Recently, a news story came out about a buyer on eBay who bought a fake watch on the site and had trouble getting his money back. The buyer goes on to talk about how hard it was to get his money back and how eBay made it hard to. Here is what you should do when you get scammed online or buy a counterfeit product. It will save you a lot of time, get your money back way faster, and you will not have to deal with website staff that may or may not help you.
If you bought a counterfeit product and need help or advice on how to get your money back, contact us. I will try to help if I can. You can drop a comment too.
When you first get a counterfeit product, do the following:
File a charge back with your credit card agency. A lot of people do not know what a charge back is, as I have had to tell many people about it when they ask me. A charge back is a dispute on a transaction that your credit card processed. Call your card company and tell them you got a counterfeit product. Many banks have a form online where you can challenge a transaction. Links are at the bottom of this post if you would like to read more about charge backs. Remember the following:
The bank will mostly likely give you instant credit for the item you bought. Most banks will not investigate the dispute if it is less then $100.
If the bank does not offer instant credit, or the item was over $100, they may investigate the claim. This is when tracking numbers come in. If the tracking number shows the item coming from China or a country known for exporting counterfeit merchandise, that sets off a red flag for the bank that the item was counterfeit.
You are under no obligation to send the fake/counterfeit item back, just make sure you know it is fake. You can if you wish, give it to law enforcement, or throw it away.
Do not file a dispute using Amazon’s A-Z or eBays program. Why?
Charge backs from banks can only be filed within 90 days of the transaction. Most banks offer 60 days. So if you waste your time going back and forth with the seller discussing who is right and wrong, you can easily wait a couple months before the dispute is resolved. If you lose that, your time limit to file with the bank is gone. You have no more options. This is why I suggest you call your bank. The number to call is on the back of your credit card, and most banks offer a web application to file a dispute, so you don’t even need to call. Citi Cards, Bank of America, I usually have to call. Amex has a online form and a call option.
Before starting Stigma Search, I ran a online business selling mobile accessories. I had to deal with charge backs, both from Amazon A-Z, and from banks. Take it from someone on the other side of the transaction when I say Amazon A-Z is a joke. Just call your bank instead. Yes A-Z works, but a charge back from the bank is a lot better and faster. All my friends who are in positions where they deal with charge backs agree. One of them owns a app that gets many transactions. So that means a lot of charge backs. He tells me all about them.
Banks usually side with the customer. There is a reason why I and many others love Amex.
As for eBay’s guarantee, I could scream on how annoying they made it. I once used it, as a buyer about 2 years ago. Never used it again since. I go straight to charge backs with my bank or card issuer.(Amex is not a bank). Just like the story about the buyer who bought a fake GI Vietnam era watch, eBay makes the process very long and annoying.
While you may not know the item you bought was fake until you got it, you can do certain things to protect yourself.
1. Never use a E-check. They are regulated like a check, therefore disputes are a lot different. Paypal is the most common company to use them. By linking your bank account, Paypal can issue a e-check and pay the merchant. Therefore you don’t have to use a card.
2. Credit cards are a lot better then debit cards. Debit and credit cards are regulated under different laws (USA).
Why the difference? Debit and credit cards are covered under different federal regulations. Credit card purchases are protected under the Truth In Lending Act (Federal Reserve Board Regulation Z), so your liability for any unauthorized transactions made before you report a lost or stolen card is limited to $50.
Debit cards are covered under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (Federal Reserve Board Regulation E). Under Reg E, your liability is $50 if you notify the bank within two days of discovering the fraud, but that number rockets up to $500 if you take more than two days. If you still haven’t notified your bank within 60 days after you received your card statement with the unauthorized transactions on it, you could be liable for the entire stolen amount.
Most companies that issue credit cards waive that $50 rule. I have never encountered it myself from the charge backs I file.
Do not forget debit cards take money straight from your bank account. If you are having problems getting a credit card, I would recommend a charge card, or a secured credit card. Charge cards are very easy to get. I see everyone with a Gold Amex card these days.
Charge Backs for items you bought that were not fake
Even if you were not scammed or sold a counterfeit product, it is best to just file a dispute with the company that owns your credit card. They are faster and can issue the final say if you get your money back or not. Before you do that, contact the merchant you bought from, and return the item. If they are unreasonable or refuse, go next and file a charge back. Merchants usually have to accept a return(depends on item of course), if they refuse, you can usually keep the item and get your money back. I once challenged a buyer of a network router I sold back when I ran my old business(A long time ago). I believed the user did not know how to set up a network. They accused me of not sending a good router. This was back when I first started selling online. The buyer filed a charge back and got to keep the money and the product because I refused a return. I was ignorant of charge backs and how they worked back then. I didn’t want to take the hit on the router by accepting a return, as electronics lose money fast after first use. A while after, I accepted all returns for any reason, just like Amazon.com does. I believe that is a better business model.
When I ran my mobile accessories business, I was importing around $700 worth on inventory from China. It was branded merchandise, and the seller told me it was all real, and they had the license to manufacturer. I take the risk knowing that it may be fake. The package gets stopped at customs and customs send me a notice that they won’t release it until I show them a license. I ask the seller about this, at first, they send me a bunch of licenses, but all in Chinese. When I tell them that won’t work, the seller starts ignoring me and my emails. For days, I thought I was out of my money. And that was a lot of money since I just started the business. I learned more about charge backs, and said why not. I filed it, the credit card agency see’s the item was counterfeit from the customs form and tracking number, and immediately refund me.
MasterCard’s chargeback guide. PDF, 571 pages. This is the manual used when MasterCard receives a dispute.
Edinburgh see’s this post and helps him next time he gets scammed, or anyone who gets scammed online.