What to do if a seller does not do what they promised and stops answering emails
I am having trouble with an Ebay seller over a garden sprayer bought back in March, which developed a fault in July. The seller agreed to send a replacement but it did not arrive so I agreed to a refund. That too did not arrive, and now the seller will not answer my emails.
Mr Needham said that, as he was unable to use Ebay’s Buyer Protection, getting his money back was now “a matter of principle”. While we understand his anger, his chances of redress are limited; not because the legal avenues are not available, but because the amount involved is less than £10. It does not matter if the seller is a private individual, a company or sole trader in this case, as he can use the small-claims court track.
He appears to have a sound legal case but pursuing it could be expensive, with no guarantee of success. He would have to pay a £35 fee to lodge the claim. The threat of court proceedings alone could be enough to scare the seller into making the refund so we suggest he tells the seller he is considering legal action.
If successful, he could ask for the court fee to be included in the settlement but, even then, problems may arise. If the seller does not pay, Mr Needham may have to go back to court to obtain an enforcement order, which he will also have to pay for. Visit Lawpack's website for details of the costs of starting a claim.
He can leave feedback about the seller on Ebay and, if the person is running a company or is a sole trader, Mr Needham, could report this matter to the seller’s local Trading Standards Office.
Another route is mediation (see below). In this case, mediation would be expensive and there is no guarantee that it would be successful, but for cases involving more money it is something to be considered.
Ultimately, Mr Needham needs to decide if the principle of the £10 refund is worth the time and expense of a small-claims court action.
What is mediation?
Mediation as a way of solving disputes is not often considered because it can be expensive, costing anywhere from £50 for an hour if the claim is £5,000 or less. But whether the dispute is between private individuals, or consumers seeking redress from a company it is a process that merits more attention.
It can be more successful and less stressful than taking a matter to court, where the outcome isn’t always certain. However, if someone starts a claim in the courts, once they have paid their fee, they can also consider talking to one of the mediation officers based at the court, where the advice is free.
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