Every week I get letters and emails from readers asking me about Paypal and specifically whether they can get a refund from Paypal due to a purchase that has gone wrong where the trader won’t help.
In this regard, Paypal does have a buyer protection scheme but it doesn’t always apply and you must take certain steps before you can use it. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Complain to the trader first
The first stage is to raise a “dispute” with the seller. This must be done within 180 days of the PayPal payment.
2. Escalate to Paypal
If you can’t get a satisfactory resolution to your complaint within 20 days of raising the dispute with the trader, you can escalate to Paypal under the Buyer Protection Scheme.
For the Buyer Protection Scheme to apply you must satisfy the following:
- You must have an eligible purchase – most purchases are eligible but be warned there are some exceptions.
- These include cars and other vehicles, flights, custom-made items and eBay classified advertisements.
- You sent the payment for your purchase from your PayPal Account to the Payment Recipient’s PayPal Account through the Send Money tab applicable to payments for goods and/or services on the PayPal website or app.
Your problem is either that:
- You did not receive your purchase; or your purchase is “Significantly Not as Described.
What is Significantly Not as Described?
Your purchase is Significantly Not as Described if it is materially different from the last description of it that you received from the Payment Recipient before you paid for it.
Here are some non-exhaustive examples that Paypal provide:
- You received a completely different item. For instance, you purchased a book and received a DVD or an empty box or the software that you received was not the software that was sold to you.
- The condition of your purchase was misrepresented. For instance, the listing for an item said “new” and the item was used.
- Your purchase was advertised as authentic but is not authentic.
- Your purchase is missing major parts or features and the fact that these parts or features are missing was not disclosed in the listing.
- You purchased three items from a Payment Recipient but received only two.
- Your purchase was damaged during postage.
Know your rights: Proving goods are faulty
When goods turn out to be faulty within the first six months after purchase the burden of proof rests with the trader, that is to say it is the trader that has to prove that the fault is not as a consequence of a manufacturers defect.
However, if you discover the fault after six months it will be for you to prove your position. Here’s some tips to protect you:
Reviews and chat rooms
Take the internet and read through reviews of the same goods and what people are saying in chat rooms. There are lots of good review sites like and .
The chances are that if it is a manufacturer defect other people will have experienced the same issue and this will be very strong evidence in support of your complaint.
You should ask the trader i) if they are prepared to send the goods back to the manufacturer to be inspected and ii) how many other similar complaints they have received.
If the trader is not prepared to help, you could consider commissioning an independent expert to compile a report.
You will be asking them to establish whether the faulty is down to a manufacturers defect or wear and tear or another factor. You could ask the trade to agree to reimburse you if the expert finds that you are correct.