There are numerous different marketplaces whose original goal is to connect a seller and a buyer towards a product or a service. A distinction is made between them as they do not all guarantee the same level of customer protection. The most famous ones such as Aliexpress, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Rakuten– etc. – generally offer customers a certain level of security. If a sale is to go wrong or the seller does not deliver the goods or services, this one will generally be sanctioned and the customer is then allowed to a refund of his/her money.
However, the right to chargeback is also subject to the means of payment that was used during the transaction. For instance, if you paid the seller using bank wiring instead of the methods of payment provided by the marketplace, it is unlikely that you are entitled to a refund.
The distinction also lies in the fact that you bought from an individual or a company. If you purchased from a trader or retailer, your interests are protected in the same way as if you bought from any other online store.
Top tips when buying on a marketplace
- Is the seller a company or an individual? Your rights are better protected if the seller is a company, and your interests as well.
- Is the seller certified or checked by the marketplace?
- How long has the seller been active on the platform? Does he also sell on other marketplaces and does he have a webshop of his own? Are contact details shown (full address, phone, email address) That can guide you on the level of trust you can allow the seller. Not all marketplaces check all their sellers.
- Do not hesitate to communicate with the seller before placing your order via the available messaging services, and clear your doubts on the questions you might have about (shipping, delivery…).the product or delivery.
- Which guarantees does the marketplace offer to consumers? Do they offer a money-back service if the product is delivered to late or not at all? What happens if the product or service does not meet your expectations. Can you return products? Does the market place offer dispute resolution in case of conflict between you and the seller? Check our section below for the guarantees most popular marketplaces offer.
- Which terms does the marketplace set to those guarantees? Do you have to use their payment escrow service? Do the guarantees only apply to certain sellers or for a certain kind of products?
- Start by checking the seller's reviews and what past customers have to say. It is usually very representative of the customer experience that is offered, and that will be yours once you proceed to the purchase. Do these reviews seem legit? Many very positive reviews in a very short time frame might be suspicious.
- Check the product description. Is the product well-described or are you missing some information about it?
- Verify the returns policy. Does the seller offer the possibility for you to swap products or get a refund if you change your mind? Make sure you get your money back and not a coupon or voucher which obligates you to buy from the same seller (with whom you may no longer want to do business).
- What about the delivery method? Does it meet your expectations? Make sure you do not have to pick up the product in a remote location that is hard to reach.
- Where are you buying from? If you are making this purchase from a Europe-established-seller, Europe has steep regulations when it comes to consumer protection. Besides, an online dispute resolution service is available here. However, if you are buying from a buyer outside Europe, you will have to check out the regulations applying in your geographical area in order to know your rights as a consumer.
- Use the product during 1-2 days before confirming the reception and leaving a review, as you might get a surprise during the testing phase.
Consumer Guarantees per Marketplace.
You can find here your guarantees per marketplace, to better understand what your rights are when making transactions with them.
Aliexpress is the retail branch of Alibaba where it is possible to buy products in small quantities. It is always important to check the guarantees offered by a seller, especially when the seller is foreign.
Many sellers offer their own set of guarantees for some items, always check out if the product you're interested in has them or not. For instance, especially when looking for expensive items, if one item possesses the "Guaranteed Genuine" tag, this product will be fully refunded if it proves to be fake. If it is not showing the "Guaranteed Genuine" tag you may not get your money back.
Aliexpress offers a dispute service in case you are not satisfied by the transaction; however, always wait before you receive the items before filing a complaint. Indeed, since you get only one shot at the dispute, some sellers delay on purpose the delivery. In that case, if you complain before receiving the goods, the complaint will be about the delivery time, and you will not get another chance at it if the products are of low quality.
Check out Aliexpress Consumer Guarantees
When placing an order at a third-party seller on Amazon, the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee protects you and covers both the timely delivery and condition of your products. If you are not satisfied with either of them, you can report the problem to Amazon, and they will assess whether you are entitled to a refund.
You may be eligible to request a refund under the A-to-z Guarantee if any of the following apply:
- You have not received your package and three days have passed since the maximum estimated delivery date, or the tracking shows a delivery confirmation, whichever is sooner.
- You received an order that is different than expected and have requested a return with the seller.
- You returned your item with a trackable shipping method, and the seller has not issued you a refund.
Note: Amazon may require you first to contact the seller and either wait for a response or 48 hours before you are eligible to request a refund.
To check your eligibility, go to Request an A-to-z Guarantee Refund.
Note: You have up to 90 days after the maximum estimated delivery date to request a refund under the A-to-z Guarantee.
Note: The A-to-z Guarantee does not cover digital items, payments for services, stored value instruments. Additionally, if you file a chargeback with your payment provider or bank, you will not be eligible for a refund under the A-to-z Guarantee.
Read Amazon’s Consumer Guarantees
To ensure all of their members have a great experience on eBay, most purchases are covered under eBay Money Back Guarantee.
eBay Money Back Guarantee means you're protected if the item you ordered didn't arrive, is faulty or damaged, or doesn't match the listing. You'll get your money back.
This guarantee applies when:
- You didn't receive your item
- You receive an item that doesn't match the listing
- You receive an item that is damaged or faulty
- You can try first to come to an agreement with the seller, but if that is not possible, you can ask eBay to step in and help.
Read eBay’s Consumer Guarantees
Etsy also offers a dispute resolution service, such as its competitors. They advise first to try and sort out the problem with the seller, and if that is not possible, they recommend using their dispute service.
How to Report a Problem with an Order
To report a problem with an order:
- Sign in to Etsy.com or open the Etsy app.
- Click or tap the Your Account icon.
- Click or tap Purchases and reviews.
- Click Help with order next to the order you're interested in. On the Etsy app, tap the order you're interested in, then tap Help with order under the order.
- Click or tap Message seller.
- In the textbox that appears, describe the problem to the seller.
- Click or tap the arrow icon or press Enter to send. The seller will be notified of the new message and can respond.
If you checked out as a guest, reply to the receipt in your email to contact the seller.
Read Etsy’s Consumer Guarantees
Since Facebook does not verify the products they allow to be sold on their platform, the best of advice is to check it in person before the transaction is made.
We also advise not to pay anything in advance as this can easily lead to an unfinished deal. If you have some doubts about the seller or the product, or if the offer seems too good to be true, maybe you should drop the case already as this is the number one rule with online shopping.
If you buy something faulty, even though you are entitled to a refund since the seller will be in breach of contract, Facebook cannot guarantee a refund (they also do not offer a payment interface). In that case, what is advised is to take screenshots of the conversation, report the seller to Facebook, and report the crime to the police as well.
Read Facebook Marketplace’s Consumer Guarantees
Rakuten offers the Worry-Free Guarantee, which entails that they will make sure that you are satisfied when shopping in their marketplace. Like any other marketplace, they advise to first try and solve the issue with the seller. However, if that is not possible or if the seller is unresponsive within two business days, you can contact them, and they will make contact with the merchant to solve the issue as fast as possible.
Rakuten guarantees the resolution of the issue, also if the seller is unwilling. This can include partial or full refund, depending on the case and the circumstances.
The Worry-Free Guarantee does not cover:
Credit Card Disputes: If you have instructed your credit card company to dispute your Rakuten charge, you cannot submit a Worry-Free Guarantee claim.
Carrier Claims: When customers refuse their shipment; when orders are delivered to the wrong address due to customer error; when customers return orders at their own expense, and the shipments are lost in transit.
Return Fees: Fees that customers incur when returning an item due to buyer's remorse/changed mind; fees incurred by customers in returning non-defective items when there is no order error.
Warranty Claims: Those beyond the seller's return policy when a manufacturer's warranty applies and has not expired; those when the manufacturer's warranty has expired.
Shipping Errors: When orders are not shipped or when orders are short-shipped (don't include all items on the packing slip), customers are eligible for order cancellation and/or full refund.
Read Rakuten Consumer Guarantees
European Union Online Dispute Resolution
In case you are not happy with the resolution service or performance of the marketplace itself, and you are from the European Union, you can use the European Union Online Dispute Resolution. Depending on the issue and the circumstances, they will also advise you on what to do and how to proceed with your issue.