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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47365
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I purchased an item in an ebay auction (second hand professional

Customer Question

I purchased an item in an ebay auction (second hand professional camera lens, value £630.00 inc delivery) The seller claims to have sent it "signed for" with specific instructions that it MUST be "signed for" Courier company driver claims they left the item on my door step having received no answer. (As an aside, I was at home when the claimed delivery took place and heard no door bell, knocking or other noises, yet heard the postman very clearly when he delivered mail). A photo of a box on my porch was later emailed to me as "proof of delivery" However the item was not received by me, I did not sign for it (I live alone, so no-one else could have signed for it) and it has gone missing. Seller says it's down to courier to sort out (I've said "not so"). However, having gone through ebay, ebay seem to think it's OK to leave a parcel requiring a signature on a doorstep without a signature and have found in favour of the seller. What am I to do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello how did you pay for the item?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I paid through PayPal on a debit card
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Whilst the ebay dispute process is an internal matter and just an additional option to protect your purchase, its outcome would not affect your legal position. In this case, the seller is wrong to say that this is a matter between you and the courier. Legally, you would have a contract with the seller, not with the courier so if you did not receive the item it is the seller who would be in potential breach of contract. They will in turn have a contract with the courier, because they paid for their services, and they can purse them directly for their losses which may result of their liabilities towards you. So legally, you can purse the seller as they are the party you had a contract with. Even if it as the courier’s fault, that does not remove the seller’s liabilities in this case and they may have a separate claim against them. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you could take to try an take this matter further with the seller, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I already knew that to be the case which is why I said the bit about the seller saying it's for me to sort out with the courier and me saying "not so" in my original question. I know my contract is with the seller and no-one else. I can appeal ebay's original decision in favour of the seller and further to that also go through paypal (but being able to quote a specific section of, for example Sale of Goods Act, where it refers to delivering items in a safe and responsible way, etc., would be of help).I've tried to leave a rating, but can't. It's all greyed out and remains so when I try to click on a rating. Maybe that will change once I "send" this reply?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, sorry, can't leave you a rating yet.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When I try and click a star, nothing happens. If I click "submit" it reminds me to choose a star rating once I've finished talking
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've disabled my ad blocker but still can't leave a rating
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Tried everything I can think of, including disabling ad blockers, pop up blockers etc and re-loading the page and still can't click on the stars.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Was the seller a business one or a private one?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They run a photographic equipment business. Some items they advertise on their web site. Some they sell by auction on ebay (possibly elsewhere too).
To save me as much hassle as possible, I just want enough ammunition for ebay to reverse their ruling... I'm more than happy to let the seller sort things out with the courier company.
I have a couple of emails from them that say that they stipulated that the item MUST be signed for. They have also said (on the phone) that they have insurance (with the courier) for items up to £1000 They originally claimed to me that they had put in a claim with the courier (who were undertaking an internal investigation) and that once the claim was paid they would reimburse me. I said not good enough; they should reimburse me now. Their response was to essentially say, if I wasn't happy, to start a dispute with ebay (and as I said earlier, ebay seem to consider a photo of a box on a door step as adequate proof of a non-signed for "signed for" package being delivered)
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
The issue with the ebay process is that it is an internal procedure and it does not matter what your legal rights actually are, they can still find against you. So whilst you can quote applicable laws, they would not guarantee a decision in you favour, even if you can show that you are 100% right and protected under specific laws. The Sale of Goods Act provides you with rights which require the seller to ensure an item is as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. It also gives you rights under section 51 in the event of non-delivery: Try not to place your full reliance on ebay – they can be stubborn and can reach a decision based on their own criteria, regardless of what the law says. It means that you may have to consider taking he matter further yourself and without the help of ebay. The rating option should now be working, I can then discuss the steps you can take should ebay not reverse their decision. Thanks
Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes, rating works now :-)
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Than you. In these circumstances you can treat the value of the item as a debt. Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps: 1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due. 2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action. 3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this. Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. The rest of this answer I knew. I was just having difficulty in googling specific points of (consumer) law, and other than the link you posted earlier, which doesn't actually help much, you've not actually told me anything I didn't already know. Maybe I should quit my job as a photographer and become a lawyer instead? ;-)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I suppose I was just hoping that somewhere, at some time, a ruling had been made that a parcel requiring a signature actually had to be signed for in order for it to be considered "delivered" (rather than a photo of a box, which could be any box as no consignment number is ***** on a door step)
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
With respect, I can only tell you what your rights actually are. I cannot make up laws to give you the answer you may have hoped for. Many people expect there to be a specific piece of law that will resolve their situation to their satisfaction but that is not always possible and in your case it is a rather specific thing you are after which would not be covered by any specific laws. Even if that was the case, you cannot force the seller or ebay to acknowledge it and court would still be the only place you could do so
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, I meant no disrespect... just feeling very frustrated that a £600+ item can be left on a doorstep without a signature when one has been specifically requested, that's all. Many thanks for your help.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
None taken. I understand your frustration but just had to clarify that a specific request does not mean that it will be followed - we have all faced issues where we have asked for something, yet it was not fulfilled - it is human nature. So you do have rights if you wanted to take this further but be clear that you may have to go as far as the small claims court to apply them. All the best

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