eBay Selling – is Proof of Postage worth the paper its written on?

By | February 1, 2017

For Seller protection against “Item Not Received” fraud, Proof of Postage is the next level up from no protection at all. You go to a post office and get a stamped receipt that acknowledges you handed a package over to the postal delivery system.

Of course, this is of no use to the buyer. When issues occur in transit, the genuine buyer will probably be even more frustrated if you point out repeatedly that you posted the item.

If the buyer states that they did not receive the item and requests a refund, online marketplaces such as eBay will probably take no account of POP. They will likely refund the buyer if that’s all that you’ve got.

Confused sellers regularly pop up on forums wondering why proof of postage isn’t enough to avoid refunds. Remember, POP is a contract between the SELLER and the postal delivery service, it has nothing to do the with the buyer.

So what good is proof of postage? To be honest, not a whole lot.

Benefits of Proof of Postage for the Seller

The main benefit is that you may make a financial claim against the postal delivery service. Check the terms and conditions of the company – there is usually a cap on what you can claim.  There also may be gotchas and caveats in terms of what you can claim. There are some items that are not supposed to be sent POP anyway – perfume and other liquids are not covered in certain countries.

Due to the cap used by your delivery company, the amount you can recover from a claim may be a small percentage of how much you’re out of pocket by a refund to the buyer.
If the loss is unacceptable, then move up to the next level of protection: recorded delivery.

There is a “hidden” benefit that won’t help you immediately, but does contribute to making online selling less fraught with fraud. If you just throw up your hands and write off the refund without making a claim against the courier, there is little extra deterrent for fraudsters. But repeated claims recorded against the same target address will feed into the courier’s own protection systems. You probably will never know about it, but accumulated claims may result in further investigation.

Another benefit has nothing to do with INR, but I mention it here for completeness. POP may give you protection against a chargeback claim of unauthorised card use, which can be made up to a year after payment. Successful chargeback claims can rack up fees on your account.

Aarggh, the Buyer is claming INR

Okay, so you took a chance on POP and the buyer is saying they didn’t receive the item. It’s important to keep all communication courteous. Do send a scan of the POP receipt to the buyer, but don’t try and make it seem like that lets you off the hook.

Ask the buyer to check with other members of the household and with neighbors in case they took in the item.

If no joy, ask the buyer to check with their local postal office. When items can’t be be delivered (e.g. they won’t fit through the letter box), the postal service is supposed to leave a notification – these can get lost under the carpet, be eaten by the cat etc.

If you intend to make a claim, check with the postal service as to their time lines – it could be 15 or 20 working days before they consider a claim. At this point, you may follow up your other courteous communications with the Buyer, and ask them to wait until it is deemed “officially” lost before they look for a refund or replacement.

Finally, you may actually need the willing help of the Buyer to make a successful claim. The postal service may contact the buyer to ask them to confirm non-receipt – if they don’t respond, the compensation is withheld. Yes, it sucks for a seller.

Launching Soon: “eBay Selling: Avoid Scams and Fraud when Selling Goods Online”

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