PayPal transactions reversed without warning

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I’ve had a bizarre problem with PayPal payments over the last week or so. Certain payments have been – apparently at random – reversed in my PayPal account and the money returned to the buyer, without any action from me or from the buyer. They’ve all been related to eBay purchases, and in every case, I’ve had the payment email from PayPal but no email about the reversal.

In some cases, there’s been a second PayPal payment, which has successfully completed and the item shows on eBay as purchased. Other times the item listings don’t show a corresponding purchase, My eBay and SMP don’t show the transaction, and the item remains available for purchase: it’s as though nothing ever happened.

The one glimmer of cheer is that the reversals seem to take place immediately, so checking a PayPal account via their site does show whether the transaction is successful or not.

I’m not the only person with the problem: a thread on the PowerSeller board has many sellers with the same issue, but sadly, no solution from eBay.

This is what PayPal support have said:

this transaction was reversed as a result of a failed Ebay transaction.

This customer had attempted to purchase this item via Ebay, however the Ebay transaction had failed. As a result of this transaction failure, Ebay had instructed PayPal to reverse this transaction. You are unable to view this transaction in your Ebay account because of the fact that the transaction failed.

If you wish to obtain additional information as to why the Ebay transaction failed, we recommend that you contact Ebay customer support for further details.

eBay Support say they are not aware of any problems with Checkout.

Fortunately, in most cases, my buyers have been sanguine about it. Most (the ones with the duplicate payments) aren’t aware of any problem. One, who had multiple failed payments, said he knew something odd was happening but would just keep trying til it worked, and has – more buyers like him please! One lady insisted that she had an email from PayPal saying she’d paid me, and she hadn’t cancelled, so she’d paid. Only after repeated pleas from me to look at her PayPal account did she see that, yes, the payment had been reversed. I think she thinks I did it, but at least we’ve resolved the matter.

If I ever get any sense out of Support, I’ll post it here: otherwise, anyone who relies solely on PayPal emails to manage their dispatches, needs to start checking their account.

16 Responses

  1. I had this happen back in May with disastrous results.
    I used to rely on Paypal emails and SMP to tell who had paid and what needed to be shipped.
    I used same day drop shipping and had processed MANY, MANY orders which should not have been shipped apparently.
    Why does this constantly happen on eBay and Paypal?
    Why do they not post these things on the System Messages Board?
    Why do they not take accountability for these issues?
    Why should I pay full fees ?
    Why – because they are a company that does not care anymore.
    I am no longer on eBay as technical issues like these pushed me out of business there.
    2 words that I advise.
    International Lawyer.
    I have been speaking to one and you should too.

  2. I forgot to mention that the Failed eBay Transaction details were not shown for 2 days – not immediately.

  3. Paypal have no clue when it comes to dealing with the problems they create. Half the time they can’t even see the problem transaction on the screen in front of them. A supplier cancelled (upon my request) a payment of mine as it mysteriously morphed into an echeque (another paypal cock-up btw). The cancellation was done within seconds as we were both logged into paypal. A cancellation confirmation email arrived within a minute, however the money has been take from my bank account 3 days ago. My paypal screen says uncleared AND cancelled but paypal staff can’t find the transaction!
    If I could ditch them I would.

  4. I’ve had this happen to me several times for no apparent reason when I was the buyer. Being a good private seller they had already shipped the item. I ended up sending the sellers a cheque which pleased them as they were happy to save on PayPal fees.

    Reversed PayPal payments have also affected me as an international eBay seller. I simply requested that the buyers use a bank transfer to my UK (or EU) bank account, or send me a cheque. My seven-year 100% feed back gives buyer’s the confidence to trust me, and they also benefit from reduced P&P since I don’t have to use track-n-trace with non-PayPal payments; insured suffices for adequate protection.

    It’ll get much worse once eBay UK prohibits all paper payments and bank transfers in the interest of “safety”… With all payments funneled through PayPal it’ll magnify the effect of future “technical” or “safety” problems.

  5. Noting these blogs has alerted myself because I made a BIN sale and the buyer claimed in a rather oblique way they were confused and did not know how to pay. With the warning lights on-I then noted the buyer had NO feedback-yet was a member for 3 years.More alarm bells.I referred matter to Ebay-in hope rather than expectation. Received no help at all-meanwhile Buyer paid and all seems well but now wonder if this could trigger a Payapl recall. Ebay have now replied belatedly-pathetical service but typical alas.

    I have regular issues with Ebay UK who have given me an ultimatum about making what is for me a genuine hobby (I am an ancient and 95% of my activity is too keep the grey matter alive Ebay are making me switch to being a business. Whilst I will likely comply I aim to have a web site now but with a VG feedback I wish to ‘harness this’-anyone no if one is able to achieve a direct link froman Ebay listing to one’s own web site-I have seen the reverse achieved in USA but I seek to achieve the complete ‘circle’ link
    Help or suggestions most welcome please. Dr J

    Any one have the Ebay UK office address &.CEO name please? It has alluded me so far and the CEO needs to be more transparent & responsible as his milsleading answers during interviews are a disgrace and implies he considers all Ebayers gullible and he can walk on water.Arrogant nonsense.

  6. Dr Johns, it is not permitted to push sales from your eBay listings to your website. Anyone you have seen doing this is in breach of eBay rules and is liable to have their listings removed and possibly their account closed. You may (currently) link from your About Me page to an external website, so long as you don’t “promote” the website: i.e. you can say “click here to visit my website” but not “everything is cheaper on my website”.

  7. We are not alone! We have had issues similar to these for a while now, mysterious reversals and reviews of paypal payments that were originally smooth transactions, positive fb left by both parties etc, when we contact the buyer they are as mystified and concerned as we are.
    Instant transfers do turn into echeques without the buyers knowledge, we have been told that this can occur due to the security algorithms applied to the payment.
    Reviews / Investigations just appear and throw everything into chaos, because of the amount of time they take to resolve we have to unmark items as paid to ensure we can recover fees at the very least if all goes ‘Pete Tong’
    All this is without the usual sprinkle of chargebacks.
    Paypal seem to think you can send everything by recorded and still keep a competetive postage rate ( whilst their alter ego eBay drive you towards lower shipping rates or free postage by DSRs)
    It is making a paypal a liability but as we do a lot of ebay one that we cannot live without.

  8. The same occurred to us this morning. 2 payments for the same item, two “You have been paid” emails, two entries in PayPal but in My eBay the amount paid on the invoice has simply doubled.

    Very strange.

  9. Jamie, that’s the same problem that Whirly had…. not of course that that helps any, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone!

    @ everyone else: this is a *different* problem to the normal chargebacks etc. which unfortunately happen with PayPal.

  10. yes, i had a reversed transaction too.. i received payment, for an item, sent item out, the buyer received it, and left positive feedback for me, and then paypal reversed the payment. apparently the buyers funds were unavailable from their bank account, and the bank refused to pay paypal, and paypal wouldn’t abide by the seller protection, as i had not sent it by a method of carriage that was trackable online, apparently a proof of posting is as good as useless now. and even with positive feedback from the buyer, saying “all received, present and correct”, i was left without the item and the money for it and the postage. 👿 not best pleased, and it seems to me a window of opportunity for any one looking to rip a seller off.

  11. #11 That sucks, keep on at them if you can be bothered.

    Most attempts to reason with Paypal fail intially but if you keep at them they will see sense in most cases.

  12. #11 I know you shouldn’t have to but you could right a polite but formal letter to you customer stating that the funds have not been received. I sent out some eCheque items before my hols & two bounced. I had no luck chasing up payment via eBay/PayPal but the letter worked for both (profuse apologies).

    Getting through on the phone to PayPal is a joke nowadays (& to think I once had a nice Irish account manager). 🙂

  13. #13, if only it was that simple… the buyer refuses to admit that they have not had their bank account debited, and has told me that its most likely a paypal problem, or in their opinion its probably fraud.. had i of not spoken to paypal directly i might of believed the buyer. however i have now placed a non-payer bidder alert on them as the transaction in myebay shows it as unpaid, so hopefully i get the fees, but i suspect not. maybe paypal should treat bank transfers the same as echeques, and not make the assumption on our behalf that the payment will go through… if i took a bank transfer i wouldn’t send items until the payment was officially in my bank account., as i say, it seems to me its a fruadulent loophole in the making.

  14. The worst kind of reversed transactions are the ones that fall under SPP but PayPal won’t even ask for tracking. I’m still waiting for them to ask me or decide the fate of my money after almost 7 months.

  15. Me too, come on paypal sort this out

    some buyers are trying multiple times to purchase which seems to work

    maybe paypal is on the verge of nationalisation


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