Ask LH: Can An eBay Seller Dodge Warranty Claims?

Dear Lifehacker, Earlier this year I bought a sofa that I found through eBay, but I was silly enough to ring the number that was on the site to ask a question. The salesman offered me a reduced delivery fee if I ordered through him there and then rather than through eBay, which I did. I was given a slip for a 12-month warranty and now the sofa has developed issues.

I contacted the seller and while he is still selling the sofa on eBay -- the same name, the same number, even the same sofa -- he is telling me that the supplier went bankrupt, another company has brought it, my warranty may be useless and that he is only a salesman. I think it's fishy: What can I do? Thanks, Couch Potato

Old furniture picture from Shutterstock

Dear Couch Potato,

It's rarely a good idea to complete an eBay transaction privately, no matter what incentives the seller throws at you. There are plenty of horror stories of people getting scammed out of thousands of dollars after agreeing to finalise payment outside of eBay. If you want eBay's buyer protections, stick with buying through eBay.

That said, under Australian consumer law, a seller can't disclaim responsibility no matter what changes have happened at the supplier's end -- it's not unreasonable to expect that a sofa would last for 12 months regardless of what the warranty says.

Your first course of action should be to firmly point out your consumer rights which are protected by law and ask for a repair or replacement. If that doesn't produce a result, you can then follow up with your state consumer protection agency.

You can find out more about Australian consumer protection laws at the website -- maybe sending the seller a few links in regards to potential penalties will galvanize them into action.

See also: ‘No Warranty’ And Other Lies Retailers Tell | Avoid Craigslist and eBay Scams | A Guide To The New Australian Consumer Protection Laws

Cheers Lifehacker

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    I think you're boned.
    Also, don't believe the myth of PayPal - what a sham. I bought an iPod over eBay that was faulty on delivery. I sent it back to the seller, who acknowledged receipt but refused to send it back. PayPal (despite the proof) said that I had received the item - and refused to intervene.
    Sorry to break it to you. I suspect you're out of luck.

    It really isn't that cut and dry when it comes to eBay, and 12 months after the purchase date, eBay would not have been able to help at all either - so while a good tip, not really relevant..

    I wish you luck, you are going to need it unless he decides to be a good person.

      The asker said 'earlier this year' when he bought the sofa so it would be safe to assume that less than 12 months has passed.

        Even so. eBay's disputes system only covers the initial purchase, where you can dispute I believe within 21 or 30 days that the item has not arrived as described.. Not that you bought a poor quality product, which is pretty much just the dangers of ordering internationally or online at all.

        Hell lets face it, you would be pretty lucky to even find most traders on eBay having an ABN..

        Last edited 21/06/13 7:07 pm

    One of the biggest issues with eBay disputes is the cost of sending faulty items back, which in many cases is higher the the initial purchase price. Basically when it comes to eBay, it's buyer beware! I've bought lots of things via eBay and for the most part, saved money. The money I've lost because of dubious sellers is something I've learnt to accept as part of the price of a bargain.

    I would have thought that the company that bought the original supplier would have been responsible for the warranty anyway?

    What happens when an eBayer simply ignores your messages. I bough a Razer headset with a 1 year manufacturer warranty, I contacted Razer and they told me I needed to contact the seller, I have and been ignored. How do you defend against this kind of bludging? They can simply delete the messages and claim ignorance.

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