Online Protection: Are they doing it right?

ScamIn today’s society buying online is a common occurrence and a majority of the population partakes in online purchases one-way or another. With all the hidden hoops and obstacles that buyers and sellers are required to go through, to sell or purchase an item, you would think these transactions would be safe. In some instances, that is not the case. Both buyers and sellers need to beware of scammers that con people out of money for items that may be claimed as: damaged, lost, stolen, mis-labeled or mis-leading. When a buyer or a seller falls victim of fraud, how do sites such as eBay and Paypal keep customers? Buyer Protection is what eBay and Paypal offers both buyers and sellers. Problem is, how does eBay and Paypal determine who is the real victim in these cases? Either the seller or buyer can be a scammer but whose side do they chose and how do they determine such cases, claims or disputes. Any activity online comes with consequences and being a buyer or seller of items can cause miscommunication and thus turns into a giant headache. The buyer protection is supposed to be exactly that, but what happens when the buyer becomes the fraud and is still awarded the refund while the seller takes the hit? Such cases require tough decisions to determine who is telling the truth and who is the fraud, being a victim myself of seller fraud; I am for the buyer protection program.

Recently a scam that hit the news hard was that of Peter Clatworthy and his purchase of an Xbox One console from eBay. Needless to say Clatworthy was surprised when he received a picture of the console that he had paid roughly £450 or $750. This is where Clatworthy used the buyer protection through eBay and Paypal. The catch with this story is that Clatworthy admits to reading the item’s listing as being a photo of the Xbox but was ignorant and believed he would get the console instead. His claim? That it was listed “in the right category made me think it was genuine” so does this warrant buyer protection? In my opinion no because he admitted to reading the listing properly in which it stated it was a photo but chose to believe it would be otherwise. This is ignorance on the buyers’ part and unfortunately the seller had to take the hit. Although buyers are protected, how about the sellers? Sadly for a seller to get their money back from a scammer they have to go through so much work and most likely end up losing. Why is it that eBay and Paypal allow for buyers to do little to no work when filing a claim against the seller and most likely receive a full refund while sellers jump through hoops only to have a slight chance of getting their money back? I don’t believe it is fair to require so much of sellers when they are the ones being scammed.

In 2007 the UK reported over 8,000 eBay crimes were reported to police and Clatworthy’s case is one of thousands of crimes happening in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately a lot of cases go dismissed or unresolved or resolved in favor for the scamming party. In such cases how does eBay or Paypal go about determining who is basically telling the truth and who isn’t. The problem is they can’t because there are people who create fake Paypal accounts that sends out fake emails to sellers claiming there is a transaction waiting for them so that the item can be shipped out. Now there are websites giving the dos and don’ts of how to buy and sell online. Even though there are step-by-step instructions with screenshots explaining how to be safe, there are still buyers and sellers who fall victim to fraud. The eBay community is aware of fraud from both the sellers and buyers and getting their view on such cases is very interesting. While the community may be aware of this increasing situation, the sellers also know that Paypal and eBay will most of the time side with the buyer. Being smart and careful is something buyers and sellers need to be more conscious of and being able to protect them with sufficient evidence is a must. If done properly a seller can almost win claims and disputes against fraudulent buyers and still give great service to actual customers.

With all the resources available in today’s society, being able to pull off a scam and get away with it is becoming simpler each day. I believe that eBay and Paypal created the buyer and seller protection plan with the best intentions but because scams are increasing, eBay and Paypal cannot keep up. Sellers are having to take the hit of losing merchandise they “sold” only to have a dispute filed against them claiming otherwise and thus they are out that money as well. How are companies supposed to be able to determine who is telling the truth and who isn’t? Evidence of course, it’s sad when the victim party remains the victim even if they have sufficient evidence. We see that in the case of Clatworthy. A local second hand store had given him a brand Xbox one to compensate for his “loss”, although they might have done it for the publicity, it created an out cry amongst the online community. With cases like this happening, is society supposed to feel sorry for this 19-year-old man when he clearly read the listing correctly and still decided to scam the seller? Or do we take the route as many others in bashing him online because of his “stupidity” and thus leading to future scammers?

In my opinion Clatworthy had a serious lapse in judgment but because he took to social networking sites, his story got attention it didn’t deserve and thus allowed him to be rewarded for his lack of judgment. I’m not saying that it is entirely Clatworthy’s fault because the seller knew what they were listing and they were just waiting to prey on people such as Clatworthy. Scams happen every day and while eBay and Paypal have the right intentions on having a buyer and seller protection program, the current way it is run and with how long claims take, the program needs to be upgraded. To have such well-known companies fall into a scamming scheme so publicly has hurt their image and I believe eBay and Paypal will be feeling those effects soon if not already. They had the best intentions but sometimes that isn’t always enough when there is someone out there who will always out smart you.

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