If you’re looking to shop online on eBay, pay for goods using PayPal, or use any other online retailer that connects you as the buyer directly to the seller, then you will want to know what Buyer Protection is.
Below is a useful guide to Buyer Protection, covering what Buyer Protection is, what it does and does not cover, and policy examples from some popular shopping websites. This guide will help you understand Buyer Protection schemes better, and ultimately help you shop safely online.
What Is Buyer Protection?
When a transaction is made, the consumer (buyer) agrees to pay the retailer (seller) a sum of money in exchange for goods. There is an agreement that the retailer will provide the goods as described, and deliver the goods in a respectable amount of time.
If an online transaction goes awry, however, you want to be sure that you can get a full refund on the money you spent. If there is a problem, such as an item not arriving, or if the item purchased appears significantly different to its product description, the website which facilitated the transaction should help buyers obtain a full refund.
When a website offers this, it is known as “Buyer Protection”.
What Does Buyer Protection Cover?
Generally speaking, Buyer Protection covers physical goods sold on a shopping website, as long as the product(s) or transaction do not violate the company’s policies.
In most cases, you should be able to claim for a full refund if your item does not match its description, or if it is not delivered in a timely manner.
When Am I Not Covered by Buyer Protection?
There are a few situation which do not qualify for a Buyer Protection claim, including:
- If the item you purchased arrives in a respectable time frame and isn’t significantly different to the product description, you are not entitled to a full refund.
- If there are signs of wear and tear or damage that were identified in the listing, in the case of used items, you cannot claim for a refund.
- If you purchase a cheap product of low quality that is likely to break, you are unlikely to be eligible for a refund—as long as the item matches the product description.
Which Websites Offer Buyer Protection?
Many online shopping sites offer Buyer Protection, and it is worthwhile familiarising yourself with their terms and conditions before completing a transaction.
Here are some popular online retailers and payment systems that offer Buyer Protection.
PayPal‘s Buyer Protection entitles buyers to claim full refunds for goods and shipping costs paid when an item isn’t received, or when an item does not match the description of what was ordered.
If an item doesn’t arrive or doesn’t match the description, and the payment is eligible, PayPal will reimburse the full cost of eligible purchases paid, including shipping costs. This is applicable to “tangible” and “physical goods” only, and there are exemptions listed in PayPal’s Security Center.
PayPal also rules that you must open a dispute within 180 days of purchase, or you will not be covered by Buyer Protection.
It’s easy to report a problem on PayPal using the dedicated Resolution Center within the website.
Also known as eBay’s “Money Back Guarantee”, consumers are covered by Buyer Protection when using eligible payment methods at checkout when shopping on eBay. These include payments made via credit card or debit card, PayPal or PayPal Credit, and Apple Pay or Google Pay.
The eBay Money Back Guarantee applies when:
- A purchased item isn’t received.
- The item received doesn’t match the listing, (for example: the wrong item arrived, or the item arrives broken, damaged, or faulty).
- The seller doesn’t fulfill their return policy as stated in the listing.
eBay does note that certain transactions and categories such as vehicles, real estate, businesses for sale and domains, digital content, industrial equipment or vouchers are not covered.
The full terms and conditions are covered in the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy.
Fashion marketplace app and website Depop has grown in popularity in recent years in the US. With users of all ages and with various levels of experience in selling online, it’s highly recommended to familiarize yourself with Depop’s Buyer Protection scheme before making a purchase.
The main caveats of Depop’s Buyer Protection programme are that buyers must pay inside the app or on the Depop website, using the BUY button, and any issues must be reported within 180 days of purchase.
Depop’s Buyer Protection covers all purchases made in-app and/or on the Depop website, and buyers will receive a full refund if the item doesn’t arrive or if it’s significantly not as described.
The following are not covered by Depop’s Buyer Protection:
- Purchases made without using the BUY button.
- Meet-in-person transactions.
- Non-material goods, such as event tickets.
As with most online retailers, you must first contact the seller to try arrange a refund. As Depop uses PayPal as its payment method, you can open a dispute using PayPal’s Resolution Center.
When shopping on Amazon, it’s easy to request a refund for goods sold directly from Amazon itself. There are a lot of third-party sellers on Amazon, however, where the refund process is not as straightforward.
Luckily, third-party transactions on Amazon, as well as any purchases made using Amazon Pay, are covered by the A-to-Z Guarantee Protection (with a few exceptions).
Amazon guarantees purchases from third-party sellers when:
- Payment is made via the Amazon.com website.
- A buyer uses Amazon Payments for qualified purchases on third-party websites.
Amazon’s Buyer Protection scheme covers the condition of the purchased item(s) bought and its timely delivery. Buyers are reimbursed if a third-party seller charges a greater cost than the amount authorized for a purchase.
Amazon also details that buyers must wait 15 days from the order date to submit a claim, and then the claim must be submitted within 75 days.
If an item received that is damaged, defective, or materially different, the buyer must contact the third-party seller within 14 days of receipt to request return information.
Exclusions from Amazon’s Buyer Protection scheme include:
- Payments for services.
- Subscription payments.
- Digital merchandise.
- If you paid by credit card and the issuing bank has initiated a chargeback.
- Damage or loss that occurs to goods after they are delivered to the destination you provided to your seller (including a freight forwarder).
Buyers can also you can appeal if an Amazon Guarantee Claim was denied by replying to the Amazon claim denied email.
Keep an Eye Out for Buyer Protection Schemes
It’s always worth checking if a website offers Buyer Protection before you make a purchase. That way you can be certain that you can get your money back if the transaction isn’t fulfilled. If you can’t find details of Buyer Protection on a website, but you still want to make a purchase, make sure that you pay with a credit card which offers a chargeback so that you are still covered.