were poor to begin with, but got worse when I tried to increase the size:

    - The photos we received clearly showed some dings that were not on the guitar when shipped. The damage wasn’t terrible, but needless to say, we were pissed. It was obvious to us that this guy had dinged the guitar after it was unboxed, and now wanted his money back. We told the buyer there was no way we’d refund his money and accept the guitar back in worse condition.

    - At this point the aggravation kicked in that as we knew we were dealing with a bold-faced liar.

    - We immediately contacted Reverb, who was provided with “before” and “after” photos. They acknowledged the photos showed damage after the guitar had been received, but their initial response was to work it out through PayPal.

    - The buyer opened a Dispute Case File with PayPal requesting a refund. We uploaded the same before and after photos of the guitar as evidence into the case file. The buyer presented absolutely no evidence at all (nor did PayPal require him to do so.)

    - I contacted PayPal by phone to state our case, which fell on deaf ears. I escalated this to a supervisor and was told they “do not review evidence.” I learned that they had already told the buyer to return the guitar for a full refund. I was livid, but it was too late – I figured we’d deal with it when the guitar was returned.

    - The guitar arrived at our house about a week later on a Friday (the buyer shipped it FedEx Ground.) The box was left on our front porch (no signature required.) Knowing we were dealing with someone who has no integrity, I decided to video the un-boxing once I had gotten home from work.

    - Upon review, the outside of the box was still in pretty good shape and showed no obvious signs of abuse. As the box was opened, the first thing we noticed the guitar was NOT packed the same as when it was shipped by us. The big-bubble wrap bumper which padded the headstock and neck for transit was missing, as well as the bumper at the bottom of the guitar; other internal padding to keep the guitar from shifting in transit was missing (when we packed the guitar there was no wiggle room in the box.)

    - When the guitar was out of the box, we placed the gig bag on the folding table. My son unzipped the gig bag, and a bad situation got a whole lot worse:

    - THE HEADSTOCK WAS BROKEN!!!???!!! We were in shock. If the minor damage we saw in the photos would have been the extent of the damage, we could have easily sold the guitar again. This had now escalated to another level.

    - Since it was Friday night, my first step was to notify FedEx. However, I knew full well that this was not a FedEx issue (as the guitar was packed poorly) and that they would not claim responsibility. I also knew requesting the buyer to escalate this with FedEx would have been pointless.

    - We uploaded the new photos of the guitar with the broken headstock (and more) into the PayPal case file. I also e-mailed them and called the following Monday to report what had happened. To add insult to injury, PayPal had refunded the money to the buyer, and were now asking us to reimburse them the full $650.

    - I notified Reverb as well and provided them the photos and included the video of the un-boxing. Again, their initial response was to work it out with PayPal. I pointed out to Reverb that their own website states that if an item is returned, the buyer is responsible PACKING THE ITEM AS RECEIVED with all of the same materials, so when were they going to step up and stand by their own policy?

    - After providing them with proof that the guitar was now broken due to the action of the buyer - you’ll love this…PayPal notified me a few days later that buyer claimed this is one of the reasons he no longer wanted the guitar, and that they were closing the case file (***!!!)

    - Although I was absolutely spent from this ordeal and PayPal’s lack of logic, I contacted them one more time to state my case. To my surprise, they acknowledged the photos of the broken guitar, and the person actually sounded sympathetic. I also pointed out that if the guitar had been initially received broken, the buyer would have taken it up with UPS because IT WAS FULLY INSURED! She reopened the case file, and told me to provide a “Damage Report” (a signed document from a local music store with their assessment, along with all shipping details and photos) for this to go in our favor. With this request, I finally thought there was light at the end of the tunnel.

    - In between all this madness, we received some unexpected, but VERY GOOD news. Brian at Reverb notified me that they would send a call tag for the guitar, and would buy it for the full $650 once it had been received. NICE! He said that PayPal has a history of siding with the buyer no matter what. Although his generous offer would make us whole again, I did not accept it right away. I was hell bent on justice being done, and told Brian that I was going to see if PP would do the right thing and find in our favor, finally making the scumbag buyer responsible for his actions.

    - I provided everything that PayPal had requested within 48 hours, including The Damage Report (with store contact info so they could verify,) our fully insured UPS shipping and his non-insured FedEx shipping info, photos, the buyers acknowledgement that the guitar had been packed securely, etc. The music store that did the report even suggested that with the way the headstock was split, there was a very good chance that the buyer had broken it even before it was returned. A matter of fact, the dings/marks on the guitar that did not exist when sold were consistent with the guitar being leaned up against an amp and falling over. Bottom line, an 8 year old could have reviewed all of the evidence we had provided and found in our favor. Keep in mind through all of this the buyer did not provide a single shred of evidence, just 6 words: the item was “not as described.”

    - A week later we received the final word from PayPal – they found in the buyer’s favor, and were closing the case – what a freakin’ shock (NOT!)

    Dear xxxxx xxxxx,

    Thank you for contacting PayPal with your concern.

    We have completed our review to your appeal for the above case.

    The damage noted in your appeal was cited by your buyer as the reason for the complaint. Therefore, our original decision remains.

    We regret any inconvenience this may have caused you and encourage you to work directly with your buyer for further resolution.

    Please let me know if you need further assistance.

    xxxxx xxxxxxxx
    Protection Services Department

    That was it, dealing with PayPal was over. They proved that no matter what they will side with the buyer, even if the buyer is fully responsible for breaking your instrument. Dealing with PayPal was horrible, like speaking with mindless drones whom seemingly cannot think for themselves or apply any thought or logic whatsoever. It’s very clear that the “Damage Report” they requested was never going to be considered, and only an exercise they requested to make it appear that they were doing their due diligence in considering all of the facts. The contact at the music store also confirmed that he NEVER heard from PayPal.

    In the end, Reverb was the Hero. I really appreciate Reverb stepping up and doing the right thing here to stand by their own policy. Brian followed through, and as soon as they placed the $650 in PayPal, it was snatched up. As stated, this whole thing transpired over about an eight week period, so by this point PayPal had sent this matter to collections (which was quickly resolved.)

    From this point forward, we’ll never accept payment through PayPal for an instrument again. As convenient as it is, this experience changed how we’ll do business going forward.

    Be careful out there, Talkbassers!
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  2. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    El-Bob and nixdad like this.
  3. Coolhandjjl


    Oct 13, 2010
    Sorry for that big PITA, and so glad you posted this.

    I prefer to sell here, and only to someone with an established record of positive feedback.
    Roberto Nunez, Spidey2112 and nixdad like this.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008

    What type of payment do you think you'll accept?
    mb94952 and nixdad like this.
  5. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Probably a direct bank transfer.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    thanks for the warning/reminder. and thanks for your detailed account...very helpful!

    i'm stuck with paypal as i sell on ebay (pro audio). i've never had those issues (knock on wood), but for life in general: i generally go with the odds = odds are it would never happen again! :rolleyes:

    so sorry to hear about your terrible experience, but i'm glad it's finally over for you and that you were made whole! :thumbsup:
    Spidey2112 and nixdad like this.
  7. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    OTOH PayPal is great for buying dubious deals - I've ever had a problem getting a refund. At least three times the seller's account disappeared a day or two after I paid them :wideyed:. And also OTOH I have a bunch of stuff I'd sell if there was a way to do it without more hassle than it's worth. Heavy power amps and sub-$200-new full scale basses anyone? LOL
    Roxbororob and nixdad like this.
  8. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    This is why I don't sell online. The local pawn shop said he sent a instrument to Arizona & the recipient claimed they never received it, even though someone had clearly signed for it.
    I think there's some crazy long period to file a claim with PayPal as well, so they could technically come back on you for months afterwards:

  9. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    And this is part of why I buy stuff on eBay but don't sell stuff on eBay - it only takes a couple of scum gaming the system to make it not remotely worthwhile.
    elkkid2, SirMjac28 and nixdad like this.
  10. D Bopp

    D Bopp Supporting Member

    May 26, 2007
    Alpharetta, GA
    I've had a few bad experiences in the past w/ eBay/Paypal. But I don't rule it out using it in the future because of that. Unfortunately it's a necessary evil if you want to expand your realm of potential buyers. I try to sell most of my stuff here on TB where people are civil and respective for the most part.

    However, as a buyer, I only ever pay with Paypal, even if I have the funds to buy it outright. It gives me "protection" and I can use a credit card that gives me 2-3% cash back.
  11. mcarp555

    mcarp555 Guest

    Jul 14, 2013
    I've sold software I've written myself (website templates) using PP. In the past I've had people buy the software (as a direct download), then cry to PP that "they" never placed the order - it was always someone "without permission to access their account". In every single case, PP has sided with them, taking the money out of my account and refunding the buyer, who obviously gets to keep the software as well.

    When I sell instruments online, it's cash only. You come to me and give me the dough. Yeah, I've lost at least one sale because of it, but on the other hand, I've only been scammed out of 30-50 bucks a few times, not a grand or more. In this case, a slow nickel beats a fast time.
    pglaser01, spaz21387 and nixdad like this.
  12. gt96g

    gt96g Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Philly Area
    You know I hate to suggest anything that would make PayPal more money but they really should start offering dispute insurance for sellers, pay an extra fee based on the value of the item and if this nonsense happens your covered. Plus that system will keep them from automatically siding with the buyer because if you buy the insurance you cant be held responsible and it falls to PayPal, so they will have to conduct a proper investigation. This story bothers me because I had a similar experience years ago. Fortunately mine workes out buyer dropped the case. Reverb did a nice thing but technically your not whole. Reverb has your guitar, PayPal has your money, and your left holding the bag. To really make you whole Reverb would have had to give you double value for the guitar, half for you and half for PayPal. Or if they paid off PayPal and replaced or repaired the guitar.
    Garret Graves, OldDog52 and nixdad like this.
  13. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    If someone required a bank transfer for an item, I would pass as a buyer. For every seller horror story, there are ten buyer horror stories.
  14. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    By any chance did you check the serial number? Is it the same guitar.
    StayLow, nixdad, jchrisk1 and 2 others like this.
  15. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    That was my first thought.
    alesreaper9, spaz21387 and nixdad like this.
  16. J Posega

    J Posega Cat Dad and Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    PayPal will always side with the buyer. Reverb did the right thing, but you need to get online and share the buyer's name wherever they might go to buy gear. Call them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever you can find them, because they are a greedy piece of crap. Hopefully, they have been banned from Reverb already.
  17. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Agreed... great documentation!
    nixdad likes this.
  18. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI

    Unfortunately, the serial number is on the neck plate. Which could easily be swapped. I don't know if there are other numbers inside the neck pocket or not. Worth a look though. Seems to me he did the St Louis switch.
    nixdad and jmattbassplaya like this.
  19. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    That's my thought. Buy a guitar to replace your broken one, say it arrived damaged, and return your old broken one while keeping the new one.
    nixdad and jchrisk1 like this.
  20. dxb


    Dec 25, 2016
    Yeah, Paypal is a double-edged sword. Its great for getting your money back from a shady seller but not a shady buyer. Too bad they aren't willing to mediate these situations and find out who's really at fault. Not surprising though, they're a corporation and taking a minute to help people would cut into their profits. The only way to make them change would be if they started losing business because of it. Its too bad there isn't a competing service that does what they do.
    Herrick, Spidey2112 and nixdad like this.