This latest incident with PayPal is the last straw. While it is not entirely their fault that I am having an issue, it is their fault that I am the one assuming all the risk until they resolve the issue. Here’s what is happening:
I purchased a phone from Gazelle for my daughter for graduation. I was going through the order process and didn’t happen to have my wallet handy at the time, so I just clicked the paypal button to pay. Easy-peasy. All done…. but not so fast. Gazelle cancelled the order with no explanation about two hours later. I responded by email as the cancellation notice suggested, no response. I contacted them on their contact page, no response. I contacted PayPal on their dispute page, no response. The weekend passes and early the following week Gazelle wrote back to my online (their site) contact form saying that the order was cancelled because of suspected fraud. Well, ok I guess. They said that if I really want the order I should place it again, and I have not been charged. They suggested it could have been a billing address or something like that was possibly mistyped. It was all pre-filled and saved information and of course it was correct, but whatever. This isn’t the first time I ordered from them, they got paid last time, I didn’t dispute it, and that phone was shipped to the same address as this time. Obviously this was not fraud. I suspect they just ran out of stock after I purchased it and didn’t want to fess up. The same phone model and configuration was no longer for sale after my order went through.
Fast forward several days. I really want a phone to be here for my daughter’s graduation, so I completed the purchase again with Gazelle and a credit card. The original phone configuration was back again, so who knows what really happened there. The order went through fine, the phone was shipped and I received it a few days later. In the mean time, PayPal has long since drafted the money out of my checking account for the first transaction and deposited it with Gazelle’s PayPal account, however Gazelle refuses to acknowledge the transaction and refund the money. I called PayPal today to find out what I can do. They escalated the issue and have given Gazelle 10 days to respond. If Gazelle doesn’t respond, I get my money back.
Well, this is all fine and dandy if everything works as expected and I get my money back in 10 days, but in the mean time I will have been more than two weeks without the money, and possibly will be longer before PayPal can transfer the money back to my bank account.
My fear now is that Gazelle will attempt some fraud of their own and ship the original order and claim the money from me. Or, they will give PayPal the tracking information for the second order that I placed a few days later and claim that I actually received the phone and also assert that my PayPal claim is fraudulent. Either way I could be out a second phone that I don’t need and/or be out the money for it. I sincerely do not trust Gazelle at this point. Their communication is awful, and I won’t be making another purchase there.
The reason I’m going to cancel PayPal is because this is not the first time they have been unhelpful when someone has tried to cheat me with a transaction. The last time was for an electronic goods order and PayPal sided with the seller even though the seller was clearly fraudulent and had a large number of claims against him for the particular advertisement that I responded to. It was well discussed on a forum. All for non-delivery. I should have been more skeptical with that one, but on the other hand it would have been trivial for PayPal to stop paying the scammer and refund everyone’s money because they don’t immediately place funds in their seller’s bank accounts after a sale. There were a few people who managed to get their money back I understand, but I wasn’t one of them.
So this time it is not totally PayPal’s fault, really. Gazelle should be one of their trusted sellers, and if they are trustworthy PayPal should be skeptical of a claim against them. I get that. PayPal just offers very little in the way of consumer protection compared to a credit card. Over the course of 24 or so years of having credit cards, I have had several similar issues including a company that didn’t perform their duties (year long service contract was discontinued shortly after it was sold to me) and mysterious charges from overseas. I have never had an issue with a transaction I made with a credit card that I wasn’t able to resolve with the credit card company in a reasonable amount of time, and without my having to eat the cost while it was being resolved. PayPal puts all the risk on the consumer and none on itself. So, as soon as this is resolved I’m saying goodbye and closing my account that has been active 14 years. If PayPal can’t give me satisfaction I’ll take it up with my bank, and in fact I will probably call them tomorrow and let them know what is going on.
Just a side note, Gazelle listed the phone as “Good” condition, but it is quite scuffed up and even has some dents in all four corners that someone appears to have attempted to buff out. Maybe it meets with their explanation for “Good” but it doesn’t with mine. The first purchase I made with them was as described, so I was a little surprised that this one was not as expected. All the more reason to stop doing business with them. My daughter knows what she is getting (because she asked for it) and already bought a LifeProof case for it, so the corners will not be visible once it is in the case, and therefore it isn’t really an issue.
UPDATE: May 31, Gazelle finally responded and refunded my money through PayPal. I initiated a withdrawal to my bank account.
UPDATE: June 4, The money is back in my bank account. PayPal says there is still an outstanding transaction occurring, so I can’t cancel my account just yet.