eBay purchases and consumer rights

Two recent decisions relating to eBay purchases highlight the benefits and drawbacks of online shopping.

Online shoppers can have their rights protected if they purchase goods on eBay which are subsequently damaged during delivery, as found in a recent appeal decision of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

Helmut Purkhart purchased a Volkswagen van on eBay, only to have it delivered in a damaged condition and minus a gearbox.

QCAT found that Autotrans Express, the delivery company hired by Mr Purkhart, was responsible for the damage, and awarded Mr Purkhart more than three times the original purchase price of the van, covering the cost of repairs and legal fees.

In another QCAT case, a woman who found that the diamond ring she purchased on eBay did not match the advertised description was not permitted to return the ring and receive a refund.

It was held that the ring, purchased for $712, accorded with the ‘estimated’ description in the advertisement on Ebay, as the tribunal considered that small differences in clarity and colour were not sufficient to find a misrepresentation had occurred.

This serves as a notice to online shoppers that shopping by description allows for potential discrepancies between seller’s descriptions and actual goods purchased, with limited recourse to a legal remedy where the discrepancy is considered minor.