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eBay ePacket Direct Shipping From Hong Kong - Should You Risk it? eBay Buyer Protection and What You Should Know About Buying From Overseas

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eBay ePacket Direct Shipping From Hong Kong - Should You Risk it?

eBay Buyer Protection and What You Should Know About Buying From Overseas

I thought I had found the perfect gift for my brother's family when I came across this listing on eBay:
NEW 4x Pack Hand Crank All-Purpose LED Flashlight w' Squeeze Powered Recharge.
The seller was pzf2011 and the shipping was direct from Hong Kong using something called ePacket. I had no ideas what ePacket was but I thought that it would be novel to have a Christmas present delivered by Santa from Hong Kong. The estimated delivery date was December 17th through the 27th so I thought there was a good chance of the gift arriving before Christmas. It was no big deal if it was one or two days late. I ordered two at $7.99 U.S each.

The first hint of a problem occurred on December 12th when I received an email from eBay notifying me that the item had shipped - eight days to ship. The 20 day lead time before Christmas was now down to 12 days. By the end of December I hadn't heard from my brother that the gift had arrived and by mid-January I was concerned. Even allowing for long delivery times from Hong Kong during the Christmas rush, the ePacket should have arrived by then.

I opened a case on February 3rd with the eBay Resolution Center. This was my first mistake - taking too long to open the case.

This is where it begins to get rather interesting. I decided to look up the ePacket service while writing this article so I could understand it better.

From the U.S. Postal Service Web site:

Online retailers from selected countries can use our affordable, trackable USPS ePacket service to ship small packages to U.S. buyers.

From the Mailing Systems Technology Web site:

(4/21/2011)
HONG KONG The U.S. Postal Service has initiated a new service with Hongkong Post that is structured to foster growth in e-commerce. The new ePacket service expands the array of options offered to e-commerce merchants in Hong Kong seeking to reach consumer markets in the United States. The ePacket shipping solution features tracking and Delivery Confirmation in the Postal Service network for lightweight goods and merchandise ordered by consumers in the United States from merchants in Hong Kong... Read more.

On February 3rd I contacted the seller via the resolution center notifying them that the ePacket hadn't arrived. What is so curious to me is the run-around the seller pzf2011 put me and my sister in law through.

The seller on February 6th:

I had to contact my sister in law to get the information. She was out of town and it took her several days to get to the post office. She replied to me on the 13th that the post office did not have the package. She said that the USPS suggested we check with customs. She also told me that we would need a tracking number. And that is the curious part. According to the information at the USPS Web site, the seller should have had a tracking I.D. for the ePacket - a tracking I.D. that I never received. The seller should have known that the ePacket was never received!!

I wasn't about to ask my sister in law to check with customs. She had done more than enough investigating. On February the 17th I passed on the information I received from her to the seller including the information regarding checking with customs. The seller responed on the 18th that they would check it out later.

At this point I was tired of waiting and beginning to feel like I was getting the proverbial run-around. On the 18th I told the seller that the package was long lost and kindly asked for a refund. On the 18th the seller told me that they would now refund me.

On March 3rd I called eBay customer service for help with the case. I spent 20 minutes on hold, and then talked to a customer service representative who forwarded me to another customer service rep. What I learned was disheartening. I wanted to leave feedback about this seller but because it was more than 60 days from the order date, I couldn't. I wanted to take advantage of the eBay buyer protection program but because it was more than 30 days from the latest estimated delivery date, I couldn't. Basically, I was out of luck. The second rep offered to send a message to the seller reminding him or her to refund me the purchase price. Yeah, right. That wasn't going to happen but thanks anyway.

On March 5th, the case was closed automatically without my satisfaction.

# of Days Case Resolution Timelines That You Need to Know About
3 Days the seller has to respond to you
4 Days you have from case notification date to pay for an unpaid item
7 Days you have from the estimated or actual delivery date to open a case for items shipped domestically (not received)
30 Days you have from the estimated or actual delivery date to open a case for items shipped internationally (not received or not matching description)
30 Days you have from the latest estimated or actual delivery date for the eBay Money Back Guarantee to remain in effect (7days for tickets)
30 Days you have from the case open date before the case is closed
60 Days you have from the purchase date to provide feedback
45 Days you have to appeal eBay Money Back Guarantee decision

Note: As of March 4, 2014. Visit the eBay site for more details. Information subject to change and list is not inclusive of all resolution/money back guarantee program dates.

Please check Resolving transaction problems in the Resolution Center for the latest dates and eBay Customer Support for the latest information. Please check here for the items covered by the eBay Money Back Guarantee and terms.

Avoid Donating Your Hard Earned Money to eBay Sellers

Be careful - be very careful before ordering anything from Hong Kong on eBay. If you do, make sure you know the number of days you have to take action for a bad transaction. Also, watch out for these warning signs:

ALWAYS check the sellers "Positive Feedback" rating. eBay does a good job of listing the negative feedback from buyer. The seller pzf2011 had a 98.3% positive feedback percentage. I thought that was good enough when I placed my order. My mistake was not reviewing the negative feedback for the seller. More than one buyer complained they never received the item and one of the items was the very item I had ordered.

I don't know if the seller was intentionally trying to scam me, whether the package is sitting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean or whether it was just a transaction gone bad. In any case, I believe that I am due my $15.98 back and that, apparently, isn't going to happen.

What do I think of eBay? For some reason I have lost my enthusiasm for buying anything on eBay. However, they write the rules and if I agree to use eBay I must abide by those rules. It does seem very wrong that only because I waited too long I couldn't warn other buyers on eBay about seller pzf2011. There appears to be preference to the seller since eBay would not in any way black mark the seller - after all, they bring in the cash for eBay.

A Christmas gift should bring joy, not grief. My apologies to my brother and sister in law for all of the grief. Another lesson learned the hard way. Please don't make the same mistakes I made!

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