I have an item on sale on eBay for the relevant price of about 750€, I am having a hard time to sell that and I don't want to get rid of it for little money because of supply/demand law.
A buyer with decent positive reputation (60+), 100% positive feebacks and a recent successful purchase, has contacted me via eBay messaging to ask for installment payments, because they claim they don't have full money available at the moment. I was never asked to continue somewhere else (e.g. direct email, Whatsapp, Telegram...). Buyer is from my country and writes in a correct non-English national language.
Their proposal was to split the payment in 3 monthly installments, after which I could ship the item. The buyer may assume that we make a private, out-of-auction deal, which is against the rules of eBay, and is often requested by buyers. I asked for the preferred payment method between SEPA wire transfer and PayPal. They chose PayPal.
For both parties' safety, I had the following plan in my mind:
- Ask the buyer to win the auction by bidding, so it comes an official eBay purchase
- After deal is completed, private messages won't be redacted by eBay and we can exchange private contact information
- Via eBay messaging, I would disclose my PayPal email address
- Buyer pays for the first installment (1/3 of the total amount)
- eBay will charge me next month for auction fees, which are larger that 1/3 of the total amount
- Buyer continues to pay me until full settlement
- After settlement, I will ship the item with tracking delivery to the person/address identified in the PayPal payments
What possibly could go wrong?
I also have made a list of spare plans for my own safety.
- If buyer doesn't pay first installment via direct PayPal payment at the first agreed deadline, I can ask eBay to restart the auction and claim full refund of fees. Buyer doesn't get the item
- If buyer stops paying on second or last installment, we can try to politely discuss next steps. I could eventually restart auction with eBay and claim fee refund, or retain those fees from the amount I return to the buyer. Buyer doesn't get the item
- I will triple-check (yes, that's triple) the destination address on every payment. They must come from the same PayPal account and must report the same name/address I will ship the item to. If the buyer tries to send me money from different accounts, I can decide to revert everything and put the item again on auction. Buyer doesn't get the item, I pay no additional fees
- If the buyer tries to revert PayPal transfers after shipment this situation is no different from a straight single payment, as the bank may reverse credit card charges and leave me with the empty bag in any case. While a reputable account may be hacked, I consider the reputation as a positive factor. Buyer gets item and money in this scenario
- I don't think this falls in the common Advance Fee Scam as the buyer is not asking me for money, and I always have the option to cancel the deal if they ask for some. See related Q&A
- I don't have reasons to believe falls in the common Money Laundering scam both because the account is reputable and I am not going to ship an item earlier than full payment, not to expect any kind of overpayment, and I am ready to report any case of future overpayment to PayPal to seek help. See related Q&A
And if for some reason I get more money on my PayPal, I am ready to never send it to another address or buy Bitcoins (the buyer never mentioned any overpayment)
Is this Paypal request a potential scam - Indeed, I have received a direct request. But the buyer never asked me to send direct PayPal request. Come on, I think it's very paranoid to suspect of any private message. And I said that banks may reverse credit card payments even on legitimate sales
How to protect yourself from fraud when selling on eBay UK - Fully agreed and following advices. Actually this is about general safety in eBay sales and does not only apply to installment payments
eBay Q&A - The answer says "DO NOT SEND" a paypal invoice for partial amount. Likely. This all is likely not within the rules of eBay, but nor against, so we are in a grey zone. I assume that as soon as eBay gets their own fees they will have nothing to discuss with me. And while the answer says that in caps, it doesn't explain why not to send. And that's not my intention to send partial invoices which could cause unwanted problems later.
My current conclusion
Currently, I have no yellow or red flag here. I don't see ways for this buyer to get both my item and their money. No way that can't be perpetrated with a regular one-time PayPal payment (see literature on reverse charges and false claims by buyers). But since I never experienced such a situation, it looks anomalous and is alerting me.
In order to review my case with the community, I would like to ask:
Is there anything fishy or, particularly, a common scam pattern in this?
From the financial standpoint, not (just) my compliance to eBay rules, can I risk losing money/item?
Could be there something I may have overlooked?
I am asking this question to better understand possible outcomes.