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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 14:43 GMT
EBay upgrading buyer protection
EBay has brought out the salesman in millions
Online auctioneer eBay is upgrading its UK buyer protection service for customers using Paypal, its online payment service subsidiary.

If a user pays for an eBay item using Paypal and it fails to arrive, the buyer may be reimbursed for up to £250.

But they must have bought from a seller who has had feedback from at least 50 different buyers using the site.

Of this feedback at least 98% must be positive, and the seller must be based in the UK, US or Canada.

If a sale is not covered and fraud takes place, Paypal says it will still "attempt to recover any funds owed".

It means sales not covered by the new protection plan can still be filed through Paypal's buyer complaint process.

However, it says "a full refund" is not guaranteed for sales which do not qualify for the new buyer protection plan.

EBay claims that fraudulent transactions using the Paypal come to less than 0.5% of trades.

Increasing confidence

Those sellers whose sales are covered by the free protection scheme will have a Paypal Buyer Protection logo automatically displayed beside all their listed items.

There will be no additional processing or administration fee for either the seller or the buyer for the service.

"With this new programme... Paypal is able to help increase the community's confidence when shopping on eBay," said a Paypal UK spokesman.

Paypal is now one of the world's biggest payment protection services, but it is not without its critics, especially in the US, where it has been attacked for its customer service.

Your comments:

This is basically good news. As a seller on ebay, I hope it will give my buyers a little more reassurance that they will either get the good or get their money back, as my rating is high enough to qualify. As a buyer, this will certainly reassure me when I'm buying things. It would be nice if these protection schemes existed earlier of course. It would also be nice if the schemes were extended to all types of purchases, not just paypal, as many people treat ebay as though it were a shop. Indeed with the 'Buy-it-Now' option it is a shop in fact!
Anthony Butler, Coventry, UK

I welcome this improvement to the Buyer Protection scheme, as I regularly sell on Ebay and have a feedback rating of over 50 - so this will help my buyers feel more confident in their purchase
Keith Taylor, Belfast, NI

I think EBay has, on the whole, honest users. I've bought and sold many things and not once had a problem. I welcome more effort to protect buyers in what in my mind is one of the best uses of the net. One man's rubbish is another man's treasure.
Greg Smith, Basingstoke, England.

I would like to see more protection for sellers on eBay. I recently shipped an expensive camcorder after using what turns out to be a fraudulent escrow payment site. I lost £500 in the process and eBay have been far from helpful.
Richard Allen, Maidenhead, Berkshire

I regularly use PayPal on eBay and I am very happy with the service. I hate it when sellers charge a buyer for using PayPal - I never do and I always try to use a seller who doesn't charge. I am impressed at the new insurance offer but I am not sure many 50+ sellers are at fault over non-delivery of sold items. I think most sellers guilty of this will not be effected much. Still a very good PR exercise and another plus for users.
Mark Pincott-Brown , Swanley, Kent, UK

I sell items regularly on eBay. Roughly a quarter of the final buyers don't end up paying. It's just wasted time. The feedback system fails because it gives equal weighting to non-paying buyers and the unpaid sellers. There are a number of good buyers and sellers on eBay, but increasing there are also a fair number who try to cheat the flaws. eBay has been slow to address these problems and their "UK" custommer service is a joke.
Tom, Wilmslow, UK

My wife purchases items through Ebay using Paypal with very little problems. The introduction of Fraud protection is great news although on the two occasions that we have had to contact Paypal, their customer care was terrible and the delay in getting a response from them was very frustrating.
Simon Whitehouse, Windsor, England.

My boyfriend bought a 'rare autographed Star Wars poster' last year which he paid for in full and never received. He tried to contact the seller numerous times and also report the incident to Ebay. Nothing ever came from it. Ebay needs to recognise that this happens more commonly than expected and needs to address the victims in this in a more precise manner i.e. contact addresses and phone numbers should be more widely availble as my boyfriend and myself have lost faith in the Ebay system.
Claire Sweetman, Nortwhich

A step in the right direction. I've always felt that Ebay did not do enough to protect buyers, but why must they have a feedback of 50? Ebay have clearly worked out that most sellers who are likely to try to rip people off will be well below that. Hence this scheme is not likely to cost Ebay that much money. All they need to do now is find a way to rectify incorrect feedback...
Neil Munn, Kettering

Fraud is not the only reason for auctioned items failing to arrive. As one of the most active sellers of darts we also know that items are lost in the mail and in some cases stolen during delivery. Trying to convince buyers of these problems can be difficult. At least our rating shows we are honest.
Orion Vector Darts, Akron, USA

The Paypal system might encourage me to use the eBay service. I have always been wary because of that very problem.
Pete, Oxford, England

This is a good addition to eBay's services, however it still doesn't address the other problem, that PayPal is not covered by the banking code of practice and has a reputation for being unhelpful and difficult to deal with in the case of problems with PayPal accounts.
Sally Marshall, UK

This tighter integration with Paypal is simply an opportunity to charge more and more fees onto the online public. I have been a user of Ebay for 6 years now and have only used Paypal once. Their customer support is terrible and they operate out of America which means it's expensive and hard to telephone in with problems. I like Ebay but I wouldn't recommend Paypal to anyone. Paypal also charges extortionate fees (up to 4% I think on an average transaction). The simple fact is common sense is the best insurance. You buy from someone with a good rating and you can be pretty sure to get the item. If something seems too good to be true, it generally is. There has been a lot of 'account hacking' which means some top rated sellers may look to be in fraudulent activites but a look at their ratings to see if the current items being sold relate to past sales help out. Generally sending money abroad or buying mobile phones and laptops at low prices have to be avoided. I will continue to use Ebay as a seller and buyer of items but for me this announcement has no bearing.
Peter Lewis, Oxford, UK

The previous 'protection scheme' was wrapped up in so many get-outs and restrictions that it was virtually impossible to make a claim, such as a claim having to be made within 28 days, but it could be 28 days before you decide a transaction is fraudulent (some people are just slow...). Hopefully this new scheme is better protection rather than marketing hype.
David Kittle, Luton, Beds

Ebay's £250 buyer protection scheme is fine as long as the amount of the transaction does not exceed this limit. However many do, and a partial refund of a higher amount is not good enough considering the high prices ebay and paypal charge. Maybe an insurance premium based on a sliding scale of item value, which could be refunded if the transaction is successful would be best. I've heard ebay are pretty ineffective when chasing fraudulent users so insurance of some sort would be the only way to protect innocent buyers.
paul, dunfermline, scotland

Yes, it is an improvement. But let's not forget that it's also a strategy to increase the flow of funds through Paypal, through which ebay take a further percentage of any trade and presumably also benefit from the balances customers hold in their paypal accounts.
Tony Maycock, Notts

This is a good move as it does offer additional protection. However, the scammers on eBay (and there are many, especially in high value electronic and computer equipment) are adept at building up high feedback ratings by buying and selling lots of low value items (i.e. £20 or less). For £200 - £300 you can get a very high rating to enable them to make a quick £2000 scam. Some of these scams are so blatant and unbelievable (brand new computer equipment worth £5000, listed for £1500 'buy it now') that they should never get on the site in the first place. That is where eBay shouild clean up its act.
Tobias, London UK

Too little too late and really just a PR stunt. Best thing is for consumres to be aware of the dangers and small print of using Paypal. In a perfect world paypal would be a good idea with lower charges of course. But overall I feel that paypal doesn't offer the protection to its users it should do and fails to offer the ease of payment that people want. I've been using E-bay for a long time and I won't use Paypal again. Best thing is for consumers to be aware of the risks and only use Paypal with users you can see have good feedback and are very big sellers.
Robin Baxter, Peterborough UK

I've purchased items through eBay a couple of times. On one occasion, after sending a cheque for £100, my goods never arrived. The vendor hadn't used registered post, so had no proof that they had been sent. Eventually, (and thankfully) the vendor returned my cheque. Had he not, I would have ensured that his eBay rating would be tarnished for ever. The PayPal system is a step in the right direction, but I still don't feel comfortable when I could only get my money back if the vendor has already sold more than 50 items.
Robert Carr, Paisley, Scotland

Hmm, the deal that Paypal are offering is a little more complicated than it would first appear. To qualify for the "insurance" the seller must only accept paypal as a form of payment. This means that people without a credit or debit card would not be able to buy from the seller, and there are a lot of people out there who fit this criteria. As a seller I must say that I won't be using this service because it will cut out too many potential customers. A cynic may see this as a way for Ebay to ensure that more people pay using paypal.
Rick Longley, London UK

How about the rest of the world? e-bay is a world-wide enterprise and should protect its clients everywhere, not only in the UK, US or Canada.
Schnutz Dürr, Strasbourg, France

Ebay will always do barely the minimum to keep buyers bidding - remeber it's the sellers who are paying Ebay so the Ebay system is biased towards them. I think this latest 'protection' is more PR than anything else. If Ebay wanted to reduce fraud they could by controlling the sellers a bit better and banning the ones that defraud buyers rather than letting them re-register under a different name. On many auctions you can spot one scam or another used by the seller to try to increase the final price. Ebay customer service is very poor. Despite many emails saying things would be sorted out within the next week it took 6 months for them to do a simple job.
Sam, UK

This is overall a good idea, but it will make it much harder for new sellers to get bids for their items. People with no feedback are already generally overlooked by the ebay community, and with this new protection people will be even less likely to go with new sellers. If it helps cut down fraud it will make ebay's current users much more happy, but if it makes it harder for new time sellers there may be a decrease in users.
Matt Grint, Kent, UK

I use Paypal for buying and selling all time, and would take issue with Peter Lewis' comments. Paypal have just opened a European operation, and you now do not have to deal with the American compnay. Also a fee of 4% per transaction is less than half the amount most credit card transaction companies charge, and seems to me like a pretty good deal for a small scale seller on Ebay.
Paul, Glasgow, Scotland

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