I'm seeking opinions on an eBay dispute.

I bought a used digital SLR camera on eBay from a reputable seller w/ > 99% positive feedback and > 2000 transactions. I have 100% feedback as both a buyer and seller and with about 125 auctions. The camera arrived yesterday and it’s not functioning.

Here is the relevant text in their auction listing:

"What does “Sold As Is” mean?
We can not test every single function of an item to make sure it works 100%. Items are inspected for obvious damage
and defects, and electrical/electronic goods are powered on to make sure they are functional. Beyond that, the buyer
assumes the risk for any functional problems, and these items cannot be returned."


"*What is your refund policy?
We will issue a refund if you receive an item that is not as described in the listing. Items must be returned to BidZirk,
and a refund will be processed by the Friday following receipt of the returned item.

Do you post feedback?
We are happy to leave positive feedback when the transaction is complete and feedback from the buyer is posted. If you
have any issues and are inclined to leave BidZirk a negative or neutral feedback, we ask that you contact us first to resolve
the issue as we would appreciate the opportunity to fix the problem."*

The problem is that the camera does not properly “power on” and “function” at all. When one attempts to ‘power on’ the camera makes a struggling clicking sound and the display (which is cracked externally) screen turns white with no nomenclature of any kind appearing. The camera then shuts itself off after a few seconds of clicking. I tested the battery on a voltmeter and it works fine.

So, I politely messaged the seller to return the camera and accessories. This was their response was basically “We’re sorry that you’re not satisfied…sold as-is…we cannot accept a return…you’re screwed.”

We’re not talking about the auto-focus not working here. The camera fails to power up. I assumed a certain risk that some feature of the camera would not operate, but I rightfully expected the camera to at least power on without struggle.

My questions are:

What would you do at this point? If I complain to eBay, then will they do anything at all? I made my payment with PayPal but I don’t think their buyer protection plan covers this.

I’m not angry enough to go to the pit and I’m not totally screwed on the deal or anything like that. The price was good and all the accessories work and I can re-sell the camera online using the same cryptic language. If they can do it, then why shouldn’t I? Well actually, I don’t want to screw anyone and I don’t want to risk negative feedback. Non-working models of the camera do sell for parts at half of what I paid.

Why not take it to a camera store and see what they say for a price to fix it. It may be something easy.

So, they claim that they power on their products to make sure they are functional. You powered it on and found that it was completely non-functional. I think you have a claim that they mis-described the goods in a material matter, and that you should get your money (including post and packaging) refunded when you return the item.

Based on their definition of “as-is” I think it was entirely reasonable for you to expect it to “power on” and be “functional.”

I’m no pro at ebay, but I’d certainly do whatever it takes to get satisfaction from this seller, or at the least provide honest feedback. But IMO reselling it yourself to an unsuspecting buyer would be a crappy thing to do.

Did they actually say “your screwed”? If they did, report them to eBay, that is the type of behavior that can get them kicked off.

If you paid with paypal you can dispute the payment. It is a pain in the ass, but it will be a pain in the ass for the seller as well. I would also post this on the eBay boards, partially so you can get more eBay type folks talking to you, and partially so you can give the seller a reputation.

I would post negative feedback as well, knowing that you will most likely get negative feedback in return.
If they are simply being cooperative, I would try a couple more times. Perhaps explaining that sold as is does not mean non operationall, and that not giving you a refund indicates them operating in bad faith.

Also, is this a buisness or a private individual? Depending which it is you can take further action. You CAN take this all the way to charging them with mail fraud, but frankly I think that is overkill.
I don’t anymore, but I ran an eBay store for about 3 years, so if you have any other questions feel free to email me.

I’m afraid “as is” means “as is.” I concur with Phlosphr’s suggestion.

If they said that it powered on, and it doesn’t, then they are at fault and must take the item back.

Just comin’ from someone who sold used electronics for a wholesaler on eBay. You haven’t lived until you’ve powered up and tested over a thousand inkjet all-in-one printers.


I think that would have been the case if they had not specifically defined what they intended “as is” to mean.

I appreciate all thoughts and advice, but you’re getting ahead of me, Phlosphr. I’m not seeking advice on repairs; I’m seeking advice with regards to the crooked eBay seller. I’ll worry about repairs or selling the camera for parts after this issue is resolved…at least resolved from the perspective of eBay. I know from past experience that a diagnosis on this camera will be $20. I used to work as a professional photographer before I became an engineer.

I agree with you Giles, but the it is clear seller will not cooperate and follow through on their terms for returns and refunds…at least not without some action from eBay.

I’m writing a message to eBay about the problem now, Dinsdale. I would like doper feedback or stories of similar experiences to see if eBay may actually take action.

NAF1138: They did not say “You’re screwed” in those words. I was paraphrasing and did not clarify; I’m sorry for the confusion.

To further clarify and communicate the situation to Dopers, I am posting the actual exchange between me and the seller via eBay messages:

ME: "The camera and accessories arrived today. I am familiar with these cameras and how they operate. I wish to return them because the camera is not as described in the auction because the camera does not successfully power up and function at all. When I moved the switch over to the “ON” position, the camera made an unusual clicking sound while the display screen lit up all white with a black crack through it. Then, the camera shut itself off within 8 seconds. I would like to test the device with a fresh battery (I don’t know how much charge is remaining in the one provided), but none of the camera equipment shops here in Louisville carry the battery in stock. If I order a battery online, then it will take a week to arrive, but I need to return the camera within 5 days to get my money returned. Please specify any special instructions for shipping the camera back to your store.


THEM "<Our> Customer,

We appreciate your business and are very sorry you are now unsatisfied with you purchase. However, the listing says the item was not tested, may have potential issues, and is sold as is.
The first thing I would do is buy a battery, either online or at a store. In the end, the item cannot be returned. We hope you find the battery so you can operate your new camera.
If you have anymore questions or need some help finding accessories please feel free to ask!

Thank you for shopping at <company name>,

Customer Service"

ME: “A verbatim quote from your listing: ‘*What does “Sold As Is” mean?
We can not test every single function of an item to make sure it works 100%. Items are inspected for obvious damage
and defects, and electrical/electronic goods are powered on to make sure they are functional. Beyond that, the buyer
assumes the risk for any functional problems, and these items cannot be returned.’
I’m not being nit-picky about detailed functions on the camera. This camera fails to power on and function at all and thus is not in compliance with your listing. Your listing specifies conditions for returns and I am simply trying to follow those. The battery has some juice, but the camera makes a clicking sound of struggle and quickly stops trying to turn on. The display screen doesn’t even show anything during the brief attempt to power up. Failure to correct this situation will result in complaint(s) to eBay and/or negative feedback.”

THEM: "<Our> Customer,

A verbatim quote from your listing: “What does “Sold As Is” mean?
It means it is sold as it comes, no returns, no extras!
We can not test every single function of an item to make sure it works 100%. Items are inspected for obvious damage
and defects
Such as cosmetic damage and lacking of accessories
electrical/electronic goods are powered on to make sure they are functional.
We did not test it at all! It says it clearly in the listing.
Beyond that, the buyer
assumes the risk for any functional problems, and these items cannot be returned.”
You have the information you need in the listing. You took a risk buying something that was never tested!
We are sorry, but the item is sold as is.
Feel free to ask more questions.

Customer Service"

**ME: ** “The crack in the screen is external damage. The camera does not successfully power on. The item is misrepresented in the auction. I know that you do not field test the camera, but your listing specifies that that the camera is able to power on, but that was not true when this camera came into my possession. My complaint will be filed later today. I will give you and eBay more time (i.e. a couple days) to resolve this before negative feedback is left.”

**THEM: ** "The point here is you took a risk buying an item that had never been tested, may have potential issues, and is sold as is. If it was never tested, that means it was not powered on or anything. That is what it means.
What did you think all of that meant?
If you had any reservations about the item you could have asked us questions. It said all of those things in the listings.
Sorry for the inconvenience.

Customer Service "

ME: "To quote your previous message: ‘If it was never tested, that means it was not powered on or anything.’

To quote the auction listing for this camera I bought from you: ‘*Items are inspected for obvious damage
and defects, and electrical/electronic goods are powered on to make sure they are functional.’
Do you fail to see the discrepancy?

Do I not have reason to complain?"

Does anyone still think they are doing honest business?

Yes. A camera sold as “powers on and functions as-is” is different from a camera sold as “not working…sold as-is for parts or repair.”

I’m not complaining about malfunctioning auto-focus or self-timer here. The camera will not power on; it attempts to power on with some weak clicking and then shuts off while the switch is still in the ‘on’ position"

Wow. That is just completely incoherent, like he doesn’t know what the words “test” and “inspect” even mean. I’d say you’re not going to get any further trying to reason with this seller. May as well try your luck with a fraud complaint to eBay.

If it had simply said “sold as is,” I’d have said you’re screwed. But this listing clearly says “…electrical/electronic goods are powered on to make sure they are functional,” so I think you are entitled to a return/refund.

As stated above, I’m in the process of composing a formal complaint with eBay because indeed the seller makes it clear that they are ignorant of their own terms and refuse to offer refund. I just don’t know if eBay will do anything about it. I am hoping to hear Dopers’ advice or feedback on their experiences with eBay customer service in similar matters.

Sorry, guys, I got hurried and posted too simplistic a reply.

Should they accept this return because it fails the “powers on” test? Obviously, the answer is yes. But to play devil’s advocate (and to ignore for a minute the fact that they admit in an e-mail that they never tested it*), if they powered it up and got any kind of lights, noises, whatever, chances are, they feel justified that they did the best they could.

Not to paint with too broad a brush, but sellers who are truly interested in getting you good-quality merchandise don’t sell their stuff with “as is” gotchas attached. I sell semi-regularly on eBay and the only time I’ve ever sold anything “as is” is when I knew up front it didn’t work, and I said so in my listing. Buyer bought it, it worked for them, and we were both happy as clams. But if the buyer had come back to me and said, “Hey, this doesn’t work,” you can rest assured that their money would have stayed in my pocket.

*which should be the angle you play up in future complaints to the seller and when you ultimately complain to eBay, by the way. Unless there is something else in the listing (outside the obviously boilerplate language of their “What does as is” section, which doubtless is part of their template for auctions).

Thank you for your insight, KneadToKnow. I will emphasize that ‘angle’ in my complaint.

I gotta run some errands now on my day-off, but I’ll check this thread again later-on this evening.

The emails sound like they are giving you the runaround and not addressing the real issue. Contact ebay and send them copies of the emails and what you stated in the OP.

I’ve had success with the ebay/Paypal dispute process. I had a couple of " item not received disputes" and a couple of “item significantly not as described” ( counterfeit sneakers). In a some cases, just starting the dispute process got me my refund {either because the seller agreed to refund the money, or failed to respond), and in another case, I got a refund because the seller admitted in an email that the sneakers were fakes.

Did you pay by credit card through paypal? If you did I would call the credit card company and dispute the charge. Thats happened to me in that they never shipped the item and I paid already. The paypal process does work but a little slower.

File a dispute. They screwed themselves by stating in the listing that they power on all electronics. The item is not as described.

Here is what likely happened (if you are interested).

This is a business that does a high volume on eBay, but is probably not an actual professional retail outlet. They have a boilerplate item listing description that they use of 90% of all items, and probably have not actually read in a long while. They think that saying sold as is will absolve them from all disputes and so don’t worry about making sure things work, after all buyer beware, sold as is etc. They do this so they can pump out as many auctions as possible with as little manpower as possible.

The right thing for them to do in this situation would be to say, “damn, we screwed up, here’s your money back” but because they aren’t an actual retail outfit they are going to shoot themselves in the foot on this one. Plus their correspondence with you was just this side of hostile.

Leave a negative for them as well, if the dispute goes in your favor make it a neutral.

Also, as a warning; don’t bring up feedback in your correspondence anymore, you don’t want to open yourself up to charges of feedback extortion which would take away your claim in the dispute.

What did you pay? If you paid anywhere the real price, I would say they are out of order for implying it at least powered on. If you paid a dollar, I would side with them. It would be very stupid of them to think a person would take a “risk” as they say, on a expensive item with the idea that it may not even turn on.