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eBay Overcharges Buyers in Australia Due to a Glitch

eBay began overcharging buyers in Australia when it incorrectly charged domestic buyers GST (Goods and Services Tax) on their purchases, and it had a negative impact not only on buyers, but on sellers as well.

eBay acknowledged the problem, but said it had “only been reported on a small number of orders to date” (although a user said a customer service rep told them it was “an ongoing side wide technical issue due”):

“We heard from the community that some buyers are being charged GST on domestic orders that have already had GST included in the item price. It’s been reported on only a small number of orders to date.

“Our technical team is aware of this issue and is actively working to solve it. We know this may mean some buyers/sellers are being charged more than necessary at checkout/or in final value fees. If you have been impacted by this:

  • “We’ll be in contact with you to share next steps
  • “Any excess amounts we’ve collected due to the error will be refunded to you

“We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused any of our members and appreciate your patience at this time. We’ll post a further update here when we have it, so keep an eye on the announcement board.”

Sellers reported the problem on numerous threads, with some sellers saying buyers wouldn’t pay for their items because of the GST charge. “A buyer won’t pay as my order of $99 has GST added to it, why? It has never been added in the past,” a seller reported on this thread.

Others said they refunded buyers out of their own pocket for eBay’s mistake. On another thread, a seller wrote, “Yes, today. Buyer got invoice with 10% GST, yet it doesn’t show up on the copy I got emailed. Sent her a refund of the extra amount to keep everything sweet. Talk about double-dipping – taxing both seller and buyer.”

eBay later updated its announcement post to say it had resolved the problem and said, “Those who had orders impacted will be contacted shortly with information on next steps.”

A seller said they had refunded buyers so the refund should go to them, not the buyer – “How are you going to work this out,” the seller asked. “What a mess.”

It appears a scammer may even have jumped into the fray to exploit the confusion – as one seller posted, “In addition some supposedly expert the EBAY system referred me to told me he could take over my computer and get the matter followed up if I paid hem $112!”

Another user replied, “it goes without saying don’t do what some random scammer tells you to do.”

Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She’s a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of “Turn eBay Data Into Dollars” (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, “Blogging Heroes” (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 – present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 – present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

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