It’s a situation none of us want to deal with, but most of us will face it sooner or later. You buy a product online and it arrives damaged. Or the wrong color. Or it just doesn’t work. Or the description does not match the product. Or it just never shows up.
What are you doing?
If you bought the product through PayPal, you have options, but you will have to be patient. There are several steps you need to take to get your payment back. First, a little explanation – and a warning.
PayPal offers what it calls being Purchase Protection Program to anyone who buys something through his service, so if there is a problem you have a way to get your money back. The basic steps are laid down in PayPal’s Help page about what to do if you have not received your item or if it is different than described. We will go through them in a moment. First some info.
The purchase protection plan is only available if you have used PayPal for, yes, a purchase. If you just money sent to someone – for example, a friend or a family member – once the money has been accepted by the other person, there is no way to get it back (unless they agree to pay it back). As a result, if you buy a product and the seller asks you to send the payment as a friend via PayPal rather than as a purchase – don’t. It could be a scam, and if it is, you have no recourse.
There is a list of transactions on it PayPal User Agreement page that are not covered by the Purchase Protection Plan. These include real estate, some vehicles (in other words, you are not insured if you buy a car, but you are insured for a bicycle), gift cards or donations.
Another noteworthy point: if you notice an unauthorized transaction on your PayPal account – in other words, someone has managed to withdraw money from your account without your knowledge and / or permission – immediately contact PayPal via this page (where you can tell them about it via a form or messaging app) or call them at (888) 221-1161.
That said, here’s how you can get a refund when you make a purchase through PayPal and feel you should get your money back:
- First go to PayPal’s Resolution Center. Click on “Report a Problem” to open what the company calls a Dispute. You have 180 days from the first transaction to do this.
- After opening a dispute, you have 20 days to contact the seller via PayPal to see if the problem can be resolved that way
- If you can’t resolve the issue (or you never hear from the seller), return to the Resolution Center, find the item listed for your dispute, then click View> Escalate to PayPal. Now the dispute has formally become a claim.
- PayPal will begin investigating the claim and will send you an email with updates on the status of the investigation. If your claim is found to be legitimate, you will receive a refund to your PayPal account.
According to PayPal, it usually takes about 30 days for a claim to be resolved, although it can take longer. You can go to the Resolution Center to see if anything is happening.
We spoke to someone who went through the process, and in their case, although it felt like a long and complicated journey (especially since they did it for a small fee), it eventually worked. They had bought a dress through a site that sold second-hand clothes, never received it, and couldn’t get a response from the seller. They contacted PayPal and the process went exactly as described above: they first sent a message to the seller via PayPal, then PayPal took over the negotiations. When the seller still didn’t respond, they got a refund. It took, they reported, a little over two weeks.
What if you are still not satisfied at the end of that process?
Once PayPal has made a decision on a claim, the claim is considered closed. If you are not satisfied with that decision, you can appeal the decision within 10 days by going to the Resolution Center, locating your case in the “Closed Cases” section, clicking “Set up appeal” and following the instructions.
Different? There are always the traditional go-tos: the Better Business Bureau, the the attorney general’s office for your state – or, of course, Twitter.