ACTION DESK: Why eBay auctions offer little protection

ACTION DESK'Nichola Mirfin from Bradway with her children, Cerys, Harrison and Harley who have been the victims of an EBay based scam after trying to purchase a trailer tent
ACTION DESK'Nichola Mirfin from Bradway with her children, Cerys, Harrison and Harley who have been the victims of an EBay based scam after trying to purchase a trailer tent
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A SHEFFIELD couple who received £3,000 in benefits for their disabled son, lost it all in an eBay scam.

Nichola Mirfin and Stephen Slingsby battled for nine months to obtain Disability Living Allowance for Harley, aged six, who has autism.

And when they finally received a lump sum he asked them to spend it on a trailer tent for family holidays.

But after sending the money to an eBay seller allegedly based in Scotland nothing ever arrived, Nichola says.

And eBay is refusing to refund them under its Buyer Protection rules because the sale was not completed on the site.

Nichola, of Prospect Road, Bradway, Sheffield, said explaining to Harley that the longed-for trailer tent would not be coming had broken her heart.

She said: “The scammer has stolen £3,000 from a little boy, I’m just so gutted.”

Nichola, an NHS support worker, said she and Steve, a cobbler, worked hard for their children including Harrison, four, and sister Cerys, one,

She added: “Harley chose a tent after we had to give up our static caravan because we could no longer afford the ground rent.

“There are hardworking people out there who get benefits as well. We just want the best for our family and that includes going on holiday.”

ACTION

IT’S easy to forget, but eBay is not a shop.

Auctions are deals between two individuals offering little protection in law.

Nichola failed to qualify for eBay’s Buyer Protection scheme for two reasons:

She completed the sale off the site and sent the money via bank transfer.

The scheme doesn’t cover vehicles including cars, motorbikes, caravans, aircraft, boats, tractors – and trailer tents.

An eBay spokeswoman said the seller’s account was suspended before any transactions went through the eBay system.

Buyers were discouraged from using bank transfers because it was extremely difficult to recover funds in cases of fraud.

She said: “Customers should be alert to suspicious behaviour by sellers, for instance where they ask you to email a personal email address or pay outside of the eBay system.

“As this transaction was completed off the eBay site, which is something we specifically warn our customers against doing, we are unable to trace the transaction to recover the funds.

“We would encourage Mrs Mirfin to get back in touch with the police to report the case, and we will pass on any supporting information they require.

“The safety of customers on eBay is our primary concern and we invest in numerous security and fraud detection tools and offer safety information on our site, as well as in each and every email on ‘My eBay’ about how to buy and sell with confidence.”