Caught between PayPal, eBay and Royal Mail over the return of a faulty phone

An expensive phone that I bought on eBay, and returned because it was faulty, has been lost in transit and, although everyone agrees I should get my money back, eBay, PayPal and Royal Mail are all refusing to take responsibility. I bought the LGG8s ThinQ mobile phone for £345.99. The next day eBay messaged me to advise that the seller may be compromised. The handset arrived but didn’t work, and nor did it have the two-year warranty the seller had advertised.

The seller refused to accept a return, so I opened a dispute with eBay which sent a free return label and a call link. I returned it by Royal Mail’s tracked delivery. A week went by and I had trouble using the eBay call link to check progress.

I therefore called PayPal and was advised to escalate my refund request with them. There was no mention that this would automatically close my refund request with eBay. PayPal reassured me that tracking showed the phone had reached a sorting office in Manchester and would be delivered to the seller that day. All I had to do was wait a further 10 days as my payment was protected.

No refund arrived. PayPal told me to make a claim via Royal Mail as tracking still showed the phone was due to be delivered that day and its system would automatically close the case in the seller’s favour. Royal Mail said that, as eBay has paid for the postage, eBay should make the claim, eBay said that my case with them was closed and that it was PayPal’s responsibility. PayPal said it could not get involved as eBay had paid for the postage label.

I called Royal Mail twice more and discovered that no investigation had been raised as to the whereabouts of the parcel, nor had the tracking data been updated to “lost”. It’s now been a month since the phone was returned. I’m still shielding at home due to medication I take and I feel absolutely helpless.
SWW, London

This is a dismaying example of corporate indifference. eBay says that lost items are covered under its “money back guarantee”, but that this no longer applies because you opened a dispute under PayPal’s buyer protection policy which superseded eBay’s process. You didn’t realise this, of course, and PayPal should have made this clear when you called. PayPal claims that yours is a “very unusual case” and tells me that your dispute was with eBay which provided the shipping label. It has now offered a “goodwill” refund and promises “lessons will be learned”.

Royal Mail, meanwhile, says, with unconvincing logic, that since the item was showing as out for delivery it must have been delivered, although it was not signed for. Delivery contracts are between the sender and the delivery firm and, although you posted the phone, it was eBay who paid for the postage which may be why Royal Mail insisted eBay instigate a claim. Only after contact from me did it decide to pay you the applicable compensation of £100 and confirm that you, rather than eBay, were the contractual customer.