QUESTION TONY: Customs chaos cost me a package when watch sales timed out

On September 13, I sold a second-hand watch that belonged to my late mother on eBay to a buyer in Hungary. I posted it the next day. The total cost, including postage with international tracking, was £315.13.

However, the customs form was lost in transit and the item was held up in Budapest. I filled out a second customs form and emailed it on October 17th.

Meanwhile, the buyer opened an ‘item not received’ dispute with eBay, which was accepted. The £315.13 was debited from my account on 21 October.

Checked: A reader was locked out after eBay refunded the buyer of her late mother’s watch after the delivery was held up at customs

This was despite communicating with the buyer and eBay every step of the way. The buyer knew the item was in Hungary because the information was available through the tracking number.

The watch was delivered on November 2. I spoke to the eBay appeals team on Nov. 7 and gave the delivery confirmation.

The appeal was immediately dismissed as it is not allowed if a delivery is made after a case has been closed.

The buyer will not respond.

JT, address provided.

Tony Hazell replies: This letter should be a warning to any reader who is thinking about posting items abroad during the Christmas season or selling unwanted gifts into the New Year — and not just through eBay.

I’ve heard of a number of people having issues with customs declarations and goods stuck in transit since Brexit.

With large parts of Europe partially shut down, postal services are warning of delivery problems. That could mean late Christmas presents or delays for items bought and sold online.

Let’s get to your problem: It’s eBay’s policy that if an item isn’t delivered by the estimated date, the buyer can open an “item not received” case.

Buyers have up to 30 days to complain and yours waited the full 30 days.

If the seller is unable to resolve the issue within three business days of the buyer opening their case, eBay will intervene. This may include a refund through the money back guarantee.

Your item has been delivered, albeit a little late. Under eBay selling rules, appeals can be filed within 30 days of closing a case. However, you must be able to prove that the item was delivered before the case was closed, which you obviously couldn’t.

Despite this, after re-examining your case, eBay has refunded your money.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry to hear about the problems Ms T has experienced. Due to the exceptional circumstances of this case, we have decided to return the money to her as a gesture of goodwill.”

That’s good, but I’ve suggested eBay should review its rigid refund policy to reflect Covid and Brexit concerns.

If an item is delivered and accepted within a reasonable time frame, and the sender can prove that they are not responsible for the delay, then arbitrary appeal deadlines should not apply?

you have YOUR say

Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Some of the results of our research into new-build homes:

We looked at some new construction properties when we sold our 1920s semi-detached house and were shocked by the poor construction.

The gardens were also small. I would never consider paying that much money for a glorified shed.

HS, Worcester.

Our last three homes have been new construction, and many of the issues mentioned in your article are typical of new properties.

Before you finish, make sure you shop around and ask a lawyer to send the builder a copy of the jammed list so it’s registered.

JJ, London.

Rushed work with very little supervision is the main reason behind most of these problems.

My kitchen and bathroom floor tiles are cracked due to poor assembly. My tumble dryer also looks like it was built by a complete beginner.

BS, Hemel Hempstead, Herts.

As a plumber working on new construction, I find that everything is almost always done on a tight budget.

Some of the designs seem to have been created by architects who are more used to building sheds and garages than houses.

GM, Barnsley.

I like to stick with my 1940s property, thank you very much. We have big rooms and a huge garden.

It’s a semi-detached house, but I never hear the neighbors. I would absolutely not want a small and soulless new building.

CE, Surrey.

A huge new housing estate has been built near where I live. Once upon a time there was beautiful open farmland, but every time it started to rain it was flooded.

The new homeowners may find that they get a free pool with every purchase.

IF, Liverpool.

Collection on my business for paid SSE invoice

A debt collection agency has been teasing me for weeks, saying I owe £259 to SSE for an electricity bill.

I have provided the date this invoice was paid and the date a refund was sent to me. I even sent proof of my Nationwide account but they took no notice.

Yesterday I received another email asking for payment. I’ve told them my husband is getting end-of-life care, but they don’t seem to care.

I am now with a new supplier; something that couldn’t have happened if I owed money.

NT, Bexhill-on-Sea, E. Sussex.

Tony Hazell replies: I contacted Ovo Energy, which has acquired the consumer business from SSE. In fact, you had paid £188 on your gas bill in March, putting your bill on credit, resulting in the £88.72 refund you received when you switched in July.

However, the electricity bill had an outstanding balance of £234.21 from bills issued in February and April.

If you did not pay this, the claim was transferred to the collection agency.

After research, Ovo has decided to write this off as a gesture of goodwill.

A spokesperson said: ‘We have apologized to Ms T and can confirm that the outstanding balance has been settled and the account is now closed.’

Well done, Ovo.

  • Write to asktony@dailymail. co.uk or Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. Please include your phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organization authorizing you to speak with Tony Hazell. Unfortunately we are unable to respond to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take any responsibility for them. The Daily Mail cannot accept any legal responsibility for answers given

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