Don't Get Burned by Ebay's Flawed Policy on Local Pick-Up Auctions!!!

Don’t Get Burned by Ebay’s Flawed Policy on Local Pick-up Auctions!!!

Whether you’re a casual eBay seller, run an eBay store, or are an auction hunter who attends storage unit auctions and re-sells your goods on eBay it’s critical you read this article to keep from getting burned by one of eBay’s most flawed policies.

If you’ve been selling on eBay for any period of time, it will probably come as no surprise to you that eBay heavily favors buyers in disputes. I’ll stop just short of saying that eBay automatically gives buyers their money back no matter what…lol.

I don’t necessarily like this as a seller I understand that with a site like eBay buyers have to have confidence that they will not only get items they buy but will get items that are in good condition and accurately described. If not people won’t shop on eBay, eBay won’t have a business, and you as a seller won’t have a business, so I understand eBay favoring buyers to a point.

Before I get into my story let me first tell you about eBay’s flawed policy on local pick-up items or items you will deliver. Ebay forces you to accept Pay Pal on all auctions, even local pick-up or delivery auctions. Ebay as I’m sure you know also AUTOMATICALLY rules in the favor of a buyer if they claim they never received an item and you can’t provide a tracking number.

So what does this mean in the case of local pick-up items? It means that whether a car, motorcycle, or piece of furniture if a buyer pays you through Pay Pal and you deliver the item in person and that buyer decides to open a claim with Pay Pal or eBay claiming they didn’t receive that item eBay will ask you for a tracking number.

Obviously there is no tracking number since you either delivered the item or had it picked up. Ebay will automatically refund that buyers money for your item and the buyer will keep your item meaning not only did you get burned on the money but you no longer have that high dollar item.

Ebay also has no other policies in place to protect the seller from this happening. If eBay allowed all local pick-up and delivery items to be cash pick-up only there wouldn’t be a problem, however since eBay forces you to accept Pay Pal payments you as a seller are required to offer a payment method that leaves you open to being burned EVERY SINGLE TIME. Ebay also doesn’t allow you to request or solicit a cash payment over Pay Pal in your listing either. You can list that way but if someone reports your listing it will be taken down immediately and believe me, someone will report your listing.

I’ll tell you about a recent experience I had. I found an end table in a storage unit I recently bought at auction. It had a cast iron base and marble top so it didn’t make sense to ship the item as it was both heavy and bulky and would have cost a fortune to ship.

I listed the item on eBay for $300, I had one bidder and the item wound up selling. Upon winning the auction the buyer sent me a message through eBay and asked if I could deliver the table. I had no problem with this and agreed.

I assumed the buyer would be cash since we were meeting up in person but the buyer immediately paid via Pay Pal. I didn’t like this as A. it was going to cost me $13 in Pay Pal fees which weren’t necessary since we were meeting up; B. Pay Pal has a $500 per month with-drawl limit which I was closed to reaching; and most importantly; C. Pay Pal offers no protection for the seller.

If this buyer claimed I never delivered the table to him eBay would ask me for a tracking number. I would have no tracking number to provide the seller with so eBay would not only give the money back to the buyer but he would also still have my table.

I politely e-mailed the buyer and asked if they would mind paying cash for these reasons. I thought the buyer would agree to this as I was going to give him a discount for any inconvenience this caused and also since I had been a good guy and offered to borrow a truck from a buddy and deliver the table.

The buyer shot me back a short message saying only “we only pay for items on eBay via Pay Pal.” I sent another message again stating my reasons why I preferred a cash deal and also explained how if the item were an electronic or something I could understand wanting Pay Pal protection but with a table you just don’t need it.

I told the buyer he could inspect the table before paying me and if he wasn’t happy we didn’t have to go through with the deal; no hard feelings. The buyer continued being difficult and refusing to do anything besides Pay Pal. He also said I shouldn’t have offered Pay Pal if I didn’t want to accept payment though it. Though this may be true eBay forces you to offer Pay Pal, yet offers no protection to the seller when they accept Pay Pal.

I then requested the transaction be cancelled because myself and the buyer couldn’t come to terms. The buyer then gets to decide whether to accept this, if they do the transaction is cancelled and the seller is charged no final value fees since an item wasn’t sold. Well just to be a jerk the buyer declined this to try to stick me with the final value fee as well which wound up being $30. This essentially meant eBay charged me $30 and I didn’t make a sale.

I contacted eBay through their chat customer service option. I spoke to a guy about the situation and after some back and forth he agreed to take away the $27 fee. By the way, several weeks later I have yet to have that credited to my account.

Before we ended our conversation I asked the customer service person I was speaking to what I could do in the future to protect myself from getting scammed by buyers when accepting Pay Pal on local pick-up items. He had nothing to say and essentially said there was no way for a seller to protect themselves.

After pressing this issue and explaining how ridiculous it is to force buyers to accept a payment method that allows them to be scammed he had a suggestion for me.

Are you ready for this…

He suggested I take a picture of myself handing the table to the buyer. This is ludicrous on so many levels. First I’m sure a buyer is going to wonder why this stranger I met on the internet wants to take pictures of me. Second, I would never be able to get anyone at eBay’s customer service or dispute center to actually look at a picture but even if I could what does that prove?

Ebay does not know what the buyer looks like. I could just as easily take a photo of me giving the table to a buddy of mine, it proves nothing. Ebay also in their terms and conditions states that even if you have a signed form from the buyer stating they took delivery of the item that is satisfactory proof the buyer has the item in the case of a dispute.

The long and short of it is if you accept Pay Pal on items you don’t ship, which by the way tend to be the higher dollar items you can’t afford to get scammed on, eBay offers no protection to you as a seller.

Ebay needs to come up with some way to remedy this. My suggestion was that eBay come up with some type of system that gives the buyer a code when they purchase an item to be picked up. Upon receiving delivery of the item the buyer would give the seller that code. The seller could then either enter that code into eBay’s website when they got home; or better yet text that code in and get a verification that it’s the correct code the buyer gave. This would be a way of proving that the buyer took delivery of the item.

This is a HUGE flaw eBay has and needs to remedy. Either they need to offer some type of protection to sellers accepting Pay Pal. They need to allow a seller to not offer Pay Pal on local pick-up items, or they need to allow sellers to request cash only as a payment option.

I mentioned this to the customer service rep I spoke with though he wasn’t interested in hearing this or passing it on to his supervisors.

If you’re an eBay seller keep this in mind when listing auctions that require local pick-up or delivery. Better yet, contact eBay and let them know they need to remedy this situation. Generally items that can’t be shipped are bigger ticket items that a seller can’t afford to lose both the money and the product on.

Have you had a bad experience with accepting Pay Pal for local pick-up or delivery sales on eBay? Do you have any suggestions on how a seller can protect him or herself? If so we’d love to here from you. Leave a comment below the article or if you’d like to write a guest blog post shoot us an e-mail.


  1. IF you sold on ebay for a local sale. you might as well put on craigslist. idiot.

    1. You obvoiusly are clueless, ebay has a much larger audience than craigslist. Also craigslist buyers are low ballers ebay you can actually get a decent buck. The item would have gone for $10 on craigslist. Get a clue buddy.

  2. I am both a seller and a buyer on Ebay. I am sharing this story from a buyer standpoint.

    I purchased a lightbox and light set from a "power seller". The seller has been listing these for a long time and normally has 10 or so auctions running at the same time on these. The ad stated the lights were height adjustable. However, when I received my order, I discovered they are not. The lightbox is fine so I figured there was no need to return but was a little disappointed. I very nicely contacted the seller (through contact seller) and simply suggested that they correct the remaining auction and any future auctions for the lights. They emailed and said that that error was for my lights and they weren't relisted, and issued a $5 credit. I replied with a thank you but I really wasn't expecting a credit but just wanted to let them know that yes, their auctions are the same lights and are listed incorrectly. They turned me in to Ebay. Ebay contacted me and said that the seller contacted them and they were investigating my dispute. I contacted Ebay with the case number and said I did not have a dispute that i was merely suggesting the seller correct there auction descriptions and included a link to the page for the auctions.

    I then received a notice from Ebay saying that the ruled in the sellers favor due to them issuing a $5 crredit! I replied that again, that was not the point and why will they not actually read what I am saying! (someone that can actually speak and write in English). I said once again that I was not looking for a refund nor was I putting anything in dispute. And that it was the seller who filed a dispute with you and there was never a dispute. At this point I was pissed so I did say, Perhaps you are protecting your power seller and ignoring the fact that their items descriptions were incorrect!

    Two days later, I receive another Ebay email saying the reversed their first decision and credited my PayPal the full amount for the item including shipping. It amazes me that the seller and Ebay are unwilling to understand what I am saying no matter how clear I make myself. Again, I never once wanted a refund! Crazy!

    1. They do have some strange policies

  3. I have also called both ebay and paypal asking how I can protect myself on items that are to be picked up or delivered. They have no solutions for me yet they force me to offer paypal as a payment option, I'd have to be stupid to do that

    1. Thanks for your input. All eBay users, especially sellers should bring these messed up policies to their attention. One good thing I noticed ebay seems to be at least on the surface trying to appear to make an effort to protect sellers and be more accomodating to sellers as opposed to favoring buyers to the point of allowing them to game the system and get free stuff.

  4. I am not an Ebay seller but was looking into instructions how to list as local pick up only. Found this link:

  5. A simple solution to me would be not to offer local pickup when selling on Ebay. Problem solved.

    1. wow, your slow. that was the point of this whole article, warning people about this flaw so they don't offer local pickup.

      the problem however is some items are too large to ship which means shoudl you choose to use ebay as opposed to craigslist you can't offer local pickup or at least can't accept paypal. problem however is ebay forces you to offer paypal as a payment option. 99% of buyers are gonna want to pay paypal, when you say no they will either refuse to buy or leave negative feedback, neither option is good.

      if ebay is going to have a "local pickup" option they should not have this fatal flaw in their system. either dont force sellers to accept paypal or have some type of escrow system with codes like localbitcoins which allows the seller to confirm buyer has taken delivery of the item

  6. I may be facing local-pick-up situation. I'm the seller. A buyer has contacted me a few times about an expensive ($2700) piece of furniture she would like to buy. I have the chest listed as both "local pick-up only" and no refunds. I'm in AL. She's in NY. She asked if I would hold the item for a period of time (3-6 months) while she arranged for the pick-up. I stated I would work with her once she purchased the item. Needless to say, when I posted a question about local pick-up, all I got were the stock answers about cash only. So I've been doing some research. My solution is to write a bailment contract for no longer than 6 months, and with the stipulation that if she does not take delivery in the contractually specified time period, the chest will be considered abandoned property and she will lose all legal rights to title. Even with this precaution, I'm still tentative. At any rate, thought I would share my thinking. This might be a legally viable option for sellers dealing in higher-priced items.

  7. I've been researching ways to get a Pick-Up Only transaction to play out smoothly. Finally after collecting all this information that was pretty much described in this post, I called eBay.

    The eBay rep suggested that upon meeting the buyer for pick up when they have paid via PayPal, the BUYER should 1) mark the item "as received" from their end 2) send a message to the SELLER saying that they accept and received the item in fully working and as-described condition.
    And these steps should be done AT THE MEETING. Not before. Not after.

    To cover your ass even more, I think it best to write up a disclaimer saying that the buyer accepts the item is all honkey-dorey and have them sign it, as well as you sign it. Then take a picture of this disclaimer, send it via message as a response to their message and KEEP THE ORIGINAL in case something happens.

    I have yet to hear PayPal's side of the story, as from what I understand, the buyer can open a case through PP. I will let you know when I know more...

  8. Okay so, from what I gathered, along with my previous comment above, I have called PayPal and they cannot do anything about it. Yes, you can accept cash and whatnot, but if you want to accept payments via PayPal, DO NOT DO IT.

    Paypal cannot protect you in any way. Once picked up, the buyer can claim they did not receive it through their bank and a chargeback is issued. Once that happens, PP will check to see if it was "Delivered" via a tracking number (which you won't have) and thus, they buyer gets away with your item and you will have to refund them, in full.

    I chewed both eBay and PP out for this and hopefully, with enough complaints over time, both of them will do something about it.